Monthly Archives: December 2010

Anniversaries

Wonder if he ever thinks about this day? We would have been married 21 years if he had been able to handle my Depression. Sadly, instead of supporting me in my darkest hour, he selfishly got involved with someone else. Looking back, perhaps our relationship would not have lasted because he has always been an essentially selfish person. But the trauma of how our relationship ended and the years of acrimony that followed have contributed to the chronicity of my illness and my negative attitude toward relationships.

I think by this time that dates should mean very little. I don’t really have any “feeling” about this particular date. Although I truly don’t appreciate that he chose to have his second marriage on the 31st of December either. He is just that selfish and insensitive. Just like I don’t really think about his birthday or any other date. It just happens that so many negative things have occurred around the Christmas/New Year holidays. We split up at this time of year too.

What I do recognize and acknowledge regularly is that something very special came of those circumstances. I am blessed with a son, who is now maturing into a young man. He has been my challenge and delight, and I love him more than anything. So regardless of any bad memories or emotional pain I have suffered, I know that my son was part of the plan. And I can celebrate that.

Post-Holiday Let Down

Now it’s time for the post-holiday blues. All the great expectations we had have passed, all the excitement is over for another year. A time of hope and joy is now a time of reflection on the past year that is coming to a close. Bummer. Yeah, that describes the past few years. Maybe decades ( I exaggerate, perhaps just the past 15 years). I like to frame things in a slightly more positive manner and say I don’t have regrets, because I have gained something from every experience. Problem is, some of the experiences have been quite emotionally painful. Why am I destined to learn the hard way? I just have to conclude I have some bad karma or something that I have to make up for through this penance. Ugh.

So what can I do with this “here I am the holidays are over disappointment now what feeling?” Right now the usual platitudes are running through my head…exercise, eat right, treat yourself to a new hairstyle/manicure/massage. Sounds great if someone else is going to foot the bill. Up to my eyeballs in those too. Just another reason to feel blue. I just don’t feel like I get enough accomplished day-to-day and its soooo hard to be motivated.

 Don’t want to build up great expectations for the New Year either, and be monumentally disappointed. The new job is going well, so I look forward to planning a real vacation as soon as I can scrape some moolah together. Might be tough since I’m preparing to send my son to college in the fall. At least he is accepted to the school of his choice. Some things seem to work out well. I should be searching for scholarship money for him instead of blogging for me. Oh well. If I start now I might accomplish something and not be so “let down.”

Being Comfortable

Maybe I just had to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, with being scared out of my mind, and to let go of the past like it wasn’t about me. — Mark Vonnegut, MD (from his book,  Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So)

That just about sums up what it’s like to have low self-esteem and to be uncomfortable in your own skin with having a history of Depression. It takes a lot of time and therapy to feel a sense of being ok with oneself, and sometimes it isn’t a consistent feeling. Having mental illness like Depression undermines everything you think you believe about yourself. It turns your world upside down. Sometimes in the midst of certain circumstances, it completely alters relationships, and can even destroy those that are too weak to withstand the emotional pain and upheaval.

So much of dealing with this illness is regaining an equilibrium. You never really go back to the way you were…it changes you too much. You have been to a dark and hollow place. It’s like being cut or burned, it leaves a scar. So the goal is to get back on your feet and be functional in a new way, not necessarily like before. Sometimes the old way of doing things wasn’t the best for you anyway.

After 15 years of dealing with this chronic illness and three major episodes, I finally feel like I am making progress on the equilibrium part. What it was I accomplished in psychotherapy the last two times I’m not sure now. I was in different points in my life, with different situational crises, so I had different things that I had to handle. Now that I’ve reached the “midlife” point, I guess I have more time to focus on myself and what I need. Boy, I sound like the typical codependent!

I know I won’t be comfortable everyday, but I’m working on it. Hope you can too.

Merry Christmas!

 

A Question(ing) of Faith

I’m spending my Sunday afternoon crocheting by the fireplace and listening to Christmas music. The selections have included a number hymns and songs to celebrate the season. This got me thinking about faith. I don’t think it’s all that unusual for a depressed person to question their faith. Particularly when times are most difficult. Now I know some conservative Christians might say that Depression would be the result of not having enough faith or some character flaw or unconfessed sin. That would be one of many reasons I reject conservatism and its narrow view. However, there are many occasions in the bible of doubt and despair, sometimes going hand in hand. I’m not getting into a theology lesson here, that’s not my area of interest or personal expertise.

At some of the worst times of my Depression, I felt the most alone. Separated from all others, including God. Despair can run that deep, and when there is no hope, that is when drastic measures seem the best solutions. It would be nice to have a simple answer to carry us until the despair resolves, but there are none, not even within the context of belief. Don’t get me wrong, faith helps us hang on…when we are grasping for reasons to keep going and can find no joy in life. But it’s hard not to question why. Why this particular illness? Why does it keep coming back? Why do I have to suffer so?

Of course I know plenty of people suffer from all types of ailments. But this invisible illness…takes its toll, invisibly. People don’t realize and can’t comprehend the emotional pain. I suppose that is also why we need our faith, to know that God understands our darkness and our suffering. We celebrate his son among us as part of that faith.

The holiday season always makes it a challenge to maintain a stable mood. So many messages are pummeling us and we are pulled in too many directions to assess how we actually feel. It’s always a difficult season because I have faced a number of losses during this time of year, so while I am supposed to celebrate my faith and socialize, I also grieve. Much conflict is carried around inside me which is difficult to share. I have shared much on this weblog which has been cathartic for me and hopefully helpful to someone else. I do look forward to celebrating Christmas with family and friends, and perhaps a renewal of faith for the coming year.

New Eyes

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. —-Marcel Proust

My journey has been punctuated by attempts to change things around me…change jobs, change houses, change styles, etc. Probably trying way too hard to change other people. Trying to “fix” them. All I needed to do is change the way I see things. What an epiphany! Not really, but so much harder to put into practice. The other things are easier to blame and alter than to work on myself. Besides, why don’t other people with serious issues have to work on them, especially when they impose on me (that’s a seriously rhetorical question)???

Working on my new eyes connects with my vision of a different year next year. I have to change how I see things as well as change things in my life to achieve greater happiness. So, where do I trade in these forty-ish eyes for a fresh pair? If I get to choose, I want eyes of wisdom, all-knowing and all-understanding. And it doesn’t hurt if they are stunningly beautiful either. Perhaps a pale blue, or cat-eye green. It will definitely be a challenge to see things differently. I imagine it will take practice just like any new skill.

Yet I can’t escape the changes required in my landscape either. That I addressed in my last post. I should probably make a list of what I don’t need to change, it would be a lot shorter. I have a heck of a lot to do over the next few weeks to get started.

Looking Forward

Or, How do I want my life to be different next year from this year…

This post isn’t about making new year resolutions. This is a serious proposal from my therapist that I am contemplating about making changes. Sounds similar, but I think I am supposed commit to long-term change in behavior, particularly in my relationships. That’s a tall order. What do I want to be different? I always joke about wanting a “do over” of the last 20 years. I think I would have done many things differently. But now I’m just trying to live in the present and accept circumstances as they are, and make the best of it. Sounds sooo simple, haha.

One of the things we talk about is happiness. I should be looking forward to being happier than I have been this year. Not sure that I’ve been very happy at all this year. A number of things have contributed to this, some of which I have already discussed on this blog. Yet I fear change as much as I welcome what it could bring. Primarily I fear the confrontation and discord that will be the result of implementing change in my relationships. Inertia is soooo much easier to maintain. I’m afraid of hurting others, because I know what it’s like on the receiving end of that kind of emotional pain. But things just can’t continue this way for me. Courage, cowardly lion!

Besides changing relationships, there are likely other areas I could be working on that would contribute to my happiness. I have neglected my spiritual life as of late, and would like to address that too. Not necessarily religion per se, as I’ve become rather jaded about hierarchical patriarchy style organized religion (did I qualify that enough to confuse even myself?). I imagine I do need some structure of sorts, but I’m finding it very difficult to find a place to “belong.” That’s kind of a universal theme for my life!

I’ve decided not to buy into the fallacy of “work/life balance” because it doesn’t make logical sense. Who wants to spend an equal amount of time at work as they do outside of work? Particularly when we have to spend nearly half that time sleeping??? I think I’ll focus on controlling my work hours and not “donating” my time to my multi-million dollar employer.  Salary shouldn’t mean sacrifice! My current/new job seems to fit in realistically with my philosophy of “work to live, not live to work.” Now to keep it that way.

It’s all sounding more and more like resolutions as I commit to, well, not paper, but to blogosphere. But I think I still have more soul-searching to do on this topic. I’m off to cogitate on my future happiness!

 

 

Comfort in Food

So many ways to find comfort in food. Beats drinking to self-medicate. There is always the perfect combination of salt and sweet carbs to lift the mood. Kettle corn, honey-mustard pretzels, anything sweet and salty. And then the ultimate mood booster is, CHOCOLATE. Any mood can be improved with chocolate, even if you didn’t think things were so bad to begin with.  Can I get a witness?

Of course there is a method to the madness. Science completely backs me up on this. Chocolate increases serotonin levels, and us depressives need all the serotonin we can get! We all know dark chocolate is antioxidant rich too. So how can you go wrong? Maybe just being overindulgent. I do tend to do things to excess. But who can eat just one of any kind of chocolate. Plus it’s always good to share…