Category: Mental Health

Letting My Crazy Loose

Maybe it’s just me, but i really doubt it.

You know how there’s this part of you that’s really nuts? Like not eccentric, but truly batshit crazy? And most of the time you are able to keep it under wraps, but every now and then, it rears its ugly head?

I hate those times. They make me feel guilty and embarrassed.

Sort of like how your weedlings are well-behaved in public. “Yes, ma’am,” “No, sir,” “Please,” and “Thank you.” Then you get home and they behave like they were raised by rabid chimps who’d never seen captivity.

I’m a rabid chimp when it’s been a trying week.

Most of the time, i try hard to be pleasant and likeable. Even doing the customer service portion of my job, when the person on the other end of the line is being ugly and flat out mean, i take great pains to be sweet and affable and understanding… While i’m on the phone with them. Once i hang up, the growler comes out.

“So glad i could help. Have a wonderful day, and let me know if you have any more issues,” Click.  “Good grief. Did you get through college on some sort of affirmative action plan for the daft?”  “Oh, no problem. We all make mistakes. I’m glad it all worked out. Have a good afternoon,” Click.  “And thank you for calling me incompetent before you noticed it was your error, you paste-eater.”  “Yes, sir. I understand. I will get this to the right people and let them know you are eager to get it resolved,”  Click. “By the way, sir, have you considered joining a Schmucks Anonymous meeting?”

Then i’m back to my normal, polite self.

On Friday, i came perilously close to not hanging up first.

It’s as if i am a fully inflated tire that gets closer and closer to bursting as the road heats up…. And some of the air has to be released to keep it from exploding and spreading steel belts across the highway. But last week, the road got hotter faster than i anticipated.

The week was a bit more trying that usual. Issues at work that needed too much tending. SiriDog got stuck under one of my rose bushes and tore off a chunk of her ear. The washing machine is still singing out of nowhere. They upped my escrow payment. I’ve been eating rabbit food for 2 weeks and my favorite jeans are still a bit tight. I tore my favorite shirt, the home renovation is going nowhere, and man, these hot flashes are a bitch. Basically, nothing monumental, but a whole lot of pain in the ass.

Sometimes a figurative pain in the ass is worse than a literal one. Well, maybe only for your anger management.

I did go out after work on Friday to blow off steam with some coworkers, but in spite of my loud, raucous, and crass infusion to the night, i must have still had some steam to blow. Saturday morning found me on my porch in sports bra and lounge pants, coffee in hand, coral-tinted hair probably looking like the Heat Miser, streaming Tim Minchin videos on YouTube… And singing along. (If you’ve ever heard his performances, you can easily understand why the dad from next door, sweet and conservative, moved rather quickly from door to trash bin and back again while giving me the “What the….??” look when he popped out mid performance doing his man-chores…) But hey, the kids were still inside and out of ear range, and i felt so much better after. And it’s not like there were paparazzi taking videos. (Thank you God, Goddess, and Universe!)

I still had a lingering bit of snark this morning. Time to bring out the big guns… Dirt therapy. Two peonies, a rosemary bush, another lavender. Digging holes, hoeing the potting mix, breaking your nails setting tubers… This is the chemo for stress and bad weeks. I dug til my feet had dirt tattoos under the straps of my flip-flops. I dug til my hands felt like sandpaper. I dug til my deodorant wore off. And then i watered it all. Including myself. (Don’t judge me. When was the last time you stood under a water hose set on “Mist”? It feels like the best part of childhood. Really. You should try it.) And then i put my feet up and shared a popsicle with SiriDog. (Seriously, don’t judge me.)  After that, i was too tired to have any snark left.

Anyway, so here’s hoping that by tomorrow i am back to my sweet self. (Quit laughing. I really can be sweet. Sorta.) Back in a place where i can keep my bitchy comments in my mouth until i hang up the phone. And maybe i will remember next time not to let the events of the week build up so much. Even the strongest soda bottle can take only so much shaking. We must unscrew the top just a bit at a time to let all that fizz out in an easy, steady stream… Lest we end up spewed all over people like a mis-timed locker room celebration.

If you are stressed about beach season and swimsuits. If the pollen count is driving you crazy. If work has taken all your patience. If graduations and weddings and all the other holiday and vacation planning have you at wit’s end… Take the time to blow it off. Have some fun. Dig some dirt. Sing as loud as you can til your frustration has been blown into space. Stand in the mist of your garden hose and let it all go. And thank your personal divinity that you have friends who love you even if you explode.

Let the Sunshine In

I’ve been working more on my infamous book lately, and i have to say, i’m getting excited about writing again. This winter has been a tough one for me – and a lot of my friends as well – and so i haven’t had much of a creative bent. It has been a dreary winter with far too much rain, but last weekend, things brightened up and we had reasonable temps and some sunshine. I spent a day out in my yard, raking and digging and clearing branches, and that seemed to snap me out of it a bit. (Isn’t it amazing how much Mother Nature can affect us?) I paid for it for days after, walking like a 90 year old man, but it was worth it. I managed a painting and two chapters last week – More, i think, than i accomplished the whole month previous.

Depression is a bitch. And it makes me terribly unproductive.

But i’m grateful that i have learned over the years what makes me feel better. An enjoyable day outdoors is always good medicine for me. Yard work, hiking, or even just sitting on the porch with a cup of tea and a good book… Just being exposed to life outside four walls is better than any anti-depressant alone. (An anti-depressant with outdoor time is my personal magical mix.) If i really need a boost, a hike with a picnic is unbeatable. A scenic trail full of wildlife and the scents of the Earth followed by a bounty of cheeses, some soppressata, olives, tomatoes, fruits, fresh bread, some wine or Italian soda… It’s like it opens the space between every atom of your soul, and the Universe takes advantage and fills you with positive energy.

When i do this with SiriDog, i actually make her a plate as well. A hard boiled egg, a bit of cheese, a slice or two of apple, a doggie biscuit…. Other hikers sometimes look and laugh at the two plates on the picnic cloth, but why shouldn’t she get to experience that same infusion of God/Goddess/Universe? She is a being as much as any human. She loves a good hike and good food as much as i do. And she has been a steadfast companion. She deserves a picnic too.

Laying on the ground after the meal, staring up into the sky away from the city, the sounds of birds and breeze… That is bliss.

But, no hike today. And no picnic. It is back to raining. Before the cold snap comes this week, tho, i’m on the porch, listening to the rain, watching bluebirds scope out future nesting places, enjoying a cup of tea with Siridog. I have chores and baking to do in a bit, but it will wait until i’ve been soothed by Mother Earth. Watching her drop her miracle liquid onto the moss that has become bright green this week, watching my lawn ornaments spin under the drops, wind chimes tinkling, daffodils and iris starting to burst from the ground… It will keep a smile on my face through the mopping and dusting.

If i’m lucky, it will last me through cleaning out the fridge. But i’ll definitely need a booster after.

****

Fast forward a few hours. The temp has dropped significantly. It’s colder than Machiavelli’s heart out there. It’s still raining, and even the birds have hidden away. It’s ok, tho. I got my boost. I’m ready to tackle the housework.

Side note: I would love to see one of those silly Facebook articles on which crazy-rich people still do housework. Martha Stewart may write articles on the best way to do laundry, but you bet dollars to donuts that she hasn’t done any in a long time!

*****

Fast forward again. So, i did some of the chores. The rest will wait. It was just too perfect of a day for curling up and relaxing. Soup bubbling on the stove. SiriDog curled up beside me. Life is good, folks.  Get some Mother Nature. Curl up with your pet. Or your spouse, if you prefer. (I have better luck with pets.) Make some soup. Don’t spend the whole day being Suzy Cleanfreak. Life’s too short. As long as you have clean undies, the rest of the mess will wait. Live a good life. Enjoy it.

The Edge of Parenting

This is a true story, and i share it because i think it’s important for all parents to know that when they have these errant and bad thoughts, they aren’t alone.

Heinlein once said that it takes a human mother to bear a human child. But human children have the uncanny ability to channel the behaviors of animals far less civilized. At various points, they bite like vipers, they get mean like chihuahuas, or they scream like howler monkeys. I have personally seen my children become grizzly bears, wild boars, snapping turtles, and during their teenage years, weasels. And a human mother (Or father) isn’t always equipt to handle these biological morphings. Sometimes, we need help. It doesn’t mean we are bad parents, or bad people. It just means we are human.

My middle daughter, who turns 21 today, was born when i was living out of the country. Our area of the multi-service base was rather small, and we were a tight-knit community. The fenced in arrangement of identical cement block duplexes was a safe haven, and our children could roam and play with a freedom that few neighborhoods afford nowadays.

When she was still an infant, my daughter caught an ear infection. Up til that point, she had been a fairly easy baby – Mostly happy with very little screeching. However, anyone who has ever had an ear infection knows that it is misery. My poor little weedling had a crazy high fever, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t nurse, and was in terrible pain… As was evidenced by the incessant, ear-splitting screaming that cut through every part of my body straight thru to my heart. I’m talking the kind of high-pitched siren that shatters glass, cracks dental fillings, and makes dogs wince and run for cover. Medicine, iced teething rings, cool baths, soothing music, rocking, walks… Nothing made it stop. And i’m not talking a couple hours here. This went on for days. Literally days. I knew it wasn’t her fault, but I got closer and closer to the edge of my sanity. The passing vision of my head exploding gave way to more realistic pictures of me taking a hammer to my head. Or putting a muffler over her mouth. Anything to make the noise stop.

I ended up reaching a point where i could feel my internal switch begin to flip. I was shaking and almost in a panic. Thankfully, something in me spoke up. It was like  a pair of hands were guiding my own as i put my possessed, screaming daughter safely in her crib, pulled up the side rails, turned around and walked out. Walked out of her room and out of my house.

Four doors down was one of my closest friends on base. Her husband was the unit’s corpsman (Medic, for you non-service folk). And she had two teenage daughters.

I walked in her house, sat down at her kitchen table, and said, “Can one of your daughters please go to my house?”

She later told me that i was white as a sheet. She immediately sent one of her daughters over.

Then i cried. I cried because i felt like a terrible mother. I cried because i couldn’t take the screaming. I cried because i was so afraid. Afraid i was going to lose it. Afraid i was going to snap. Afraid i was going to hurt my daughter out of my own frustration.

At some point, she had called her husband, but while she waited for him, she listened. She made me a cup of tea. She told me i had done the right thing to come get help. She empathized. She calmed me. And then her husband came home and gave me the most wonderful gift.

Foam ear plugs.

He explained that they would not drown out everything, but would take the edge off. He echoed his wife that i had done the right thing to get help. He asked me some questions that i now know to be a screening, to determine if i needed further care.

An hour after i had walked out, i walked back. I found my friend’s daughter rocking my baby, who was still crying, but less so. I was renewed enough not to need the ear plugs yet, but i was glad to know they were there just in case. I hugged the teenager who came to my rescue. I packed my daughter up in her carriage, grabbed another set of plastic keys (The little monkeys in the area were forever stealing those and sippy cups out of carriages and strollers) and set off for a walk.

That was the one and only time i ever felt the need to leave. But i am grateful that i could. That i had friends to call upon who would help without judgement. Because we have all been there (If you haven’t, you will be). It might be an ear infection, or the terrible twos, or it might just be you –   Short-tempered from a bad day at work. We all get near that switch. It’s important to know what options you have in those situations. To know how to keep your children, and yourself,  safe. To know where to find professional help if it becomes a recurring problem. And to know that recognizing those moments is crucial and doesn’t make you a terrible person or mother. In fact, it means we are paying attention, and hopefully it makes us more sensitive to the moms that come after us so we can offer help before they get to that point.

In any case, if you are a mom and you are close to the edge, reach out. To friends, to a counselor, to your pediatrician… Someone. And don’t feel badly about doing so. It is better to ask for help than to cross that line.  Your little heathen animals will challenge you ever chance they get. That is part of their job. Take the challenge.

And don’t hesitate to call in reinforcements when the challenge is too great.

 

*** If you are needing help, google parenting  groups and / or social services in your area. If you are in crisis, dial 911, call your local hospital or mental health facility , or try 1-855- 4A PARENT (1-855-427-2736) to reach the Parents Anonymous hotline. There is help out there. These are only a few of the options. 

Ruminating on Luminating

I decided a couple of days ago that it was time to buckle down hard on the self-care. Ok, truth be told, i’ve been telling myself that for months, but i haven’t been good about doing it. As a result, i am exhausted. Flat out burnt. I haven’t any energy to do anything good, but i can’t seem to sleep through the night either. And it’s my own fault. I haven’t spent enough time outdoors. I haven’t been exercising. I’ve been spending far too much time in front of the laptop. And i’ve not been making time for much fun. I’ve made small efforts here and there, but not consistently. It has been like a very badly played game of hopscotch.

The day i had finally had enough, i decided that, to help myself sleep better, i would try to stretch and meditate. And of course, that was a dismal failure. I don’t meditate well when my brain is fresh, so it is never going to work when my brain is a piece of gluten-free, whole grain bread that’s been left unbagged on the counter for months.

That night, as i lay in bed trying to decide if the noise in my head is the frogs and crickets outside my window or just terrible tinnitus, i promised myself that i would so something spiritual this weekend.

Fast forward to this morning, when i woke from a night of tossing and turning, showered, dressed and headed to  the Friends meeting across town. I hadn’t been in a couple years, so i was a little nervous. But the Quaker gathering is the one type of church where i never feel misplaced. In general, it is a very accepting group, dedicated to simplicity and service to fellow man. In fact, i doubt i was the only one there who wasn’t, strictly speaking, Christian. But we all share the common bond of knowing that the particulars aren’t important. The meeting in Chattanooga is unprogrammed, which means that there is no preacher. This isn’t a place where you go to confess, or recite, or be granted forgiveness. This is a place where the Light of each of us as individuals binds together and becomes exponentially stronger. Spiritually ennervating. Meditative. We wait in silence until someone feels moved to speak. Sometimes no one speaks and we all just take in the Peace – The Light that we seek.

The first half of today’s meeting was spent in silence. I closed my eyes and wished my thoughts away. My thoughts, however, had other ideas…

I can’t seem to settle down. I need to relax. Let me do that yoga thing… I tighten and release one muscle group at a time, starting with my toes. I made it all the way to my head and then took in one of those “Deep, cleansing breaths” that is supposed to maintain the stillness. Yah……. Nope.

They’ve changed the light fixtures since i was here last. I think they’ve painted in here too. C’mon Hol, you’re supposed to be quiet. But all the little noises are distracting. I can hear the children upstairs. And the birds outside. Someone is starting coffee. Wait. Did someone just fart? Oh God, that must be so embarrassing. Oh no. Was it me? Did i just fart during a freaking prayer meeting??? I mean, i don’t think it was me. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me.It’s so hard not to giggle. C’mon Hol,what are you? 5?  Everyone else is ignoring it, so just move on. Holy hell! There is a wasp in the room! Weird, tho… It doesn’t seem to be interested in bothering anyone. Maybe he knows Friends are pacifists. Doesn’t mean someone won’t squash him, tho. That coffee smells good. Man, i really suck at this meditation thing. I feel like that lemur in that meme where he is sitting there saying, “C’mon inner peace…. I don’t have all day!” I need to restart.

I start that thing where you count your breath as it goes in and out. That lasted for maybe 5 breaths.

Dideedideedideedoooooooo… My brain is a big lump of jelllllloooooooo…. Maybe today wasn’t the best day for me to come. I can’t seem to get into my Spiritual Space. Probably because it has grown a hard shell from disuse. Well, i supposed i have used it, but only superficially. I wonder if that counts? Or does the Universe even keep count? Oh! Sounds like someone is standing….

One of the members begins to speak about how awesome it is that we can meet like this and combine our collective light.  Then another member speaks nostalgically about the history of the church for a couple minutes. Then comes the period when we can all offer up people who need to be held in the Light. Then it is over.

I stuck around long enough to reintroduce myself to a couple people i remembered, and to make new acquaintance with ones i didn’t know. Then i had to head out. I did feel a bit better. Just a bit more energetic. Enough that i actually went outside and did a little gardening after my Sunday chores and a meeting for work. Now i am out on the porch writing this. Maybe it’s not a landmark day, but it’s an improvement. Especially if i am able to get in a little exercise tonight.

Lots of us are in this same spot lately. We are doing a lot, but not the kinds of things that are good for us. We are trudging on with the dailies, while time passes us by and leaves us in the dust. We need to keep reminding ourselves:

If i am busy, i want it to be with fulfilling things, not trivialities.

If i am heavy, i want it to be from good food, not junk food.

If i have wrinkles, i want them to be from laughing, not frowning.

If i have aches and pains, i want them to be from doing things i love, not from allowing myself to get stiff and rusty. 

If i must advance in age, i at least don’t have to get “old”.

And if i die tomorrow, i want to leave behind a life of Love, Light, and Laughter.

Here’s to remembering that daily.

 

 

 

Aunt Nancy, Please Don’t Put Radish In The Jello Salad

You know that weird jello salad that everybody’s Aunt Betsy brings to each and every gathering? That is my brain right now.

I’ve spent so much of the last 30 years trying to ensure my daughters grew up to be strong, thoughtful, and independent. Ever in fear of breeding another doormat into this already infested world, i wanted my daughters to become paragons of badassery in whatever way suited them. And as you know from previous posts, the efforts were successful. I am inordinately proud of the women my daughters have become. Tho very different from each other, they both are fierce in their passions and principles. They are hard workers, big dreamers, and fair judges. Everything i had asked for.

When you have adult daughters like that, it’s a bit like living in an underground women’s magazine of the 70s. Force them into polyester pantsuits and big sunglasses, and they could be on the cover of “Ms.” (Don’t worry, my awesome weedlings. No polyester pantsuits for you, i promise!) But just like so many of the celebrities of that political era, life is more than a magazine cover.

What good is a life of untamed equity if you have no one to share it with?

But it takes a special man (Or woman) to accept a badass woman as a partner. It isn’t for the weak, or the staunch, or the confidence-less. A warrior woman doesn’t want someone who just lets her take all the sun. Nor does she want someone who is going to constantly battle her for it. It has to be someone who can let that Light flow back and forth like one of those waves-in-a-box that are supposed to help keep you calm at work. The conduit between the two shores must be strong and clear, the water going over and around obstacles, precluding dams and producing energy that feeds the tides as it goes. It is a precious balance. One that some never find.

And yet, both my daughters have found it.

In a few short weeks’ time, both my woman-weedlings have gotten engaged to awesome men. Ones who respect them, support them, and adore them. Ones who are strong enough themselves to share the spotlight… Not just as a mechanism for leadership and recognition, but also as facilitator of growth. These men are amazing, and each also a badass in their own way. And so, on the whole, i am crazy happy for them having found partners who truly see them, get them, and love them.

Which brings us to the jello salad.

Jello salad is one of those things that can be really yummy. I mean, sugar and flavoring and food coloring has that magnetic appeal to the 5-year-old inside us. Throw in some fruit cocktail or pie filling…. Oh, yeah baby!  There is usually some  cream cheese or something thrown in to make it more adult and fancy. Mmm mmm! Love me some sweet and savory together! Toss in some marshmallows because… Well, because marshmallows!!!!! What’s not to like?

But then the devil steps in.

To distinguish it from “dessert”, Aunt Sally always throws in something “salad-y”: celery, pepper, shredded carrots… Crap like that which has no business being in jello.

In the midst of my heartwarmed-happy jello concoction for my daughters, there appears some of Aunt Sheila’s lunacy. (Oh, Aunt Sheila… Is that pickled onions i taste in here?) It took me a while to figure out exactly what it was. I mean, like i said, i am over the moon for my daughters and adore my soon-to-be son-in-laws… So what could those bitter, chewy bits possibly be? And why the hell are they in there?

I answered myself subconsciously but out loud.

“What now?”

I only just figured out parenting adults, but married adults is a whole other level. Especially for me. Lets face it, three past marriages make me the exact opposite of an expert on it. And before you joke that i should just tell them to obviously do the exact opposite of what i recommend, i promise you, that will make me cry.

Like Hermione, i kind of pride myself on being an insufferable know-it-all. But my daughters are about to embark on something i cannot help with. Yes, i realize they don’t really need my help, but that is beside the point. Mothers want to help. It’s what we do. And i can’t. That fact leaves me stumped. It is the carrot in my otherwise delicious jello salad.

The irony of it all… In having raised daughters without so many of my own issues, i have made myself obsolete.

So that’s what those crunchy bits are: self-pitying garbage.

When confronted with jello salad, one has three choices. You can refuse to eat it. While that is an option, it also means you miss out on all the good stuff in it. No marshmallows. No maraschino cherries. That is a big price to pay for a little bit of green pepper. Not an option i would choose because marshmallows!!!!

Or you can just force a smile and pretend you aren’t gagging every time a bit of celery finds itself in the mix. This is, of course, the polite option. And if i were at a once-in-a-lifetime visit with The Queen, i would probably take that option. But this isn’t a one-time gig. This is the rest of my life. And once i get past the celery, there will be grandbabies and other things that i know nothing about and will become the next crunchy bits. So this is probably not the best option.

Then there is the last option. The practical option. Enjoy the jello salad, but surreptitiously pick out the crunchy bits when no one is looking. Make sure there is a lettuce leaf somewhere on your plate to hide the shredded carrots under. Or a rabbit to feed them to, thereby disguising your disappointment as an act of kindness.

That, i can do.

Decades of therapy has made me pretty damned decent at picking out my useless negativity and turning it into energy for other things. So when i find myself thinking about my weedlings and their awesome partners and their limitless lives ahead and starting to wonder what purpose i can possibly serve in it; i will remember that i can and will be whatever they need. If i don’t know how, i will learn, just as i did when they were babies and i knew nothing of raising children. I learned. And if i didn’t always do it right, at least i did it well in the end. And when there are more wee ones, i can read to them like i did to my own. I can help teach them to be independent badasses like their parents. And i can help show them that sometimes you just have to pick out the sour bits and just be happy for all the wonderful things that will come to pass.

My babies are growing up and getting married.

Holy cow.

If i make Aunt Shelly’s jello salad for the celebrations, I’m gonna leave out the celery. Who needs it anyway? Things are so much better without it.

 

The Iceman Cometh

I haven’t been writing much lately. I can blame it on any number of things: The holidays keeping me busy, wrenched my back again, transitioning to a new job at work, too tired, too cold, too too… But i’m not sure if any of those are the reason. Or maybe they are all-added-up-together the reason. It’s hard to tell. Winter is always harder for me. For all of us really. And in spite of taking my extra Vitamin D, i’m having a hard time forcing myself to be thoughtful and productive.

Granted, having spent most of the last month treating yet another back injury hasn’t helped. Momentum creates momentum. Energy creates energy. So laying on heating pads, or even dangling from my inversion table, is hardly likely to give me enough get-up-and-go to get thru more than the bare essentials of the day. But things did start to improve once i realized i was defeating myself.

I had painkillers left over from my neck surgery, so i was using those in conjunction with all the usual fixes: Rest, ice, heat, aspirin, muscle relaxers. But the problem was, when the narcs wore off, the pain seemed worse than when it started. (Yes, i already knew that was how it works, but when you are in pain, you forget everything you’ve learned that might keep it from going away. ) So after a few days, i stopped taking those. Within 24 hours, the pain had leveled itself, and i was able to move around some… Which has spawned improvement ever since.

But even physically doing better, my brain is still aching. And tired. I would say that the things which usually bring me joy aren’t working, but in truth, i haven’t had the will to try them. It’s an odd condition, to be honest. It’s like being confined by one of those electronic dog fences. There is no leash, no gate, no gunman manning the exit, but you keep telling yourself there’s no way out.

And of course, i sit here and intellectualize it. But even still, chances are, i still won’t break for the door this evening.

Many don’t understand the need to be self-confined. The old saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer…”  When you are your own worst enemy, self-confinement is often a necessary treatment. Unfortunately, like chemotherapy, the treatment causes its own problems and sometimes makes you worse.

I’ve been living with this wasp nest of a head for a long time, and i have amassed some amazing friends, so in my silver years, i am lucky enough to be called out before my self-imprisonment becomes a death sentence. This time, i was able to call myself out before they did it for me. (There should be a scout badge for that or something. For reals. The slippery slope of isolation is a real bitch.) I forced myself to a birthday gathering that i was ready to make an excuse for. And while i am sure that i was not the best of cocktail company, i am still proud that i went, instead of canceling and spending the night in bed with sudokus and a couple of melatonin.

And i am writing today. Tho this won’t make it to my Top Ten Posts Ever, it was effort and gets me closer to the other side of the fence. It is my hope that others who are also fighting the brain maggots get caught up in solidarity and take a step of their own toward the door, figurative or literal. If i can do it, so can they. Or you.

We’ve got this. One move at a time. Fake it til we make it, yes; but more importantly, make it for real after a while. I know, I know. It’s hard when it’s too blasted hot or cold (Depending on which side of the equator you’re on) to walk more than a quarter mile outdoors. When you’re broke from the holidays and feel fat from all the extra eating. It makes it worse. It sucks. But it isn’t going to win. You know how i know that?

Because we’ve got shit to do. We’ve got friends to meet, sunsets to see (I accidentally typed “sinsets” at first… And i’m thinking we could use some of that too!), trips to take, and impacts to make. Too many things ahead of us to give in to the mental Ice Man. It is so hard sometimes, tho. That alarm goes off in the morning and you think, “If i called in and knocked myself out, i wouldn’t have to deal with life for another 6 hours…” That is me. Every. Damned. Morning. Only my fear of falling back into that black cave, one i’ve been running from for years (How does it follow us? Is it really the mouth of a beast?) forces me to get up. But i do. And so do you. Yeah for us!

Like, for real. Yeah for us! We beat that beast!

So fuck the winter. Fuck pain. Fuck bills and scales and frigging Valentines Day on the way. Fuck all those things. We are our own army. We will slay it all in due time. One step at a time. And if we see a low point in that fence, lets jump it.

Sometimes, when you’re being chased by a beast, it is worth it hop the fence and outrun it for a bit. That interim between the jump and when it catches up with you is bliss.

Row, Row, Row Your (Holiday) Boat

For those of us who face depression, the holidays can be a real bitch. Lost loved ones seem especially far away. Our bodily systems fighting the drop in sunlight hours (Take your Vitamin D, my brothers and sisters!!!), weight gain from all these social gatherings that we dread (Because, you know, too many people), and the commercialization of the holiday leaving us anxious, frantic, and financially strapped. Makes you want to double your medication and hide out til Spring.

I don’t have a cure. Truthfully, i’m as beaten as you are. The sadness inside masked by the chatter of holiday greetings and special sparkly lip gloss. Oh the power of a good lip gloss! Anyway, most of the time, the holidays feel to me like that scene in Star Wars where they are getting squashed in the nasty trash compactor. Everything is closing in; the stench of stress coming off you like yesterday’s fish sticks; and the inescapable thought of, “Maybe if i close my eyes, it will go away.” (Yes, my non-ICD-10’d friends, this is part of why we sleep so much.)

Now, as my sister reminds me on occasion, decades of therapy merely make me a profitable therapy patient, not a therapist. So i don’t have an actual solution to the problem. I am not even sure if there is one. But i DO know that we can arm ourselves with the occasional bit of pain relief. And it can be found in some unlikely places.

There are some things in life that are just so good, fulfilling, enjoyable that they can make the worst of times seem a thing of the past, even if only a moment. Some of them are obvious: The laugh of a baby, for example. Some are a little more obscure: Seeing that the schmuck who cut you off 2 miles back is now actually stuck at the same light you are. (Was it worth the karma, dude?) These things don’t cure depression. But they can offer a bit of a reprieve, and sometimes, that’s all we need to make it thru another day.

So if you find yourself getting dark when you want yourself to be light, set your heart and thoughts on life’s helium balloons… Those moments that feel really good… And lighten the load for a bit:

Those mornings when you don’t have to set an alarm and can wake to your body clock.

A beautiful holiday song – Close your eyes and listen.

A piece of really good chocolate – Sometimes there is no better way to spend a couple dollars than on a handmade truffle.

A really good poo – I mean, there really is no better feeling. 

When someone sends you the perfect meme at the perfect time.

A scalding hot shower on a cold morning, or a hot bath before bed.

Taking your bra off after a long day. (Sorry, guys, there really is no male equivalent.)

Seeing a baby deer walking off the side of a road. 

A beautiful sunset or sunrise.

A full moon – And if you see someone fly past it on a broomstick, wave to me 😉

Climbing into a bed with freshly washed sheets.

When you finally get to fart after holding it in forever – Extra points if it is crazy loud!

Homemade mashed potatoes.

Getting the best parking spot, just by happenstance.

The sound of wind rustling thru the trees.

The smell of fresh bread – Worth a visit to a bakery. Usually the smells are free.

When something costs less than you expect.

Hearing from an old friend.

Getting a compliment from your kid – Rarer than a golden goose egg, but also far more valuable.

Hideously gaudy, Griswald-style Christmas lights.

Fresh, hot latkes with applesauce and full-fat sour cream.

A handsome man or beautiful woman in a goofy winter hat.

Hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and stirred with a candy cane. (Make it for yourself. You are worth it.)

A moment of true peace and quiet.

 

Try remembering these, my friends. I hope they help. It is also worth noting that, while you don’t have to do it all, don’t avoid it all either. Pick one or two things to commit to, and let the rest be up to your mood. Baby steps. Take it one event at a time. Take it just one moment at a time if you have to. And if it isn’t enough, up your game by talking with someone. Find your local crisis center, meet your preacher for coffee, find a support group, message people… You’ll be surprised at how many of us are in the same boat…

And since we are all in the same boat, you don’t have to take it all on yourself… We can take turns rowing. And then we will all get there. Together. Just don’t give up.

You got this. We got this.