Archive for depression

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.

What A Difference A Year Makes

Posted in Relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement, women's liberation with tags , , , on February 3, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Today I went out with some friends for lunch and over coffee and quiche, the conversation turned deep and intense. Discussion of past relationships and their effect on our psyches, revelations of chinks in our self-esteem, our fears and insecurities. I shared with them a realization I’d had just the other day that disturbed me: Whenever someone asks me how things are going, I always feel like I need to qualify it if I’m not in a successful relationship. It occurred to me the lens through which I see myself and my worth as an individual is colored very intensely by whether or not I am successfully coupled with someone. That struck me as ridiculous and limiting and I felt determined to change the way I see myself.

After the conversation, I got to musing about the past year of my life. This time last year I was a complete mess. The final phase of my relationship with D had ended with great finality and my self-esteem and emotional health were depleted. I went into a deep depression and felt like I had fallen into an abyss I’d never be able to pull myself out of. I hadn’t experienced such bleakness since the end of my marriage and I despaired, feeling completely broken. I questioned life, even knowing I had to continue living for the sake of my children. Yet dragging myself through the motions of trying to live with the weight of sadness which lay on my heart was exhausting. The realization that I wanted to cease existing because of the level of pain I was in terrified me. I knew I couldn’t continue any longer.

So I went back into therapy. Boy, was that a grueling and uncomfortable process! A brand new therapist who refused to be gentle with me, who refused to allow me to hide. Instead, he relentlessly pulled back all my layers until I felt fragile and exposed. Only when I was completely naked and shivering emotionally, sitting and weeping until I thought I’d be ill, did he say “Now. Now I finally feel like I see you. Maybe it’s time you let other people see the real you too.” I hated him for months while I tried to do the hard work of dealing with all of my accumulated shit.

I went back and tried again with an ex-lover whom I’d walked away from during the turmoil with D. It was a mistake and I realized too late his issues were trigger buttons for me that I couldn’t accept, so I ran before I could love him. I still feel sorrow knowing I hurt him, even as I know I could have loved him and it would have ended in more pain for both of us. I found another lover who swept me up in his intense, sexy madness until I felt drenched in pure, undiluted passion. When it was over, suddenly, I learned how to feel my grief and anger completely, then release them. I let him go and this time, unlike with so many others, I didn’t try to make it work when it clearly wasn’t going to.

I sit here tonight in my cozy little cottage home, sipping a glass of wine and looking out at the snow that’s falling down, contemplating where I’m at in life. Several times over the last month or two, I’ve felt pure joy for no reason at all. In fact, yesterday and today I was mostly filled with contentment and for a few moments, profound happiness.

The unusual feelings coursing through my body–lightness, hope, freedom, joy–elicited such an intense response I felt tears come to my eyes. I think in the last year, all the hard work and soul-searching I’ve been doing has started to finally pay off. The albatross of my failed relationship with D finally lifted from my neck and set me free. The feelings of diminishment are gone; I feel empowered, strong and healthy. Even my troubled relationship with the father of my children has given me fresh perspective on the end of my marriage and all the pain that resided there.

I’m not naïve enough to think this feeling will last forever. I’ve struggled with depression off and on most of my life. Yet I feel like I’ve pulled myself up out of the abyss and at least for now, achieved a victory. What a difference a year can make in someone’s life! My realistic hope is that my determination last year to get healthy emotionally and physically and the work I’ve done since then will allow me to maintain the momentum, so those moments of happiness begin to string together into a necklace of light I can wrap around myself in moments when the darkness comes. Memories that whisper, “Hey, you’ve been here before and you made your way out. You’ve got this!” and help illuminate my path.

For right this moment, I’m going to try really hard to enjoy pleasures as they come: Making snow angels with my children until our cheeks are crimson with cold and laughter. The cozy comfort of warm blankets while the snow falls outside. The bittersweet taste of chocolate on my tongue while I dive into a good book. The luxuriousness of a hot bubble bath and a cold glass of wine. The pleasure of touching and being touched. The joy of singing at the top of my lungs while I clean my house. The look of amazement on my daughter’s face when we achieve baking the perfect cheesecake.  The strength and power in my body when I do downward dog or warrior pose. The realization that I’m powerful and complete all by myself and that a partner is something I want, not something I need.

The hope and promise that each day brings when I’m not so lost in the darkness I can’t see it. For at least tonight, that necklace of happy moments is hanging around my neck, lighting my way into the year to come.

 

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…

Giving Words To Sorrow

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 4, 2012 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

“Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart, and bids it break.” ~ William Shakespeare

 Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I wonder if I am the only one that has moments, hours, days where I feel so overcome with sorrow, fear and loneliness that I can hardly breathe. Do others, without catastrophe or tragedy to inspire it, feel such darkness welling up from inside? Do others have days where they find themselves in tears from the sheer intensity of their emotions?

In these moments of bleakness, all my demons come out to taunt me. I feel isolated and afraid, convinced that the reason I am alone in my late thirties is because I am inherently unworthy of love. I’m terrified that although I can inspire respect and admiration, desire and affection, I’m somehow incapable of inspiring love. Every impulse in my body tells me to seek out someone who can somehow convince me this isn’t true, even if only for a little while. Of course, experience is a wonderful teacher. I’ve learned the hard way there is no true comfort to be found in running for the shelter of another person; it’s a temporary distraction from the fears woven through the fabric of my being. Usually the very same people I would seek out for comfort are the people who have reinforced my fears.

Unlike previous times in my life, I know this is a temporary state of mind. I don’t think I’m in the middle of a deep depression; I find joy in my life that is just as intense as the sorrow. Perhaps this is the crux of the issue: I feel everything so intensely. Love, fear, joy, grief, anger, sadness are all felt so keenly. I don’t know how to change myself. It’s always been both my gift and my curse to so fully experience my emotions. A few years ago, the sadness and grief expanded until I could feel nothing else, could see no escape from the constant aching. I was told very clearly there was something wrong with me and to find a way to fix it, or else. Not knowing how to accomplish this directive, I collapsed under the weight of my emotions. It caused me to make choices for months that haunt me to this day.

Today, I felt all the grief and anger, loneliness and sadness rising inside me. I went home and immediately spent 45 minutes working out to try to chemically diffuse the onslaught. Then I started trying to surround myself with the things that make me feel better immediately: Good music and a clean space. Since then I’ve been dicing and stirring and simmering, filling the house with delicious scents and tastes that I will be able to share with others. Fortunately, “Like Water For Chocolate” won’t apply here. I may have wept while I cooked, but no one will ever be the wiser. There may have been moments when I had to stop and sit with my head in my hands, overwhelmed and unable to move past it for a moment, but eventually it calmed. I poured my my fears and sadness into creation, instead of letting it cripple me. Six years and I’ve made progress!

My therapist always said to feel my feelings. I’m not fighting it anymore, because to deny an emotion is to simply have it return in an uglier way. Tonight I am sad and so lonely. My heart hurts, for some reasons I understand and some I don’t. Tomorrow I’ll probably feel better. Tonight, I’m going to give words to this profound sorrow that fills me up. I’m going to embrace it and use it. There is no relationship that can band-aid this,  or that could endure the weight of it. I’m not running to someone else to fix it. I need to be willing to live inside it when it surfaces, until I understand why it exists in the first place.

I’m going to let the music pour over me while I cry and wrap myself in the comfort of domesticity, the sight and scent and touch of the scene I’ve created all day. Then I’m going to start my book. It’s time to let this intensity work for me, rather than just let it hobble me emotionally.

Some people cut themselves to release emotion, allowing the bloodletting to ease the pressure inside them. I’ve done similiar things emotionally in the past and I’ve learned healthier ways to cope. Apparently, these days, I cook and write. Here’s to doing what works and the eventual reappearance of joy in the near future…