depression

frogging and the fight.

Cody attempted to distract me several weeks ago with a camping trip.

Camping with Frogs

A few things we had going for us:

cody and me

2006. Aww.

- We were both raised on camping, nothing about it intimidates us and it’s one of the things we miss most about living in Utah.

- We own all appropriate camping gear because we were raised in Utah and camping gear is just something you own when you’re from Utah.

- The weather around here as been simply lovely. Polar vortex in Winter = Want to Die. Polar Vortex in Summer = Hey! My skin isn’t melting off!

However, we had a few things working against us as well:

- Vivi is still working on perfecting potty training.

- Indiana, while pleasant this summer, isn’t exactly where we’re used to camping. Where are all the mountains? Nowhere? Oh.

- Vivi is also terrified of bugs and camping = bugs.

So we decided to do a trial run at camping, meaning we rented a little (LITTLE) cabin in Brown County where we were close to flushing potties, had bunk beds and (sorry) air-conditioning. It took a few hours for the girls to realize all they had to play with was nature (city kids) but once they figured out nature doesn’t (normally) bite, things went quite well. There was firefly catching, s’mores and lots of frogs. We rented a boat the next day, Addie hated it, Vivi joined team boat and never looked back.

Camping with Frogs

First time on a boat. Big fan.

We all became very stinky very fast and by the time we packed up to leave Vivi just looked smelly (not that she cared.)

Our trial run went well, and we’ll be going “real” camping several more times this year before the world ends winter comes.

Before we left Cody was stung by a wasp, then chased by the wasp, then held prisoner by the wasp.

The three of them stood outside our cabin as the wasp waited for Cody to come back so it could finish its job. Cody hollered at me when the wasp was still and I popped out with my flip flop and destroyed the nasty creature. As terrible as the wasp sting was for him, the visual of him trotting away, screaming and swinging a towel around his head as a wasp divebombed his face is one I won’t soon forget.

I guess that’s one of the hardest things about depression, you don’t enjoy anything — so you don’t really make any memories worth keeping. If you were to ask me about the last couple of weeks I could tell you about how Addie has simply stopped asking me to play with her because all I seem to do anymore is cry and yell. I know it has been sunny, and each day I follow the sun throughout my house as I wait for night to come so I can just sit and not have to say anything or have small hands touching me, screaming at me or demanding things from me. I’m making a conscious effort to enjoy my life, enjoy the little things, but right now it’s really hard work. The switch to my new medication has been successful so far — in regards to withdrawals from my previous medication and side-effects of the new one. Now it’s just wait-and-see.

I’ve always hated wait-and-see with new medications. I think most people do.

One thing Utah camping never had was frog catching. Addie and I spent a lot of time doing it, and I hope she always remembers the few days we spent catching tiny little frogs, and that memories like these overshadow the ones of me depressed.

Camping with Frogs
Camping with Frogs

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update, vices and diseases.

Everyone has a vice for dealing with feelings.

Booze, shopping, eating, drugs, sex, sleeping — or more beneficial ones like gardening, reading or working out.

Mine has been sleeping for a long time — that is until last week when I began the switch to a new medication and sleep has become almost impossible.

I’ve never wanted to be one of those people who takes a handful of pills each day. I want to take the absolute minimum and go on with my life.

Lately it’s been half of my old medication plus half of my new medication plus birth control (because if my birth weren’t controlled right now I would become a derailed train headed straight into the depths of a rocky canyon from which there is no recovery) plus a sleeping pill chaser, because if I don’t I lie awake all night thinking about how much I hate myself. It’s really not the best way to spend the night. Sunday I was convinced that what I was experiencing is what the beginning stages of death must feel like. I hated every moment of Sunday.

With sleep gone and no other vices to fall back on I have drifted back into thoughts of self-harm. (But Casey! Just fall back on working out! NATURAL ENDORPHINS! To which I say I can barely get out of bed and you want me to go to the gym? You’re adorable. Believe me, I’m working towards that goal, but I’m not there yet. One day at a time and many of my most recent days have hurt.)

I can’t even describe to you how depression hurts, you either know the pain or you don’t. It’s like being choked and sat on by an elephant while a finger incessantly pokes at the tired and sore parts of your brain. This is why self-harm enters the mind of so many that suffer with depression, you just want to FEEL something that isn’t depression. I once used sandpaper on my wrist joint until I saw bone . I’ve never done much more than that, it’s not really my thing (I certainly don’t condone it either, I’m just saying I understand it.)

Both of my tattoos come from particularly rough patches in life, it’s such a unique physical pain that dulls out and symbolizes the emotional pain. On my back are lotus flowers, which grow from the muck and mud at the bottom of a pond to bloom unblemished on the surface. I’ve been thinking a lot about another tattoo, especially right now. It’s one of the few distractions I have right now that I enjoy.

If this is your first time here, or perhaps you haven’t been around all that much — this is not me. I mean, the honesty part is me, but the sad wallowing is not me.

I can’t just go outside, do yoga at sunrise and feel better.

There’s no quick fix and if I don’t fix it right this time I’ll be even worse off down the road.

Depression is a disease, and there’s no other disease that is fixed overnight and forever with something as simple as a good night’s sleep and lots of prayer — so why should depression be any different?

So. There’s an update.

I’m trying. I’m fighting, but damn if I’m not real tired.

My best leaves the best ****ing cards.

Thank you for sticking with me through all of this.

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i am depressed, and pissed.

Let’s just get this out of the way.

Yesterday I was lying in bed as I thought how much easier it would be if I just took all the pills in my medicine cabinet and ceased to exist.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had those thoughts.

So long in fact I thought it was a joke. Surely I can’t be back here? I’ve been good for over five years. Sure, I had a slip up here and there, but I’m good! See! Functioning! SO GOOD.

Cody sat by my last week and said “You haven’t been well since November.”

When I asked those closest to me what they thought, they agreed. And not just one person, but many.

This caused me to give up me resolve to keep faking it.

I fell apart yesterday.

Big heaving ugly cries into the bedspread and an emergency trip to my doctor.

Today I have an emotional hangover and one of the worst cry headaches I’ve had in over three years.

Once I stopped listening for the other shoe to drop I began to believe there wasn’t another shoe, that I would be okay as long as I kept taking my little white pill every night before bed.

While there are a lot of people who continue to advocate and talk about depression and mental health even when they are well, I was so tired of suffering and fearing the betrayal my brain was capable of I fell into denial. “Depression? Sure, it’s something I’ve dealt with but I’m not dealing with it now! Let’s talk about cake and shoes!” I desperately wanted to believe I had found a cure. A fix. The end. Let’s talk about happy stuff, okay?

Here’s the truth I posted on Instagram this morning when I couldn’t sleep because depression is a bitch that wakes you up at 3 am and says “Sleep? Pfft. You should think about how worthless you are instead.”

I find myself wishing I had some sort of disease or disorder that would show up on an x-ray or in a blood test. Something that could be casted, cauterized or cut out of me. Some outward sign that although I look whole, I’m dying inside. My depression is the worst it’s been in years and it has been a slow and painful build to this moment where everything hurts and nothing is making it better.

Here’s the thing.

I’m ticked.

I hate that this is my trial. I hate that I’m dealing with it again despite doing everything I’m supposed to be doing. I hate that there is still a stigma around depression that it isn’t real. I hate that my brain betrayed me and tried to convince me I’d be better off dead. I hate that I listened to it. I’m pissed off.

Unlike my battles with depression  before, I refuse to let it win this time. I honestly don’t remember what happy feels like at this moment, but I know it’s out there, I know it’s worth pursuing. Maybe my anger will make it worse this time, or maybe my refusal to give in will work in my favor. “Oh, you think you want to kill yourself? LET ME SHOW YOU HOW IT’S DONE, SON.”

I don’t know.

I want to hit things. I want to smash things. I want to punch the people who have hurt me and hug the people who are just starting out on this painful journey.

I am not me right now, but enough of who I really am learned how to fight for herself over the last five years and is doing everything she can to come back.

There are things I hate right now, I don’t hate much — but the hate is actually helping me fight harder. The things I hate won’t win this time.

I’m done pretending. I’m done faking it.

I am wrecked and there’s only one way out of wrecked – up.

Camping with Frogs

Kissing frogs really have nothing to do with any of this, but they’re adorable so they get to bookend this entry.

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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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