Tuesday, August 12, 2014

depression

Shep Smith is an idiot. 

He can't help it. Most network and cable news shows hire talking-heads who are idiots. Wolf Blitzer is an idiot too, in case you're conservative and think this is liberal bias.

I mean, I watched the clip. I think he meant well.

That makes him a well-meaning idiot.

Depression is not selfish, depression is not feeling sorry for yourself. Trust me, I know a lot about feeling sorry for yourself, too.

Depression turns every good thing around on you. Have a family-they'd be better off without you. Have a good job-you don't do it good enough. Have money-who cares. There's nothing that can fix depression: no amount of exercise, good wishes, meditation, food, chocolate, booze, cocaine, hugs, runner's highs, orgasms, awards, money, shopping sprees, cigarettes, i-love-you's, 90 day pins, joints, meth, junk, uppers, downers, binges, ice cream, happy times with family, big fat paychecks, Christmas, Fourth of July and your birthday all rolled into one can make you feel like you're not a total unwanted big fat loser who doesn't even deserve to exist.

When you have cancer, everyone supports you in your brave struggle. When you have depression, they tell you to snap out of it, things aren't that bad, why are you crying?

 But depression is a cancer. It's soul-cancer. And I don't mean that metaphorically. Depression gets inside every nook and cranny of your spirit and convinces you of things that are so ugly and so wrong and you can't do anything but curl up and wish it would JUST. GO. AWAY.

Here are things that I absolutely believe are true:

  • I was born unwanted
  • I am tainted
  • I affect others with my badness
  • I will never be free of this
These are things that I believe despite a decade (give or take a year) of therapy: psycho, cognitive, behavioral and group. Despite the twelve steps. Despite spiritual awakenings and hypnosis. Despite Elavil, Paxil, Zoloft and Cymbalta. Despite having two beautiful children and knowing also that something that amazing doesn't come from junk. Despite having a loving husband who's been there for me through some of the worst depression I've ever had in the past 15 years. 

My most fervent prayer, when I have a completely happy moment, is: Please, God, let me remember this feeling when I'm depressed. When you're depressed, what everyone else thinks of as "normal life" is just coming up for air before you sink beneath the waves again. 

I have lived with depression longer than anything else I've ever done, short of breathing. I've had clinical depression since I was 12 up until this very moment. There is every good chance that I will die at my own hand. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the third leading cause of "disease burden" in the world.  In the world. 

I can't tell you how to overcome it. I just go through the day, one day at a time, one step at a time, trying to figure it out. I actively search out hope and hopeful things. I try not to read the news too much or spend too much time on social media. I take my Cymbalta every damn day. (Thank you God for Cymbalta, I mean it.) I try to open myself up to goodness and kindness wherever I can find it. I try to be grateful. But it's never far from my mind that at 64 or 46 or 81 or any other age I may just finally do it. I live with that, my family lives with that. Maybe someday it will be different, but I live with a chronic illness called depression every day. 





Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sometimes, you get what you need

I hate getting up in the morning. I know, it's better than the alternative. I feel embarrassed to say it, but I'd gladly spend the day in bed, playing minecraft, surfing the net and drinking cup after cup of tea. I wish I was one of those people, like my husband, who spring out of bed ready to get the day started. I'm pretty much ready to get started at, say, 1 pm-ish. Also, getting out of bed doesn't really bring any reward. Once the house realized I'm up there's a dog to walk, cat to feed and a child to interact with. In my bed, I can hide under the covers with my phone for a few more minutes and read the news before they all realize I'm actually awake.

When I was a little girl I would listen to the women in my life talking: mother, aunts, grandmother and later my older sister, talk about men. "You have to train a man," they'd say, as if the opposite sex was a wild animal who would spend his time scratching and belching without the acculturating whiles of a good woman. My mother would tell me how my father never liked to do much, but by dragging him out to events and parties he started to come out of his shell. My poor, shy, introverted father, being dragged into those noisy, Italian-clan gatherings. I feel his pain.

I also made a vow that I would never, evah, marry a man who needed training. You needed to be your own, fully-actualized adult to get with this gal. You know those women who complain that their man has no interest in wedding planning, what invitations to buy, seating arrangements? The ones who say their guy has no clue when it comes to the children, can't be trusted to clothe or feed them? The guy who has no opinion in what color the living room drapes should be? Maybe you are a woman like that? Count your blessings. My man has opinions on all those things and more. All I can say is, you've never gone 15 rounds over whether or not it's ok for the kids to eat processed food, or watch an occasional commercial, that's it's poison, what made you even consider it?

But I stand by my original vow, no matter how challenging it is to interact with a fully engaged human being. Because that is the problem, after all. How to relate to another.  It was easier, in some ways, to be a single mom and not have to consult the other on everything. And, no matter how much I complain, I like having another person to hold me accountable and who refuses to co-sign my BS.

When you ask for something, you have to be prepared for the results.

In other words, if you pray for potatoes, you better buy a hoe.

So, this morning. I was contemplating arising from the bed-we had woken up an hour early and I'm embarrassed to say, my first thought was, "We can stay in bed an hour longer!" While I sipped my tea, I read through my news and blog feed. An old friend of mine just found out that her eagerly anticipated baby has severe congenital deformities. It was like a slug to the chest. I didn't know what to do, so I prayed. I prayed for strength for my friend and her family. I prayed for understanding. I prayed for health for the baby. Then I just prayed silence. And in that silence, I thought about all the support and love her family share with people from all over the world that they know. And her deep love of God. Suddenly, my hope that things would be okay was replaced with a certainty. A sure feeling that I can't quite explain. I'm loath to put a word to it , because I hate statements in the face of trial and tragedy. I hate that "everything happens for a reason" reassurance. But for a minute or two I, who isn't usually certain of anything, felt certain.

I gingerly tried to shift this certainty to myself. What if, just for a moment, I felt certain about the things I prayed for myself? What if I had that sureness that I would be okay? That things in my life would turn out the way they were supposed to? For a few short minutes, I felt it. That feeling that everything is going to be okay. I suppose that's Grace.


Monday, March 10, 2014

The Wolf is Back

How to Cook a Wolf. It's a book by MFK FIsher. I highly recommend it, Mary Frances Kennedy is in a class by herself. It's about how to cook on short shrift, originally written during WWII when gourmands and everyone else had to make do or do without. A book about cooking? But not a cook book? But it does contain the occasional recipe. Why would I read that, you say? Like Jazz, either you get it or it can't be explained. Just read it and thank me later.

Our wolf is back, although I *guess* it's not as bad as a world war. But we are making do and doing without. Without a car, again, in fact. Now we are saving up for another used dealer deal and doing without until that time. At least it's Spring, sigh. Except that now the electric is due. Once it heats up they can turn off the juice, so next paycheck goes to PSE&G.

Just when I think I can't take any more. But I seem to be maintaining. Thank you, Cymbalta. Also, I've faced down this wolf before, with much less ammo and bacon fat than before. 

Anyhoo, those Christian types are always telling me that you should turn to God in times of strife, sooo, while looking for my bluetooth speaker charger, I found my Holy Bible in the bedside draw and decided, What the shit? Let's have a look.

       " Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden. The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary. They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity.

Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you  whom I have upheld since you were conceived and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

...some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god and they bow down and worship it...though one cries out to it, it does not answer; it cannot save him from his troubles. "       Isaiah 46:1-7

So that. Money won't save me. It'd be nice, but I can't worship it. Not that I have much of it to worship anyways. But I will say that old Isaiah did help, actually. Imagine being an Old Testament Jew, chillin around Jerusalem, eating the falafel and the next thing you know you're being carried off to Babylon, weeping and gnashing. Possibly your family is lost or killed, you've lost all your possessions and everything you've ever known is gone. I will sing a new song, indeed.

We did not sing any songs, but we did cook up some steak that had been sitting in the fridge and needed to be cooked, bought before we realized we're broke, along with some mashed potatoes, asparagus and braised red cabbage. And a bottle of red wine. Cause seriously, today's a day for wine. You might as well celebrate and smile at that ol'  wolf, cause I may not have much but at least I have a full belly and a family that loves me, together at the dinner table. Take that wolf.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lent, Spring and other things

We had our annual, multi-church Ash Wednesday service last night. Suydam Reformed hosted, so it was also multi-lingual. The pastor's sermon is told in English and Spanish, with the sermon being translated and read by another at intervals. I'm pretty happy with how many words I was able to recognize, although it helped that I had just heard the same thing in English, so I already had the gist of it.

The sermon's message was to take your troubles and lay them at the cross, in particular, problems that you have with other people. He also said that when you have a problem with another, instead of meeting them at their level, you should bring them to where you are, presumably at the side of Jesus.

I think of the people I have problems with. I don't know how close I can bring them to the cross, but I certainly thought long and hard about how I go down to other people's level. And in large part it's because I want them to like, or approve, of me. If I stay on my side of the line in the sand, I'm scared you'll get mad. And then I'll have to react to that. Instead of keeping my boundaries, I expect other people to keep them and then get mad when they don't . Not coincidentally, our pastoral theme for Lent is Fear. "Don't be afraid, my love is stronger, my love is stronger than your fear." I sing this to Sally when she's scared in the dark. Maybe I should sing it to myself as I respect my own boundaries and keep them.

Spring is close by. Robins are out, despite the snow. No crocuses yet. But soon.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Community

I like living in a community. I like knowing people and saying Hi to them on the street. I like caring for my neighbors at the local hospital. It's like an extended family. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Black outs

It's nice when the power goes out. For a little while. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I finished something!

I like to start projects. If I have 5 minutes, I may start 2 or 3. But finishing them is a different story. Above you, you see an empty spool of thread. I have never finished a spool of thread before. Like nail polish bottles, they just accumulate until the are too old to use and then get tossed. Since thread, unlike polish, doesn't dry out, I have a lot of thread.
Not only did I finish said thread, I used it to finish the doggy sweater I've been meaning to sew for a few weeks so that my little furry love-of-my-life may not shiver in the frigid weather.

Isn't he adorable?



This wasn't manly enough for my husband, who promptly went out and bought this: 

Bad to the dog-bone

So there. My puppy's warm and I CAN TOO finish something I started. 


Monday, January 6, 2014

The life I want

Thought while walking the dog: I don't know how to make the life I want, but I can make the life I have. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

History

I was just thinking about something and realized that it happened almost 20 years ago. More and more that happens: nursing school-17 years ago, motherhood-22 years ago, high school-28 years ago. I can't really wrap my head around it because I still feel so young. Like, wasn't I 29 just a minute ago? But as they say, it sucks to grow old, but it beats the alternative. Actually, it doesn't suck at all. I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin than any time before. For that I'm grateful. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014

Cold Days & Warm Puppies

I'm grateful for snow days...
And then coming home to a warm, snugly puppy. 

365 Gratitude

I am so doing this. Think I can do it EVERY DAY for a year? I can't remember to do anything that consistently, but we'll see...

365grateful.com

So here's today's:


1/3/14
I love Christmas. I love having the lights on at night with all the rest of the house lights off, it's so pretty. We'll keep the tree up until it's practically a bare twig with lights and ornaments on it. I love my goofy husband and and handsome dog, too. Oh, wait...