It is a fine time as any to reflect on the past few weeks. My house is quiet. I have my youngest snuggled in against me as he “can’t sleep” (after five minutes of trying) and I’m a sucker for cuddles.
The holidays were really a blur ending with the death of a friend that has thrown me in major ways. But I just can’t process that yet.
We had lots of family, mostly at our place, which was actually fine and quite fun to cook. I baked a lot and remembered how much I love to bake: pies and cakes, and many meals including crepes for Christmas morning. Most memorable was baking and decorating Christmas cookies with the kids which I’ve decided to turn into an annual tradition it was so much fun and the kids were literally giddy! I have tons of good memories, mostly centered around sharing food. But I missed not seeing two of my sisters, their kids and husbands. My sister Tonya has a new son Daniel whom I haven’t yet met. I hate that we live such a distance from one another and right now are too “poor” to travel.
It really wasn’t an issue not drinking. I’m not sure if it was because it isn’t around (Not much anyway; some people still drink around me and that’s cool. It’s just that a few of my friends that I sometimes drank with are not around, but that’s another story. I get a pit in my stomach every time I think of it.) Or is rather simply because I’m at a place in my abstinence where it isn’t an issue. I’m not so naive that I believe I’m done with it being an issue, but at least for this holiday I felt okay about it.
I am feeling my age and you can see it in my face, puffiness around the eyes and age spots, wrinkles. And gray hair, though you can’t see that in this image. I am carrying extra pounds that haunt me and make me feel old, make my knees hurt on the stairs and just make me plain lazy. My TMJ is acting up again, just like last Christmas strangely enough. It must be some internal stress that manifests at night, as I dream I clench my jaw causing it to ache in the daytime. And ache in the evenings when I am reading to my kids so that by the time I am done it’s throbbing. But I won’t give that up, I enjoy it too much! We’re reading the Narnia series and it’s so terrific to read aloud. I do have a good memory of my dad reading that series to us when I was around that age. Anyway, I suppose it’s time to visit a specialist for the TMJ.
My depression has held itself at bay for a long while, but reared its ugly head at Halloween, and again before Christmas and then again recently. It’s strange when you have a chronic thing like this which is something that people don’t understand. I’ve had it so long, and know so much about it at this point. But it never ceases to amaze and dismay me how little people know about Depression; how they lack true understanding, which makes it difficult to feel or express real compassion. I hope that it has made me kinder and more sensitive to others – at least that would make one positive outcome from this hellish illness.
I think in our culture we don’t really believe depression is a disease. Honestly, I might have been in that same place before this happened to me. I have always been one of those “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” kind of people and in many ways I still am actually. I do believe that if you’re feeling ill you should get up and face your day as if you aren’t. Nine times out of ten, you can work through it and the world is none the wiser. And sometimes I can even do that with this, but it takes so much to do it.
[Caviat: I have been thinking that it is time to start writing about this experience and some of the others of my life. If there was one thing I will take away from my friendship with Pete (there were many) it is WRITE! He even went so far as to scold me, gently, about it. Pete, if you can hear me, I heard you! I promise to start writing!! I don’t know what will come of it, but I’m starting with this Flow of Consciousness series. ]
But back to the topic at hand, silly me, I’ve got major depression which is not like anything I’ve ever experienced. Oh, I’ve always been melancholy, (“Melancholy Melody” my friends used to say jokingly in college and at that time it was true. I also put a pessimistic spin on everything and was always slightly anxious and filled with dread in social settings.) But this, which began in June of 2004 (I’m not sure I’ve got the right year ’cause I’m terrible with dates and will have to think back which I’m far too tired to do right now) is by far the most difficult thing I’ve encountered in my 42 years. Worse than my dad getting sick, worse than facing my mom’s alcoholism, worse than the shit of my childhood, being raged at and shamed, worse than all the heartaches I’ve faced in relationships in and outside my family, worse than being an alcoholic myself and worse than having to admit it, simply the worst thing in my entire life is Depression – admitting it, accepting it, living with it. Did I mention admitting it because that is a story in and of itself, for another day.
It comes and goes but it has come again and well, it feels like it is here to stay a while. I’m doing all the things that I know help fight it and fight is the only thing you can do. Unless you’re just going to lie down and give in to it, say your goodbyes perhaps and be done with this life. Yes, another day has passed, I fought, and hope against all hope I will sleep hard and well, and start again tomorrow. For all we can do it Hope in a new day.
I think that’s all I have for tonight.