Home » Uncategorized » The Monday Rant #8 – Dangerous Curves Up Ahead

The Monday Rant #8 – Dangerous Curves Up Ahead

Late Sunday afternoon, I heard a bit more of some ongoing good news at a friend’s blog, and I remarked in her comments section that it felt so good to hear that it made me think that I could actually change my sheets. I thought about the weirdness of that statement as I went on for a while online, checking out a few new posts and reading answers to my comments on other peoples’ blogs for the needed give and take of ideas, kind words, almost anything to help me feel plugged into the movement of the world. I’ve felt so disconnected. After that I flung myself at my bed, ripping away the blankets and folding them fast so I couldn’t change my mind, getting everything piled safe onto my computer chair while I got out the fresh sheets and smoothed them onto the mattress.

I didn’t consider then why it had been so hard to do. I called it by its name. Depression. I ruminated on how difficult it could be for someone unaccustomed to it to understand. How can a person be so depressed that changing her sheets or just taking a shower could be so damned hard, especially when they’re doing other things and even smiling when you talk to them? “How can you do that thing (insert something I’ve actually been able to accomplish this week), and not be able to do this one?”

All I can think of to answer is to say, “I don’t know. Ask a psychologist. If the answers were easy for me, I wouldn’t be so low.”

I think many of us are able to hide in plain sight as the pressure changes inside us. We respond however ‘normal’ dictates that we should, and even if we’re afraid that you can see all too well what’s happening, we may actually not be doing or saying anything you wouldn’t expect. We may be the ones who aggravate you because we seem to say the same thing over and over as if our needles are stuck in a specific groove. Or maybe we seem robotically perky and able as we plug away at some task. Maybe we can even manage to make you laugh. How would you know how bad it is if we ourselves need something specific to make it crystal clear?

I was waylaid last week by something my brain understood as not important, something that maybe never should have been important to me. But my heart disagreed and wept, kicked things inside me, and cried ‘Why now?’ and ‘I could have gone forever without finding out about that.’ Then I descended into a sort of cave where I couldn’t write, couldn’t sleep, and hated every breath I took. Depression appears to pick and choose where it touches down, like a tornado.

When things start going far south for me, I sometimes fall to a certain point and I’m there for a week or so before I realize how dark it is. Then maybe I say something to someone. Mostly I don’t, because the worst feeling in the world is to find that you’ve talked about it to the wrong person, someone you didn’t realize (or forgot) was going through something deep of their own. Then I berate myself for being a wimp and blathering, and then for caring about myself at all. It becomes hard work to contemplate water running over me and painful to change my sheets.

I’m writing this, no matter how inarticulate it is, because I envied the wrong television character Sunday night. The longing in my heart for peace took my thoughts to the wrong place, much too far south. I’m writing this because I have to take the shower. Because I changed the sheets. I’m hoping that writing it down will make me do it. I’m trying to talk myself into the things that should be simple so I can make them happen and move forward.  The only thing that doesn’t feel like too much is feeding the cat, but that may be because deep down I know she can’t do it herself without opposable thumbs. That’s not her fault. Tomorrow morning or afternoon when I get up, I’ll have a big mug of black tea to try to wake the brain cells, because I have to do some errands and then get back to work. I hope writing this down will help me move past the darkness so I can get back to getting things done. Because writing about it is the only thing I can do right now, and I like life better when I can get things done.


38 thoughts on “The Monday Rant #8 – Dangerous Curves Up Ahead

  1. Depression does that. It makes it seem like your struggle is inconsequential in light of someone else’s (it isn’t; just different). And quite frankly, right now I imagine you (because I have to have a picture of everyone in my head) as this figure stretched thin as paper up over the roof of your house (in my mind it’s a pretty little one and a half story with dormer windows like eyes), your arms embracing it and reaching all the way to the ground on either side but barely, and everything is so tenuous that even a light wind might blow you away. I’m glad feeding the cat isn’t hard. That’s something. Don’t feel like you have to be more than you are. Just stand up to the depression in every way you can and give yourself space. You’ve changed the sheets. Allow yourself a little extra sleep in them if you can.

    • Thank you, Jessie. I did sleep for a long time, in and out, but for hours and I dreamt a little. I didn’t get anything done until today, but I did have that shower before I went to bed. I had to.

  2. As we’ve been getting set for the move and I’ve stopped to look around me, and back at the three years we’ve lived in this house, I’m a little shocked at how much I’ve allowed to slide. There are no pictures on the walls of our bedroom or my youngest son’s. The furniture looks like it was just set in place and left there–which, in fact, it was. My daughter’s grown distant, my oldest has grown up, and I’ve been locked in my room all this time because I’ve been so fucking depressed.

    Over the past year, as the reality of my depression has sunk in, I’ve tried to take steps out of the situation. We’ve been working toward the move, and now it’s happening. I’ve written a book and snagged an agent, so that’s good too. But it’s going to take a bit more time before I can truly work myself free of the guilt and shame I feel over giving my family so much less than they deserve.

    I don’t know what to say or how to help you, my friend. But I think your journey begins with a shower and a change of sheets. Let yourself enjoy every single good thing you can find, and try to remember that the simple things in life can still be blissful. And remember that you deserve to be cared for, and you’re the one who should care the most.

    • I understand how you feel. When my mother was sick for so many years, she grabbed me by the throat and I didn’t know how to get away so I didn’t mother my daughter the way she needed. There were times when she couldn’t get my attention and I didn’t realize until too late. I’m still trying to forgive myself for that. When things are better around me, I don’t fall so far if something goes wrong. But I’ve been feeling like I can barely catch my breath. But I did take the shower. I’m trying to care about myself more.

  3. Very hard to break out of, in college I had it bad, and found myself far too comfortable in it as well. If someone had a magic wand that could get rid of my depression, I don’t know that I would have allowed it. I think a cat actually would have been a great help although I’m glad I didn’t have one because I wasn’t responsible enough at the time. After I finally broke free of those dark days I think I did everything to the extreme to avoid feeling that again. Exercise and brain foods (fish, blueberries, meat, and coffee) are great because you’re fighting with anti-depression chemicals which makes it almost impossible to feel really bad. I hope you find that balance, Sparks. I know how dark it can be.

  4. great title, describes depression to a T! But, you have already beat it, you’ve named it, put it in it’s category and now you’re moving on…good for you! I know things are getting better, I see/read it in your works…keep going Re! 🙂

  5. “I hope writing this down will help me move past the darkness so I can get back to getting things done. Because writing about it is the only thing I can do right now, and I like life better when I can get things done.”

    Indeed, it does make a difference. Seeing things in print makes them visible and makes you accountable for the “self-care” that you once commented about to me. Fact is, you want to move forward, in even the little things, given your acknowledgment, though doing so may be difficult right now.

    I honor the space you need as well as the sensitivity that’s required with such a delicate time. You WILL move past it, one thing at a time, one day at a time.

  6. I was at my lowest four years ago, so low I could not leave the house. Then a close friend died and I was completely flattened to the floor. The meds did not help– they just shifted the problem and left me feeling like I was stuffed full of cotton. It took a long time to pull myself out of the hole. Writing helped! Yes, it really helps. And bright sun and brisk wind in my face helped too, when I could make myself get out. A bath helped. But mostly writing.

    An idea that’s been coming up lately, again and again: when I feel incapable, I just pretend to be someone who can do it. I go through the motions until the motions go through me. I have been practicing this, pretending to be capable, and I think it’s slowly starting to work. Or I tell myself it is, which is almost as good.

    I know you can write yourself out of that hole you’re in. I look forward to watching you do it. Go, Re! You can do it. Don’t stop!

    • Oh Anna, I understand what you’re saying too. Back when I was married and had a regular doctor, we couldn’t find any meds that made me feel ‘real’ either. And I didn’t really care about writing when I took them, I only vaguely remembered caring. First the horror with my mother, then my marriage to an asshole, and now there’s too much alone time and the joke of my financial situation. But so far I’ve tried to “fake it till I make it.” I got that from Dr. Phil, but it sounds like what you’re saying. It does help a lot of the time. I think I’m getting back to it. I did have the shower on Sunday, and I took care of the errands today. Yay me, right.

      • I’m trying to make myself go to an event tomorrow morning for someone who’s been kind to me in the past. She’s young and she’s done a lot of work to put it together for a cause that’s dear to her heart, but it starts so early and I have to put that face on and keep it on and I’m pretty sure I won’t know anyone else there. It’s easier on the bus and doing errands because I don’t have to interact much. But I promised her a while back because it’s so important to her. My biggest fear is that I won’t sleep. When I don’t sleep, I feel a little drunk and sometimes say stupid things. Today I have to pick out an outfit (I might have to wash it) and just breathe and try to be calm and go to bed early. Thank you so much for asking, Anna. I just had a good cry while I wrote that out. Maybe that will actually help.

  7. Baby steps. That’s what the oncologist told me. Take a baby step. But damn, they did not feel like baby steps. They felt like huge mountain high lunges. You are so right when you describe it touching down like a tornado. You will learn over time what things you can be around and what things you have to avoid for your sanity. Words, you can be around, so sink into them and let them bring you some peace. I can’t tell you how many times I found myself laughing and talking to someone, and afterwards realizing all that happiness was like an egg shell. An act I could pull off very well. What told me the depression was at the point I needed to talk to someone was when I could no longer write. And what helped wasn’t talking to a specialist, it was starting a blog, writing in tiny sips, and meeting you! Like Girl in the Hat says, go through the motions until they go through you. Fake it until it feels real again. And cling to the things that work for you. Make them a priority and don’t let anyone take them away. You’re strong, and those of us who understand are behind you.

    • That’s just it though. Somehow, when I get this low, the words start to go away. But I wrote something today before I went out to do the errands. I wish it wasn’t sad, but I think it worked and that’s better than the moon in June prose I was writing Saturday before I really lost it. I haven’t been sleeping well at all and I don’t think I have any more reserves where that’s concerned. I miss my dreams. That’s where I’m trying to start, really. I was afraid that staying in bed too long was a bad thing. Now I’m trying to treat it like a prescription, at least for a little while. And when I’m up I’ll keep trying to “fake it till I make it.” I promise. Thanks so much for the kind words, Lisa.

  8. This is good, Re– only two small things today, then one bigger thing tomorrow. Focus on the fact that afterwards, you will feel accomplished and energized and virtuous. (Don’t’ forget to try the outfit on. Can’t tell you how many times a last-minute thing has derailed me.) Can you get a little fresh air or exercise today? Just one walk might help you sleep.

    • I don’t like going outside in my neighborhood if I’m not going away from it, but the windows are open and the weather’s cool so your suggestion makes me want to see how many standing poses I remember from yoga. That’s peaceful and I can do that while the load of clothes is washing. Thanks for making my brain go there, Anna. (And thanks for the other tip. The one that was dirty is the one that fits better. That’s why I’m doing laundry.)

  9. You’re getting there, Ré! We both are. Everyone is right: shower and fresh sheets today, something even larger tomorrow. I began this journey by abandoning food, exercise, my blog, my friends, the ones I love…but every day I find myself settling a little more into my own skin again. I know that feeling of disconnect. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching things from afar, and it frightens me.

    You’re in my thoughts. We’re all down here together.

  10. Your post reminds me of how depressed I was at about age 14. I started to describe an example of some of the things I found myself incapable of doing back then, but then I deleted it all. That’s how shameful this stuff can be even years later. But I hope you can continue to change the sheets and take those showers — and how lovely that someone else’s good news prompted you to do so.

    • Thank you so much. I understand. I keep trying to make myself delete these kinds of posts, but I’m tired of adhering to “shoulds” that I don’t believe in and that don’t help anybody. I don’t want to hide, but I’m still a little ashamed.

  11. I’ve been there. I’m bipolar so I totally understand where you are coming from. I always know I’m sinking into a funk when I don’t shave my legs and armpits. That’s when I know I’m going down in the spiral. After I had my second son, I had PPD and a very bad low. I didn’t come out of it for over 2 years. That’s the first two years of my son’s life that I didn’t document and couldn’t muster up enough enthusiasm to care about. He asked me the other day what his first word was. I lied. I couldn’t remember what it was. I don’t remember a lot about that time and I carry that guilt around with me all the time. You’re not alone in battling this.

  12. Dear Ré, I am so behind on reading blogs and commenting here (and replying to your email), but I’m sending you a big BIG hug. Yes, as everyone says — baby steps. Do what you can, and remind yourself what a big deal it is that you’re doing it (even if, and especially if, no one else thinks it’s a big deal. You know what you had to go through to get it done.). Remind yourself not to take others’ behavior personally, and hope that they do the same with you, because ultimately we’re all just trying to do the best we can. I’m sorry I haven’t been more present with you in the past couple of weeks, but I’ve been thinking of you all the time. Lots of love to you and hope you’re finding some of the sunny, airy, fresh and joyous spots in life… or they’re finding you. 🙂

    • Lisa, you’ve been going through so much, too. I wish I could help. I’d bring hugs and cookies and tea, and all the listening skills I could muster. Tend to yourself first when you need it, like they say. That’s how we know we have something to give. Right?

  13. Ré, I understand. I know someone who struggles with depression and I’ve learnt a lot from them. I know that sometimes you can’t control it either. That that shower or chore is just a hassle. I know when the battery is flat. We all recharge it in different ways. I wish I was closer to help. Keep writing – it in itself is therapy……. and better than the retail version.

  14. Re,

    I am glad to see that you are feeling better, by and by. I understand that everyday can be a struggle and that time slip feeling, as I call it, when you lose time to sadness while only the barest of life’s essential functions gets done. It is a dark and shadowy place that I wish I wasn’t familiar with.

    Right now, I am willing myself to tackle that which I don’t want to do and relax my shoulders. After that, I hope to get some sunshine, stave off some venomous clients and beat back the fear of foreclosure and the IRS, for just one day. I may need a little cry first to keep me going but keep going I will and so will you. Small victories are just as important as large ones.



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