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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Two nights ago, I had a talk with God. Well, not so much a talk as it was a depression-fueled temper tantrum on my part. It’s been a long school year so far (already!) and the frustration with work and where I am in my life has been steadily building. Thursday was a horrible day: disrespectful kids, strangers giving stupid feedback in my classroom, no prep time due to meetings, and no prospect of things getting better. Remember what I’ve written about depression? When it kicks in, you literally can’t see a way out at that moment. Combine that with being sick all week and normal teenage stuff at home and it becomes a recipe for a major depressive hole.

By bedtime, my chest felt like it would explode with frustration and I could barely keep the tears in. In the bathroom, I let it all out at God. Why wouldn’t He help me? Why was I getting thwarted and blocked at every turn when I was trying to help myself? Was this all there was going to be of my life, feeling trapped and miserable? There were other things, too, but that was the gist of it. It didn’t last very long, I was exhausted, and I went to bed dreading the puffy eyes in the morning that come from late-night tear fests.

The next day (yesterday), I walked back into my classroom after cleaning up broken shards of a cologne bottle in the hallway. I can still smell it on my hands this morning, despite repeated washings. Ugh. My clock caught my attention at 10:23. That doesn’t surprise me. Those numbers, my birthday numbers, always seem to appear when my attention is required for spiritual things. This has happened throughout my entire life. I know that a lot of people, especially those skeptical or dismissive of such things would bleat that it’s no big deal, it’s 10:23 twice a day every day. No kidding, but experience has taught me that when my attention is specifically being drawn to the clock at that time, the universe and God mean business. Whether you believe it or not is your own business, but I know what’s true for me.

Anyway, as soon as I had registered the time, a voice popped into my head. “For I know the plans I have for you…”, it said. I stopped in my tracks. Now, I know a lot about the Bible, but I’m not one to memorize and quote verses, so this was a surprise. And I had the feeling, the feeling I get when something spiritual is happening. I knew the verse, I had heard it before, but hadn’t thought about it recently, even remotely. I immediately went to my computer to look it up: “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)  Well. I knew then, I knew, that this was the answer to my outburst last night. It felt good, it felt right. I don’t know how else to explain it. After months of pleading and trying to get an answer about my life and what I should be doing, I had a clear communication. Not a direction about where my life is going, exactly, but at that moment, I had peace about it. I still do, today, twenty-four hours later.

Does that verse solve my problems? No. Will my frustration disappear? No, but yesterday went a long way in restoring part of my faith. I’ve been struggling for a while, a long while, actually, and I needed something like that. I debated about posting this, as I usually do when I experience spiritual/metaphysical things, knowing that there are people who don’t believe or who won’t think I’m the “right” kind of Christian and will definitely think I’m on the train to Crazy Town, but you know what? I really don’t care anymore. Actually, I think that’s a part of what I’m supposed to be doing now, writing more about things like this, being more open about things about God and other things that we can’t explain. We’ll see what the future holds.

In the meantime, I wish you all the peace that I’m feeling today.

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Coming out of a deep, but thankfully short, depression hole a couple of nights ago, I was reminded again to take in the beauty around me and to be thankful.

I love looking at the sky. I always have, no matter what the weather. I love the moon in all of its phases, the clear perfect blue of a crisp autumn morning, even the tempestuous storm clouds as they angrily dance by.

This morning, the sunrise was stunning as I was driving to work. Streaks of blue, pink, gold, purple, and orange blended together to take my breath away. The Detroit skyline was in the distance and wispy, pink-edged clouds were beginning to fill in for the rain that will come later today.

I was amazed, even though I’ve seen many sunrises. They never get old. God is a wonderful artist.

I was happy.

May you find something today that takes your breath away. If you do, tell me about it.

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This week has been a struggle, depression- and work-wise. I won’t bore you with the details, but it did come to a head a couple of nights ago when I spent a while railing at God in the bathroom and crying puddles of tears that I had been holding back all that day. It has lessened since, but the shadows have lingered. Thankfully, my puffy eyes have not.

Every time I have a bad day, it feels like it will never get better and then, when the demons are kept at bay, I can’t understand why I’ve ever been sad. Many times, I can avoid triggers, but there’s often no rhyme or reason to it. Out of the blue, I feel worthless, I feel fat, I feel untalented, I feel old, I feel like I’m a horrible mother, a horrible wife. I feel overwhelmed, I feel unqualified, I feel like curling up in my bed and never coming out.

Most people would never know I have depression, I’m very good at getting through my day. My husband knows, though,and he’s very understanding, although I hate that he has to see me when I’m like that, uncommunicative and sad.

Depression is not for wimps.

What I’ve learned is that I need to wait it out, that it will get better, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Usually, my “holes” last only a few hours, this last one was worse than usual and it sucked. Majorly.

It’s getting better, it’s just passing more slowly than usual. It takes time, it takes patience. I have a wonderful therapist who teaches me strategies. Soon, I’ll be whole again. I’m almost there.

If you have depression, get help. If you know someone with depression, let them know you care.

Depression is not for wimps.

 

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Does anyone else ever struggle between forgiving someone and then having the weight of it hit you all over again and you feel like you never really did forgive? I guess more therapy is in order.

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Depression and anxiety both really suck sometimes. It was a rough, overwhelming day (it’s been a rough, overwhelming week) and I was drained, emotionally and mentally, but I’m crawling out of the hole now. I can see the light again and it will be okay. Some alone time to process, allowing myself some tears, forcing myself to get some physical activity, and the support of my husband helped me to stabilize. I’m feeling well enough to write now, well enough to go to work tomorrow. I can handle it. Support is huge, strategies are huge, therapy is wonderful.

It’s going to be okay. I can see that now. I couldn’t a few hours ago. It’s going to be okay.

depression-meme-14.jpg

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“Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in.
Sometimes I feel like giving up,
No medicine is strong enough.
Someone help me.
I’m crawling in my skin.
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t.
It isn’t in my blood.”

~Sean Mendes

I really listened to these lyrics for the first time a few weeks ago and they hit me. Hard. This is a description of an anxiety and/or a depression hole, folks, pure and simple. I’ve, of course, heard of Sean Mendes, but I didn’t know that he sang this song until yesterday. It’s clear, though, that he knows a more than a bit about anxiety and depression. Here’s a bit more from the same song:

“Laying on the bathroom floor, feeling nothing.
I’m overwhelmed and insecure, give me something
I could take to ease my mind slowly.
Just have a drink and you’ll feel better.
Just take her home and you’ll feel better.
Keep telling me that it gets better.
Does it ever?”

Sounds completely hopeless, yes? That’s because it is, at the time. He’s absolutely hit the nail on the head. When you “fall” into one of these holes, this is the feeling. And it’s scary. And it sucks. And, for a while, it feels like you’ll never be right again. In my case, eventually I do feel right again, quicker these days than before I started talk therapy a few years ago, but for some, it lasts for days, weeks, and months. Through therapy, I’ve learned strategies to cope, but while that helps to quiet the demons, it doesn’t keep them away entirely. The combination of extended childhood trauma plus my genetic disposition toward depression make it clear that I will probably always need some sort of therapeutic outlet. I know that and I’ve made peace with that. I’m strong, but not strong enough to carry this thing by myself.

And I’m not by myself. Besides my therapist, Marty is a huge support and I have no doubt that my “holes” frustrate him at times, but he’s done his best to understand and he has learned about depression in order to help me with what I need at the time, which is usually for him to keep a watchful distance and let me ride it out in silence. He never complains.

I wish I could control it.

Twice, I’ve seen posts on Facebook this week about choosing to be happy, that you only have to make the choice to be happy and it will be all better. How easy that sounds! Unfortunately, I can’t choose or pray my way out of this disease any more than I can choose or pray my way out of any other disease. Just because it has to do with my brain doesn’t make it easier to get rid of than bronchitis or a broken arm. It amazes me that people still think that way.

What has brought all of this depression talk on, you ask? These past two weeks have been a struggle for me; it’s been rough. Triggering, in popular talk. Writing helps me deal with it. I’m not okay with mocking sexual assault victims, in public or otherwise, but right now, the administration of our country seems fine with that. I’m hurting, not just for me, but for all victims, especially for those have kept it to themselves, who were not believed or helped. My heart aches for them.

The worst thing was the laughter at the Trump rally as he mocked Dr. Ford, especially after he had called her testimony credible. My god, that was hard to stomach. Vile, really. Inhuman. Who thinks that this is okay? How much of a scum do you have to be to laugh at someone who has clearly been victimized, whether or not you believe it was the named perpetrator? I felt sick when heard it. A lot of bad words were flung at the TV screen.

I’ve been there, been through it. Years of it. I didn’t make a noise about it until it was too late, legally, to make a noise. I didn’t report at the time, I was terrified. I was a child, and then a teenager. But it happened. I know that. The step-monster knows that. That is enough for me. I understand why things don’t come out until later. You have to be strong enough, first. That takes time for some of us.

Depression sucks, and I have to be stronger than it is, but I’m tired this week. Exhausted, really, but I’m okay. When triggers like this happen, you have to work through it, you have to process what’s going on and choose how you will respond, but it has felt like a continual battle lately. I need a break. I know it will pass, and there will be good days, really good days. But I know that it’s waiting in the wings, just waiting for that next rape “joke”, that next unexpected scene in a television show, that next disturbing section in a book. Then, the cycle begins again but by then, there’s a reserve of strength to deal with it.

“Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t.
It isn’t in my blood.”

I’m not giving up; not even close. There’s too much to fight for and after a short bit, I’ll be back to fight again.

You are not alone.

 

 

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(This post will have absolutely nothing to do with anything political, of that I can assure you, so any readers who have previously disagreed with my political views have nothing to fear. Or to fight about. Not that my feelings have changed in any way, but it’s very soul-sucking to have to argue and defend all the time, especially after the Christmas craziness and play rehearsals kicking into high gear. I need a break. Just wanted you to know before you started reading.)

I was inspired by a meme on Facebook today. It asked the reader to judge the year based on the difference in where you were as a person at this time last year to where you are now. I know, I know, it’s a Facebook meme, but this one got my attention because I made a major life decision at the end of last year and I’ve been asked a lot about it recently this holiday season, mostly by people I haven’t seen in a long time. Having to answer these folks has made me think about the place I’m now, as compared to last year, and this is what I’ve come up with.

At this time last year, I was kind of a mess, mentally and emotionally. I was at the end of my rope as a teacher; depression and anxiety were a daily struggle that I was having a tougher time fighting as each day passed. I made the choice to take a pay cut, leave the profession that I had acquired several thousand dollars in student loans to go into, and went to work as the office administrator for my church. At the same point this year, I can say with certainty that leaving classroom teaching was one of the best decisions that I could have made for myself. There were parts that I loved: interacting with the kids one-on-one, light bulb moments for the kids, some silly moments, my teaching assistant and friend, Nicole, the hugs and pictures. But the bad had outweighed the good for me. There were plenty of times that I cried all the way home or in the shower from certain interactions or from work situations that seemed hopeless, all the while putting on a brave face during the school day so that I wouldn’t be seen as weak or soft. I was cranky at home, snapping at the kids for small, stupid things, constantly on edge. I was always defensive, feeling like I always had to be on my guard. I felt constantly defeated, that nothing would ever be happy again. I felt trapped.  I know it sounds pretty dark, and my thoughts did get fairly dark, but that is a very common depression symptom and it was true for me then. I want you to see the state of mind that I was in, how ugly it was.

There are teachers who deal with those circumstances just fine, Mr. Marty Man being one of them. He can leave work at work, talk down any outraged parent, and deal with horrible behavior without so much as an eyebrow twitch. My parents-in-law were good at that, too. I’m just not built that way. I internalize the criticism, take it home with me, dwell on what was said, and dread having to deal with the situation again. Like for days and even weeks. Parent-teacher conferences and report cards were a nightmare. While I always gave the grade that the student earned, I knew which ones would turn into a big deal and what would be blamed on me with personal attacks on my personality and teaching ability, even though I always felt that I did my best, but it didn’t matter.

On the other hand, there were absolutely fantastic kids, parents, and extended families, some who still stay in touch. There were some good times, really good times. When I first started student teaching, and then for a long-term sub assignment in the same school (6 months!), I loved it. My cooperating teacher was amazing and the school had a close supportive staff. I enjoyed teaching for that first year and if it had kept going that way, I may have stayed in. For whatever reason, the circumstances changed and it all began to fall apart after that. I know that I was able to reach some kids, that there were kids I could help, but ultimately, I felt that I wasn’t an effective teacher. It’s a horrible feeling. Kids deserve the best, even if they’re obnoxious and difficult to like. I do believe that, from the bottom of my heart, but I found it really hard to put into practice another reason to leave the profession. I’m not good with sassy and difficult. Kids deserve a teacher who can see past that and there are some children who aren’t as easy to love as others. I hate typing this, admitting it to the world, but it’s true. Difficult kids need love, too, and being a classroom teacher isn’t for everyone.

My family has noticed the changes since I left teaching, my kids especially. Mama has a much longer fuse than she used to, the snappiness is much reduced, and I’m much calmer, less prone to black depression holes. The depression holes aren’t gone, but I have more energy stores to deal with them than I did before. They don’t last as long.  I’ve been spending a lot of time with my beloved theatre this year and not feeling torn in five different directions with all of the work at home hours. There is a lot of guilt, I do admit, about the decrease in pay and I’m not sure quite how that’s going to pan out in the long run, but for this moment, this very moment, I’m okay where I am. Why is that a good thing? Because I hadn’t felt that way in several years.

So, on the occasion of this New Year, I toast to change. I toast to scary, freaking difficult decisions, and I toast to dreams that turn into goals.

Saluti.

 

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