Holiday Hangover

Is it Tuesday already?

It came as quite the shock this morning when I had to wake up and rouse myself and kids to face another school day.  The holiday weekend seemed much longer than three days, as if we’d all already slipped into summer mode.

The long weekend was some weird sort of stasis.  It was neither too long nor too short; not stupendous nor horrible.  It was good.  In the midst of PMS and prepping for my two-year-old’s birthday party, I managed to not lose my mind and then relax a bit and enjoy the rest of my weekend.

Yet, even though I cleared out a wood pile that had been lingering in the yard and set up my compost area; even though I cleared a garden bed and planted two long-waiting potted plants; even though I enjoyed laughing with my husband and girls as we ate our first outdoor ice cream of the season – my thoughts turned last eve to how it all may not have been real.

The fact that I survived and thrived may have been a fluke.  The fact that I managed to not only be productive, but enjoy it; that I could not only enjoy my children, but feel joy with them; the fact that I wasn’t overly irritable, low, or unmotivated – I couldn’t just be in these wonderful feelings.

As I looked to a return to routine, I wondered whether I’d fail on my own.  Without the buffer of helpers in the house, would I be overwhelmed with the task of caring for my little one?  Would I feel trapped without the option of another set of hands if I had to tend to a household task or take a moment for myself?  Would my mood plummet without the excitement of a holiday weekend and the drudgery of the everyday?

It is said that comparison is the thief of joy.  Depression is as well.  It’s also said depression is a liar.  It is.  It is telling me lies about how I may fail.  And anxiety is helping spool out its prophecies far into the future.

I may have reached a point where therapies and supplements are finally coming together for my success.  But I cannot trust that.  If I do, the bottom of what I wish for so vehemently may fall out from underneath me.  I may have just had a pretty great weekend.  But even that, I can’t enjoy.  Because I figure my balance is due and I must pay up at some point.

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I look forward to celebrating the holiday where the right treatment and my own ability to sit in and take a moment for what it is converge; where no thing is the thief of my joy.  That will be a true celebration.

‘An Insidious Disease’

Source: providencejournal.com

I’ve had this article in my archives for a while now (click above for link).  Shanley offers a great primary source of living with depression.  Also, mental health’s place in greater society.

“Mental health has a bad PR firm.  It only seems to be on our radar when a well-known individual speaks to it, either in life or death, or when there is a mass killing.  Suicide is a word rarely spoken, and if so, only in whispers in back rooms.  Some of us know people who have stood on a bridge.  Some walked down.  Others did not.”

Recovery Contd.

In an online forum, a mother asked if she was the only one who thought about her experience with postpartum each and every day since she had given birth four years earlier.

I am six years out. While it’s not an everyday occurrence, it often comes to mind. In many ways, it has and continually shapes who I am – as an all-around human, not just certain aspects of motherhood.

Though I wouldn’t recommend it as a means of self-discovery, my postpartum experience taught me a lot about myself. I realized, that while I had been managing it, I’d been suffering from low-level depression and anxiety for years. What I thought was a failure to contain, control, was actually the event horizon of a long-simmering beast’s debut.

So I find it hard when people talk about postpartum recovery. I don’t feel as if I’ve recovered from postpartum depression. I feel like I’ve learned to manage it, but it’s the new normal. While I took an extended hiatus, I’ve returned to my therapist. I never stopped taking my meds. I still have low points that make me wonder if I’ll ever be healed; that make me seek out new treatments and pray for cures.

A cure lies somewhere within the intersection of self-acceptance, medical marvels, and divine intervention. I think it’s impossible that any one will work without the combination of the others.

I need to accept that this may (notice I’m not quite ready yet) be how my chemical makeup operates. That I didn’t fall short on some courage or stick-to-it-ness factor. That I didn’t fail to attract good things through my thoughts. I cannot will myself better with positive thoughts. Though my heart works that way, my mind simply is not wired for that.

Taking medicine to augment your mood is okay, even acceptable. It’s beneficial to your quality of life. It quiets the rage and keeps the nervous energy at bay.

And to fill the gap that always is – there is God. A spiritual dimension to the healing process is essential – and one I was missing for a long time. Unfortunately, this is not a one and done. I must continually seek this solace.

All three spokes of the wheel need continual attention. They all need periodic tweaking and developing. Much to my chagrin, my recovery and learning to live a full life is not a mountain to be scaled and topped with a banner of victory. I have to drag that flag with me wherever I go. As long as it still flies, I guess, there is still hope.

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Both Sides Now

There are two sides to me.

One side,
so dedicated to hope and wanting to believe in its existence.
In life.
The opportunity for joy at every corner
despite the struggles.
In the goodness of humanity.

The side that must be so strong
it survives
in spite of

the other side.

A dark pessimism,
the cloud of depression
that tells me it won’t work,
you won’t find joy.
You will constantly struggle and be weighted down by me.

I am the first side.
The second side haunts me like a shadow.
It won’t win, but it makes things a hell of a lot harder.

* thanks to Joni Mitchell for title inspiration 😉

The black dog of depression

As we crafted the pieces of our imagined lives, looking forward to our marriage, family, and beyond, my husband and I followed this idea of the perfect dog. His name would be Rufus, inspired by a back-bone slipping, soul-thrumming blues song about a hound dog by one Rufus Thomas. A shaggy, black, hulking mass, his own bark would be his calling card, “Rooof-us”. We pictured him playing with our future children, leading us down wooded paths, cozying up by the fire.
Ironically, we got just what we were asking for.
There is a black dog that lies at my feet while the children play; a dark shadow that trails my every step; even one who crawls in beside me while I sleep.
Only his name is not Rufus.
Depression is not the companion my husband and I envisioned accompanying us on our life’s journey. And I didn’t envision me as its sole caretaker.
It can be taught to heel. It can be kenneled or crated. But it is still a wild animal; a living, breathing thing. And like a wet dog on a rainy day, its smell permeates the air long after its left the room.

Happy Mother’s Day?

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I’m trying really hard to make today’s post about mental health; something full of knowledge, experience, resources. But I also feel that, in chronicling my journey toward mental health – that is, out of depression – many of my posts have been depressing themselves. On this banner day of Mother’s Day, I feel like I should be all full of flowers and fairy dust.

I’m laying in bed, exhausted, freezing from the night sweat my hormones gifted me, snorking from an allergy attack that will most likely turn into a sinus infection, listening to the rain steadily thrum the window above my head.

And yet, I returned from the bathroom earlier to find two of my daughters lined up, positively vibrating with the creative joy they couldn’t wait to unleash in the form of scrolls and paintings and cards. The best gift, though, was my five year-old shaking and giggling, burying her head in my lap when I told her how much I liked her portrait of me. Her pride, her modesty, her shyness, her beatitude. My eyes welled up – and I realized Mother’s Day could end right there and I’d be whole.

It is the unexpected joy that is the best – especially in the midst of struggle. It is most certainly unexpected then, and therefore, even sweeter. As acute as the suffering is, the joy is crystalline clear.

I realize that life continues on a parallel, sometimes intersecting, track with depression. It cannot be separated out. But it also cannot crowd out all positive experience. Life happens despite it. Even happiness and poignant moments can happen in spite of it.

So Happy Mother’s Day. May you have a bright spot in the midst of your trials.

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