A salvo of magic into the world.

I’ve been sleeping terribly the last few days.
(or do I feel that way every day?)

I just realized why.
(and it’s a good reason why)

🙂

There are so many creative project ideas in my head.
(thatIwanttothrust a salvo of magic into the world!)

I want to do it all.  (I feel good)
and that makes me happy.

{that’s not a hyperlink, #beeteedubz.
#bluetext
#iwonderhowmanypeopleclickedon”good?”}         anyway

That’s why
I’ve been getting
terrible
sleep.

[HASHTAG]nightynight

Image128

This tousled hair for you.

Here again in this dark pit. shit. fucking back again.

All those times. the energy. the feeling free. those weren’t me. yes they were. no, they weren’t. they aren’t. they’re not. they’re not. They’re not?

They are. They’re me. I’m caught. caught in depression’s throat. gurgling complaints of pain on pain on pain and pain. soaked in shame, blame. it’s all the same. the same as it was 20 years ago. the same as it was 10 years ago. 4 years. last year. yesterday.

I’m a circle. i don’t fit. into the box of society’s expectations. my contributions are lacking. why they don’t send me packing, I don’t know. It’s gobsmacking.

Again? this is happening again? she feels down again? Again? Yes! AGAIN. Friends, this is the way of it. the timeless tide. unexpectedly expected. it’s a ride. with a hefty toll – regret.

regret. there’s no time for that. no time to sweat the things remembered; not remembered. I remember all those times. the times in bed. in my head. the dread. of being human. acting human. pretending human. but what’s more human than being in the depths of despair? This tousled hair. I’ve been working on it for days. for you.

for you I’ve fallen down the hole again. it’s unending. I know it won’t end. so much back bending to appear normal. to look ok. to be social. to force interaction. there’s an attraction to this hiding. this pulling away. this get-my-face-out-of-all-that-air-out-there. it isn’t fair. it’s not. but who said anything about that?

***

I’ve been holed up for a few days. mostly sleeping or awake-worrying.

I’ve been living with depression for years. it waxes and wanes. I’m in one of those stages. whichever one goes down.

I’m OK. Really, I am OK. I know this. but I want you to too.

Each time I share this part of me. these scary experiences. when depression strangles my self and life for as long as it does each time. when I feel most judged. most unsure. most shaky and shy in anxiety. I’m nervous. I’m nervous to share these things. to write them is part of my therapy. to share them is too.

I share them with you because it’s important. because sometimes I need to publish my crazy to the public. to make it more real – self-imposing paradoxical intervention.

I share them with you because I’m not the only one hiding and afraid. others have their dark clouds too. when they hover overhead, it can feel unbearable. it feels unbearable.

You may not understand this feeling. this fear. the strength involved in being here. but I hope that my exposure, my self disclosure. I hope it helps. It’s why I do it. It’s why I will continue to. even when I’m most afraid. especially when I’m most afraid. because vulnerability is key. it’s free. vulnerability is humanity.

Begin to swing the wrecking ball.

A few years ago I discovered Bikram hot yoga. It is a teacher-led 90 minute series of postures and breathing exercises that take place in a room set at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s intense, to say the least. After my first class, I recall texting my friend who had suggested it to me: “I felt like I was slowly dying.” The combination of the heat, discomfort of contorting and holding my body in ways that felt impossible, and my inside voice trying to talk me into leaving or giving up – wow.

I practiced Bikram yoga for a few years but it fell of my schedule when graduate school began two years ago. Eventually, I made excuses for why I couldn’t go – it’s too much money, I don’t have time. Really, I was scared. After falling out of the rhythm of the practice, I feared facing the discomfort, the discipline, and the internal and external work that the practice demands. Yet, these are exactly the reasons why I was drawn to it, which is why I have integrated it into my life again. I did so while taking this course, so I was especially keyed into the meditative aspect of the practice.

The experience of hot yoga is like the ‘extreme sports’ version of meditation. All realms of human experience – physical, emotional, mental – are pushed to the forefront of our attention and awareness. We willingly engage in the discomfort. We mindfully step into the pain and uncertainty of it. We accept that pain and discomfort are part of the process. Using language from Buddhism, we could say that we invite suffering, but we do so in a way that we become intimate with it. We get to know it and understand it in a way that our pain and our fear of the pain no longer hold us captive. Now, when I notice my mind starting to drum up excuses for why “I can’t make it to yoga today”, I remind myself of the benefits. After each class I feel tremendous relief and accomplishment. I feel in tune with myself on an intimate (and very sweaty) level. The feeling is not unlike when I leave sessions with my therapist. I experience a sense of freedom and grounded-ness.

From a therapeutic perspective, this is what we do with clients. We walk alongside them as they delve into their pain. We remind them of their innate strength and ability to free themselves from the suffering of holding on to their pain. Sometimes we help clients to recognize that there is any pain at all. People often don’t realize that they have been throwing salt on old emotional wounds for years, and in not tending to those wounds, they have been perpetuating their own suffering. Their minds act as a shield to ‘protect’ (more like, avoid) their emotional selves when, in fact, their emotional selves need to be unshielded so that they can get the much needed attention and care. As with meditation, therapy “provides a method of getting the mind out of the way so that [clients] can be at one with [their] experience” (Epstein, 1998, p. 53).

As a therapist-in-training, the meditation and yoga practices are irrefutable in terms of my developing sharper attention and a deeper sense of empathy. The calm and grounding that I receive from these practices, in conjunction with going to therapy regularly, will allow me to be more present with my clients as well as in my day-to-day life. “Like meditation, psychotherapy has the potential to reveal how much of our thinking is an artificial construction designed to help us cope with an unpredictable world” (Epstein, 1998, p. 170). Through meditation or therapy, we can begin to swing the wrecking ball at this artificial construction, and learn to step into the uncertainty of the world armed with the awareness that we can deal with whatever comes our way.

Sometimes silence.

A recent discovery: Being the linguistic minority is a meditative experience. When I was visiting family with my mom (Ina) in the Philippines, I spent much of my time listening. I have acquired tidbits of my Ina’s dialect since childhood so I can pick up words every now and then, but for the most part, the consonant-heavy percussive conversation sails through one ear and out the other. When I was younger, this experience was annoying. Trying. Bordering on insufferable.

         I don’t know what anyone is saying. I feel left out.

        (Again), I would think.

But this recent visit was different. The experience. It was meditative. Calm. Rife with lessons to be learned – if I listened.    

Engaging in contemplative thought in class and reading the Epstein book constructed a contemplative vessel for the journey. I engaged by listening. I responded to others with looks and smiles. Gestures. Or, sometimes I stepped away to take pictures of pots in kitchens; the ceaseless afternoon rain from the second-story balcony. Silence. Not speaking while in the presence of others engaged with one another in speech, or not speaking while in another room snapping shots – those silences felt similar. It was OK to disengage. It was OK not to know what conversation was unfolding. It was OK to not interject with a comment here-and-there. It was OK. To be where I was. in each and every moment.

While on the trip, I stole 15 min here, 30 min there. To sit – meditate. At some point I made the connection between the two (sitting meditation and meditation while listening to conversation in a foreign language). I watched and listened but allowed the amorphous words to float by as they came and went – as I aim to do with my thoughts when they swirl and bubble up during sittings. Or not during sittings; in the grocery store. While engaged in conversation with an acquaintance. Hearing a song for the first time – the way it digs its hooks into my heart and wins me over before it ends.

 Once a thought clutches our brains, our hearts. Sometimes we feel we have to arm-wrestle them away. Sometimes our natural response is to attack. Push. Assume evil or malfeasance. Sometimes silence can elicit these responses. Because silence is foreign, strange, uncommon, boring, uncomfortable, vacuous. This is what we know. But it’s not true.

“We must learn how to be with our feelings of emptiness without rushing to change them.”

“The problem with the Western experience of emptiness [is] that it [is] mixed with so much fear.”
(Epstein, 1999)

On the outside, you see: showered, dressed, freshly brushed teeth.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been stumbling through the past couple of years of grad school in the unpredictable and impervious current of depression. I have managed my way through. I’ve stood upright at least once every day. I take my medication with food. I reach out to friends and family sometimes. sometimes. I see my therapist. On the days I want to hide away and bury my head in my cat’s soft, warm tummy, I push myself to walk the 20 feet to the mailbox across the driveway. Other days I run my 3.2 mile route to Meridian and bounce back on the Interurban Trail. Sometimes I force smiles at passersby. Sometimes the smiles are spontaneous. Surprises. they’re real. Felt.

This dichotomous existence of depressed and ‘un-depressed.’ It’s exhaustive. It’s distracting. Its splindle-y fingers like to play with my hair. and tie knots in my clothes. Some days I stick my tongue at depression. And then. again. I find myself at the edge of its undertow. Grabbing my tongue from choking my throat. Clenching my neck from tearing away. In my head, my mush-of-a-brain swirls and squishes out thoughts. black sticky thoughts that barely convince me that I’m not whole and I can’t be. that I’m broken and bruise easily. that I’m not worth the wait and it’s easier to cut loose. that I’m not meant for this world. and it’s not meant for me. it’s not my oyster. it’s not my playground. it’s not my anything.

And in my head, where these wicked mumblings meander through mush. I tap it on the shoulder. scream in its ear. and I say what I always say, “Shut the fuck up!Shut the fuck up!Shut the fuck up!” “You’re not winning.” We’ve had this conversation before.

Triskaidekaphobia.

Coaster poetry for Michael Van Horn, who provided the inspirational word:

Triskaidekaphobia.

10, 11. They’re OK. What’s your name again? Your plastic limbs don’t fit in here. You’re cold and calculating. 9+3 = twelve. Twelve times I said I was done. with you. You and your 20 fingers. You and your 15 ‘little white lies’ to put me aside, and 13 ways to pretend you don’t love me. You said your favorite color was red. I should’ve known then. I should’ve known that our heads wouldn’t mend. Together.

Petrichor.

my clothes were 5 lbs. from soggy sidewalk to garbage bag. I pretended it was normal stuff. I always fold laundry on the sidewalk. in the rain. And I cry. It makes me happy. Brings me joy. to do this. with an audience. spontaneous performance of raw moments. Only people like me are able to experience. I had no ring leader. No rehearsals. No music sheet. Just a nose. eyes. a mouth. The ability to see the rain. and smell it perfume the street. eau du realité. I relish the taste. of you. leaving me.

Today, I do not feel sassy.

I sometimes forget how disconnected I felt as a teenager. I listened mostly to my inside voice. My chatty internal dialogue. Questioning. Wondering. Criticizing. It lied to me a lot. And I believed it. I use to wonder – a lot – what a childhood is like with parents who participate. With parents who play. With parents who like to laugh. Parents who laugh with you. None of these images depict a moment of my childhood. I recall silence. Thick air. Thick with fear and tension. And anger. A lot of anger. Multi-directional anger. Every now and then – like today – I feel jilted. Like I stepped onto a different plane than the rest of all the people I see when I got up this morning. The tectonics of me have drifted a part a little bit. But I remember what it feels like to feel whole. What I feel like when I feel sturdy. Stable. Safe. Secure. Sassy. Today, I do not feel sassy.

***

Don’t talk to me today. I’m wearing a dirty filter. A filter that has the potential to fuck things up. Turn people off. Push people away. Turn off my phone. Turn off my brain. Shut my eyes. Cover my feet in socks and sock and sock and sock. And blankets. Blankets blankets. Blankets. Don’t talk to me today. I won’t listen anyway. My fingers are in my ears. In my nose. In my bellybutton. And if you come any closer I’ll have a finger in yours too. Unless you have an outty. If I say something rude. Or insensitive. Don’t take it seriously. It’s not me. I know it will look like me. She sounds like me. And laughs like me. Her smiles crawl up her cheeks like me. But please don’t listen.

Written Friday, November 1, 2013.

The one with the whole cranberries in it.

depression during the holidays is an emotional oxymoron.

there have been plenty of times i’ve spent with my family during a holiday when i attended as faux-dawni. pretend smile and pretend laugh. while the deviant chatter rattled along in my head. “turkey, i’m eating turkey. mmmmm, with gravy. salty, meaty, graaaayyyvveeee…. cranberry sauce. concentrate on the cranberry sauce. look. there are two kinds of cranberry sauce – jelly and the one with whole cranberries in it.” regardless of attempting the attempts to drown out the chatter in forced ‘now’ thoughts. thoughts involving ‘the outside world’. the negative voice of depression carried on. yelled louder. as white noise. incessant.

no.

black noise. an incessant black noise.

looking back at these gloomy christmases and hazy thanksgivings, i wonder how much of the time i spent pretending. how often i faked it. being ok. feeling ok. enjoying family time. inserting utterances into conversations here and there so as to uphold my festive facade. yaaaaaay! christmas cheer. and all that pepperminty good stuff! stockings! …    and things…   ! (!)

it wasn’t until recently that i realized. for how long i had heard the black noise. it began at a much younger age. i didn’t recognize it as something separate from myself. i didn’t know. i was a child. a teen. shy. i hadn’t yet learned the language of emotion. it was an heft that i carried with me. from one school to the next. one country to the next. one peer group. to no peer group. to the next. one growing-up-me to the next. i didn’t know.

i hurt. i felt lonely. i thought it was a part of who i was. my personality. i didn’t know depression. i didn’t know it as a damp and heavy cloak. unforgiving. merciless. heartless, really. depression snuck its way into my life. probably via my ears. depression is stealthy in that way. from there i carried it and its morose minions around. i carried tension in my bones. fear in my muscles. clenched its jagged silence in my teeth.

***

i’ve often wondered what my younger years would have been if we had been introduced – depression and i. what would my adolescent years have been like? if i knew it wasn’t me. but an entity that could be extracted from my experience. that it had a different name than mine. that the load could be lighter. much lighter.

i don’t circle back to these memories and thoughts to wade in them. i don’t do this to wallow. i’m not sending an evite to my pity-party. i surface these thoughts and memories back to support my now. to understand how and when depression first spoke to me. when did i begin to hear the black noise? how has it affected my little me? i want to understand its impact. its tricks. its snarky siren calls. its selfishness. i do it to support my now. i do it to introduce it to my little me. i want my little me to know.

Perfect plastic limbs.

the place i thought was just a dream. a bad one. the place i thought that’d shut its gates. rusted shut. encrusted in messy overgrowth. the place i thought that wasted away. recessed past the gray. matter-of-fact. place that i can’t touch. don’t want to touch. that hurts to touch. has extended its pricks and pins and needles. to pierce my flesh. again.

here is dark. here is an empty heavy lofty dark. no laws. no ditches. no perfect plastic limbs. no juicy sweet. no salted rims. no cataclysmic jellyfish. to wrap and tangle. strangle. choke. giving you a Heimlich. to upchuck the wicked sticky ball of reality. that tries to kill you. kill you slowly. as it makes its way up.