Depression Lies…And Tells Some Truths
I have put off posting in my blog for longer than I intended, but not for the usual reasons. Normally, it is because some book, usually a trip into Avalon, sucked me in to the point that I lost track of time and got involved with researching and stream of consciousness writing. This time, I know in retrospect that I was deliberately distracting myself from blogging because I knew what my next blog would entail and I wasn’t ready yet. I would have to talk about depression, which is a subject I try to avoid, particularly when it relates to me. I am a very, very cheerful person and I love leading the magical life I have created and that has been given to me. I believe most people who know me (prior to 2014) would say I am optimistic, peaceful, and happy. I also have been extremely healthy in my life. It is very rare that I am ever ill, even mildly. I do well in a crisis and even manage ongoing adversity with a clear head and clean spirit. I am good at problem solving and path finding, which is why I am a life coach.
The problem is that when you are an overall positive-minded person who lives strongly in the spirit and works really hard to stay in the sacred zone, it really throws people when you do run into a time when you struggle with depression. That is where I have been. I fought it for a long time and did not make eye contact with what I knew was coming. I could see the huge gaping, Sarlacc pit of darkness in front of me and thought, “I’m far enough ahead of it that I can course correct and steer around it.” I was not on a slippery slope plowing headfirst into it at breakneck speed. I was coming up on it slowly. I would have a challenging morning now and then or a tough day here and there and would feel fine the rest of the time. It took someone else pointing out to me a couple of months ago that I as now flipped to the point that I had an enjoyable morning now and then and a happy day from time to time. Otherwise, I was in duck and cover mode or battlefield mentality. Once it was pointed out to me, I couldn’t not see it. It’s like when the sun goes down a bit at a time so that your eyes adjust with the darkness and you don’t even realize you’re in the dark.
Or how do you boil a frog?
You don’t put him into a pot of boiling water. You put him in a pot of comfortable water and keep turning up the heat.
Shit. My frog was boiled and barely breathing.
Even though I could see it coming, I was in it before I realized. I am a major fan of the Valley of the Shadow. There is so much to learn there, about yourself and about others. Even though many of us feel abandoned by our Gods during that time, it is actually a powerful, holy time because it is in those moments that we create and evolve. In those dark times, we are closer to God/Goddess than we ever will be during joyful times, not because we necessarily need them more, even though we often do, but because with our filters off, we are more raw and authentic.
I remember hearing Dr. Wayne Dyer say once about the afterlife (paraphrasing), “I cannot imagine how devastating it would be to lie on my deathbed and realize I never created a place to go.” That quote always made me think of the movie “What Dreams May Come.” Depression is the same way for me. I do it so rarely now that I did not have a contingency plan for it. I do have a wonderful support system, however, they are spread far and wide and it is my preference and practice to surround myself with strong, independent women as my friends. We take good care of one another, but we are not clingy and may go days or weeks without communicating as we go about our lives.
On a day-to-day basis, I tend to be a hermit. In my immediate family, I am the pit crew, the ATM, and the soft place to fall. If you are familiar with “Pulp Fiction” references, I am Harvey Keitel’s character, “The Wolf.” I am not that good, but give me time and I can find a big enough bandaid to stop any amputation from hemorrhaging. Earlier this year, I found it odd when I came down with a stomach virus that did not want to go away. I was sick for the better part of a week and I am almost never sick. The first week of August, a mildly scratchy throat turned into a full scale hacking, yacking, bronchial infection that I held onto for most of the month. Now, the depression really had my attention because what was going in inside was taking on physical form.
Well before the second illness, I began taking a natural supplement called “Happy Camper,” which was a proprietary kava kava blend. It did not take me long to realize that the supplements were making me too tired to function. I knew it was not the fatigue that accompanies depression. This was different. I was in a haze all the time and if I sat still for longer than a few minutes, I would go straight to sleep. I tried to wait it out while my body adjusted after the load time of the supplements, but it never got better, so I went off of the pills and slowly came back to life again. I have now been off for a couple of weeks and feel much more clear headed. The only supplement I take now for mood is B-12.
When I went off of the Happy Camper supplements, I mentioned to Eric (my husband) that I was going to stop taking the anti-depressant supplements and his response was “the what?” He was truly puzzled and wondered why in the world I would need anything like that. What did I have to be depressed about? He has always had it in his mind that I spend my life floating around our beautiful, sacred home, eating luxury foods, thinking deep, spiritual thoughts, chatting with friends on Facebook, and occasionally washing a dish or mopping a floor. [It is likely not quite as psychologically indicative as I would like to believe it is that I originally typed “washing a dick and moping a floor,” then had to correct] He feels he shoulders the weight of responsibility and stress in the family and therefore, I should not have any.
It’s a weird dynamic and I am not completely sure how it got there.
His reaction is similar to anyone else’s in my family. They cannot imagine I would ever be depressed. For some of them, if Mom is depressed, the whole world must be coming to an end. So that the household can maintain some kind of normalcy in the midst of all this weirdness, I do a lot of my internal work in private and I do my best to just keep smiling around the masses.
Some of my friends do not even want to talk to me once they find out I am depressed. They focus on finding solutions to fix the huge laundry list of things going wrong rather than working with the emotions themselves or otherwise, they just hide until they know I feel better. I actually have more people on that side of the bleachers than those who will waded into the fray with me and hey, no harm, no foul. I can’t dictate to anyone else how they should deal with my depression. Who is able to be there for me during the dark times and who isn’t does not determine a person’s worth to me. Not everyone is wired up for the rough times and that does not mean they love me any less. How can I expect anyone else to manage my depression when I don’t even know how to handle it most of the time?
There were and are good reasons for the depression. My two old man cats died who have been with me for ten years and fifteen years. I loved them dearly and they died within a month of one another. They went down fast and as a result, did not go quietly into that darkest night. My son and grandson moved in with me and they have had their own struggles. That impacted finances at the same moment that book sales plummeted and never regained the ground they had before. Since I handle the budget, that magician’s work fell to me. Eric realized he was overwhelmed in terms of responsibilities versus time and was unable to continue the marketing of the books I write, which was previously his ballpark, so I had to take that over. There is little I despise doing more than marketing and I have fought hard to find my way with that project. I took two jobs, neither of which panned out at all, and that was quite disappointing. The young boy who lives next door to me fell off of the back of a loaded pick up truck and broke his back and my neighbor behind me died unexpectedly, so the hilltop has been covered in grief energy. I barely knew them, but as an empath, the shielding necessary to keep from getting sucked into the vortex was tremendous. I am sure some of you know what I am talking about. A guy got loaded and plowed into the tree in front of my house. A couple of weeks later, a local was driving home from his birthday party still drunk at 7:00 AM and collided head on with the school bus my sons ride. They were not injured, but the bus was destroyed, as was the car. The guy was not seriously injured, but was arrested and released a day or so later. Several children were hurt but none seriously, thanks to the quick reflexes of the bus driver. My dog has a lipoma on his back that is literally the size of a football. It is so big that his lipoma has their own baby lipomas. He does not know it is there yet, so we have not told him because he is quite vain. Three of my chickens, The Helens, died. Of course, it was the three that actually laid eggs and two that have aged out of laying are doing great!
I am surrounded by anger, fear, and resentment from the people around me. Eric yells at Josh, who yells at Aiden (my grandson), who yells back and Josh, and then Aiden and Nathan get into it and between the four of them, it feels as though someone is always angry about something. The ongoing negativity wears on me. I sage the house like crazy, burn all the right incenses, keep the energy flowing through open windows and doors so that nothing stagnates in the house, and I use a lot of black stones to ground the bad vibes. Everyone wants the same thing. Everyone wants the right thing. Everyone is furious it is not happening now. There has been such a series of a thing here, a thing there, an unreasonable challenge here, a true Gordian knot of an issue there that it all just took me down. When I went to search for an image to headline this entry, I searched out “depression” and in nearly every picture, someone had their head in their hands were were curled into a protective fetal position. I guess that is universal body language for depression.
I am blessed with a handful of friends I confide in who keep me honest and do not let me cave into the lies depression tells. “You are worthless. You can’t do anything right. It is never going to get any better. You should feel resentful for this or this. You will never get over this loss or that one. Your future is grim and frightening. You are trapped and can never get out. No one values you. You are not important in this world. You have no power. You overestimate your worth to others. No one will ever want you. No one will love you or desire you as you are. You were stupid to want this or that and think you could get it.” I get good advice and my reset button gets hit from time to time to keep me from going completely in the dark corners and never coming out again.
My dreams are just as jacked up as my waking life. I sleep exceptionally well and even without the kava kava, could doze at almost any time of day if I willed myself to do so. It’s not the compulsive exhaustion I felt while on the supplements, but just a feeling of, “Meh. I could sleep…” The dreams are often the pregnancy and birth dreams I always have during harvest time. In the recent ones, I am often defending my decision to have an epidural to some miscellaneous person. Last night, it was Eric and he was telling me I was a sell out. Since I was a Lamaze childbirth instructor for almost twenty years, I am quite good at birthing. I gave birth six times on my own and never had an epidural, but if I were to become pregnant now, which is impossible for several reasons and would likely involve freebies from Wise Men at some point, I would definitely opt in on the spinal meds, so the context of the dream is not that far out of the realm of reality. For me, these particular dreams always relate back to the harvest and the birthing of a new life that harvest brings. In this case, it is about wanting to subdue the pain this harvest brings and find the rewards.
I also dreamed that I was in the process of writing a check to my friend, Carolynda, for three hundred dollars for steam cleaning my carpets. Mind you, I currently have two and a half carpets and would definitely pay a good bit to have them steam cleaned well. In the dream, Eric and Josh were yelling at each other, then Josh’s Dad, Paul, showed up and started yelling and Josh and I could not focus on writing the check to Carolynda because of all the damned yelling. When I woke up, I had my hands covering my ears in “real life” in bed and was curled into a fetal position. By then in the dream, I could not tell Eric’s yelling from Paul’s and it was all running together. Even in my dreams, people scream at each other.
There is a scene in the wonderful movie “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” where the main character, Vivi, wakes up in the middle of the night to find that one of her children is sick, which leads her to discover through a festival of diarrhea and vomit that all of her several young children are ill with a stomach bug. The kids are pooping and crying and vomiting and she’s trying to manage each one and it’s just a mess. She finally just stands up, walks away, gets in the car and starts driving. In the next scene, she wakes up in a starched linen bed in a hotel on the coast, stretches, calls the front desk and asks them what day it is, and is surprised by the answer. She phones her family and then goes home. Granted, Vivi had a live in maid who watched her kids while she was gone, but truly, haven’t we all been there? Where we want to just walk away and get in the car and start driving? There have been times this year when I had to really fight down that urge. Really fight down that urge.
In the middle of all of this, I wrote two books. One was not called What to Do When Things Suck, which was what I considered writing. Instead, I branched off into erotica with a pirate fantasy under a pseudonym (email me if you want to be directed that way) and I wrote the new General Hospital Fan Club Weekend Yearbook – 2014, which, as always, was a joy and a complete headache. These two were numbers 26 and 27 of my books since July 2013.
I read five books on marketing with two more to go and also I am in the process of reading It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig. This particular round of depression marks the first time in my life I have not used food as a crutch to get me through the day. I have not always made perfect food choices, but I did not always make perfect food choices when I was not depressed either. When I did make poor choices, it was not because I compulsively ate to numb the pain or fear I was feeling. I made a conscious choice to eat something I knew was not in my best interest because I wanted it. I thought it through and made the decision. No regrets at all then or now. I continued to exercise, although circumstances (like the illnesses) did not always let me always continue my usual routine.
A friend mentioned www.whole30.com (the base program for It Starts With Food) to me and at first I resisted because it will be very tough to separate me from my stevia. The sugar is not such a huge deal for me, but the stevia…oh my. That is my last frontier. I am good with giving up the grains and dairy, but I will miss Mexican food. I will miss chili, but have to give up beans. Nothing else is a particularly huge deal for me. I am usually not a fan of diets in the strictest sense of the word – a temporary way of eating to create a particular outcome. I believe in lifestyle changes and wise food choices for the long term. I have to admit that my current eating plan, although far superior to how I ate even a year ago, is not working and needs adjustments. I think of this almost as fasting or lent. I will eat this way for thirty days as suggested and see how my body responds. Coming at it from this end when my emotions are pouting over stevia in my tea and a cold glass of milk with my chili once a week or so is not the time to make choices about what I will do in thirty days. When I rationalize it, I figure I would have chili and milk two, maybe three times during that thirty days. That is no big loss. Stevia in my tea, however, is a several-times-a-day process. Giving up soft drinks for thirty days (no sugar, no chemicals, no sweeteners) is tough, but I have done it before and know I can do it again. It will be an adventure and if it gives me increased energy and better health as advertised, I am certainly willing to try. As an author, I know better than most that it is extremely difficult for a book to have a five star rating on Amazon.com with almost 1500 customer reviews, but It Starts With Food did it.
I feel the taloned grip of depression loosening, which is why I can write this now. Although each day still seems to bring a near-laughable number of ridiculous obstacles and problems to the point that I feel like one of those old plate jugglers on the Ed Sullivan Show, I notice that the times where everything is at least OK if not fine last longer and I feel more tuned into them. That is when, despite all the madness, I feel like I just might come through intact. If nothing else, depression is aces at showing you the weak places in your armor and the glitches in your life plan. Those are always great insights and for that, I am truly grateful.