Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm a generally happy person. Except when I'm not.

So it's two weeks into the new year and a month since my last post (as my Hetero reminded me on facebook yesterday). To be honest, I have started probably 4 different posts that I might, at some point, finish and publish. One was about making the old new: a rant about the futility of change and our society's effed up views about our potential to "be better." I wrote almost the entire thing until it spiraled into indignant lecturing, and I scrapped it, for now at least. There were countless other posts about how much I love Zumba, about my dad being old, about the joy of having 9 best friends. But nothing I could ever finish. Well that and I spend every moment at my job trying so hard to do my work. Even when I am not actually doing it I am wishing I could make myself do it, and a blog post, for me anyways, takes a while. 

But most likely the real reason I haven't been writing is, well, I've been pretty depressed. About an hour ago I read an article from (one of my favorite online magazines) about a woman (Emily) who struggles with depression, and I found myself crying (oh surprise). And if reading an article about depression and crying isn't a sign of depression, I don't know what is. 

I have been pretty open about my depression over the years. All my friends know I have bouts of the sads (as one of my dear west coast friends calls it), but it doesn't make it any easier to find myself in that place. For Emily, it's getting out of bed. For me, it's showering. When I can't make myself take a shower I know things are bad. But if 2.5 years of therapy have taught me anything, it's that there are signs I am sliding before I get to the point where I can't bother to clean my body. I have trouble sleeping. I have trouble getting up. I don't want to cook for myself. I don't want to floss. My room gets messy. My laundry goes undone. All these subtle little acts of self-care slowly falling by the wayside, until one morning I am standing in front of the mirror trying to do something with my greasy hair that hasn't been washed in 4 days. 

As an unmedicated depressed person, I find myself to often be in the minority. Granted, I am not unmedicated because I think medication is wrong or that people don't need it. I just think the level of pain any given person can take is variable, and I haven't reached my threshold yet. I often medicate myself with a good old fashioned it-doesn't-matter-if-you-WANT-to-do-it-take-the-goddam-shower, which works about 50% of the time. The other 50% of them time I elicit help from my best friends. I cry about the same shit I was crying about 6 months ago (people die, I will die, people are lonely, I am lonely etc... heck, I've been crying about that shit since I was cognizant of death and loneliness). And 100% of the time I just work through it. Which is what we all, medicated or not, have to do.

I often find myself thinking about my "urban" lifestyle (as my brother calls it) and wonder if it isn't part of what makes me so sad. I sit at a desk, I move very little during the day, many of my friends live across town, and my Besties lives in DC. Don't get me wrong. I am extraordinarily lucky to have a sunny office with a huge window, a work best friend to rival them all, and my dearest, loveliest Elizabeth a 20 minute walk away, so I get sunshine and some fellowship at least once a day. Maybe I should be content with this, but I am not.

What I'm trying to say is, I don't think the problem is my mind (well, at least not the WHOLE problem). Yes, medication would probably make things easier, and there are times when I consider it. I even got a prescription from my doctor once that I never filled. But I maintain I am not the problem. I am just a person, broken, fallible, trying to live in a world full of broken, fallible people, who, more often than not, can't even see how broken they are (understandably so, as our modern world makes it easy to forget). The majority of white America is comprised of once children raised to think if we can dream it we can be it, when the oftentimes sad truth is brokenness is a basic human reality. 

What I meant in my would-be blog about "making the old new," is that I want to just let myself be broken. I have spent years fighting to fix myself, and I want to let it go. Not to say I am going to let myself spiral down into a stinky, showerless abyss, it's just that I want to learn how to handle my heart with more gentleness. And truth. And awareness. My singular "New Years" resolution is to replace changing, rule making, and bullying, with sight, attention, and habitation.

I think this is how to get out of the sads. 

At least for me.


  1. I feel you, wholeheartedly. It is such a struggle to work against, but what if we can start to work *with* ourselves instead of trying to "fix" as though something is broken-

  2. I think it's good to distinguish between the amount of pain you CAN endure, and the amount of pain you actually HAVE to endure. I lived without meds for years, and sustained friendships and a successful career. I was also sad half the time. I could have continued to do that - I'm capable of it - but there's not really any good reason for me to do so.

    I mean, there's limits in either direction - if you break your leg, go to the ER, but if you stub your toe, walk it off - but living in pain just because you can is not particularly noble.

    Anyway, as my new love affair with insomnia shows, there are so many better reasons not to be on meds... ;)

  3. Maybe you're not broken. Maybe you're just a different model, with different features, than what you expected.

  4. [reads post about depression and cries]