depression

on fearing and finding.

It’s a very strange thing to have really big emotions.

When you’re young they’re looked upon as a flaw or weakness, and it continues that way until you’re grown — unless you learn how to use them.

I’m still trying to figure out how to use mine.

Creativity seems to be the best outlet for them, photography — having my camera in my hand is equal to holding onto something steady and solid. It can say things I can’t and see things I can’t describe.

Writing is the same way. Being able to write has saved me countless times.

I’ve been hesitant to talk about the inevitable breakdown I’m facing for a number of different reasons. It’s not due to anything major (at least I don’t think so) but the safety I’ve felt in my medication and treatment for the last several years is beginning to slip. I’m noticing things are getting harder to deal with. Thought patterns are messier. Emotions are getting bigger, harder to handle. I’ve learned from breakdowns in the past that beauty springs up through them eventually, but the pain in the process — as well as the fear of dealing with the pain when it comes — it’s nearly crippling.

Many of you have been checking up on me, thank you.

I don’t know how this part of my story will end, but I’ll keep telling it until I do.

 

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sad, tired, weak and kind of scared.

I’m not feeling very brave lately.

I don’t like myself very much right now, but I don’t admit that out loud partly because saying something out loud makes it more true and also because I’m trying REALLY hard to be a good example to my girls. But to be honest it’s chewing away at me and despite knowing I’m a pretty decent human I still just feel inadequate — physically, mentally, emotionally, culturally, educationally and all they other -lly adjectives I can’t think of right now. I’m really tired.

Being as sick as I was for as long as I was really did a number on me — once I came home I got a formal diagnosis of pneumonia, and that was after a week of antibiotics on the ship.

One more week of antibiotics, coughing so hard I did something drastic to my ribs and an Albuterol inhaler that makes me shake and I’m not so sure how strong I’m capable of being in the face of illness.

I just feel, blech. I haven’t really wanted to say anything about it because it’s getting old, this whole back and forth of “I’m good! Just kidding, no I’m not.”

I do seem to be functioning at a slightly higher level, albeit on autopilot. I’ve already finished all of my Christmas shopping and I’ve planned, ordered and finished everything for an actual birthday party for Addie four weeks before the big day. This kind of planning for me is unprecedented.

When pouring out my woes to a friend via email this came out “I’m okay. I wish I had more friends close by me, but I’m okay. Well, I mean, I feel like I’m a complete and total failure to Addie and that she’s going to have an eating disorder and unhealthy relationship with food, money and materialism for the rest of her life…but thankfully I don’t even know where to even start with that one so I just eat my own feelings on the subject once she’s in bed. (Currently my feelings taste like peppermint ice cream.) Toddlers are nice, you can’t totally screw them up just yet, or at least you can’t tell where you’re screwing them up for a few more years.”

Copyright Cody and Casey Est. 2001

And that pretty much sums up where I’m at. I have no idea what I’m doing so I keep doing the best I can and planning my apologies for all the damage I inevitably do.

My very wise friend wrote this back to me: “I have a hard time believing that you are failing Addie.  She is incredibly polite and she’s really an empathetic girl.  She got that from someone-  these are traits that don’t just spring up on their own.  All I can say is be consistent with her and try not to fear her anger.  She gets mad at you because she knows you’re a safe person to be mad at- you’re going to love her forever, no matter what.  So all the school related girl angst, the stresses of life, and everything else all come to a head when you say no to her and they bubble out.  All over you.  She still loves you under her anger and, if you hold true to what you say to her, she will respect you- begrudgingly and eventually, but she will.”

If you don’t read her blog already, you should. She’s quite possibly the most wise and wonderful woman I have the privilege of knowing.

So that’s where I’m at. A lot of you have been wondering, thanks.

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of biscuits and birds

After this past weekend in South Carolina, I wouldn’t be surprised if I eventually become MooshInCharleston.com. It should also be mentioned that if I did move to Charleston I would also become very unhealthy because biscuits at every meal. My dryer seemed to have worked overtime while I was away because my pants are all just a wee bit tighter today than they were last week.

Charleston - Kiawah, South Carolina

If cruises are where you go to nap, Charleston is where you go to eat. Good heavens, the eating — I returned a changed woman, stuffed to the gill with fresh, hot pralines and enough she-crab soup and biscuits to fuel a small country. Lowcountry cuisine? You have won me.

Everywhere we went seemed to be straight out of a movie, I forgot where I was a few times, sure I had fallen asleep and this was all one crazy, beautiful dream. It’s amazing how scenery so simple can overwhelm every sense. (Especially when there are tree frogs around, mercy, those frogs are loud.)

Charleston - Kiawah, South Carolina

There were six of us total, representing different publications and websites. On the second day we were all getting out of the car to eat more biscuits and soup when one of the girls got a phone call.

Her husband had passed.

…..

No one knew what to do, or what to say. I mean, how can you? Here she was getting what I can only imagine to be one of the worst phone calls of her life while she was far from home surrounded by strangers. Of course all of us figured she’d be on the next flight home, in fact I’m pretty sure we would have been willing to drive her home ourselves — but she stayed — all weekend she stayed with strangers in a strange and beautiful place. Her husband has been ill for awhile, and while he wasn’t “he could go at any moment ill” he did tell her to go live her life.

And so she did.

Even she said there was no sense in going home to just be sad. She took the weekend as a welcome distraction for things settle down and her new reality to sink in.

Charleston - Kiawah, South Carolina

Never before had the phraseBe kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” been so true.

You simply never know what someone is going through.

I learned a lot from her and her courage this weekend, I’m very thankful for her example of grace in the face of unfathomable tragedy.

There seems to be an awful lot of terrible things happening lately, none of which will ever be reported on the news, but terrible all the same.

Death, illness and devastating news seems to be touching the lives of everyone right now, if not directly, than through friends or distant contacts online. It’s a painful and unique sadness knowing so much hurt is out there, knowing there isn’t a whole lot we can do beyond offering our condolences, a prayer, a hug, perhaps a casserole. I’d like to offer everyone a warm cat, but understand the logistics behind such an offering.

It’s equally important to remember that even when it seems everyone else seems to have it worse, we are still allowed to acknowledge the difficult parts of our own lives. It isn’t being ungrateful or selfish, it’s simply being honest.

You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair — Chinese proverb

Charleston - Kiawah, South Carolina

Just like birds, sorrows come and go — it’s all in how you choose to see their arrival and departure (and deal with the crap they leave in their wake.)

If you can, head down to Charleston and watch the birds. Promise it will soothe parts of your soul that have been uneasy for ages.

Charleston - Kiawah, South Carolina

Maybe have a biscuit or two while you’re there as well.

If you’re into feeding your emotions, Charleston is totally the place to do it.

 

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depression: an update

So, that funk I am in, how’s that working out for me?

It’s okay.

As long as I remember to breathe deeply and keep moving forward.

At first all I wanted to do was sleep. SLEEEEP. Then I couldn’t sleep at all, which is TERRIBLE because you’re left thinking your own thoughts all alone in bed and oftentimes those thoughts aren’t the nicest ones you could be thinking.

Then there was the whole my period being a week late thing. Which, GRRARGFLBLE and also &*$%#. There are several people who are currently pregnant who were also pregnant when I was pregnant with Vivi, which BLESS YOUR HEARTS I AM NOT THERE YET. Perhaps I’m more susceptible to the mind numbing life force that is a toddler or perhaps I missed some maternal gene somewhere, but I cannot even FATHOM being pregnant right now. Wasn’t I just pregnant, like last month? Oy.

Needless to say my period being a week late didn’t help in the whole mental game of being me.

I guess you could say I’m in the thick of a depression hangover, there’s still an awful lot of anxiety and self loathing, but I am functioning at a much higher level than I was a week ago. I also haven’t cried as much, which is saying something. I’m also back to “Eh, it’s not that bad!” which may be the quickest I’ve ever rebounded from the depths, hooray for properly working medication.

I’ve had this overwhelming sense lately that the world is really, really good. That we’re slowly finding ways around judgment and hate, using beauty to spread messages rather than scare tactics or snide remarks. The latest Macklemore video is proof of that. I have so much hope in the generation we’re raising right now. A little toy just showed up at my door, a Princess Sofia amulet that said “A princess can do anything a prince can do.” A prince can also do anything a princess can do. (I mean, if you’re super cynical and want to get down to “A prince can’t give birth and a princess can’t pee as well standing up” clearly you’re on the wrong blog.)

This post by my friend Ami kind of sums up how I feel about everything right now, what if I’m not doing enough? What if I could be doing more? What if I’m screwing my children out of some promising future because of present circumstances? It’s a good one, I’ll tell you that.

"What do you mean you don't like tomatoes? Savage."

I know, I just became rambly, sorry Vivi. Quit with the judgmental stares.

Hope you’re all doing well out there.

xx

 

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waffles and waiting.

Depression smells like waffles, because that’s what Cody makes for everyone when I’m too sad to function.

Tonight was supposed to smell like barbeque, fresh peas and watermelon.

But sad won.

I haven’t lost it completely, I haven’t broken down into that terrible ugly cry that requires a dozen tissues and causes your eyes to hurt for the next 24 hours. But I did just catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and it doesn’t look good.

This hurts really bad, and when I’m out of it I can appreciate that this is my trial. That I am strong enough to make it through each episode in one piece and use my experiences to help others.

When I’m out of it for a long time I can always brush it off as “not that bad.”

“It could always be worse.”

But shit, when I’m in it.

I forgot how bad this hurts.

Words can still make it out of my fingers, but when they try to come out of my mouth they get trapped, confusing and tear stained.

There’s no easy way out. There’s no pill. There’s no nap long enough. There’s no shot. There’s nothing in the world that can fix this but time.

The thought of being one on one with both little girls all day tomorrow terrifies me. Addie hasn’t really seen me like this since I was pregnant with Vivi.

I talk with her often about my brain, and how hard I work to keep it working well.

Tomorrow I’m going to have to try to explain that my brain won this round.

Or I’m going to have to fake it and lie.

It’s so hard knowing people are going to need me tomorrow when I can barely function myself.

I don’t know how Cody loves this. How he continues to fight so hard for me when I can’t fight for myself.

When I’m like this I see nothing worth fighting for. Who’s to say the real me is coming back?

The biggest difference between me now and me eight years ago is I know there’s something, somewhere inside me worth fighting for.

Even if I can’t see it.

It’s what keeps me floating above self harm. I know it’s down there, but I know it won’t make things better.

So I sit here sad, knowing this isn’t my fault, and working to get better.

(And when I say “working to get better” it means not resorting to drinking heavily and letting my kids wander around the neighborhood alone. Go me.)

I don’t want to be friends with myself right now.

So hopefully you’ll understand why I don’t answer my phone or my door.

I’ll be okay, probably not today. Or tomorrow. But eventually.

There’s something to be learned in all this pain.

And I know it’s worth sticking around long enough to find out what it is.

Totally unrelated:

These thighs.

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sometimes is when we need the always

For about six to ten hours of each day Vivi is replaced by something that yells and screams too much, cries a lot, and demands everything.

We’re in 100% toddler survival mode here.

Today I had to carry her out of Home Depot under one arm as she screamed, kicked, and flailed to release herself. (I wouldn’t let her climb under the lawnmowers.)

Cody and I commiserate throughout the day via phone calls and texts if only to see the humor in our situation. “Why is she screaming?” Cody will ask while safely tucked away in his corner office several miles away.

“I told her not to pick up a wasp.”

If you’re into scare tactics to prevent teenage pregnancy, just give a teenager a toddler with the rage for a couple of days. Mind bending little critters, toddlers are.

Yesterday was one of those days. A lot of screaming. A lot of crying. A lot of falling bonelessly to the floor. Had you stuck a fork in me I would have been done. I even texted Cody my final goodbyes:

In the middle of Vivi’s rage, something happened.

I consider it a small blessing that I wasn’t able to be online yesterday thanks to anger baby.

Cody filled me in on the need to know facts, the ones I could handle. I tried to do Facebook, it didn’t work out so well.

For any of you unfamiliar, my brain cannot process violence. For this reason I avoid it whenever possible with Cody serving as my filter. He knows what I can and cannot handle.

People, including my own father, have become angry with me when I ask for the TV to be turned off, conversations to be changed or when I simply walk away from something I don’t want to see or hear. Perhaps they see it as sticking my fingers in my ears, shutting my eyes and pretending bad things don’t happen. I know bad things happen, but I also know it will eat me alive if I let it all in at once.

I know there are other people like me, people who need the good in this world to be as loud as the world allows the evil to be.

Perhaps even people who can handle the bad who need a little reminder that the good is still out there in tiny little pockets if we only just seek it out.

There is so much more good in this life than there is evil, it just isn’t as noisy.

While Vivi as of late may raise my blood pressure and test the very limits of my patience, I’m convinced that every time she giggles a fluffy kitten spontaneously poofs into existence.

On Instagram I’ve been tagging my photos #LookForTheLovely. A few people have even joined in. (I’m @mooshinindy.)

Daffodil mafia says watch out. (also the first bulbs I've ever planted.) #LookForTheLovely

No matter how terrible things get in the world, flowers will always bloom, fresh bread will always smell amazing, people will always laugh, kids will always play, people will always fall in love, and the sun is always somewhere, even if you can’t see it.

Constantly.  #LookForTheLovely

Explosions, both literal and figurative, are not an always. They are a sometimes. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes terrible, unthinkable things happen. Sometimes awful things happen all at once. Sometimes it all feels like too much.

Sometimes is when we need the always.

Singing itsy bitsy to bunny before nap. #LookForTheLovely

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fireworks for good.

Grief and sadness is a terrible thing in and of itself.

It’s hard to know where and when to stop being happy because other people are so sad, sometimes other people close to you are sad which means you should probably adjust the amount of happiness you’re capable of to better match the sadness of others. Or at least that’s what it feels like sometimes. The sun is shining, my family is marvelous and I have a very good life. I am well, I am healthy and I am quite happy.

But not too happy. The sun may be shining but people are dying. I have a very good life while others are struggling to hang on.

I have been on the other side of sadness. When I was released from the hospital Cody took me to a video store. I stared at all the people in the store laughing and carrying on without a care in the world. Didn’t they know I had just been locked up and unable to feel the sunshine on my face? Didn’t they know there were people still locked up who may never make it to a video store again? On the very long flight back from a child’s funeral it was hard not to look at frustrated parents and think “At least your child is still here. Children die and yours could too.”

It’s a terrible way to think but it’s also a very human way to think.

With what’s going on with my friend Dawn, it’s hard to fully immerse myself in all the good things surrounding me. Her family is losing her. She is not going to get better (But the eternally optimistic part of me hopes she will. I hope that part of me never shuts down.) Rather than dwell on impending sadness and doom I am focusing all my efforts for good, it’s what Dawn would do. It’s what she would want all of us to do. Take better care of each other. Complain less. Compliment more.

When I think back to the times I was sad and broken, it was your eternal optimism that convinced me I would some day get better. Had you all become sad and dreary to match my mood no one would have gotten better. I didn’t want anyone to enjoy their life any less simply because I couldn’t find any joy in mine.

There is so much sadness out in the world right now. Normally I’m in the thick of it, but for the first time I’m watching it envelop so many and I am desperate to do something about it.

Have you ever taken the time to look away from the sky during a fireworks show and look back on the crowd? That moment when the fireworks explode and everyone’s face lights up with colored light and awe?

Symphony on the Prairie-Glorious Fourth
Sadness is a single light shooting out into the great dark unknown, and when the time is right the optimism of those surrounding it should cause it to explode into a thousand tiny flashes of good deeds and kindness, lighting up the faces of those who witness it.

I am heartbroken at all the sadness we must feel in this life, but I also know from personal experience how much stronger it makes us after we survive it. I choose to complain less, laugh more and when I am able, turn the sadness around me into a thousand tiny lights to help others find their way.

********

While donations to The Melanoma Research Foundation in Dawn’s name will always be appreciated, donations are being gathered to help Mike and his sons directly with warm food, services and comforts that no one should have to worry about while losing a loved one.

UPDATE: 2pm EST. Dawn is gone. Please pray/sing/send juju, whatever it is you may do to her husband Michael and their two boys.

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an unfamiliar stumble.

So this one’s new.

My entire body is completely and utterly depressed while my brain stays afloat in a little pharmaceutical lifeboat tossed around on a sea of misery.

Think Life of Pi minus the tiger. (Sub in a one eyed cat with thumbs if you must.)

I still have my wits about me, but attempting to convince my body to come along and catch up already is near impossible. My very wise friend Ami said I’m in mid stumble, you know that panic when you’re not sure if you’re going to land on your feet or completely wipe out? I feel fairly confident I’ll land on my feet, but the underlying terror of face planting hasn’t been this close in a long time. Rather than being completely anesthetized from depression I merely have a local that seems to be keeping my brain function at 50% capacity.

I cry a lot.

All I want to do is hide and sleep.

Eating? Pfft. What’s that?

Showering? Totally overrated.

Changing out of my pajamas? Nope.

Leave the house? Yeah, right.

The biggest difference this time is that my brain is capable of seeing a light at the end of the terribly dark and dreary tunnel. It’s also able to scold the rest of me for being such a useless lump of human. There is a disconnect, my body knows exactly what is going on while my brain is all “SUCK IT UP SOLDIER! WE HAVE THINGS TO DO.” In an attempt to apologize for its bossiness it bought my tired body flowers  yesterday.

my brain bought my body flowers
Things are running a little slower around here. They’re still functioning, but they’re slow.

If I feel this terrible while receiving the help I know I need, I can only imagine how many of you are suffering. Spring is almost here, we’ve almost made it out of another miserable winter alive. Let us all be extra gracious to each other and ourselves over the next few weeks, the sun is out there somewhere. (And clearly Annie never lived in Indiana because according to the weather the sun will not be coming out tomorrow. Or this week. At all.)

How are you doing?

 

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