Monthly Archives: January 2011

Grief and Tears

An excerpt from The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart by Daphne Rose Kingma

We live in a culture that is afraid of grieving; we don’t know how to cry. When our lives fall apart in one way or another, we usually try to take control of things and solve them, forget them, or deny them—rather than experience them, accept them, or see the meaning they may hold for us. That’s because underlying many of our responses to difficulty is the unstated assumption that we should be able to engage in life, liberty, and the unbridled pursuit of happiness without ever having to grieve—over anything. It’s almost as if we believe that pain, suffering, and challenge are bad and should never be a part of our path.

The truth is that pain is one of our greatest teachers, hurt can be a birth, and our sufferings are the portals to change. This being true, we need to know how to grieve, to mourn, to shed our tears, because grief is the cure for the pain of loss. Tears are the medicine of grieving.

When life is hard, when you’re in crisis, you should cry not because you’re weak but because crying holds the power of healing. Tears, in fact, are the vehicle for transformation. When you cry, your loss moves through you to the point of exit. What was holding you up and eating you up, what was stuck inside your body, gets released and moves outside your body. Your physical structure is quite literally cleansed and, like a blackboard sponged clean, is available to receive the imprint of whatever comes next.

It has been clinically demonstrated that when you suppress sadness you also suppress positive emotions. What we don’t feel on one end of the emotional spectrum, we don’t feel on the other. As a consequence, people who try to be happy all the time, who suppress what they perceive to be the “negative” emotions of sorrow and grief, actually, over time, become more anxious and depressed. Crying is not a sign of weakness; we shouldn’t staunch our tears. They’re a healing balm, a river to the future.

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Vision

Human beings are not helpless. They have never been helpless. They have only been deflected or deceived or dispirited. So long as people have a vision of life as it ought to be…they can look at the world with…confidence.

                                                                                                                   —-Norman Cousins

What is your vision of life?

What Did I Come in Here For???

Depression has also graced me with a brain like a sieve…my memory of events past is just horrendous, and my day-to-day concentration and memory tend to be a bit fuzzy at times too. I have a good friend who remembers detailed descriptions of events that occurred 25 years ago, and could probably tell me what I was wearing  that day too. I don’t know how she does it, she has amazing capacity to remember. I’m lucky I can remember to return books to the library and get the clothes out of the dryer.

My mind feels like it is always cluttered with information that needs to be sorted out. Like the houses on “Hoarders.” Stuff everywhere, just clutter, some useful, some not, but piled to the ceiling. I have this theory about the brain. I think it is like a sponge, it can only hold so much, ya know? Then something gets squeezed out to make room for something new. I just don’t believe we were meant to retain every detail of life. I have no explanation for my friend, except she is incredibly bright, and must have a bigger sponge, haha.

Anyway, I find myself more often than not, getting easily distracted or sidetracked when trying to do something at home like clean/organize. Then I find myself backtracking from room to room, thinking, “What did I want in here?” Sometimes actually retracing my steps is the only way to “jog” my memory. I feel pathetic sometimes. This is not supposed in my forties, but maybe I can blame it on menopause too. I think the medication makes be a little foggy as well. Besides taking antidepressants, I take anti-migraine medication which contributes to brain funk. I just don’t have much going for me on the chemistry side!

It is embarrassing though, when people ask if you have read anything good lately, and you can’t remember the title or author of anything you have read in past six months. Not only do you feel like you have Alzheimer’s, but you feel like an ignoramus too because people think you don’t read!

I try to exercise the gray matter with word games and such, not really sure if it helps, but at least it’s fun. I also look for challenges at work that are off the beaten path of what I usually do. I hope these things keep my brain somewhat nimble and in working order. In the meantime, I’ll just have to put up with the lapses.

Fatigue, or 5 More Minutes is not Enough

Why is the snooze feature on my cell phone only five minutes long??? How ridiculous. The snooze button on most alarm clocks is at least nine minutes, what were the cell phone people thinking? Depression can make for great physical and mental fatigue. Sometimes you can never get enough sleep. It is an unrelenting tiredness. And it’s difficult to separate the physical feeling from the mental state as well.

Ironically, research has shown that exercise helps with mood and specifically Depression. Yet you have to get past the barrier of fatigue to get to the point of being motivated or engaged in any type of exercise. Sometimes it is hard to just get through the day. Forget about exerting more energy to exercise! Ugh.

So what can I do to get motivated? I am definitely not a morning person, as the opening of this post might indicate. All I want to do when I get home is chill. Not too many hours between arriving home from work and going to bed at a decent time to get enough sleep either. I think that scientists need to forget about creating diet pills, and work on an exercise pill! There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything in! I just keep trying to get my exercise in by walking the dog (I need to do a better job with that).

Meanwhile, if I don’t get enough sleep, I think I’ll be sure to take a nap.

Serial Monogomy

Serial monogomy…what do I have to show for it??? Well, the marriage produced my son, but besides that, I have plenty of broken dreams and missed opportunities. And here I am at another breaking apart. Were we ever really joined? That is the million-dollar pick the right suitcase/door/strategy question. I think he was always holding back, and such a troubled soul to begin with, I could never love him enough to fix all the hurt and resentment and anger he carried around inside him. Maybe others knew that already, but I wanted to try so hard to make things good, to make things right for both of us. Two broken people, not the thing on which to try to build a happy relationship. So the past seven years have been a raucous emotional rollercoaster at a nightmare themepark. Oh, there were certainly good times. But not enough to sustain. The ugliness of the past, just subsumed anything good we had, kept it down like we were struggling in a tar pit.

So, now I am alone. This is something new, I have not been alone, sans relationship as an adult. But I already felt pretty alone in my relationship, so I don’t know that it will be a big difference emotionally. I just wish I didn’t feel like I keep failing. I feel like time is passing me by, and perhaps I will remain alone because no one will want to be with me. That is the scariest thought to ponder, maybe it’s the reason for the great delay in breaking up in the first place.

This is when the Depression creeps in and makes you think negative thoughts like perhaps you are unloveable, or just too difficult to get along with; maybe I’ll just stay in bed a while and consider my options. Chocolate is always a good option, and I do have the loyalty of one obnoxious dog.

Developing a Long Temper

I find that Depression can make me impatient, short, or ill-tempered at times. I just find the negative feelings bubble up to the surface so rapidly, like the froth on a just-poured glass of pop. And if the social filter isn’t ready, oooo, things can just spill forth. Unfortunately, I’ve also been witness to this in others. Funny, it’s easy to see it in others, but so hard to hold the mirror up to yourself.

So how does one become “long-tempered?” Seems a skill I should’ve learned along the way or something. I have great patience about some things. I listen to patients and families tell their stories all day long and maintain rapt attention(or at least I don’t look bored and I do listen well). Yet I find myself pretty edgy behind the wheel following a slow or inattentive driver impeding my progress. Rawwwr. Just GET OUT OF MY WAY! I get easily frustrated too when I’m treated like I don’t know what I’m doing or I don’t know anything. Nothing irks me more than lack of respect. And I don’t like to see others being disrespected either. Just not cool. So what should I be doing different? I am trying really hard to mind my business, keep my mouth shut and just do my job at work so I don’t get in trouble on that front, and so far, so good. It does get a little boring at times to stay in my little cubicle. But it’s safe in there.

What is the secret to not being easily irritated or angered by people or situations I find myself in? I can’t just stuff it all in, because one day I’ll just go off on someone, and it’s likely to be the wrong someone. I know it takes more than conscious breathing and counting to ten too. I actually met a nurse who tattooed “Breathe” on the inside of her wrist. I found this quite amusing, because as I got to know her, she was a bit high-strung and impatient. I suggested that perhaps she think about getting “Exhale” tattooed on the other wrist! Maybe a daily visual reminder is a good thing though. I am just trying to check myself before I blurt out anything that is reflective of my impatience or my temper. Perhaps it just means building a better social filter, and knowing who it is safe to let your guard down with…

Making Mistakes

If you have made serious mistakes, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down, but staying down.—Mary Pickford

I know as a depressed person and a perfectionist, I take my mistakes way to seriously. Actually I do everything I can to avoid making mistakes, perhaps by not taking risks that could be beneficial. I HATE TO BE WRONG. I feel like it is a personal flaw to be found in error on something, that is how hard I take things. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. I’ve tried to adapt and be more accepting of constructive criticism over the years, but it hasn’t been easy for me. I worry that if I’m down, I won’t be able to get back up again. I often wonder if anyone else has the same feelings?

I’ve worked at trying to adapt the  mindset that mistakes are a learning opportunity, but I am much kinder to others in that regard than I am with myself. I might be holding myself to an impossible standard that no one could realistically attain. I need to work on being kinder to myself. I am likely the only one keeping me down with my skewed views of myself. Just one more thing to work on this year.