The Hard Days

The silence gets louder every day. It seems like I lose more and more of who I am every day until all there is, is silence and emptiness. I feel like a void. And today, it feels like the void is swirling with feelings that I can’t control, and whose origins I can’t trace. I am overwhelmed and tired and sad. And I can only hope that tomorrow will be better.

Many Lists

Since my depression spiraled out of control about two years ago and subsequent hospital visits, I have slowed way down. I am easily overwhelmed, exhausted, fearful of much more than I used to be, and my energy (if I wake up with any) is quickly depleted. Most of what I get done, I get done at the computer, paying bills mostly and doing research for whatever Erik and I are planning next, i.e. trips, buying things for our apartment/house, fixing the car, etc. The action steps, that come after this research, have gotten done in large part because Erik has done it or we have done it together. He is the most effective panacea for my agoraphobia.

Over the last two weeks, I have been extremely busy in a way that is rather unusual for me since 2011. Last week, I realized way too late that the housewarming party was less than two weeks away with no free weekend in between and with many lists of things to get done.

Friday I went to the Madonna Center with forty other women for my church’s (mostly) annual women’s retreat. I have gone to the last three or four women’s retreats and they have always been uplifting and thoroughly enjoyable.

There hasn’t been one since Erik and I got together in late 2010. In fact, this past weekend was the first time since Erik and I met that I have gone away and left him at home. It’s usually the other way around. So when I found myself on my own, away from home, knowing Erik would be home in our bed at the end of the day, my anxiety shot through the roof. I was so racked with anxiety I could hardly think straight and I certainly couldn’t pray, meditate, or connect with other women. Well anyway, I eventually managed to shake the worst of it, enjoy the weekend, and learn a few things as well.

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 I got an average of six hours sleep Friday and Saturday night and came home Sunday totally wiped. I took a three hour nap and then went to bed at 9:30pm. I woke up late Monday morning with a serious ‘not enough sleep” hangover and those many lists stretching out in front of me.

And this is how I found myself more busy than I’ve been in years. Monday was full of completing a weeks worth of ‘regular’ tasks in one day, so I can spend the rest of the week preparing for the housewarming.

Today, Erik and I overslept again. He ran off to work and I spent a half hour  cleaning up paw prints from Sanka who had jumped up and down in his own poop and then come bounding into the house. Then I ran off to work, only to grab the kiddo I was taking care of for the morning and run back to my house because I forgot the landscaper’s were coming today and I had left the doggies in the back yard. I made phone calls while my kiddo played fetch with the dogs and then ran back to his house to make lunch for everyone. Home, Costco, Home Depot, Lowe’s, the bank, Walgreen’s, pay the landscapers, lay the rubber pavers, eat dinner, take Sanka to puppy preschool, and…and…and.

Tomorrow, onto my ‘inside the house’ to do list. Oh yeah and buying more pavers to finish the back yard, finding storage benches, training the puppy, making dinner, and…

Work Marathons

This week totally snuck up on me and then barreled right over me and kept on going. This week is one of the 11-day straight work marathons that Erik is subjected to once a month. I knew it was coming; it’s on my wall calendar and my digital calendar. I still wasn’t prepared.

We are a one car, one scooter family. So, when Erik works 11-days straight (and takes the car because he hasn’t taken the class yet that will allow him to drive on base) it really cramps my ability to keep the house running. Trips to the grocery store are severely limited, no Costco runs, no trips with the dogs, no recycling gets taken to the drop off, etc.

My activities are limited to what I can accomplish on a scooter with barely one cubic foot of storage space. Not to mention the freakishly cold/windy weather we’ve been having.

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This is totally the set up I need!
Normally, I stock up before these 11-day work marathons. I’m typically prepared. The recycling goes out the weekend before, the dogs get a trip to the dog park, the pantry is full, and I’m ready to motor about to my various appointments on the scooter.
Not so, this time. This time we added a few complications just to make things interesting. Tomorrow I’m leaving for a weekend women’s retreat. Erik took a contracting job working 5pm to midnight for the next three Fridays starting tomorrow. All day Saturday and Sunday he will be taking a mandatory motorcycle safety course (so he can finally take the scooter on base and leave me the car). And next weekend we’re finally having our housewarming party. (Find me on Facebook for an invite.)

So what would normally be a small inconvenience has turned into a veritable tornado of deadlines and complications. Forget the recycling, Costco, and the dog park; I have to make sure there’s food in the fridge for when Erik finally gets home.

So it’s Thursday night and I had the car today, but I also had to work all morning, an appointment at 3pm, someone coming to the house at 5:30pm to give us an estimate on landscaping the backyard before the party, and someone else coming at 6:30pm to see about renting our extra room.

In between all of that I was supposed to do laundry, pack for the retreat, buy groceries, make dinner for tonight and something for the weekend, clean the room for rent before 6:30pm, get the dogs ready to go to the kennel, and who knows what else.

Only half of that got done and I’ll give you one guess what this does to my anxiety and depression. More on that next week. I have absolutely no excuse for spending time at the computer.

Wish me luck. See you Monday!

Board Up the Bed

There are days when it feels like I’ve lost before I’ve even gotten out of bed. Today was one of those days.
Our puppy, Sanka, has taken to whimpering in the middle of the night until he wakes me up because he has to pee. Erik sleeps like the dead, so unless someone is jumping up and down on him, he’s sleeping right through it. Last night, the whimpering woke me up at 3am. I got up, took him out, and at least I can say that he pees the second he gets out the door and then he’s done, happy to go back into his crate, curl up, and go back to sleep. I did the same. Then 5am rolled around and Erik’s alarm went off. Time for him to get up and go to work.

On Wednesdays, I get a guilt-free pass to sleep-in. Wednesday is knitting night and I will stay up late so I need the extra sleep in the morning. So when Erik’s alarm went off, I rolled over and went back to sleep. When my alarm went off at 5:20am (This is my, make sure Erik is up and getting ready alarm), Erik was still in bed. I spent the next ten minutes cajoling him out of bed. And then I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Somewhere between 5:45 and 6am Erik came in and out of the room three different times because it was really cold today and he needed his jacket and his gloves, but he couldn’t find them and he was late so he was frustrated. By 6:05am Erik was gone and I could get comfy and really fall back to sleep.

At 8am, my alarm went off for the final time. It’s time to get up. Wednesday is counseling day. Every week, Wednesday is counseling day. If I don’t see my counselor on Wednesday’s, my week gets completely thrown off. You see, my counselor keeps me functioning. He reminds me that really I’m not that crazy, and really, I’m doing pretty well considering. But most importantly, he lets me rant and rave about whatever it is that requires ranting and raving about. I love Wednesdays.

Despite this fact, it was very difficult to get out of bed this morning, especially since I had two soft, warm doggies snuggled up to me. So I didn’t get out of bed until 9:05am and my appointment was at 9:30am. But the office is only 5 minutes away.

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I got up, let the dogs out, and got dressed in extra warm clothes because Erik had the car and I was on the scooter. I made tea, put the dogs in the crate, and then preceded to search for the keys to the scooter – all over the house. By the time I heard back from Erik that he did in fact have both sets of keys with him at work, across town, it was 9:25am and I was not handling it.

I called my counselor, rescheduled, and resumed crying.

I should have boarded up the bed at 3am.

Can You See Where You’re Going?

I was sitting in traffic today waiting at a red light behind a car going straight in a lane with a green right arrow. I have totally been that person, but I was still frustrated. The other light finally turned green and I was able to make my right turn and be on my way. It was with this fading frustration in my head that I ended up stuck behind a large van in a long line of stopped traffic. This time, instead of getting frustrated, I thought, Sometimes it’s better not to be able to see where you’re going. And then I did an internal double take, and thought, That sounds an awful lot like a metaphor for life. This led to an internal debate about life and whether it’s better to see where you’re going or just take it as it comes.

In reality, we’re all in the dark about what’s coming in the next minute. To some extent, we’re prepared; we make decisions about what to do in any given moment, which leads to whatever we will be doing. We can “predict” the near future based on the current moment. Except when we’re stuck behind big white van’s that block all view of what’s coming next.

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So, would you rather be stuck behind the van or would you break a few rules to find a way around it?

Live More

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Warehouse 13 is a show on Syfy about artifacts that wreak havoc in the world. Each artifact comes from some historical figure like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Jimmy Hendrix, H.G. Wells, and many other famous and not so famous people who have mostly extraordinary stories. The story line goes that these paranormal objects are somehow embued by their former owners with powerful abilities. For example, Ghandi’s slippers made you feel so peaceful that your heart would actually stop beating if you wore them for too long.
I’m watching season three on netflix and the episode I watched today featured an artifact that belonged to Typhoid Mary. The object transferred one person’s illness to another when both people grasped a hold of it. In the episode, an older man stole it so that he could transfer his son’s leukemia to himself, thereby allowing his son to live a long life and be a father to his grandson.
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Click on the above photo to visit PBS’s article Typhoid Mary: Villain or Victim?
So I was thinking, what if such technology really existed? 
In my early twenties I spent a lot of time telling myself and anyone else who would listen that even if I could change the challenges I have faced, and continue to face, I wouldn’t, because then I wouldn’t be me. But in this instance, I think that line of reasoning only goes so far. Because we’re only talking about illness here, not about all challenges ever.

So what if there was this technology that existed? And what if there were people, really old people, at the very end of their lives, who were willing to take a younger person’s illness to the grave with them? Certainly that older person would still be sacrificing something, a peaceful death perhaps; or maybe we would allow doctor-assisted suicide in this case, if the patient were very old, opted for it, and wanted to help these other people.

I would be the first in line. Because mental illness is not who I am; it is not the singular factor that defines me, but it does directly effect how I show up in the world. It changes the quality of my personality, my relationships, my work, my joy. Rather than adding something to who I am and have become, it takes away from me. Without mental illness, I would be a better me, more creative, compassionate, selfless. I would write more, love more, live more.

(Of course, there are advances in science as a result of medical research and the kind of compassion and understanding that shared illness can inspire to consider. And if any such technology did exist, it would certainly somehow turn our society into a dystopian nightmare, because that’s what miracle technology like this does. But since it’s always just going to be a pipe dream, what’s wrong with a person dreaming?)

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And who doesn’t want to live more.