Happy new year, 2015.

Well, 2015. This is it. It’s been a year, hasn’t it? I’m not gonna lie. You’ve been difficult. A real bitch at times. Cancelled wedding. Death of a friend. Moving away from Meowster Thumbs McGee. Endings of relationships in so many ways… and tumbled and tangled betwixt all of that, depression and anxiety visited. They’re good at that – visiting. Those loyal old friends.

2015, as you bid your farewells, I realize how suffocated I’ve felt throughout the year. Looking back, it seems like I spent the year gasping for air and grasping for respite in deep, calming breaths. Some days, it felt as though, with each step, I sank steadily into a sandpit sludge of shame, guilt, insecurity, disappointment, fear, and quadruple-guessing. (Though, this unsettling swirl of emotions also loomed on the many days I lay supine – taking actual steps not necessary.)

But, as time ticks on, 2015. I am thankful. Thank you for kicking my ass when I needed it. Thank you for encouraging me to continue to learn and to grow. Thank you for putting me first.

You never invited in hopelessness. You offered up pain as a platter of opportunity for gaining wisdom. You inspired me to seek alternate perspectives. You told me to trust my gut, especially when it felt ‘wrong’ (translation: unfamiliar or different, not wrong or right). You inspired me to seek out more of myself and to honor the process of seeking. You reminded me that you are a friend and that you want the best for me, as each year does. I trust your friendship. Thank you for trusting mine.

I’ll give 2016 your regards and we’ll talk about you fondly over a bubbly, sparkling flute of champagne. Thank you, 2015. And Happy New Year.

This moment more fully.

I’ve been wanting to write about what’s been going on for me for a few weeks now, but have tended to talk myself out of it because (?) Whatever the reason, an unleashing must be unleashed before I can move on to the daunting amount of reading I have to do for school. (Or anything else resembling productivity.)

I’ve hit that point that doctor’s tell you about after you’ve found something that works for you, “Now, the medication may stop working at some point and we’ll have to try something else.”

Ugh. Really?

Wellbutrin has been my magic bean. It has lifted me to life for years. After a while, I started taking Zoloft for anxiety, and the combination was just the potion I needed to manage my depression and anxiety. Over time, the highest dose of Zoloft was no longer effective, so my doctor prescribed Effexor. Voila! It gave me the kick I needed. But. That effect eventually wore away, as well.

Currently, I’m tapering off the Effexor and will slowly introduce Prozac. I have my fingers and toes crossed that this will help me cause this girl needs some relief! I haven’t been feeling terrible. I’m not bed-bound or voraciously eating whatever I can find that is not best for me – two symptoms that are part of my depressive episode experience. I’m functioning. Showering. I wear clean clothes. And ‘outside’ clothes, not just pj’s. I do my homework. And work-work. I read. Post funny things on FB. I play with my cat and call him silly names. I attend social gatherings with friends, sometimes.

I’m not in a melancholic paralysis. I’m not standing in the kitchen, staring at the knives. I’m managing. But I feel like depression’s talons are holding me hostage until I feed it just the right prescriptive concoction. I feel tired. And spacey. My excitement and motivation hit a low ceiling that isn’t there when I feel OK. It’s difficult to focus, to remember, to speak sometimes. Negativity and self-deprecating thoughts squirm in my brain. I question my abilities, my talents. I triple-guess my thoughts, my choices. I worry about my present, my future. Round and round they go:

  • How can I possibly get through school feeling this way?
  • What kind of counselor would I be with these phases rearing their unattractive heads?
  • Why haven’t I completed my poetry project? There’s no point, I suppose.
  • I’ve been so moody. I can be a better partner than this.

Though I know these thoughts are poppycock, they’re rubbish. I still feel them. I know they are farce but they still affect me and my behavior. I’m not riding each day with the curiosity, vigor, and creativity in the way that I know I am capable of. And I know these are symptoms. I know this state is temporary. I know I’ll be OK. I know I am OK. I’m not forlorn about my situation. The joy and vitality will emerge.

But it saddens me, as it does from time-to-time, to know that while in-the-moment, I ‘could’ be appreciating this moment more fully. I could be holistically appreciating and taking advantage of these moments more completely, if it weren’t for depression. I know that depression isn’t a part of me, of who I am. It likes to parade around in costume that looks like me. It likes to mimic my voice, my gestures. Steal my thoughts, emotions. I know I’ll win this round, as I have each previous match.

I must be patient. Keep pushing. Keep waking up, taking showers, wearing clothes, clean clothes, clean ‘outside’ clothes, clothes other than pj’s. Keep reading and working. Stay in touch with friends. Play with my ridiculous cat. Water the plants. I haven’t gone anywhere, I’m here. For now, there’s a wicked snickering monkey on my back.

 

Appropriate shapes. at apropos times.

I don’t have the luxury of knowing I’ll feel OK today.

I’m not assured that my confidence won’t waver
to an adolescent level tomorrow.
or that I’ll cancel plans tonight

because I feel like I can’t get up.
because showering and picking out clothes.
and seeing my image in the mirror
all sound so exhaustingly exhausting.

socializing would be frightful.
and I would be the plastic wall flower
on the fringes again.
bench pressing smiles on my face.
desperately lighting synapse wicks in my brain
trying to keep up with

what’s going on around me.

around all of these smiling faces
and laughy laughs.
listening for cues
to scrunch and stretch my cheeks.
lips.nose.forehead.chin.eyelids.

into appropriate shapes.
at apropos times.


– Written Friday, March 21st, 2014.

Showers optional.

I left K’s blanket, that fell from the window by her computer, out in the rain. I sandwiched it between the window frame and windowpane to block the sun as I lay on the couch watching streaming TV in my PJ’s all day. I slept and woke and slept, it rained, I woke and slept. The days have gone. I’m here again. I’d like to blame it on the sudden season change, the jetlag-induced medicinal delay. I’m one day behind. My pill schedule has been erratic.

What is this numbing agent that lives in the Washington air? What is this paralysis that takes me there? To the timeless, lifeless, light-less place?

Tomorrow I walk again, tail between legs, smiling through humiliation and self-induced shame. Welcome, welcome home.

Written Thursday, October 20th, 2011.

***

I wrote the above poem after returning from a trip to China. Where it was hot. dry desert hot. and sticky city hot. There was sun.

At the time I was struggling with inconsistent and sporadic ups-and-downs. I was coming out of a major depressive episode. I was home-bound for months. So it was refreshing (and scary) to return to the outside world. To go back to the normal routine: Up. Shower. Drive. Work. Eat. Drive. Eat. Sleep. Depression’s routine? Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Eat. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Showers optional.

It’s been a couple of years and I still experience periodic down-sodes. They’re not as frequent. Or as intense. But they’re there. I’m learning to manage my depression. I’m learning what stressors trigger it. I’ve learned that a huge part of managing depression is accepting what your limitations are because of depression. One of the things to accept is lost time. And losing time. Losing days. Months. Years; the time spent in darkness. Behind closed eyelids. Away. Can lead to more loss: a relationship. enthusiasm. money. trust. respect. a job. It’s not an easy thing to accept. But that’s part of the deal.

“Losses big and small happen to everyone who has depression. The only way to get through them and move on is to accept the reality of what has happened and do all you can to minimize what depression takes away from you in the future.” This is from a book I mentioned in an earlier post. It’s been my depression guidebook, if you will. I cannot recommend it enough.

***

Showers optional.

Photo taken Thursday, March 19th, 2009. University Bridge, Seattle.