I dislike this, because a) no one ever prefers to be in a bad place, and b) because I've thought my recent off days would be chalked up to a phase. Boredom, stress, something other than maybe I'm just depressed.
I don't say this to indicate that I've failed in some way. I just haven't felt this way in a long time, and since I've seen dark places before, it disturbs me to think that I might be headed back to a season that once really messed me up.
I hate even typing this because that means it's true. I'm dealing with something. Whether it will disappear -- poof! -- tomorrow, or stay for several months, I have to admit that today I feel depressed.
The slow music I'm listening to is not exactly helping, but I'm not sure some poppy tunes would help the situation either. They might just make me angry; why are the Beach Boys so happy?? I might ask.
Alex is asleep in the next room, and I wish he were awake to keep me company. But he needs his rest, and I want him to rest.
Tears are welling in my eyes.
I take comfort that Alex is near, yet.
Tears are now running down my cheeks.
I know that I'm strong. I know that I can endure a lot. I have resources, the most loving friends, a job to keep me busy and coworkers that make me laugh.
I feel burdened.
I told A that tomorrow I have to order lunch for a meeting and it just feels like a TASK.
And it is a task.
But it shouldn't have me feeling so overwhelmed.
I have two upcoming vacations, and I am struggling to focus on the joy that I know they will bring me, because my vision keeps getting blocked by things like possible turbulence and exhaustion from jet lag, and the people we love who we leave behind when we go on another adventure.
I just want assurance that this feeling will be gone -- poof! -- tomorrow, but of course we can never know.
I want to ask Why? but I don't dare, because that means I'm facing the pain.
It's just that -- and anyone who's been depressed more than once can attest to this -- the thought of going back to the dark place is so damn scary.
I've been asked to speak at a mental health awareness event in two weeks, and I don't know what to say.
A few weeks ago, I would have just told the story I've told over and over. Anxiety and depression in my twenties, lots of therapy, lots of learning useful coping skills, lots of leaning on friends, family, and the church, then a life-changing alteration of meds, and Bam! Happy happy happy ever since. Even Steven -- no crazy ups, no crazy downs. Just calm and at peace.
Now, I find myself re-evaluating what I might say.
I want to be honest, of course. And I want to give hope. I don't want to walk in and say, "Well, apparently, after two years on a great cocktail of medication, you might have to go visit your psychiatrist and do some tweaking."
Although honestly when I say it like that it seems rather simple. Unless you're depressed, in which case the scheduling of the appointment, the going to the appointment, the trying out the new meds and gauging your daily feelings, the reporting back to your doc, just look like
I've started the conversation with my therapist. He can't prescribe meds, but he's asked me to continue to monitor my feelings for a few weeks before he refers me back to a doc.
I have to say I feel a little better than I did 20 minutes ago.
I'm texting Abby, and she's asking good questions.
I went pee.
I got myself a fresh can of carbonated water, or "fizzy water," as my Sweet so fondly calls it.
The music doesn't sound as gloomy as it did.
Grace. God's good grace. That glorious moment when things suddenly don't feel hard, or sad. And it happens when we aren't looking, the way I just noticed yesterday that my headache had gone away. It was so very present, I got occupied with something else, and then noticed it was gone. But I didn't feel it the moment it left; it disappeared while I was tending to something else, and God did the erasing of the pain in my head.
Grace and fear. If I had to name two things that are in continuous (though sometimes dormant) battle in my life, I might be wont to say those two things are happiness vs. sadness.
But I think in fact they might be grace vs. fear.
I either find myself in complete and utter awe of what God has given me, unable to give my gratitude words, try as I might.
Or I find myself huddled in anxiety, thinking myself unable to order lunch for a work meeting, fearing that I am about to spiral into X more years of depression. Obnoxious, uninvited, squished-in-a-box depression!
Abby and I are texting about farts and I just laughed out loud.
Laughter = carbonated holiness, says Anne Lamott. The wise, honest, ever-embracing-of-grace Anne.
Anne wrote a book called Grace (Eventually).
I didn't actually catch the significance of the title until I went to hear her speak (I've only seen her four times, no big deal. And I've met her famous son, Sam, also no big deal).
Anne said that there is always grace, but it's not always right this second. It might be...eventually.
Just as I don't know what to say at the mental health event in two weeks, nor do I know what to say now.
We sang a song at church this morning, and it always kind of gets me. I'm going to botch it, so this is not a direct quote, but it goes something like this:
You're full of life now
You're full of passion
It's how He made you
Just let it happen
And then the closing part of the song is something like this:
So take me back
Back to the beginning
When we were running together
Through the fields
Again. Not a direct quote, but the sentiment's there.
The song gets me for two reasons.
One, I love that it gives me permission to be me. It reminds me that God gave me all this LIFE inside me, the crazy passion, the extreme love for words, and my friends, and for singing and stuffing my face in the cat's belly.
Just let it happen.
Sadly, the flip side of that is occasional melancholy moods that seem to be unfairly intense. But again, the permission to let it happen -- when I take away the fighting against it I'm erasing some of the pain in my head, like the headache that was erased from my life yesterday.
And then the second part of the song. I don't wish to be a kid again, but MAN! to be a kid again!
It just makes me remember how I never used to view my passion as a bad thing, as something that was wrong with me.
(Commercial break: I don't think that there's something wrong with me, per se, but I do find in my experience, that it is perfectly fine to address a challenge in my life by going to therapy and take meds. If that makes sense. I hope it does.)
I recently told Alex that I used to cut out pictures of cows from magazines, and use rubber cement to paste them to construction paper, which I would then assemble in books called "cow scrapbooks."
My adorable, precious love slowly raised his hand in the air.
"Yes, Alex Sanborn," I called on him.
I lost myself in giggles, wondering how I could explain to him that this was just something I felt compelled to do in my youth.
When I was gluing pictures of cows, I never asked why.
When I was the only one dancing at our middle school dances, I only wondered why others weren't joining in. Didn't they know how good it felt?
Passion. Life. Unbridled.
Sure, if I had it my way, I'd say, "I'll take the good-feeling passion, please, but none of that bad-feeling stuff, thanks."
But I'm not in charge. And we live in a broken world. Which is why I cling to the cross -- or, remind myself to try to do that.
I'm not going to tie this post up with a tidy bow, because that would seem dishonest. I will do my best, though, to keep y'all posted on my life and my feelings.
And I will leave you with this.
While it has been hard at times to be so passionate -- when, for example, I get wrapped up in TV characters and my brother pauses to tell me I care too much, or when I feel elated but secretly wonder if I will feel deflated in a few hours -- I can sincerely count many times and ways in my life that the passion given to me has been amazing.
For one, I pour my passion into this here writing, and it feels pretty damn good to write, to be a writer, to feel confidently that's what I should do.
I have begun work again on my novel, and it feels so good to give that middle school heroine life, to give her coping skills, to give her hope, to prepare her for a great future beyond the walls of Grade 6.
And for what it's worth, when I knelt at the communion rail this morning and Debbie handed me the blood, shed for me, that sip from the tiny glass tasted like the first taste of wine at a really great party. Not the kind where people get too drunk to really enjoy. But the kind that just flows, where you are wrapped up in your friends, old and new, in the conversation, not worried about tomorrow, not worried about today. Just loving the moment, soaking it up and slowly sipping.
Take me back. Back to the beginning. When we were running together, through the fields.