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Tag Archives: depression

Hey you guys

I hope everybody is OK. . .I’m not seeing many new posts among the blogs I follow and read. If you’re like me, depressed and blocked, I’m pulling for ya!

I am depressed right now . . . keep thinking I’m coming out of it but it’s exactly like the 72-hour migraine I had recently. . .every time I thought the end in sight, another stab came at me. Writing? Normally, depression triggers vomitus on paper. Not lately. I have writer’s block, so there’s my excuse.  Perhaps maybe this time, when the depression lifts a little, on a sunny day, I’ll have something to share.

Right now all that I can share is that I pray for everyone who struggles with this disease. For one more good day. For the bad days: understanding that another good day is going to come along. Or hopefully a whole bunch of them!

God bless.

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The rescued cat
huddles
in the old chicken coop.
Not knowing, as I do,
that it is safe.

This foolish elf
broods
in her decaying tree.
Not knowing, as God does,
what uses there may be left
in her life.

 

the tree of the whole

10/2012

 

Brainspace

That’s all I wanted. Just a little room to think.

I’d done it. I’d forced myself out of the worst of the depression by using Opposite Action (a DBT skill) and getting out there. I’m a better wife, better mother, better participant, more effective homework-helper than I’ve been in months. My latest walk with my horse included two family members, their horses, and a volunteer with a rescue! But it feels like I’m never alone now. Will no one SHUT UP?

Brain space, please!

Or not. Here in the mixed-manic state, for which I do not know the real definition, my mind races with others like tongue-flapping pups in the sun, and it flees alone into wildernesses. Wildernesses of bogs and dead cedars; of dry reservoirs with sharp rocks, hungry mud, and rusty coyote traps; of thick, hot showers where the songs are hollowed out from themselves and filled with monsters; of flat, gray skies over swarming snowfields and a heart so frozen that the sad, mascaraed eyes of a teenage girl evoke no compassion or curiosity.

I thought I needed brain space, but whenever it found me, they were waiting. Inevitably, my thoughts would curdle into miasma, to be met by my demons. The old, familiar ones: self-doubt, worthlessness, learned helplessness, blame of God, self-blame and -hatred; and the newer ones: rage, fear and paranoia that have not shoved their sticky eyeballs into my sockets since the Great Desperation of ’02.

I am a loner by nature. Alone with my brain, I imagine all sorts of wonderful pastimes. I could write, imagine, draw, torment a variety of musical instruments from which my fingers have not evoked dissonance in far too long … instead, I find myself procrastinating these diversions, and my responsibilities too. Rather I brood. I brood, and wait, and fear them and what they will do and when they will show themselves and what I will do when they do.  !!!

People have hurt me and my family. They are still hurting me and my family, and they will go on hurting us, because that is what people do. Reality can be so intrusive.

So can bipolar. I can’t plan anything, because I never know. Mood charts, group therapy, medications…none of them predict how I will react to another person or an unexpected situation. They only marginally protect. They are loose loopy mail against the slings and arrows, and they are something.

So I’ve gone and re-learned something valuable for myself, which I suppose I must go on through life continuing to forget and re-learn. Even lacking friends, I learned of the great help in “keeping busy” and staying part of everything, even when I have not planned on it, am not trying to, and above all, don’t want to. The grandiose assumption that I have finally risen above the depressive is illusory for now. All that is keeping depression down is busy-ness and faith, and that’s OK for now.

For Now = Things Always Change. It WILL get better.

So screw the brain space for now, and just enjoy the love that is all around.

 

OK, depression, I’ve got you in my teeth like a wild warg and I’m slamming you this way and that and you better just lie there, bloodied and broken and submissive, at least through tomorrow.

Uh, does that sound manic? Am I manic, or just excited? How do I tell the difference?

Last night we survived being pulled over, on the way home from my daughter’s 4-H club meeting.

I thought it might be that the officer thought I was drunk because, with a benighted dashboard before me (that will never again illuminate its information) I could not see the speedometer. I was trying to flip down my highbeams, turn on my dome light, stay in my lane, and peer around my own shadow to read the speedometer by the light of the dome, all at the same time. With two squealing teenage girls in the back seat, I fought visceral terror at the flashing lights behind me and pulled over.

I couldn’t open the window on my side for the officer because I hadn’t pulled over far enough for the officer to be safe there, and I couldn’t open the window on the passenger side, where he arrived, because it was broken. So I opened my passenger door, and the officer was treated to the spectacle of my nervous, fumbling hand vainly searching in the glove box among flashlights, dirty napkins, fuses, dirt, and other things that weren’t gloves, for the registration. He watched me move the envelope around for a while, then suggested that that might be it. I handed it to him.

The girls tittered and joked around while the officer retired to his patrol car. They were what kept me sane. Then he returned, offering to check the function of my highbeams. It seemed to him that one of them was out. Sure enough, both headlights worked except on highbeam, the driver’s side didn’t brighten. He issued me a friendly warning.

What a vigilant fellow to notice something like that and then pull them over for it. We all thanked God and went on our merry way, and somehow my mood became elevated…just like that.

So today, before my daughter’s birthday cake and ice cream, I made good on my promise to myself and got my butt out to the barn and took a walk in the sun on the snow and the ice with my horse beside me. We walked for an hour and it felt like 15 minutes. When I got back to the house I discovered we had no birthday candles. My daughter, with perfect teenage nonchalance, blew out fifteen imaginary candles on the lopsided chocolate cake my husband had baked, and the party commenced.

Tomorrow I’m going to a boot camp for writers. I used to be a writer. Yes, it’s true. At least, that’s how I thought of myself. But I haven’t written in years, and now all of a sudden with the fog clearing, I think I want to try to write again. But in a public, structured setting with PEOPLE there??

I guess I’m better off than a painter struggling to re-emerge. At least no one will observe my hesitant strokes while I’m trying to create.

I see this plan to attend boot camp as a positive step against the force of depression, a willful lurch out of paralysis. Unfortunately I cannot say or guess how long this positive surge will last… but I will ride it gladly, toward whatever bright vistas, as if it will never end.

It will take work. There will be things I will have to make myself do: pull on my boots, drive my falling-to-pieces Jeep, step across thresholds, speak with people I know and don’t know and whose names I am mortified I don’t remember, but hopefully it will be worth it. If anyone is reading this, please wish me luck.

Also I shall wish myself luck. Good luck, me.

spiderblood

There’s a blood smear on the ceiling. I stare straight up at it as I lay in bed, which I’ve been doing entirely too much of lately.

Depression has been having its way with me, and I suppose it’s my fault for letting it…I am suffering a period of serious social withdrawal and sadness. I’m running away from or pushing away everyone I can, and struggling to put on a smile for those whom I cannot avoid, who are so necessary…for just that reason.

I recently read something that reminded me of what I am supposed to be doing… forcing myself to get up and DO what I know will be healing, or at least useful. To that end, after 4-H, I came home and stared the beast in the face: Examined that I want to be with Zil, and yet I cannot go to her except to throw hay and run in from the cold. It adds to the torment to know that I know what to do to help myself (and her) and I can’t do it. If I don’t do it today, it’s harder tomorrow. It feels like exponential helplessness and it really, really hurts. It is the paralysis that comes with depression. It takes a fierce hold upon the will.

But I have a more pressing issue at the moment. The bloodstain on the ceiling.

The other night my husband, in his usual nonspecific way, commented on the size of “that spider.” Of course, I had no idea what spider, but I was tired of asking stuff like that, so I didn’t worry about it. Until later that night I lay down on my back and saw what was on the ceiling straight above my face. It looked like it had sixteen legs. Eight of those, of course, sprouted from its shadow, but the creepiness was undaunted by the fact.

I could not possibly sleep with that behemoth there, which could decide at any moment to descend on its self-spun cable, and crawl upon my face. So I got up, grabbed a shoe, and swatted it.

It landed as a black, wilted puddle on the carpet. I knelt to smoosh it in a tissue. From above, my husband exclaimed, “Wow! It was all FULL of blood!”

That grossed me out. Then he said something sobering: “It must have been eating all the other bugs.”

(Yeah we have bugs in our house but that’s not the point).

I had just killed a creature that, all unknown to me, had been doing us a service all this while. Quietly going about its business, bothering no one, helpfully keeping all the plastic glow-in-the-dark constellations clean of UFOs…and possibly other creatures that could land on my face.

Could it have been my guardian angel that I’d just swatted? Oh, that I were more Buddhist sometimes! I could have gently blown at it, or nudged it, just to make it move away. I didn’t have to kill it! Another living thing, God’s creature? I could have chosen to move it. I could have let it live.

Then, on the toilet, where I get philosophical (or think I do), I began to wonder how many people who, in our wanderings, have crossed paths with me, intending me no harm, but were swatted anyway. Had their feelings swatted. Had their intellect swatted. Had their self-worth swatted. Been swatted out of my life. When we could have helped each other. Built each other up. Formed a relationship, or just randomly momentarily made one another’s day better.

I haven’t washed the bloodstain away, because it serves as a reminder to me. We can never really know how another is feeling. I often feel that I look for the best in people, but not all the time. No matter how we feel, it seems better to use a fleeting moment to smile, or to stretch our comfort level just a bit (Opposite Action?), even if it’s a herculean effort only to say, “Good morning.”

One could, all unknowing, help lift someone else’s depression just a bit. Or one could just swat the person by the simple act of looking away or beyond, like they don’t exist. I have thought about all those phone calls that have gone unanswered because there were people at the other end. But those people have feelings too. I don’t know if I can do it, but I can just do one tiny little thing in one tiny little moment, one single act of will. That tiny little blood stain reminds me.

One simple act of will.

Depression begs Jesus to ask it the question “Do you want to be healed?”

And then depression really scratches its head over that one. Because depression is a juggernaut, and it does not want to be healed, even if you do.

Praying for days, singing praises to the Lord for days, burying myself in the Bible and in scripture and no change. All day long, singing “Awesome God,” ALL DAY LONG as I sadly went about what little business I could. There really is no such thing as the patience of Job. Read it. Job bitches the whole way through until maybe the very end. I think my praises and prayers were faithless.

I knew the doors that were opening in my mind since going off mirtazapine would eventually start slamming shut again. They always tease me, get me excited that I may be getting it all back, then they always slam shut. I feel, disconnectedly, like the characters in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Zaphod without his Thinking Cap. Running through the dirt being slapped with giant flyswatters every time I say the word, “think.” My brain is dying.

I feel like I have tried just about everything. I’ve been in this funk all month, a deep, miserable depression that keeps me completely useless. Sometimes I can just go through the motions. In between bouts of crying, and lying in bed, I will get a pit-pat of worry about the horses and run out to the barn and back 40 to check on them. Or I will clean a bathroom. Or I will do the laundry and the dishes, all the while mechanical in my misery. I will help the kids with homework, but I won’t often cook for them though I’m trying to get better about it.

I may have set myself up. I tried the other day, getting along with my husband, as we cheerfully assembled the tree and “decked the halls” and wrapped a present for each of the children, put them under the tree, because one of the kids had said a day or two prior that she was depressed about Christmas, all her friends had trees and presents and everything was ready, and we had nothing. So we went all out for them while they were at school. Like an idiot, I waited eagerly for the happy looks on their faces when they got home.

Nothing. Not even a glance as the shoes were pulled off.

Well, what did I expect?? That little peak of happiness, thinking I’d really done something to pull myself out of my depression; and I had to go and ruin it by not having done it for myself, but hingeing all the success upon the unpredictable reactions of school-age kids.

Down again. ALL the way down.

Hubby and I had a huge fight next, right in front of our daughter.

Could I really be mad at them? The poor kids? My poor husband? Am I? Of course not. I see what I did there. I don’t have to hate Christmas, that is only a choice on my part. I must deck the halls, even if I have to force myself to, because I WANT THEM DECKED for ME, so I can feel happy enough to get through Christmas come Hell or high water (or in this case, a buttload of extremely cloudy days followed by a deluge of snowfall).

I pulled on my cowboy boots and my ear warmers and ran outside. “I hope I die!!!” I cried like an idiot, because I would never want to die, not do THAT to my family, even though I was determined to ride out bareback without a helmet. Riding is pure mindfulness…something I can grasp at reflexively when I have nothing else. I grabbed a bosal hackamore because I had the presence of mind not to stick a frozen bit in Zil’s sensitive Arabian mouth. Unfortunately she is an English trained horse and had never worn a bosal before. She would not even let me get on. The bosal seemed bigger than her whole face. I climbed all over the metal feeder and could not get her to stand (I’m not Legolas, god how I wish I was and could just sling aboard) but no, I’m a clutz. I probably would’ve gotten hurt, but my daughter came out and helped me on her and then climbed on her own Arab, bareback, bridleless, and we rode around the field. Zil hated the bosal, but that was because I was out of my head and not being careful enough with it. My daughter got on and what a difference. That girl can ride. And train.

I don’t know if I felt any better afterwards, after crying and crying into that mare’s mane, rubbing her and her rubbing on me, but that was the idea anyway. My healing horse and I, maybe failed each other, I don’t know. That was all yesterday anyway. Today I’ve done almost nothing. I couldn’t think of a thing to write about.

Here I sit, with nothing to say, and it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Whether I do it, or whether I don’t do it. I just don’t care about anything, but the shit of it is that I do. Somewhere in there, I do care. I hate being bipolar. I hate that I can’t do it. I hate this feeling that I can’t know what is coming next. Maybe I need a med change but that just sounds so facile! There has got to be more to life than meds.

Wizard

Wizard

Abused mustangs lash out. It’s not their fault. But if they hurt someone, that doesn’t matter. They must still be shot, punished, or sent away.

I am an abused mustang. Red-dun Utah mustang spirit. Too many have enticed me to trust them.

Too many have I chosen to trust. Too many have caged me, beaten me, and whipped my eyes.

It will take years for any human to gain my trust.

Cow

I have been fighting depression and anxiety a great deal of late, and hard at that.  As the behavioral-ists say, as if I were a cow, “Have you been ruminating again?” Because, they say, “ruminating” upon feelings, occurrences, or memories that have me really pissed off, frightened, or saddened reduces my chances for victory. Well, yes, excessive obsessing can do that.

Yet I find that having these feelings, occurrences, memories, or whatever else cycloning around in my racing thoughts makes the sedentary, passive activity of “rumination” quite impossible.

Me no moo.

Rather, focusing those preoccupations through writing actually can help. Writing is not a form of “distraction” found in a Distress Tolerance list; neither is it a “pleasant activity.” Most especially, it is not rumination. Writing is looking hard for the splinter in your hand and stabbing it with a needle until the splinter comes out and you realize why you couldn’t see it without going through the pain: it was a tiny sliver of white wood, burrowed in there, invisible.

Sometimes you’ll do it through poetry (even if the esthetic results are dismal, the process is the point).

Sometimes through fiction.

I highly recommend writing in a journal (that’s what I do; I write in a journal). I don’t recommend “journaling”.  God, no! “Journal” must never, ever, become a legitimate verb! Please don’t help it to be so.

Or, and this is no new thought either, you could puke your guts out in a blog, which sometimes edifies, but usually just embarrasses. And yet we keep on doing it anyway! Go figure.

It may not solve your problem or cure your depression, but it’s bound to occupy your mind and could help you work through something, stall a suicidal impulse, become a prayer, slow the racing thoughts, ease the anxiety, be the only entity in the universe in whom you can confide the real you. . .whatever it does, it’s better than “ruminating.”

I may be obsessive, but I am NOT a cow.

I’ve spent a great deal of my life wishing I had never been born.

Now I have two kids who are just like me. They wish they had never been born.

In the aftermath of a huge argument, precipitated by my reaction to my husband’s reaction to my son’s reaction to the news that his trip to see his cousin was going to be postponed yet again, my son, my daughter, and I were sitting outside on the ground.

The clouds overhead were dark and carrying rain, the light was in that stage of the gloaming where the clouds and the trees to the east are so fantastically colored that they look fake.

I groped and grappled in my mind for words to comfort my son, who has been diagnosed with ADHD. He insisted that my fight with my husband was his fault, that it was always his fault, that he wants to kill himself every time we start arguing because of him.

“What exactly do you think you will get out of killing yourself?” I asked him gently.

“The fighting will stop.”

“No,” I explained. “The fighting will get worse. Your dad and I will fight until we get divorced or I kill myself. Then your sister will have a dead mom and a dead brother.”

I was trying to talk him into thinking beyond the moment. Thoughts like that are what stop me from killing myself. But just as soon as I uttered those words, I realized that I may have just added fuel to his fire. Because he also carries a great rage inside. It is that rage that he turns in on himself. But I sense he can also turn that rage outward, and ideates this much more often than I realize.

Thoughts like the ones I just expressed might just push him into killing himself to get revenge.

Flash to a few moments before, before we all sat down. I was looking for him, and he came walking over from an unexpected direction, his pocketknife out and open.

He said something. I told him to give me that knife, that he was far too angry to be carrying it just now. He gave it up without hesitation.

Recalling that moment, I realized I could not take back the words I had spoken, and so I simply changed the subject. After a period of silence, I asked him what in this whole world would make him happy. He could not answer this.

“Anything,” I pressed. “If you had the power to make a whole new life, different parents even. What kind of life would make you happy?”

“A life that never was,” he said.

To my bewildered sorrow, he clarified:

“I could only be happy if I had never been born.”

My daughter, drawing in the dirt on the other side of the electric fence wire, nodded agreement. “Me, too,” she mumbled to the earth. She is on medication for depression.

I felt so heartbroken. My kids are just like me. I have passed on to them my hopelessness. They are only 11 and 14.

I determined to think before I spoke again, this time.

Finally, I said, “I’ve felt like that, too, before.”

“I feel that way all the time,” he said.

It seemed there was no winning this one.  I launched into how much his father and I love him, and how sorry I am that we fight, and that none of it is his fault, and that all of it is my fault, I start all the fights with his father, and how much his father cares and wants him to be happy. It was all so desperate and now, trying to remember, seems so empty. We all knew we were together, and separate from someone else.

Eventually the dogs came over. I started picking the loose fur out of one, and white dog hair flew everywhere. My son laid backwards to escape it. He seemed annoyed.

“It’s snowing!” I said. Then the other dog came up and pushed his little nose into my legs. “Oh, no.  I know what’ll happen if I try to pull loose hair off of you!”

My son was smiling.  I imitated the dog’s yelp, sure to occur if I plucked a loose tuft of fur. Soon we were all laughing. Then the cats came over, and my daughter had the tuxedo cat chasing a weed in circles while the calico kitten crouched intently at a distance, watching every move, and the lazy, long-hair orange cat just watched. We were all enjoying the pets together and I thought inanely of the healing power of animals. Everything was all right again. Or so I thought.

Out of nowhere, more dark words came out of the mouth of my son. More tears from me, wishing I could give him whatever that elusive thing he needs that love alone cannot provide. And as my attention remained focused on him, my daughter was silently suffering from a crushing series of blows that had occurred this week. I couldn’t be there for them both. I didn’t know what to do.

Later my son and I sat at our kitchen table, and he spoke on and on, lost in fond memories of past excursions during visits with his cousin. Because he needed it so desperately, even though it was late at night, I gave him my “full” attention…to the best of my ability between my racing thoughts, worry about my daughter, and my own exhaustion.

When I convinced him it was bedtime, he went out to the couch. On the other couch, my daughter was lying, her face streaked with tears each of which had been shed for a good reason. Neither went to bed. I feel terrible. I have failed completely to be effective. I have been trying so so hard to be a better parent, and all I achieve is more arguments with my husband, more pain for the kids.

My husband gets angry when we express our emotions by crying or being angry. It’s completely justified, every time HE is angry, but nothing in my children’s perceptions or my own are important enough for it to be okay in this household for us to express any emotion except agreement with him. It is so wrong for me to insist on my right to defend my children to him, because it causes him to escalate, and then our arguments get loud in front of the child being defended. But how can standing there watching my son crying while my husband, yelling, orders him to “settle down?” Could anyone sobbing miserably settle down just because someone orders them to? My son stops crying out of fear, but has not settled down.  I started the argument that led to the tableau of us sitting outside. I am wrong to blame my husband. This is all my fault because I am bipolar and I am a terrible mother. I am a failure.

Even admitting I am a failure is a sin because expressing feelings such as these is self-pity, and there is no place for self-pity on a beautiful piece of land like ours, lush and green, in Colorado, a state that is withering, drying out, and burning like hell itself all around us; and in a marriage that has survived incredible hardships. But feelings are their own beginning and end; and have nothing to do with circumstances unrelated to them.

Food on the table where others have none does not lessen the blow of the loss of a pet. Neither does living in America while people across the globe are suffering tsunamis and genocide ease the pain of deep depression or horrible family crises. Anyone who thinks they do are kidding themselves. I know that I’m a failure as a parent and as a wife and as a friend, I have little to no hope, but I don’t have the option of giving up. I have to try to learn how to strengthen my kids. They are already strong, but very troubled, just like me. Why? Because of me.

A loud thump startled him out of sleep. Not loud enough to relieve the darkness of his dreams with waking fears, but more to give a kind of substance to their stalking, nameless shapes. A sound of heavy treading, a clomp upon a stair.

He tensed, his heart beginning to race, but the sound faded even as he sought to identify it.

It was gone. No one had come. It mattered little. He had nothing to offer.

He began to drift, downward, deeper, beneath the sightless rock pools to shelter from the shadow walkers. They circled him, and began to merge. He smelled the dank green moss beneath his hands. He felt the cool breath of the beginnings of despair. And the sound came again, this time with a shriek, and a roar that drowned all dreaming.

It was the wind, he realized, coming awake, a storm wind lurching in fierce gusts from across forever. It beat the crumbling keep with angry fists, careened shrieking around corners and through cracks in the stone, roared overhead like a great beast with a cymbal-crash of battering wings.

A moment of respite, a settling, and then another gust slammed the wall, crushing the mortar like an enormous boulder from God’s own catapult, if such a thing could exist.

The surface against which he pressed himself, he could feel it shake, and heard a quiet voice nearby, almost a whisper, as if in prayer.

He thought himself awake at last, but the darkness remained as it had been. Except for the shadow stalker, which had either vanished or come fully upon him, in tides of pressure that squeezed and bent and twisted him, to flatten, mold or break him; unrelenting as the wind in all its myriad shapes.

All that sound, compressed in his head. Wind crashing skirl…silence.

No sound of whispered prayer. No one there, at all.

Only a grating and grinding behind his heart, the swells of wind, and the cancerous pressure of darkness.

Something about it…he had been here before. He had a decision to make, and quickly. To yield, or to fight it. To brace, or allow it to embrace and crush him.

But not to name it. Absolutely, no.

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