Monday, September 27, 2010

Tylenol PM

There's a reason I take Tylenol PM every night, sometimes 1, sometimes 2, depending on the way things are going. It's not to get to sleep. It's to stay asleep. During these times of unemployment, when I don't take the TPM, I get startled awake around 5 or 6 in the morning, my heart is pounding, my stomach starts churning, my brain starts swirling. What if...? When will I...? Why did I...? If I were working, I would think , "Oh shit, I have to wake up in an hour or 2 and go to work." But without the Tylenol PM, my brain thinks horrible thoughts and prays for sleep to come back to me. Sleep becomes my refuge, my safety raft to run away from reality. I often find myself still in bed at noon when unemployed, too depressed to pull myself out into reality.

Today I told myself "You have to get out and walk." Autumn has hit Missouri, and it's truly beautiful outside. In the 60s and 70s and perfect for a walk. I have been promising my dear blog friend that I would get out every day for a walk. Some weeks I have made it 3 times. It really helps when I have something to mail because I miss my apartment's pick-up at 11 (see above) and must force myself to the mailbox in the strip mall a mile away. That makes for a 2-mile walk. I often text my friend and let him know I am out and about, and he always texts back that he will walk with me hand in hand from a thousand miles away. I was hungry today and had 3 pieces of mail to go out. Noon became 1 and 1 became 2. I eventually got some turkey and cheese to stave off my hunger. By 2 I decided to take a shower and wash my hair. That is my cue the walk notion is over because I don't want to get sweaty with clean hair. The things I need to mail have no deadline like a birthday. And I was no longer hungry. I let my friend down, and I let myself down. But I can't seem to get out of my house.

I drove back to St. Louis last Wednesday for the funeral of a dear 95-yr-old priest who had lived a wonderfully full life and only stopped going to church 2 weeks before he fell ill and passed away. You can't ask for much more than that. He was the priest at my church long before I got there and had retired by 1978. He then took over as the priest at the Episcopal Church for the Deaf which worshiped at our church as he knew sign language having been raised by deaf parents. I can't tell you what it's like to go "home" and be greeted by people who know and love me. As many of you know, it was harder to leave my beloved church friends than my husband 4 years ago. It was a joyous service. But driving back meant that I had 4 hrs (2 there and 2 back) to think. And thinking isn't good. So often, especially nowadays, I feel totally worthless. As if my life is worth less now than ever. My kids don't need me any more. I am not a wife (and, therefore, helping my ex with this or that). I am not a home owner so there are no projects to get done so the house won't fall apart. And now without a job, I am totally worth less. I am left with this hollow feeling inside. Back to "What if...? When will I...? Why did I...?"

I would never ever ever ever ever consider suicide. So don't worry. But there are times I feel that no one would notice if I were not here. Life would be easier and better without me in it. Only those who suffer depression can truly understand that notion. I talked with a dear friend last night, the one who drove me to Montana 4 years ago, and we both understood this feeling. N either one of us would ever consider suicide, but we knew the feeling of no one missing us if we weren't here. She, too, has been unemployed this entire summer and just recently ran out of her St. John's Wart and could not afford to buy more. Even though this is OTC, I did not want for her to be without so I purchased several bottles and mailed them to her last week. It forced me out of the house and on a walk. It gave me a purpose, a reason to get up and go for a walk. She said she cried when she got them in the mail. It made her feel as if someone cared. A simple gesture. I think it made me feel even better that I could do something for someone. It's not as simple as volunteering at a nursery and holding a baby or building a house for the homeless or cleaning up the highway in an orange vest. All those gestures would take a lot of effort and organization and planning. Going for a walk and mailing something so needed to a friend was easier and made me feel special. It probably did more for me than it did for her. It made me feel worth something... for a brief moment.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Have You Tried Some Chamomile Tea?

I ran across this list and thought it was worth sharing. It is spot on. Don't "yell" at me, S, for not blogging something original. I thought of you while reading this list because it's as if you wrote it for me. It's as if you took a class. It's as if you walked through this valley before.

How to show you care

What do you say to someone who’s depressed? All too often, it’s the wrong thing. People still have such a cloudy idea of what mental illness is.

Sometimes people will say, ‘Oh, you’re depressed? Yeah, I’ve been depressed,’ and you realize just the way they say it that, nooo, it’s not quite the same thing. It’s not just that I’m feeling sad or blue. Below is a list of helpful things to tell someone battling depression, followed by what not to say, courtesy of the Depression Alliance.

1) I’m here for you
What to say: You’re not alone in this.
What NOT to say: There’s always someone worse off than you are.
2) You matter
What to say: You are important to me.
What NOT to say: No one ever said that life was fair.

Let me help
What to say: Do you want a hug?
What NOT to say: Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Depression is real
What to say: You are not going crazy.
What NOT to say: So you’re depressed. Aren’t you always?

There is hope
What to say: We are not on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.
What NOT to say: Try not to be so depressed.

You can survive this
What to say: When all this is over, I’ll still be here and so will you.
What NOT to say: It’s your own fault.

I’ll do my best to understand
What to say: I can’t really understand what you are feeling, but I can offer my compassion.
What NOT to say: Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for several days.

You won’t drive me away
What to say: I’m not going to leave you or abandon you.
What NOT to say: I think your depression is a way of punishing us.

I care about you
What to say:
I love you. (Say this only if you mean it.)
What NOT to say:
Haven’t you grown tired of all this “me, me, me” stuff yet?

We’ll get through this together
What to say: I’m sorry that you’re in so much pain. I am not going to leave you. I am going to take care of myself, so you don’t need to worry that your pain might hurt me.
What NOT to say: Have you tried chamomile tea?
I love the last one: Have you tried chamomile tea? I think I have heard all the "What not to say" lines by well-meaning people. I might have even said a few of them from time to time. But I hope I have said the "What to say" statements more often.

Every night (when I feel better) I say to myself, "Tomorrow you are getting up at an appropriate time and walking. You have got to get to the gym. You have got to stop sitting around here in this dark apartment watching television. You can do it. What's so damn hard about getting out there and walking? It's beautiful outside. Now stop feeling sorry for yourself. Have some chamomile tea." And every morning turns into noon and I am still in bed, and I drag myself out of bed and turn on the tv and look for a job on the internet and sit here with my heart pounding in my chest. Having something to do helps, a lunch date, an errand, choir rehearsal, anything to get me out of the house. Otherwise, I have no motivation. No plans. No interest.

I am a horrible role model to my daughter.

Maybe I need to reread the list and start saying some of "What to say" things to myself.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Against My Will

With the madness that is Facebook, it seems I have given up on blogging, but my friend won't let me. I am at my lowest point in years, and he suggested (with a wagging finger from 1200 miles away) that I should start blogging again. Perhaps to get out the poison. I don't know what good it will do. I doubt that anyone is left out there to read my blog. But this is for me, I guess. To purge. To get my thoughts out on "paper." To develop a game plan. And my friend will be checking up on me so I'd better do what he says. I'm nothing if not obedient.

Four years ago this weekend, I told my husband I was leaving him. We walked around the house like zombies for the next 4 weeks. I was moving to a city 2 hours away to be with my daughters, packing up and moving without him. (I loved them more than I ever loved him.) I had 25 years of being ignored, being unloved being lonely, and I couldn't take it any more. 3 years ago last weekend my divorce was final, and on Labor Day of 2007, a month after I turned 50, I sailed off with Sailor Boy, the love of my life, for a fabulous weekend on the Chesapeake Bay. Life was good. I had the job of my dreams. I never dreamed life could be so good. 2 years ago this weekend I moved back to Columbia after a 3-month hiatus to heal my broken heart. I started a new job with the university, moved into my own place after 2 years of living in people's homes or basements. Life was exciting, scary, lonely but empowering. Last Labor Day weekend I broke it off with the new man in my life who adored me but drank way too much. The feeling was not mutual, but the sex was incredible. How was I attracting these practicing alcoholics? But still, life was good. A job I really liked. A place of my own.

So now 4 years later here I sit: unemployed and alone. You see, I came back from my daughter's wedding in July and got laid off. 7 weeks ago. And while I have applied for tons of jobs, I have not even gotten a phone call. Not one call. Not one nibble. I am 53 with an English degree in a college town where college degrees are a dime a dozen. The lay-off came out of nowhere and has knocked me off my feet. Budget cuts. I cannot catch my breath. I am alone by choice as I have spent the better part of the last year going back and forth with Blues Man until I kicked him to the curb again last weekend. My kids have their own lives.

So I am sitting here inside on a beautiful Labor Sunday. Well, not entirely alone. The Black Monster follows me. I have struggled with The Black Thing for years to the surprise of many. But those of us who live with depression are not surprised. I put on a good front, and usually it is under control. But I am miserable most days. And yes I am medicated, but without a job and without some spark of happiness in my life, I sit here alone watching television or checking facebook. It would be far worse without anti-depressants. Been there, never wanna do that again. I should go out for a walk in this beautiful weather that has come to Missouri over Labor day Weekend, but I don't have the energy to get up and out. Everyone tells me to go exercise.

So, with instructions from my finger-wagging, hugging from a distance friend I will try to blog more often and catch you (and me) up on the last 8 months since I blogged last. I will try to be back on a regular basis. He's watching. And I'm nothing if not obedient.

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