Archive for the depression Category

The Night Before The Night

Posted in antidepressants, christmas, depression, peace with tags , , on December 24, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

The children are gone until Christmas Day, so my house is quiet and I’ve spent the last few days thinking about 2014. It’s been a hell of a year in many ways. Financially, physically and emotionally there’ve been a lot of hurdles to jump and I see more on my path in the future.

Yet it occurred to me last night that I’m actually okay. Better than okay, I’m good. Over the last decade, no, even longer than that, I’ve gotten used to not being okay. Consistently in some level of coping with depression, every crisis and stressor (and there have been many) sent me spiraling downward. My awareness that things are changing started when I met an ex for a drink and he commented “You look good”. I laughed and asked him if he’d expected something different.

“No, you just so often looked sad before. You don’t look sad now, you look good.”

Someone else recently told me they could feel my self-love and that I seemed stronger. A friend I met for drinks last night echoed similar sentiments that I “looked good”. Knowing I haven’t been visited by the youth and beauty fairy lately, I can only imagine they’re picking up on the fact I actually feel good. Centered. Peaceful.. I mostly like who I am these days, even flawed and imperfect as I may be. Gone are the scary lows I’ve experienced before, even though life isn’t all roses and sunshine and I still feel sad, lonely, angry and uncertain sometimes. That’s just part of the human experience.

I know in large part it’s finding a medication that actually works and I’m so, so grateful to have the chemicals in my brain work the way they’re supposed to. I wish I’d found it 20 years ago, but I’m really glad I have it now. I’d like to think all the soul-searching and inner work I’ve done play a part as well. I feel like the medication allows me to climb to higher ground with the work I do and reach summits, rather than always struggling just to climb out of a hole.

There are situations I’ll probably always find challenging and people who are part of my life by necessity who will never be the person I would like them to be. I’m finding a measure of acceptance though, which is crucial for keeping my sense of peace intact. I still have trigger events and people and I still have lots of work I need to do on myself, because I’m alive and anyone living should be continuing to evolve! But I don’t feel broken anymore and I can see my flaws without feeling like I’ve failed.

For years I thought if I managed to overcome my depression, my life would be pretty perfect. I hoped everything would just fall into place. I’m facing the realization that isn’t going to happen. Life is often messy and complicated and hard work. It’s also beautiful and spectacular and amazing. I feel at peace tonight, but tomorrow I might hit a trigger and want to punch something. Overcoming my depression doesn’t mean overcoming my humanity. I still hurt and bleed and sometimes cry because life is HARD sometimes. There’ve been moments over the past 6 months when I would feel extremely sad and get panicked, wondering if the depression was returning. But I’m finally settling into the idea that baseline, rather than a negative, is my new normal. I’m still going to have negative emotions sometimes and that’s okay.

But I like to think that now I’m “good” more often than not and that it’s clearly showing. I’m excited about what life will bring, even while I’m struggling through some of my current challenges. My life isn’t perfect and the fact that I can feel okay about that speaks volumes about how far I’ve come in a year.

So…the night before the night, may I wish you all a beautiful holiday season, filled with love and magic and beauty.

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Old, Alone and Done For

Posted in anxiety, depression, self-esteem, self-improvement with tags , , on October 29, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Several years ago, there was a Peter Pan remake film that my children loved. Near the end of the film, as the villainous Hook is being conquered, the children around him begin to chant, as he attempts to escape using the happy thoughts of pixie dust, “Old, Alone and done for!”

Hook begins to falter, his internal fears suddenly arrested by the growing chant.

“Old, alone and done for!”

Old, alone and done for!”

Hook slowly begins to sink, weighed down by his sad thoughts and fears, until he is eaten by the waiting crocodile below.

Lately, I’ve felt a lot like Hook.

About a month ago, I tore my ACL. Surgery was required and I was three weeks post-op as of yesterday. The recovery has been humbling, to say the least. Despite my best intentions of independence, I ended up staying at my parents for three nights following the surgery, drugged and dizzy and in pain. I went home and was barely able to hobble around on crutches. I started back to work slightly over a week past the surgery, aware that life had to move on, yet by the end of each day I was wiped out.

Today, I managed to straighten my leg completely for the first time in a month. It’s a victory won through hard effort, which I know will escape me after a night of sleep. Tomorrow I will begin the process again of stretching and strengthening, until eventually, after enough months of therapy, my knee remembers what it’s supposed to do and I don’t have to grasp the simple concepts of motion all over again. It doesn’t help that nerves in my leg were cut, which leaves most of my shin completely numb. I feel like I”m dragging a zombie leg around most of the time They tell me the nerves will, hopefully, regenerate after a year or so.

Two years of serious physical fitness, nearly down the toilet in a month. Now I’m resigned to simple exercises to  strengthen my mostly useless muscles, that a month ago would have made me laugh.

I feel physically vulnerable and weak, my body incapable of things it has always been capable of–the simple act of movement without difficulty.

What I hadn’t counted on was the emotional demons this injury and surgery would conjure. Loneliness, fears of being alone, fears of being vulnerable, insecurity over aging.

Over the last three weeks, I have wept off and on indiscriminately. I have found a new fear of my singledom–now not only has it represented the fear that I am less than those who are coupled and the insecurity that my loneliness will be a permanent condition–it has also represented the fear of being incapacitated and by myself. Family and friends have helped me through the worst of things, but even they couldn’t quite compensate for the fact that I live alone. Suddenly, being single seemed to have negative impact beyond the sentimental. Now, it seemed like a practical disadvantage as well.

I’ve had to face the fear of “What if this never changes?”

Right now, I feel incredibly vulnerable, emotionally and physically. I’m trying my damndest to strengthen myself and put on a brave face. A lot of the time, I just feel like taking to my bed and hiding.

But of course, I don’t. I stretch and strengthen and smile.

“I’m getting better every day!”

“I’ll be better than ever in a few months.”

“Now I’ve got something to work for.”

I’m trying really hard to ignore that fear in my head that says I’ll be alone forever, that this is the start of a long progression of things that go wrong with my body and that I’ll never win. Because that is defeatist and just the exhaustion and residue of trauma left over from the surgery. I know that this is just a blip in my life and I need to be patient and just work at getting better. I know that I have loved and been loved and that will come again, I just haven’t met the right person yet. There is nothing whatsoever that would prevent me from finding someone who will love me and want to be with me and I just need to have patience for that as well.

Acceptance and patience seem to be the two things I need the most of lately and they are two of the things I find very challenging.

I’m trying especially hard to blot out the voices that whisper, when I’m tired and aching and lonely:

“Old, alone and done for.”

I’m vibrant, fairly healthy and far from done for. So it’s time to rally and face my demons and battle them down. I may not be able to vanquish them totally, but unlike Hook, I’ve still got a lot of happy thoughts I can reach for when those damn, pesky demons start whispering.

Melancholy Mermaid

Posted in anxiety, depression, parenting after divorce, Relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement with tags , , , on April 4, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Seven years ago, I took what would prove to be a momentous trip. In the middle of a deep depression, the collapse of my marriage and the unrelenting arguments between my husband and myself, I knew I had to get a breather. Feeling like I had failed at everything in my life and not really wanting to live, I made plans to head to the beach, alone. This meant leaving my husband and my very young children, driving cross country, and being alone for the longest period of time in my entire life.  I’d only ever spent the night away on my own once before. To leave everyone behind for 10 whole days while I tried to recover from a nervous breakdown and decide what the hell I needed to do to pick up the broken pieces of my life was terrifying. I drove straight through without stopping, arrived at my beachfront condo, then celebrated my 33rd birthday alone the next night.

The ocean has always called to me and if I spend too long away from it, I start to feel edgy. My soul feels soothed in a very profound way when I hear the waves and feel the sand between my toes. In some ways, the solitude was exactly what I needed to heal. In other ways, it was extremely dangerous for me to be by myself. I didn’t feel enthusiasm for life. I thought of my marriage and I felt profound sorrow and hopelessness. My husband didn’t love me and I was pretty certain he hadn’t loved me in quite a long time, despite the fact that he was “making the best of it”. I’d made horrible choices that haunted me, but that I couldn’t escape from. I felt like I’d failed as a parent and wondered if my children would be better off without me. I’d never felt so alone and I’d never been so close to the brink of saying “fuck it” and giving up completely.

After an aborted suicide by drowning that is almost comical when narrated, I realized I didn’t really want to live but wasn’t sure I wanted to die.  Probably the less said about the trip, the better. I survived it, my husband and children joined me after 10 days. After pleading and begging my husband to stay with us for the remainder of the time, he refused and left to go back home, an abandonment which would set the tone for the future. When I returned home, scarred from my experiences and feeling fragile, I knew I needed safety first and that didn’t involve hours and hours of verbal sparring. So I asked for a trial separation, just to give us a space between interactions to retreat to…which turned into a permanent separation.

I’ve been to the beach location since then, but always in the company of other family members. When I decided to return this year, I was excited at the thought of a week away and the thought of being near the ocean. I hadn’t counted on the nearly crippling anxiety that would begin to plague me as I got closer to the trip. Memories, incredibly painful memories, began to surface and I struggled with the thought of going. I had fleeting moments where I wondered if it was a good idea, then I thought I was being ridiculous and tried to just take a deep breath. I wasn’t the same person and my life wasn’t the same.

Driving toward my destination, as my children were engrossed in their own activities to pass the time, my mind returned over and over to the past. I found tears streaming down my face and my anxiety returning. What was I thinking? I should have picked a different location. I shouldn’t have even attempted to come to this place again without support, distractions, a way to distance myself from everything that had happened 7 years earlier.

Yet as we drew closer, at the first sight of the water, I felt something in my chest ease. The excitement of my children and the scent of the ocean water buoyed my spirits. As our days have passed here, I’ve been mostly fine. A few stray moments here and there were I’ve had a hard time not getting bogged down by the memories, but I’ve mainly felt happy and relaxed. I feel like I’ve reclaimed this place I’ve been coming to since I was a child. The bad memories aren’t banished, but they haven’t completely ruined the experience for me. This has been a wonderful time with my children.

I have felt some sorrow thinking of what it could be like if seven years ago, my husband hadn’t chosen to leave when I’d asked him to stay with us, be a family with us for the rest of the week. I can’t help but muse about what would have happened if he’d taken me by the hand and said, “I love you and I want our family and I’m willing to be here while we figure it out.” He didn’t and it’s hard to know what effect that would have had. Given our current relationship, I certainly can’t even picture a life with him now, nor do I want one. Still, that’s the thing about choices: Each one means a different path in the road and a different possible outcome.

I’ve spent a lifetime believing that if I feel a moment of sadness it invalidates all the joy and it’s impossible for those two emotions to live side-by-side. For me, that’s simply not true. I feel intense joy that I’m here in this moment with my children. I feel wonderful that I can hear the ocean when I walk on the beach at night, that the stars shine so brightly overhead. I love lazing around with them and doing whatever we want, whether its going for night time swims or playing Guitar Hero in an arcade.

At the same time, I feel sadness it’s just me that’s here with them. I feel lonely. If I allow myself to slip out of the present moment, I feel regrets about the past and worry for the future. I feel a desire to not go back to my “real” life, which has seemed to involve a lot of stress. I intensely want a partner at some moments and feel unhappy I haven’ met someone I want around long term. Then at other moments I wonder if I really want to give up my freedom. I can recognize that being here alone with my children creates some loneliness. I can also realize a partner might not want to play Guitar Hero in an arcade, go for night time swims and then drink hot chocolate, or do any of the other things we think are great. I realize a relationship would mean conforming to another person’s agenda and desires. Right now, neither being completely alone or being in a marriage or partnership, with all that entails, sounds quite right. Still, I’d like to try starting things off with someone wonderful and see where it goes!

So…sadness and joy. Perhaps living betwixt them is the work I’m learning to do. Mindfulness. Being present. The recognition that feelings are just feelings and come and go.

For tonight, I’ll stand outside and look at the waves and listen to that rhythm that calls to my soul. I’ll check on my sleeping children one last time before I go to bed. Then I’ll wake and see what the day brings us. I’m sure for at least one more day, it will bring us sun, sand, water, giggles, some sibling fights and seafood. I’m going to try to not worry about what tomorrow brings. I’ll face that tomorrow.

The Ebb and Flow of Feelings

Posted in anxiety, depression, Parenting, Relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement on March 5, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

So, just a few weeks ago I posted this wonderful blog about how much better I’ve been doing and how many moments of pure joy I’ve experienced lately. I even waxed poetic…something about stringing together the moments of joy into a necklace to light my way into dark days. Or some nonsense like that.

I wish my necklace had a few more moments on it.

I am trying to keep in mind that life and emotions are an ebb and flow and it’s easy to get trapped into thinking “I feel like shit today, so my life must be shit”. Or thinking that things are so wonderful and beautiful we’re surprised when things change on what feels like  a whim. Life, and feelings, are so fluid and transitory. But boy, it sure doesn’t feel that way when the dark times hit.

The last two weeks have been a big, steaming pile of crap. There was crap before, but I was managing to handle it. The extra crap, on top of the normal crap, is starting to wear me down.

My ceiling still has a hole in it, although at least an insurance adjuster is finally going to come and see if I can get it fixed ($750 deductible out of pocket). My car has to go in for work ($1027 out of pocket). I’m now sleeping, hopefully very temporarily, in my children’s bedroom in a family bed. Every night. I love them, but it’s starting to get to me. I’m cold all the time and I’ve almost lost all motivation to live except for in front of my heater or under a blanket. The realization (prompted by my father) that I hadn’t changed my furnace filter in years may, hopefully, lead to a warmer house. I had a horrific stomach bug for a week, yet had to drag myself to work because of drama. I’ve had ongoing drama with THEY WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED and it has really started to get old and wear on my spirit. I decided to get brave and ask someone out with whom there was a flirtation, only to be told that he had a “reputation” he had to uphold during his pending divorce and that he probably couldn’t be seen around town with me, but since I was cute he’d totally be up for a “make-out session” at his house. Hmmm…I think that only works if I hate myself. Since I don’t, I declined. I wondered if he might be a douchebag before I asked him out for a drink, but I didn’t expect such complete confirmation so quickly. My children have been at each other’s throats and my parenting has felt like it mainly consists of mediation lately. My workouts the last two weeks have been almost nonexistent and yesterday, when I worked out, I thought I might die. Today I’m so sore I can barely move.

And rolling around it all is the anger that is still percolating about my blog and the invasion that happened. I’ve had a lot of thoughts around ethics and what responsibility a writer has when discussing another person, even one whom they don’t specifically name. I’ll probably get around to that at a future date.  Yet I’m very much feeling like my blog is tainted, much as I did when D informed me he’d been reading it. Again, I can’t stop people from reading if I choose to publish it on the internet. But the strong feeling of ickiness and violation is persisting. I’ve had a promise the blog will never again be read by THEY WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED, but I heard that just last week and had it proven to me very quickly it wasn’t true.

So, I’m trying to take some deep breaths and remember these emotions are transitory. Life could change within a few minutes. Breathe through the bad times and don’t get too comfortable in the great times. Change is inevitable and I have to look for the beauty in every moment and accept it when things suck. Life isn’t out to get me, it’s just the journey.

Breathing in, breathing out…trying to be mindful and in the present moment. Crying when I need to cry and laughing when I need to laugh. Waiting for the sunshine and warmth to return and lend some cheer to what has felt like the long, hard winter. Only a few weeks until spring…

 

I Am My Own Valentine (And It’s Pretty Frickin’ Awesome)

Posted in Dating, depression, love, self-esteem, self-improvement, Valentine's Day with tags , , , , on February 14, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Valentine’s Day.

The day in which couples feel pressured to prove their love with chocolate, flowers, lingerie and any number of trinkets and material goods. The holiday that makes singles cringe in shame that they have failed to secure someone who will buy them a Hallmark card and a box of truffles.

I’ve always thought Valentine’s Day was kind of sweet and kind of ridiculous. Traditionally, I get my children cards, chocolates and a stuffed animal and they give me small, homemade gifts. I’ve received Valentines from two people in my entire life, one being my ex-husband and one was a man I dated for 10 weeks who ended up stalking me for 4 months after I ended things. With everyone else…either we opted to not celebrate it, the timing was off, or we broke up before the holiday arrived. The last two years I was, each time, recovering from deep heartbreak (which is what happens when you’re stupid enough to get back together with someone repeatedly, after they’ve shown they can’t be trusted with your heart). And…I was sad. I let myself feel rejected and unloved and unworthy. I cried and moped and sunk further into the depression I was in.

This year, I decided to fully embrace the day and all that it is supposed to represent. I’m done with feeling like I’ve somehow failed or am inferior to those who’ve managed to stay coupled, just because I haven’t met someone who really rocks my world for longer than a few months or a year. I’m through with thinking the relationships that didn’t work out, the men who had too much baggage to love,  or those who didn’t love me enough to even treat me with respect and courtesy are about my failings as a human being. I’m far from perfect, but I am a shining, beautiful, worthy woman. I believe one day I will meet a kind, strong man who will be brave enough to love, healthy enough to be with me, who will be thrilled to have me by his side. If somehow that man and I never cross paths, I will STILL be that shining, beautiful worthy woman.

So today I haven’t shied away from love or talk of love. Why should I? Love is a beautiful experience and I’ve had it, lost it and look forward to finding it again. I booked myself a massage and enjoyed the sensuous pleasure of having someone touch me with warm, strong hands. I bought a drink at a coffee shop and browsed row upon row of books. I bought flowers; bright, happy flowers in shades of spring and sun and some beautiful, lacy underwear and perfume in my favorite fragrance. I’ve got a bath bomb that will release essential oils and flower petals into my hot bath later, during which I will enjoy a new novel and a glass of red wine. Afterwards I will get out, smelling and feeling delicious, and make a chocolate soufflé for one and settle in for a romantic comedy. I’ve got a playlist of love songs in the background. I may cry at some point, because the rich surfeit of my emotions sometimes spills over into tears. And that’s okay too. Crying is healthy and cleansing and sometimes is about feelings things very strongly, rather than just about feeling sad.

I am my own Valentine and while I love loving someone else, there’s something pretty awesome about loving myself.

Gun-shy

Posted in Dating, depression, online dating, Relationships, self-improvement with tags , on February 11, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

I find myself in a curious place.

I’m not in a lonely, sobbing little heap anymore. I still have plenty of times when I’m blue or lonely, but I no longer feel my life is a downward spiral of hopeless unhappiness. I have many days when I am joyful and have worked really hard the last few months to expand my circles and lift myself up out of depression. My life isn’t perfect, but it feels a hell of a lot better than it did a year ago. And…I’m very single. Don’t get me wrong, there is a person that I’ve dated very casually for the last couple of months. It’s not going anywhere and at one point, I thought it was completely over, then he popped back up.  I don’t love him, he doesn’t love me and we have a good time.

Still, I dream of something more with someone.

And for the first time in my life, I’m scared of attempting it.

I mean, there have been times when I’ve been hurt badly enough I’ve been afraid of “getting back out there”. Yet the fear of being alone was stronger, so I always plunged back into dating pretty quickly. This time, I feel mostly okay for the first time in quite awhile. It’s a lot better than not okay, which is where I was for many months. The pitfalls of dating seem perilous and leave me …reluctant. I find myself putting off getting back into the dating scene. I’m not hiding from it, but I’m making very little effort to embrace it.

Yet I also know there comes a point where fear can be paralyzing.

I’m left trying to assess what is a healthy balance of being okay on my own and what is making excuses to avoid something that, ultimately, I really want. A real relationship, with someone who’s emotionally healthy and mature enough to handle it. Someone to walk hand in hand with, share the triumphs and hardships of the day with, to curl around at night. Because while I have affection for the casual dating partner and enjoy his company most times we’re together, he doesn’t move me. There’s always a level of emptiness in the pit of my stomach when I drive home.

At what point does being afraid to date turn into a problem that’s just as serious as being afraid to not date?

Feeling My Feelings

Posted in anxiety, Dating, depression, self-improvement with tags , , , , on October 2, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Last week I asked my therapist if it was possible to die from anxiety.

“No, not really.” He replied in an infuriatingly calm voice.

“But my chest hurts like I’m having a heart attack and it’s been going on for days!”

“I’m sure that feels really bad, but it would basically take years and years for it to kill you.”

This week, still in the middle of what feels like the world’s longest anxiety attack and a complete, sobbing mess, I basically ask for drugs.

“I need something to make me feel better RIGHT NOW!” I tell him between sobbing fits.

He tells me I need to feel my feelings. In protest, I ask him what the hell he thinks I’m doing? All I’m doing is feeling my feelings, that’s the problem! He insists that I’m so busy thinking about my feelings and trying to distract myself from them so I can continue functioning, I’m not really allowing myself to feel and identify them. He makes the asinine suggestion of taking the next two days off from work, a suggestion I immediately reject because…well…I just can’t…even though the thought of having space and time to grieve is certainly appealing to me. He tells me to use my weekend without my children to let myself sit with any feelings that come up and just feel them, without rejection or judgement.

I immediately am able to clearly identify the feeling of wanting to throttle him with my bare hands until he gives me a pill…a practice…a solution, anything that will ease this tightness in my chest and sick knot in my stomach. Anything that will make me feel better, quickly. Because getting into the hell hole bubble of grief and fear and anger that keeps surfacing sounds really, really bad and like a monstrously unappealing and scary idea.

Still, I went into this weekend prepared to try to dive headfirst into this darkest before the dawn sort of thing; feel bad so I can have hope of feeling better. I vow to myself to A.) Not drink, because I know that I drink to mute my feelings, even though I rarely get drunk; It’s still a way of escaping. B.) Let myself feel whatever comes up and try to identify what it is and trace it back to the source. Is it anger? If so, what am I angry at? Is it grief? What am I grieving?

Over the weekend, I went and met face-to-face with my lover…well, ex-lover. Perhaps that’s a future blog. Suffice it to say, for now, it gave me a lot of feelings I could work on.

The weekend was unpleasant. I cried a lot. I realized the extent of the emptiness and depression I often feel and how much my lover lifted me out of it and gave me something to look forward to; I saw how much this wave of emotion is related to not wanting to sink back into that place. I felt anger and frustration and fear and sadness. And deep down, I feel hopeless because I don’t know how to mitigate it. I can recognize relying on a partner (or the hope of a partner) to change my life is absolutely setting myself up for failure. Because if I do and things fall apart, it thrusts me right back into crisis and self-doubt. Yet I don’t know what to do differently, because I feel like I’ve tried everything. Getting “out there”, being social, starting hobbies, taking up projects, throwing myself into parenting, studying, meditating, yoga, exercise…it all feels like I’m pouring water into a jug with a bunch of holes at the bottom. At the end I’m left feeling empty…lonely…bleak. How do I change that without relying on a partner that may or may not show up, or may or may not stick around? I also realized how often when I’ve expressed sadness or anger I’ve been told all the reasons I shouldn’t feel those emotions, rather than receiving validation or even simple acceptance. Being told “feel different” is hardly a valid solution to any negative emotion; I’ve gotten the message loud and clear that what I feel is wrong, therefore who I am must be wrong. Feeling my feelings seems scary; there are all these voices in my head saying “stop being ungrateful, selfish, whiney, self-pitying, a drama queen, unenlightened, angry, a bitch, unreasonable, too sensitive…”. The list goes on and on.

So I have lots of questions, with no answers, drugs are still sounding like an appealing option and I don’t feel tremendously better. I’m calmer. I’m a week and a half past the end of things with my lover and the anxiety is still present, but I don’t feel it every single moment of the day at least. Is that progress? Or just a sink back into the emptiness?

My goal was to use this year before I turn 40 to get answers, but all I feel is the clock ticking and not really closer to knowing how to truly be happy. So…come on, Universe! Send me some light! I’d like to kind of start to figure this life thing out sometime soon…