Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 16 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve can be tough

Being single on New Year's Eve...not priceless.

New Year's Eve, I think, is a tough holiday when you're single. Maybe it's worse because I just went through Christmas and my birthday alone, too. I don't know. This year was supposed to be different, however. I was supposed to have a date. I was supposed to, but then it began to snow and blow in the northeast, and now I don't have a date.

I no longer feel like attending the sober party to which we were invited. I feel like sitting here watching football in my pj's, alone. Probably not the best plan, I know, but I'm so disappointed. My New Year's Eve just went from being a highly anticipated night to the dreaded, familiar bore. The wind has been sucked from my sails.

The wind has been sucked from my sails, but it's more than that, I think. This is a new relationship, a long distance relationship. Immediately after his first voicemail, my distrust was peaked. Fear, fear, fear...it's not snow, it's me--that was the familiar spot on which my thoughts took roost. I'm disappointed and afraid.

I don't like living in fear. Recovery taught me NOT to do that, and I thought it was a lesson I had learned. But then...no call, no voicemail, only the dreaded text message! "Not coming. Sorry." Really? Really? Is that it? Is it really an airport problem? I want so desperately to believe. Desperately! But two unanswered calls later, and my distrust won't leave me alone. It's amazing how quickly my old thought patterns lock me up when I'm scared.

And I'm scared...
I want to trust, but I don't.

ADDENDUM: It's 12:45 AM now and still no word... Fortunately, I said, "Screw it," and went to the party anyway. I had a really good time! Even better, it was the first sober New Year for several of the guests. Very cool to help them celebrate, sober-style! Very nice to be surrounded by a lot of fun, sober people while ringing in 2009. I'm so glad I went. It was way better than staying home and watching football in my pj's.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Suicide, depression & substance abuse highest in gay & lesbian teens with rejecting parents

I was tempted to title this post, "Suicide, depression & substance abuse highest in gay & lesbian teens with rejecting parents...No shit!" We've known for a while that gay and lesbian teens and young adults are more likely to kill themselves. According to a recently released study in the journal Pediatrics, we now know that gay and lesbian teens and young adults with unaccepting or unsupportive parents are 8.5 times more likely to attempt suicide. The following is from National Public Radio:

They found that kids who, by Ryan's measure, experienced high levels of rejection were nearly 8.5 times more likely to have attempted suicide. They were nearly six times more likely to report high levels of depression and almost 3.5 times more likely to use illegal drugs or engage in unprotected sex. That was compared with adolescents whose families may have felt uncomfortable with a gay kid, but were neutral or only mildly rejecting.

"A little bit of change in rejecting behavior, being a little bit more accepting," says lead researcher Caitlin Ryan, "can make a significant difference in the child's health and mental health."

Parents out there, please take note...please. Shaming or rejecting behavior, whether in regard to sexuality, mental health, or substance abuse, will not change your children. It may, however, cost them their lives.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Three years is a long time NOT to drink.

Today is my anniversary. It's been three years since I took my last drink. More importantly, it's been three years since I realized I could no longer quit drinking on my own. I needed help, and I found it in the rooms of AA.

I was the most unlikely candidate to get sober using the twelve steps, as I didn't "believe" in them. Powerlessness, God, unmanageability, making amends--it was all crap as far as I was concerned. (Typing that last sentence made me laugh, and if you got sober in AA, I bet you're chuckling, too!)

I didn't want to accept I was an alcoholic. Like so many newcomers, I figured I was unique. I thought my education, intelligence and willpower somehow protected me. I was the exception to all "their" rules. Even if I was an alcoholic, I thought, I could figure things out and get sober alone. (I'm laughing again!) In the last three years, I can't count the number of times I've heard those exact thoughts from newbies crossing AA's threshold. I wasn't even close to being unique!

Ultimately, not being unique saved my life. Just as no one understands depression better than another with depression, nobody gets alcoholism better than another alcoholic. The secrets of a drinking life can only be honestly shared with others who've struggled the same struggles, thought the same thoughts, and endured the same experiences. Different, I was not.

I came in seeing only differences. Rooms initially filled with people who were "nothing like me" became rooms of brothers, sisters, confidants and mentors. The people in the rooms didn't change. I did. They didn't have to change. I did. Once I sat down, listened, and got out of my own way--a process which took about a year--I felt a new happiness and a new freedom. I began to recover. Life is not all sunshine and roses, as any regular reader of this blog knows, but it is different. Recovery makes it different.

AA may not be for everyone, but without it, I know I wouldn't have recovered from my alcoholism. I am alive today because of the family I found in the rooms of AA. I am living today because I stopped treating my depression with alcohol and started treating it with antidepressants. (With alcohol, suicide was all but certain. With antidepressants at least I have a fighting chance.) I am more hopeful, more honest, and a lot happier today because I do my best to practice the Twelve Steps in all my affairs. Through the generosity, compassion and understanding of my friends in AA, I have a new life today--a life I never imagined just three years ago. And for that, I am so very grateful.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

getting back to running...and acceptance

The worst part about any running layoff is starting up again. One run here and there feels good, but once I start back a bit more seriously, it sucks! For example, I ran Christmas morning prior to visiting with my family. (I didn't realize until we were out and away from the hotel that it was actually -15 degrees outside!!) Despite that, and because of that, I ran quickly through the cold. I felt good. I marveled at Puck's frosty goatee and laughed when my eye lashes began to freeze. Call me crazy, but it was fun. That was two days ago.

Thinking ahead to the upcoming racing season and my still unfulfilled Boston goal, I ran again today. It sucked! It sucked like all other returns to running have sucked. I hate it! Does this happen to anyone else out there?

Today, as in other returns previously, nothing felt fluid or coordinated. My lungs felt stiff--unable to expand enough to fulfill their oxygen requirements. I was short of breath way too soon at a pace which should have been way too slow. My high heart rate bugged me again. That one really pisses me off! If I didn't have to take these damn meds to stay somewhat sane, I wouldn't have to strain at the upper end of my heart's capability--again at a much too slow pace for such a high heart rate! I ran three miles. It felt like ten, and my heart rate monitor screamed, "slow down, slow down," half the time!

Feeling this poorly, doing something which used to feel so easy, reminds me of several humbling realities of which I am not fond. I'm getting older and therefore require more time and energy to run and to recover. I'm a little heavier and therefore slower. I have depression and therefore require meds with unpleasant side effects. I require meds with side effects which directly impair my running and racing ability. In summary, I am older, heavier, and taking medication to control a chronic illness. Each factor by itself has the power to slow even the most competitive runner, which I am not. Combined, these humbling realities remind me I need to practice acceptance.

Acceptance...seems to have been a theme this week. Okay, I'll work on acceptance of my current reality, but that doesn't mean I have to like it! I still hate getting back to running. It's difficult, and I prefer easy. But I also know today's difficulty will be tomorrow's reward. Hmmm...in that case, I can't wait until "tomorrow!" It's much easier to accept "easy" than it is "difficult."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thoughts for us...

I'm thinking this morning of us.
mentally ill,
like me.

Mental illness.
a unique affliction,
dreaded
difficult
debilitating.

stereotyped
scary
stigmatizing.

No Hallmark or flowers.
No visitors or gifts.
No casserole or hotdish!

Are you the black-sheep
in your family, too?
Are the whispers you hear
always about you?

Our invisible pain
more painful still,
as nobody asks,
Hey, how are you?

Please
Allow me.
How are you?
How are you?


On this day of blessings, may each of you know peace, grace, and serenity.
For this, I will pray.
Merry Christmas, Everyone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

family...too predictable.

I'm sitting on a hotel bed, watching football, about two miles from my youngest brother's home. After a long, chilly drive--my car's heat is not working properly--I spent just 2-3 hours with my brother's family and my mom, and already I'm wishing I was somewhere else. Sometimes I hate how screwed up my family is. And why does screwed up get so much more pronounced during holidays?

It started with me getting lost, not understanding my brother's directions or my brother not understanding where I was...who knows, but that began the tension. As I entered his home, despite my resolve not to comment on my frustration, my brother's initial sarcastic comment initiated a brief heated discussion. It went something like this,
"I was right."
"No, I was right!"
"No, I was right!"
"No, I was right!"
Get the general idea? Futile. Stupid. I don't even think we said hello.

I fed my new nephew, visited with his 3-year-old brother, gave my mom her presents, and listened to my sister-in-law's comic antidotes about my father's latest clueless, social mis-steps. (He's really good at being socially inept!) Nothing substantive was mentioned, which is fine. No goodies, coffee or even water was ever offered--again, not unusual with at least two of my brothers. Perhaps social ineptness is inherited? All in all, it was an awkward, barely comfortable time.

My brother and his wife left for her grandfather's home, as is her tradition, and my mom made me pancakes. While making pancakes, she told me my other brother asked if I was going to be around when he arrived in two days. My mom added that after she reported I wouldn't be around, my brother expressed disappointment and said he had wanted to see me. This is the brother of whom I wrote a few days ago. This is the brother who lives less than one hour from my home. After pasting me with a verbally abusive tirade, this is the same brother I haven't spoken to in over a year.

I should have kept my mouth shut, but I didn't. Before I knew what hit me, anger and resentment boiled to the surface. I spurted, "Oh bullshit, mom! He couldn't care less about seeing me. He's so selfish and self-centered! He doesn't care about anyone but himself! The last time we spoke he blasted me with names so mean... He's never apologized, because he doesn't do that, and we haven't spoken since!"

To my mom's credit, she ignored my heated burst as if nothing had escaped my lips, which is what I immediately wished, that nothing would have escaped my lips. She said, "I'm not sure this pan will work for pancakes." I looked and said, "Sure it will." And so we went. Almost comical really...

I thanked my mom for the good pancakes as I exited my brother's home. I could have spent the rest of the evening with my mom, but I chose to come sit on this bed with my dog instead. She probably doesn't feel too good about that, and realizing this right now for the first time, I don't feel too good about it either. She flew up here to see us. I guess when one is raised around social ineptitude, it does rub off. Damn!

What is it about families that brings out the worst in some of us? How can I be so comfortable and real with my friends, yet uncomfortable and protected with the ones I'm supposed to know and love best? We keep trying, but I feel as if we barely tolerate one another versus actually enjoying each other. It's always a relief to leave, and from the rooms of AA, I know I am not alone in experiencing that exit relief. Why is that? What is that? Anyone?

I'm feeling frustrated with what feels like banging my head against a wall. Why do I put myself through this? My family doesn't know the real me. Even if I could show them, I'm not sure they'd see the true me anyway. My brother proved as much with his ages-old anger during his hurtful tirade 1.5 years ago. The shit he referred to, the feelings he vented--they were old, very old. It was as if he were yelling at the pre-teen me, age 12, rather than the adult etta, age 40. I'm feeling frustrated. I'm feeling sorry for myself. I'm feeling guilty.

I'm feeling sorry for myself... I need to approach this differently, but I have no idea how to do that. No idea whatsoever! I can't continue to bang my head against the wall. I need a different perspective. Perhaps I need to practice some forgiveness. Maybe I need to try out acceptance. I don't know. I'm totally open to suggestion. Thanks for letting me vent.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Singing and laughing for Christmas

With apologies to Clinically Clueless for stealing her idea, I also surfed YouTube for a male chorus singing an enchanting Christmas carol. What I found is less enchanting than it is utterly enjoyable. Following is a video of The Boston Gay Men's Chorus singing a lighthearted version of the Hallelujah Chorus. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Darkness Fading

It's a day I always dread, yet by early December, I can't wait for it to arrive, for once it's upon me, I can begin to look for the light again. From the moment we turn our clocks back, I dread the oncoming and ever-increasing darkness. Here in the far north, darkness is a prime complication of winter. December 21st is the shortest and therefore darkest day of the year. I hate the long dark. Like many with depression, I much prefer the sun, the light, and the energy of longer days.

Yesterday, the sun officially rose at 7:41 AM and set at 4:35 PM. Our day was only 8 hours and 53 minutes long. Almost 2/3 of yesterday was darkness. The high temp was a whopping one degree Fahrenheit, and the wind chill hovered in the -30 to -40 degree range, but it was the darkness of which my depression-riddled brain took note.

Like I said, I both dread and anticipate December 21st every year. It is equal parts culmination and initiation. We culminate the dark and initiate the light. It is a unique day, and I'm very glad it's passed. Six months of darkness fading are ahead. What a beautiful reality...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Redefining Christmas

The upcoming visit to my family has prompted thoughts of gifts. Just as we typically don't gather as a family for holidays anymore, we no longer exchange gifts either. I do buy my mom a gift every year, but I don't feel right about offering her a gift while my brothers stand by and receive nothing. That would be odd, don't you think.

My brothers don't want for anything, and giving them more stuff seems pointless. I would just be giving out of obligation, and it likely wouldn't mean much to me nor them. I used to love Christmas and giving gifts. Becoming a single person quashed my enthusiasm. Struggling with a chronic, debilitating illness changed my priorities. Stuff is no longer very important to me. I'd rather someone took me out for dinner, washed my dishes, or donated their resources to mental illness research. Obligatory giving makes me queasy.

Fortunately, I discovered a solution today. After hearing a story on NPR, I checked out this website, which is dedicated to redefining Christmas. This is a very cool site. The following is an excerpt from their homepage:

Give others donations to their favorite charities Redefine Christmas is neither commercial venture, nor money-maker. It's simply a charitable idea, shared by many, that our holiday gift giving could be more meaningful and do more good. In addition to the gifts we enjoy shopping for and giving, we're often compelled to give gifts that aren't so meaningful. Imagine if we replaced those gifts by giving others donations to their favorite charities. And we just request that others do the same for us.

And then there's this from another page on the site:
It's not about reinventing the holiday. It's about changing the way we look at gift giving and receiving. It's taking money we usually spend on obligatory gifts with little meaning, and creating gifts of charity that give in multiple ways, to the receiver, the giver, and people who truly need.
Seems I'm not the only one thinking about obligatory giving. What a wonderful solution. I will be purchasing the gift of charity for each of my brothers this Christmas. Now I'm excited again!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas with the family...ugh

Ahhh, yes...The holidays. Nothing brings out one's long-stuffed anxieties and resentments with more alacrity than the holidays. This morning, the resentment gurgled in my mother's voice, as she explained how difficult it is to schedule our Christmas meal around the family gatherings of each of my brothers' wives. I had to bite my lip. I wanted to remind her how long it had been since she had any scheduling worries, as I can't remember the last time all of us got together! I just listened instead.

It's been a long, long time since all of us have been together for a holiday. Sure, we live all over the place, but the reality is we just don't care enough to get together. Just because we are family doesn't mean we like each other! It took a long time for me to be okay with that. My family gets along much better when we each live at least a toll call apart!

Getting together, when you come from a terribly dysfunctional family, is not usually a joyous occasion. We don't yell, or drink, or beat each other up, but it's just not fun. There's tension. There's sarcasm. There's back-handed "compliments," which are really put-downs in disguise. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Fun... Fun is not what comes to mind when I think of gathering with my family for Christmas. My long lost (I thought they were lost) anxieties and resentments have been tapping my shoulder all week. Seriously, I can almost hear them! Tap, tap, tap..."Peek-a-boo, remember me?"

For example, I have no desire to see the brother who lambasted me with sharp, hurtful sarcasm and anger, without cause, over one year ago. As I wrote in April, despite apologizing for my part, I do not expect he will ever do the same. He doesn't know how. We've not spoken since his last hurtful e-mail.

I typically don't think about him nor the entire scenario, but faced with possibly spending two days with him changed that. Tap, tap, tap..."Yoooooou-hoooooo..." Despite praying about it (my sponsor's suggestion) and working to let go of my resentment, I am still hurt. So hurt that I actually changed my plans. He and his family will be the only absent family members when I join everyone at another brother's house.

Part of me thinks changing plans to avoid him is wrong. I should be bigger, somehow. But I don't know... Depression has taught me to pick my battles. I've learned to conserve my energy and to expend it judiciously. The tension and awkwardness of sharing space with my family is stressful enough, I think. Perhaps adding the hurtful brother to the mix would have been too, too much. I think it would have, and the risk to my mood and energy wasn't worth the risk. Holidays tear apart "normal" people. I'm just emerging from a very difficult, hopeless period. Even on my best days, I'm not "normal." I didn't think it was worth the risk to my mental health to subject myself to more than I needed. But I'm still not sure...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Best of the Web! Are you kidding??


Today, to my surprise, Psych Central included this blog in their list of the top ten depression blogs on the web. Wow! I am stunned, honored, humbled, and grateful.
Thank you, editors of Psych Central, for this tremendous gift. Thank you, readers, for sticking with me through this first year. I've learned a lot, developed e-friendships galore, and felt your love and support when I needed it most. Thank you.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's my BIRTHDAY!

Shameless self-promotion, but when one is single, letting people know it is your birthday seems imperative! Yes, it is my birthday today. I'm listening to MPR's Radio Heartland show, and they already played my birthday request, Bobby McFerrin's live version of The Wizard of Oz. If you haven't heard it...well, it's pretty incredible. I will try to link to it or put it on this blog later--if I can figure out how to do that! (any help out there greatly appreciated!) I'm still recovering from the flu, which is good because my social worker is about to take me out for breakfast. I think I had one real meal yesterday, so I think pancakes should go down okay this morning. I'm getting a little sick of ginger ale, pretzels, saltines, and popsicles! Anyway, happy birthday to me! The sun is shining and it may hit 10 degrees! What more could I ask for??
Happy day, everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The FLU: I don't recommend it!

UGH...
I've
got
the
flu.

It began on the way to work yesterday morning. An hour later, I was on my way home from work--stopping half-way to puke out my open door. Not fun. It's been a long time since I've been this physically sick. I sure as hell hope it will be a long time (or ever!) before it happens again.

Now, back to bed.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I worked to get here, now I have to work.

I'm a little tired. I'm a little relieved. I'm a little satisfied. I'm a little proud. And I'm still a little scared. My former DBT instructors would be so pleased--look at me, living in the gray area between black and white! But if I am to survive in my new job, my new relationship, and my continued sobriety, gray is the place to be.

What's that? A new relationship? Yup, and that's all I'm going to say about it for now!

As for my new job, it's going well. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday seems to be working, as it allows me a day of rest in between. Unfortunately, the 45 minute drive has been longer than I anticipated. The wide open, 20-mile portion of two-lane road through farm country, combined with the nasty beginning to our winter, has already left me weary. The addition of nearly two hours to my work day hasn't been easy either. Ten hour days were not part of my original plan.

Originally, I wanted to work four, 6-hour days. In almost all of my "depression" work experience, it is at 6 hours when my brain slows to a crawl, my memory befogs, and my body shuts down. Once I accepted a position 45 minutes from home, however, I decided 4 days of driving would be too much. So I settled on the 8-hour, every other day schedule instead. It didn't dawn on me how much twice daily 45 minute jaunts would add to my day. I don't know why. I'm a bit worried about it, but I've decided to take it one day at a time. I know I've got to give my body plenty of time to adjust to my new schedule before I begin making any decisions about changing it.

I'm trying to take a lot of things one day at a time right now. Like the gray area between extremes, living in the moment seems crucial at this time. Experiencing the moments of a new relationship, staying sober, enjoying a day without severe depression, dealing with my sponsor's cancer diagnosis and upcoming surgery, and coping with a new, more demanding schedule; they are all simpler when I stay in the here-and-now. I'm not perfect at it yet, far from it. But keeping the concept in mind allows me the chance to catch myself, and to stop worrying about the past or predicting the future. Practice makes perfect, right? I'll keep practicing. Will you?

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Huge Omission

It’s 5:15AM, and I’m awake. I’m not typically awake at 5:15AM, but these are unusual days. Thinking at 5:15AM, after too little sleep, is an interesting adventure. Fortunately, sometimes adventures are interesting and fruitful. Let me explain.

Yesterday, at the suggestion of myself, I decided to write a gratitude list. I thought that was a pretty good suggestion from an alcoholic momentarily sponsoring herself! Last night at a meeting, I spoke about taking people and things for granted. My sleep-deprived brain must have recalled that conversation. This morning I was jolted with the realization that I’d left one large…er, huge item off my gratitude list. Yup, you guessed it, I forgot to list my sobriety.

Sobriety. How could I have missed that one?? Yikes! I don’t ever want to take my sobriety for granted. Like relationships (last night’s topic), sobriety requires vigilance, awareness, and work. Sobriety is not for the faint of heart.

Rarely have we seen a person fail. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program. (from Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 58)

Cannot or will not completely… As one of my old sponsors used to say, “Sobriety is not for wimps.” If I am to stay sober, I need to work my program completely. I can’t pick and choose. I can’t do it half-assed. If I want to stay sober I must remain willing, stay open to direction, and be unafraid to work. Fortunately, The Big Book also states,

We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principals we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. (from Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 60)
I don’t have to do this program perfectly to stay sober. What a relief!! I need to follow the suggestions of the program and my sponsor. I need to be of service to my group and my community. I have to focus outside myself, and I cannot take recovery for granted. If I do, I may suffer the fate of an old-timer who spoke yesterday. He had 21 years of sobriety. Fortunately for him, after “relaxing and taking it easy,” he returned yesterday from a relapse to start again at day one

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gratitude List

Today I am grateful for:

  • My happy dog, Puck, laying here by my feet in front of the heater, content, and in no apparent discomfort despite his recent injuries
  • Unconditional love
  • My health
  • Running and the continuing motivation to train and compete
  • Mom and Bruce
  • My warm, comfortable home
  • The giddiness of a new relationship
  • Bill and Cindy, Dr. L., Deb, and Shawn--I wouldn't be alive without them
  • The Morning Show on Minnesota Public Radio
  • My ability to work at a job I enjoy
  • My ability to work, period
  • AA and the local recovery community
  • My sponsor, Kim
  • Sobriety

Gratitude in a time of pain

My depression has been off the charts lately. I went through a brief period of hypomania, complete with excess spending, lack of need for sleep, and pressured speech, which was fun. But last week, I fell faster than a dead bird from the sky and crashed so hard it physically hurt. This prompted my psychiatrist to wonder about the possibility of bipolar disorder! WHAT???? Whatever the diagnosis, however, the pain is unchanged.

I’m so tired of talking about the pain. I’m so tired of battling the pain. I’ve been locked up in my incredibly disorganized and messy home, unable to sleep, write, or even move occasionally. I’ve given up on “healthy” coping. It’s amazing how quickly the old habits, the ones used purely for escape, swoop back in–perhaps on the wings of that dead bird falling from the sky.

I have minimally struggled with the desire to drink, but I’ve still got more in my arsenal than alcohol. Shopping, eating junk, obsessing about eating junk, self-harm, and suicide…these are all old standbys which have crept from the dark recesses of my brain. Within the past week, hopelessness has been more prevalent than at any time during the past 1-2 years, and the hopelessness didn’t scare me. That was scary.

So why am I telling you this? Well…from the few posts I was able to enter on my own blog I received grateful comments from others who could “totally relate.” I was spilling out hopelessness, discouragement and pain, yet others were glad to read it. The words I wrote and the feelings I spilled helped them connect, which in turn helped me feel less alone. I am so grateful for the readers who left those comments. While I am piercingly sad for their pain, their comments humble me and inspire renewed purpose. In AA, we encourage working with others to decrease our self-focus and distress. I forget that when I’m suffocating in the thick fog of depression. But it works.

Depression sucks. It is the most isolating illness I’ve ever experienced. I am so grateful for those of you who read my words despite the sometimes less-than-inspiring content. It is my wish that these words today, words I’d rather not write, words I’d prefer to replace with something more healing and hopeful, will touch at least one of you. When you’re touched, I’m relieved. Together, perhaps we can join hands in cyberspace, if only for a moment, and feel connected–not alone. Feel free to take my hand. “I totally get it.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

better. a little.

today is a better day. i have something very exciting suddenly happening in my life, and that certainly helps! so today is a better day. i am grateful. one day at a time on this rollercoaster journey...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nonsensical illness

The nonsensical illness continues today. I've appreciated your comments on my last two posts. I've been feeling isolated and totally alone lately. The noise in my brain seems so unique, in the worst possible way, that it really helped to hear some of you could relate. I had no idea! However, I'm also very sorry any of you can relate!

Today, I face questions of reality. It simply doesn't make sense that I can go to work, or to a meeting, or to a party and outwardly function as a healthy, happy human. Yet, inside there is only death, negativity, fear and sadness. It's nonsense! I feel like I'm leading a double life, and it makes me question the reality of this illness.

If I'm able to function so well despite the turmoil I feel, especially when alone, is it possible I don't really have depression at all? Is this just some elaborate ruse of which I've become convinced. The people "on the outside" wouldn't recognize the etta I know. Only a very select few even get to see her--mostly professionals--and even they don't get the full story. It's just too unbelievable. How can I smile while saying I feel like shit? How can I crack jokes when escape and death occupy my brain? It doesn't make any sense.

I am open and honest with people, yet I am always protecting, too. I'm protecting myself, and I'm protecting them. The disconnect between my shell and my core is so great, if I were truly honest, I'm afraid nobody could believe me. "Well you don't look like you feel like that. You don't act like you feel that bad. If you truly felt like that, there's no way you'd be able to work or run or..." At the same time, I don't want to add burden to those around me, even the pros. It's just too much.

I think I'm also ashamed of my sadness, lethargy, and hopelessness. I still think I should be able to make myself well. Just do it! I guess I tend to downplay the healthy actions I take while ruminating on the continually recurring negative symptoms. That's the problem, isn't it, the symptoms continually reoccur. And for whatever reason, this time I don't feel I have a lot left with which to fight.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

breathlessness, fatigue and noise

i'm in that space where everything is difficult. getting out of bed, going to bed, sleeping, staying awake, exercising, or sitting around. no matter what i do, it's hard, and slow, and confusing.

this morning, i awoke early and couldn't get back to sleep, so i thought i'd swim. i made it to the pool, but by the time i swam a couple laps, i knew...it wasn't going to happen today. and it didn't. i had a plan. i had to revise the plan again, and again, and again before finally giving in to the breathlessness and fatigue.

breathlessness, fatigue...everything takes longer in this icky space. showering, laundry, deciding... it's like my brain has to swim thru a morass of molasses before a thought is released. writing...this is a chore.

tears. no reason. just tears.
every emotion is heightened. every irritation more irritating. every stressor more stressful. every comment or reaction more personal. i can't seem to seperate myself from the world. it's all coming in all the time. i can't filter or sort. i'm overwhelmed because everything gets in. every input initiates reaction, and it's all personal to me. i'm not routinely aware of how much stimuli i filter just to move thru my day. i'm aware now, because my filters are gone. there is no gate. there is no halt. it's all in all the time, and i'm extremely overwhelmed.

breathlessness, fatigue, and noise...it's loud without filters. i can't make a decision, because i can't sort the true from the false, the important from the unimportant. it all gets thru so my brain treats every bit as necessary information. but it's not...it's not all necessary. a lot of it is just noise.

it's loud in my head without filters, and the noise wears me out. i'm so tired. i'm so tired of the noise. i'm so tired of the confusion. i don't know where to go. i don't know what to do. i can't even explain how i feel, because it's too loud. it's too loud in my head.

i'm tired.
and discouraged.
and i don't want to go on
like
this

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I want to write, but I don't.

I want to write, but I'm feeling transparent and vulnerable again, and I don't want people to know. I want to write, because writing helps me heal. When I'm having a hard time, I write to sort things out. However, when I'm feeling vulnerable, I can't write with zeal. I edit. I worry. I rearrange, and I delete. Without zeal, writing does not heal. I end up feeling more stressed rather than less distressed. To heal, I can't leave anything out. I want to write without leaving anything out, but I can't. I feel too vulnerable.

I want to write. I want to write for me but also for you. The reader--I want to write for you. Maybe you visit often. Perhaps this is the first time you're dropping by. This blog has apparently helped some of you, and that makes me very glad. Educating others about mental illness remains one of my primary goals, but I can't write for you if vulnerability is my concern. Anyone can write academically. That is not, and has never been my intent. I want to stay real. I can't be real, however, if my transparency is painful. Right now, transparent is painful.

I want to write, but I'm worried. It seems I'm no longer as anonymous as I once was. I'm scared. There is a ton to tell, but I'm suddenly afraid to let you hear. I don't know who you are. I don't want you to think poorly of me. For months I felt well, and now I don't. I want to stay positive, but I'm not feeling positive. I want this blog to provide some hope, not drag people down. I'm too worried about who's reading my blog, who knows me, and who's trying to figure me out. I'm too worried about you, and that makes writing ineffective. I can't write if I'm worried about who might be reading. Right now, I'm worried.

I'm feeling worried, and vulnerable, and transparent, and sick. Ultimately, that's the problem. I don't like feeling sick. I don't like feeling out of control. I don't like having this fucking, unpredictable, irrational illness. This illness makes me feel vulnerable. I'd like to write more about that, but right now I can't.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cancer returns.

This time it is my AA sponsor.

My guide.
My mentor.
My friend.

She
has
cancer.

Not again.
Please.
Not again.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Controversy I created??

Phew! I unintentionally started a heated discussion on the other blog for which I write. Check out this post over at The Second Road, including all of the comments, and then please, please come back here and weigh-in. Why? Because I want to hear what readers of a primarily mental health blog think. I'm curious what some other people think. I have no desire to be "proven" right or wrong, so please keep your comments non-judgmental. No attacking others' opinions or experiences, please. Like I said, I'm just curious, and if you would be so kind as to add to the discussion, I'd appreciate it very much.



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