Sunday, September 03, 2006

Wrestling with Jello

I wrote this probably ten years ago as I waded in the dull, thick gray matter that was my life. I take this out and read it every few months to remember. Or, more specifically, to see if I can still feel it. Do I just remember feeling it or do I actually still feel it? (Like a depression meter) A friend recently wrote in her blog about suffering from bipolar depression. I don't know if I was bipolar, (or North Polar or Barber Polar), I was never officially diagnosed as "bipolar" but now having several friends who are bipolar, seeing the symptoms, I guess it's safe to say there were times I had bipolar "episodes."

I thought of sharing this because it's a part of me many don't know yet. The long way around, depression is probably what puts the "fun" in "funny" people. I wanted to put this here so maybe someone else who has felt or is feeling depression, could say, "huh, yeah, I get that. I know what feeling, thinking or seeing things that way feels like." Sometimes that's all that can help. At least there were times when that's all that helped me. Just knowing or being with someone who understands what it feels like. Finding someone who has been there. The disconnection. The isolation. The pain. It's weird getting relief from finding someone as messed up as you are but it's true.

My best friend committed suicide after murdering her six year old daughter, Terri Lynn, who, as you might have guessed, was named after me. I had two boys. Kendra had a girl. It was perfect. We were a blended but still a two parent family. We lived in Encinitas, at that time a quiet, sleepy, two block long little beachy surf town. I worked full time managing an engineering office, she worked part-time waitressing. She was so funny. People think I'm funny but Kendra was much funnier than I am. She was Homecoming Queen in high school and very popular.

Then reality set in. I'd left husband number two and I moved to Los Angeles to start a career. I wanted to stay in Encinitas where in the early 1980's Kendra and I lived right on Moonlight Beach. We'd play volleyball every afternoon until dusk, had bonfires at night and every morning we'd walk on the beach drinking our first cup of coffee while the kids ran in the surf looking for crabs and chasing birds. I LOVED it there, I hated leaving, but I needed more. For me and my kids. I was not going to receive child support, I knew that. My ex couldn't take care of himself so there was no reason to spend my life chasing him for money. I couldn't stay in this perfect sleepy little beach town, and work the rest of my life as an office manager or a bartender bidding time until I met someone. I needed a career. So, I packed up, and headed for Los Angeles where I found a job as a corporate sales manager for an investment firm that owned multiple hotels. Kendra stayed there. Six months later she was dead.

But, this isn't about her, well, in a way it is, but, it's not really. It is because I think that loss was the first step towards the "great" depression. Before that, no matter what happened in my life, I had her to pull me through and now for the first time I was really alone.

So what follows is a little peek into my depression. This same "essay" has at times been anywhere from 10 to 2 pages long. Lucky for you, it's in its two-page-long-stage. Anyway, this is what I call "Wrestling with Jello."

I spend every second of every minute of every hour of every day analyzing what, if any, is the purpose of my life. Generally I concentrate on the past since the present and future only exist in feelings of agitation and anxiety.

I think constantly of individual events of my life but can only process them as one large tangled, jumbled failed event. My mind, constantly filled with my failures, dominate my thoughts and forbid me to focus on anything else. I am void of passions that make a person human and constantly feel there is some impending doom about to happen.

Obviously I cannot live in the past, but where do you live if you don't have a present? So, I live in a purgatory. A vortex where I can only survive through alienation, ambivalence and indifference. I use every molecule of energy I have to survive for now, hanging on to a thin thread of the hope of a later.

The only thing worse than having depression is the fear of never escaping it. You cannot feel anything except pain and the pain is so unbearable that there's no possible reason, event or explanation monumental enough to justify it. It would be so much simpler to explain if depression was simply about how lifes assets and debits don't balance out. The truth is that you suddenly realize that you are on a collision course with yourself and it feels like a never-ending brain sickness that produces such internal agony that your world no longer has meaning. It becomes the epitome of loneliness.

The unhappiness infiltrates everything, everything is a problem, and everything makes me cry - children, friends, job, husband, home, loss of a future, the uncertainty of future, fear of the future, fear in general.

I look at family photo albums and see pictures of myself. I can only, with great effort, conjure of vague memories of who that person was. In the pictures I recognize my face but the contrast of the feelings I have now and the person I see in the picture only intensify my feelings of depression. How could the life force I see in the eyes in the photos of myself turn so completely into a death wish? It's so ironic.

Therapy can sometimes act as an exfoliate to shed some of this emotional dead skin but only sometimes. Just as often it can act as more grist for the mill.

Therapists will almost always say something like, no wonder you're depressed, you have 1000 reasons to be depressed. But they rarely have any advice on why I feel the way I do. Why that day? What had I done or not done that I deserved this punishment? Depression seared through my very soul and was slowly suffocating me. My self, something I'd spent my entire life protecting from the world has been infiltrated by an ominous and deadly presence.

The doctors say that either my brain lacks, does not effectively use, or is totally out of proportion in regards to two brain chemicals. Nor epinephrine and Serotonin, scientifically known as neurotransmitters. They ask how I'm feeling. "Shitty." I usually tell them, or why would I be here seeing you? Generally they nod knowingly. A silent admission that they don't desire to see me anymore than I want to see them. Then I give them a lot of money (which means the round is over), they give me a handful of prescriptions and some back-up prescriptions to manage the side effects of the first prescriptions and tell me to hang in there, and pat me on the shoulder and walk me to the door.

Sometime after taking my first Xanax I'm in bed, curled up, arms hugging myself, convinced that if I hold on tight enough I cannot slip lower. I have no ability to concentrate and I cry all the time, even while I'm sleeping. I've been completely derailed off the track of life and spend hours at a time crumpled in my bed and weeping uncontrollably.


I'm an Emotional Idiot

Emotional Idiot

I'm an Emotional Idiot
so get away from me.
I mean,

Wait, no,
that's too close,
give me some space
it's a big country,
there's plenty of room,
don't sit so close to me.

Hey, where are you?
I haven't seen you in days.
Whadya, having an affair?
Who is she?
Come on,
aren't I enough for you?

You're so cold.
I never know what you're thinking.
You're not very affectionate.

I mean,
you're clinging to me,
what am I, your freakin' cat?
Don't rub me like that.

Don't you have anything better to do
than sit there fawning over me?

Don't you have any interests?
Sailing, Fly fishing

There's an archeology expedition leaving tomorrow
why don't you go?
I'll loan you the money,
my money is your money.
my life is your life
my soul is yours
without you I'm nothing.

Move in with me
we'll get a studio apartment together, save on rent,
well, wait, I mean, a one bedroom,
so we don't get in each other's hair or anything
or, well,
maybe a two bedroom
I'll have my own bedroom,
it's nothing personal
I just need to be alone sometimes,
you do understand,
don't you?

Hey, why are you acting distant?

Where you goin',
was it something I said?
What did I do?

I'm an emotional idiot
so get away from me
I mean,

by Maggie Essop (sp?)