Sunday, February 17, 2013

Making friends with Old Man Winter

This week has been tough. I've slept a lot, worked minimally, and for the past several days have struggled to make myself do much of anything.

And I hate it.

This has been the longest depressive episode I have had in a long time. Sure, there have been others over the past year, but they have only lasted a day or two - a quick turn-around. This week, I've gone to bed every night (or, in some cases, every afternoon) wishing and hoping that the next day I'll wake up and be my real Self again, but She has yet to fully surface.

*        *        *

It's always been a pet-peeve of mine to feel like my time is being wasted. If I have only one life on this earth, I'd rather it be fruitful, productive, creative, meaningful, and lived out among the people and experiences that fill my days with beauty, challenges, and love. My true Self wants to learn and love and live as much as she can - not waste away in a prison of her destructive thoughts and irrational mind games.

Depression SUCKS because it wastes my time. In fact, depression the ultimate time-waster in the most frustrating way because I am often helpless when I'm up against it. I'm left without much of a choice. I have to live through it and treat the symptoms, and that's about all I can do until it passes.

This week, I've wasted away in my bed - sleeping far into the afternoon, getting up to eat or maybe do a little work, and then finding myself back in bed. I am embarrassed to the core about how many Law & Order: SVU episodes I have consumed over the past few days. I keep going back to Hulu, however, because it helps to numb my mind. 

I had a frightening experience one night last week when I was trying to fall asleep. My mind was absolutely spinning. I felt like I wanted to wail but I couldn't. So I tossed and turned and debated whether or not I should cave and take a pill to help calm me down. Should I get up? Should I read? Normally when my head hits the pillow I'm out within a few minutes, but suddenly I was lost in a whirlwind of random anxieties:   

What I am doing here? Why do I even bother taking organ lessons? It's not like I'm good enough to actually get into the DMA program! The only reason I'm here is because I'm just following my husband around. I told myself I'd never do that and now here I've gone & done it! Nobody really wants me here. Maybe even M. doesn't want me here. I'm not right for the work I'm supposed to be doing. I don't even care about the work I'm doing most days. There's nothing here for me. How will I ever find my way when I can't even bring myself to get up in the morning! What will M. think of me? Sure, he's helpful now, but what if this goes on for several more days - or WEEKS?! Will he tire of me? Will he become angry? Will he accuse me of using my depression as an excuse? I don't make enough money. I don't contribute anything to our little family. Family?! Oh my God I'm twenty-nine. What's wrong with me? What if I get too old to have a child, or worse, what if I just forget to have a child? It's exhausting just taking care of myself, how will I ever have the strength to raise a little person? I'll fail my family. My mother. Myself. Some days I don't even know if I want a child. Some days I fantasize about Motherhood until it hurts. How old will my child be when he or she realizes its mother is crazy? Should I try to hide it or just out myself before all the questions start? After all, kids are smart and they sense things...

You get the idea. (I got up and took the pill, in case you were wondering).

*        *        *

This week, I've ashamedly backed out of commitments, made stupid excuses as to why I cannot be social with people, and have completely neglected my creative work - or, any work, for that matter. I have not practiced. I have not written any music, and until this moment, have not done any meaningful writing.

I've been at this for a little while now, and I now know enough about how my depression works to know that it does not do any good to shake my fists and get angry at it. 

It always wins. 

It is always stronger than me despite my will and my best efforts to "beat it." But I think I can honestly say I got a leg up on it today...

*        *        *

Last night, after another evening of fitful sleep, I finally went downstairs and slept in the guest bedroom. M. had a lot of writing to do the next day and I didn't want to keep him awake with my tossing and turning and frustrated 'ha-rumphing!' He woke me up around 10AM and I begged him to let me keep sleeping. It was almost noon before he came in to gently nudge me awake - again. 

I made myself get up and eat. I threw together a pretty tasty fruit and chia seed smoothie. I dumped it in a glass, shoved a straw in it, and of course, took it back to bed with me. Nearly two Law & Order: SVUs later, I decided I should bathe. (When I am depressed, the whole idea of getting ready exhausts me, so this was quite an achievement). In order to minimize my efforts, I chose to take a bath instead of a shower. This way I would only have to turn on the water, squeeze in some bubble bath, and sit in the tub, letting the suds do the work. I couldn't have been in that much of a mental fog, as I made sure I retrieved my laptop from the bedroom to prop it up on the closed toilet seat so my Law & Order: SVU marathon would continue in the bathroom.

After my afternoon bath, I managed to dress myself. Okay, I was that much closer to getting out of the house. But before I did, of course I had to putter. I spent some time debating whether I should make the bed. I looked at the dirty dishes and wondered if I should rinse them instead of letting them sit in an impressive tower in the sink. I spent some time looking for my favorite gloves, and then came the decisions about what I should take with me - my organ music? My organ shoes? My journal? That stack of newspapers I've been meaning to comb over and clip through? Argh, too much! I finally threw my laptop in my book bag and headed out the door, but not before checking the mail for the second time today.

Okay. I'm in the car. I call M. I figure he should know where I'm going, considering my scatter-brained state. I tell him I'm going to cross the border into Michigan and head to a little cafe by by water and write. But of course - [insert Murphy's Law] - the cafe is closed for the day. I'm too late.

*        *        *

So, without thinking, I drove toward the water. When I reached the beach, I was surprised to see a lot of other people there: young couples, old companions, Moms and Dads with their young kids. I already felt better hearing the swish of the icy lake paired with the voices of others cutting through the frigid air. Just then I was reminded I'm not alone, but amidst a bunch of other spring-seekers walking the beach in the hopeful February sun.

This was a big step for me, as I HATE the cold. But there I was, facing it head-on. (The only way I find it somewhat tolerable is when it occurs with sunshine and no wind, and living near one of the Great Lakes, you almost always have the wind chill factor). Today was different. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Yes, it was freezing and I forgot my gloves, but I knew I needed this. On my journey, I came across some beautiful things, and managed to capture them to share with you:

Seeing snow on a beach still amazes and somewhat 
confuses me. But I found this treasure underneath 
some of the white fluffy stuff...

 Frozen in time...

 A little 'ice cove.' The sound of all of those little frozen 
bits of lake water clashing together was fantastic!

 If I were wearing different shoes, I may 
have attempted to climb atop this ice mountain...

 Who knew Old Man Winter could be 
so stunning? I give him props.

And then...I spotted a sculpture at the
 end of the pier. Do you see it?

 At first, I thought it looked like an angel...
...or maybe an anchor...
But then I got closer...

...and it appeared to be some sort of watch tower. 
You can kind of make out the stairs.
But nobody will be climbing up these stairs anytime soon!


Even the lighthouse is iced-over.
 A kind young couple offered to take my picture.

 What a day - and what a photo!

 My trek back to the car has ended...

And although today was a beautiful day, I'm very much looking forward to spring, warm weather, beginning my outdoor garden, and all the other gifts that spring and summer bring! But this evening, as I finish this long-overdue post, I am thankful to Old Man Winter for giving my mind an afternoon of reprieve. Tomorrow is the start of another week. May I awake inspired, motivated, and ready to face the day - hopefully without the cloud of my depression drooping over me. But if I can't just yet, may I be kind to myself so I may patiently nurse my spirit back health - and back to Self. 

And finally, my Friends - to your health!