Heather Armstrong at Dooce says all this so much better, really, you should all just go read her. I'm just talking to myself here.
As some of you may or may not be able to tell, I'm a tad bit depressive. I live on an emotional and energetic level that is just slightly below what some would call the norm. I'm a little darker, a little quieter, a little sadder, a little more likely to jump to the worst possible conclusion when given a situation or series of facts, a little more likely to take emotional responsibility for bad things happening. Oh, I have my brightnesses too; I can be extremely fun at parties and small gatherings. I tell fabulously funny stories, and I can make a person feel special and cared for and as if they have a special light shining out of them that makes them uniquely beautiful. I am good at looking for that light, and I am good at hiding from most people how dark I am inside.
I've always been this way. My father talks about how worried he was about me when I was a small child because so often I would be content sitting away from everyone else, watching, with my blanket in my hand and my thumb in my mouth. I knew far more about the emotional undercurrents swirling around me in any given social/familial situation than you would expect any preschooler to know. And I was very aware that there was not much I could do to make the situations any better and oh so much I could do to make them worse. I could make messes, for instance. I could breathe too loudly. I could insist too strongly on attention. I became an excellent soother of ruffled emotions, a salver of bruised egos. I became good at disappearing when I wasn't wanted or needed, but close enough to be available the moment I was. My own emotions were among those things that I considered, for the most part, unwanted and unneeded, and when I was in the grip of some strong emotion (whether positive or negative) I tended to isolate in order to ride it out where no one else would be burdened. And, starting in my mid-teens, every couple of years I would turn suicidal and no one would know. I am not one of those people who warn of their immanent self-destruction. I merely withdraw more and more as I spiral further into what some would call a deep depression (deeper than where I normally live) but to which I refer in my self-talk as "a state of high inconvenience to others." A couple of times it was something outside of myself that kept me alive, a couple of time I managed to save myself through a sheer gritting of teeth and a mantra that went something like, "you may be miserable and inconvenient NOW, but any day now SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE is going to have a crisis and need you to help them through it." Did someone say co-dependent as well as depressive?
Shortly before I met Kristin, I decided I wanted to change my life. I wanted to stop living a life based in fear. I wanted to try to give myself the same consideration and compassion I can give so freely to others. Towards this end, I have been slowly separating from all my co-dependent friendships. I have begun trying to identify my own emotions (you know, for a woman who has helped numerous people deal with identifing and honoring their emotions and emotional needs, you'd think I'd be able to tell what I was feeling, wouldn't you?) and figure out what I need to do for them. I don't think I've ever attempted anything harder. This challenge doesn't end, and it doesn't get any easier with time. It mutates. It finds new ways to express itself, new anxieties and fears and sadnesses to try to deal with -- and to give up on and to try to hide from others as well as myself. Sometimes I have good days. Sometimes I have very very bad days. Oh, let's be honest: Sometimes I have very very bad months. And poor Kristin is right there on ground zero. I would isolate even from her, but with her sharing my home and my bed there's not much space to isolate in, and there's only so much crying one can do in the shower before your partner notices that you're taking a lot of very long showers. I do my best, but she is often a casualty.
So, what about medication? I am very resistant to medication. I find it depressing that I would need to take a pill to make me normal. To fix my brain. And I find the high cost (remember, up until I started my current job I had no health insurance) of the pills depressing as well. And I make too much for financial assistance with the meds, but not enough to justify paying $150 a month for something that doesn't seem to help. In the past, medication hasn't seemed to help me feel better, though Kristin says that when I'm on it she can notice a difference. I do, however, realize that I sabotage my medication efforts. Normally, I go on a medication, suffer side-effects, and either not mention them or minimize them. I do this because if taking 1 medication is bad, taking more to mitigate side-effects seems much worse. Also, I don't want the doctor to feel bad, so I'll say that I feel better, that I think they're working, that he's made a good choice. It's ridiculous (and, actually, harmful) to be worried about a doctor's feelings, but that's what I do. So, I say that the meds are great when they're not, and I cancel future appointments and take myself off them. After, I work really hard to maintain the behavior change that Kristin notices when I'm medicated, but since I can't feel it to start with, I can't replicate it. Fights with my beleaguered partner ensue, and a few months later I will go find another doctor and start the process over again.
I have no idea why she stays with me. I have no idea why she wants to parent with me.
And now we have a child. So this summer, before Julia was born, I went out and found a new APRN and started medication. Again. Determined that I would make it work this time. And so far she's got me on 2 pills and I'm actually taking them. She's thinking of putting me on a third, because these 2 alone are not helping me feel better. Lately, I feel worse. In fact, I'm beginning to think that the futzing with the dosages is contributing to my increasingly rapid downward spiral. Or, it could be the extreme sleep-deprivation. It could be my job. It could be the fact that I have had 4 heavy periods in the 10 weeks since Julia was born. It could be (really, it is) all these things and more and still nothing more than myself and my genetics. I am that coin that you drop in the wide funnel to watch it spin its way down. I've been going for a while, and I'm thinking that I am at that point when the circle has gotten tighter and tighter just before the coin drops through the hole. And I know that with a child and a partner I cannot let myself drop through that hole. But everything piles on top of everything and the very fact that my depression is making things worse just makes things worse.
I am not going to drop down that hole. I am going to stop the cycle.
One of my griefs is that I have lost touch with my spirituality. I am wiccan, but I haven't practiced in years. I can't tell you which phase the moon is in. I haven't observed either sabbat or esbat in longer than I care to say. I have felt spiritually numb for quite a while, even in the midst of the miracles that surround me.
Yet, the rythms must still be moving through me, because I started thinking of Halloween and what that means for me and where I am. Yesterday was Samhain, when the veil is thinnest and things cross over from each direction. This is the dark time of the year when things move toward conception, begin reaching towards an opportunity to grow. When things release their grief, their harvest and rest in preparation for a new cycle of growth. This is my reaching, my releasing, my imperceptible movement, my choice.