Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

What hallelujah means to me

I’ve been listening to “Hallelujah” incessantly lately – not from Handel’s Messiah, but rather The Good Lovelies‘ cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

It’s ethereal, mesmerizing, uplifting, soul-searching. A prayer, a plea, a homage – it’s pain and pleasure and very, very human.

I went hunting for Leonard Cohen’s original, and came across an interview he gave where he talks about depression, and its impact on his music. He said something that struck me: “Suffering doesn’t produce good work – good work is produced in spite of suffering, as a response, as a victory over suffering.”

A victory over suffering.

As I sing to Hibou, to teach her, to please her, to distract her, to soothe her, sometimes just to overpower her penetrating complaints, I think about this. About how we must celebrate. We MUST celebrate. We must acknowledge victory over suffering, we must capture and rejoice in the beauty, the awe of life. Because it’s too hard not to. Life is too hard when we don’t.

Cohen is right – it’s a cold, a lonely, a broken hallelujah. But it’s still a hallelujah. When we praise, no matter what, no matter how, it’s still praising. It’s still acknowledging, celebrating – even when we’re on our knees and begging, face covered in tears and pressed against the floor.

Anyone who’s been there – wet, cold, huddled, terrified, alone – if you’ve been there, then you know that there is always an after. An after when it gets better. An after when we can get up, when we can sing, when we can celebrate. When we can produce good work.

They’re both human, you see. The broken moments, and the whole.

A good friend of mine is discovering what it is to see the middle of the night with a new baby. To see night after night, sore and tired and lonely. My husband is struggling with seeing the middle of the day with a busy but boring job, chores and whining and more work to come home to. To see day after day, frustrated and angry and overwhelmed.

And I – I am grateful. I am grateful, in as many moments as I can notice, of how I’ve been there. And now I’m not. I may be again, but now, now I’m not.

I’ll sing a different Hallelujah in a few days, my annual Messiah practice and community concert coming up. It’s so very different, such a different form of praise – yet, to me, the same. It reaches the same place within, where the dark and the light are one and the same.

“I did my best, it wasn’t much. I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch. I told the truth; I didn’t come to fool you. And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah.”

We all pass that way, or this, somehow. Some of us less, some of us more. Some of us celebrating just a little harder, a little louder than others, recognizing the victory for what it is. All of us trying our best. Some of us singing hallelujah.

On becoming an artist

I’ve not been writing much.

This has pained me.

The desire is there, and oh so many sentences in my head, or scribbled in my notebook, or saved in draft posts. But I have so many half-finished blog posts now, that I’ve just about stopped trying.

Hibou is the Great And Powerful Unpredictable Napper. Great in that she naps – her brother barely did at all. Powerful in that any length of nap results in a bright, cheery baby that is ready to go, go, go! But the naps range from fifteen minutes to three hours, and there just isn’t any telling which it will be, or if there will be one at all. As with so many other parents of young children, my routine revolves almost exclusively around creating the perfect conditions for sleep.

And so, not so much with the finished blog posts.

When Bonhomme was little (in so much as he was ever little, The Baby Giant), it was painting that got stifled. The style of painting that I do, while fast and furious, requires no interruptions for an hour or two. I work in wet on wet, with fast-drying acrylics. At least, I used to. And with babies, or children of any age, an interruption-free period of time is a myth, a memory. A joke. Painting was the only artistic outlet I had developed at that time, and having it jarringly, suddenly, taken completely away was a shock I have yet to get over. My depression at the time was due to a great many factors, but losing my art was both a significant contributor, as well as resulting in the loss of a key tool for managing my condition. when I lost my art, I lost my sense of self.

It took me years to redefine myself.

There was a moment, a lightning bolt of awareness, in which I realized myself as a mother. I was in a bookstore, with Bonhomme toddling about, and I asked to see some books about the moon – since that was one of his first words, and a very special bond we shared (since we looked for the moon together whenever we were out and about, no matter the time of day). The store staff showed me some very predictable books, many of which we already had, but then a couple of unexpected ones were put in the pile. And Bonhomme promptly chose the very first book that he ever chose for himself, about a boy, and a star, and no moons at all. And I realized that this was what made me a mother. Listening. Being curious. Advocating. Creating the opportunity for children to make their own choices. And going with the flow once those choices – theirs, not mine – are made.

I had such a hard time becoming that mother. The pregnancy had been grueling, with many of my physical choices taken away from me, and far too many weeks on bedrest. The delivery ended up being the farthest thing from what I had wanted, and the many months of recovery from the various emergency procedures limited my body, and mind, even more. And then my inability to feed my son from my body was just crushing to me – it took me months to realize that mothering is more than just breasts, and quite frankly, I’m still not completely over it.

But slowly, I did define what the term mother meant for me. And, with time, I also redefined what being an artist meant to me. I branched out. I tried new things. I’ve always been crafty, with beading and knitting and such, but it never felt like what painting felt like – a sense of awe and wonder that I could create such pure and unique beauty. I wanted that back. Writing began to fill that void. With words, I realized that I could come close. I could create something powerful, something that resonates with others, something important. And even more importantly, it helped with my mood and anxiety too. I changed my need to paint, to a need to be creative, a little bit every day, in any way at all that was available to me. And more and more, that meant writing.

And then, Bonhomme growing older and making more space in my life for art (but not uninterrupted easel time – no), I decided to try my hand at quilting. First, I bought a book. Then, I bought some cotton. Then, I went on Kijiji and found myself a used sewing machine. Then, with the leftover equipment from when I used to paint silk scarves (pre-motherhood), I stretched out the cotton on my old frames with some elastics and safety pins, and splashed some silk-painting paint on. Oh, the glorious feel of the brushstrokes! I ironed, and washed, and ironed that painted cotton, and made my first terrifying cuts. And then, I swore, and swore, and swore at my used sewing machine. And sat myself down with a needle and thread and sewed by hand. Nothing was going to stop me. I was going to make a quilt, by golly, by gee, fifteen stolen minutes at a time.

But the lure of the paintbrush called. And I painted more cotton. And then I got the kids to paint some cotton. And then I bought some fabric paints. And fabric markers. And fabric pastels. And fabric paint spray bottles. And the kids were painting and drawing on and colouring that fabric far more than I was, and I realized that that was even more glorious than holding the brush myself. I wasn’t just making art – I was making artists.

Christmas came along, and with it, a new sewing machine. And I started to turn those piles of painted cotton pieces into things. Stuffed toys. Pillows. Wall hangings. Quilts. I still haven’t finished my first quilt, the one I started just for me. It is at the bottom of the Unfinished Objects Chest. For now. I will get back to it someday, and finish it, and glory in it once it’s done and keeping me warm. But until then, I glory in the quilts I have finished – for Bonhomme, for my cousins’ babies, for Hibou, for my nieces. And I’m excited about the quilts I’m finishing, for all the kids who helped make them with me.

It turns out that sewing is something I can do interrupted. Whether I get five minutes, or three hours, whether I’m sitting in front of the sewing machine or in front of the TV, whether I’m painting or ironing or cutting or sketching – it all counts. And it’s all awesome.

And so, while I haven’t been writing, I have been sewing. Fabric baby books. Baby quilts. Baby teethers, and toys, and gifts. And I have been painting – not at the easel, no, but it’s just that my canvas has changed.

Today, I wear a very special charm bracelet almost every day. On it is a star. It reminds me of the day I realized I was a mom, when my first child was about a year old. It reminds me that it is what we do that matters. It reminds me to keep exploring, to keep trying, to never give up just because something old doesn’t work anymore. Being able to paint isn’t what makes me an artist. Choosing to create, no matter the circumstances, does.

Writing may get stifled. Painting may. Or the ability to breastfeed, or to walk. But I, I do not. I do not get stifled.

And if I am very, very lucky, I will help raise some unstifled children, who, if I am luckier still, will take this very hard-earned epiphany entirely for granted.

Fifteen-plus years after selling my first painting, now that I’m not making paintings anymore, I’ve finally become an artist.

The Sound of Strength

Hibou is screaming in my ear, an incessant fire alarm of a noise reaching its fingers down my throat and twisting my guts around my heart. She is crying because she wants to be asleep but isn’t. So easily overtired and overstimulated, she can’t figure out how to stay asleep once I’ve finally managed to get her there. Just like her brother, who was the king of the half-hour nap.

Desperate to maintain equilibrium, if not my sanity, I can feel myself deadening to her screams, mechanically patting her back and rocking, disassociating. All my old, ugly resentment against Dearest rises, threatening, whipping me into a frenzy. All I can think of is how he isn’t rescuing me from this screaming maddening noise. I can’t reconcile that with the bottles he is sterilizing, the laundry he is doing, the formula he is making, the other child he is putting to sleep, the lunches he is packing, the clothes he is folding. I am holding the screaming child because I am the one less likely to want to fling her across the room, and I hate my husband for it. For the fact that he can’t take it, for the fact that I can. It makes no sense, but there is no sense in this howling tornado of a room, there is only an exhausted baby, four walls, a closed door, and me.

Many hours later, I am sitting in the doorless livingroom in the slanting, slatted sun, a blessedly quiet sleeping baby sprawled on my chest. The resentment is sleeping too, banished, a hard-won fight.

It isn’t my newborn that I need my stamina for – it’s this other battle, against my own shapeshifting demons. I must come out the other side with children, marriage, and self intact. Failure is not an option. And so, I sit, in silence, and soak up the sun, recharging for the long night ahead, the long months and years of my own private war.

They say that courage is not the absence of fear, but forgeing ahead despite the presence of it. I knew this when we decided to try to have another child, and I know this now, when she is here. Let me not forget.

Bittersweet

I’m both looking forward to, and dreading, my first glass of wine.

It will taste bitter. It will taste of tears, of guilt, of regret.

It will taste of defeat.

That first glass was supposed to be raised in a toast, to accomplishing birthing my perfect, and last, child. It was to be had in celebration.

Today, we decided to stop breastfeeding. Hibou isn’t built for it, and neither am I. She has a tied tongue, and we’ve decided not to have it fixed surgically. And me, I’ve got unusually slow letdown, due to my brain chemistry. The two combined mean that nursing would require continued superhuman efforts to sustain, not just for myself, but for Hibou too – and we would still have to supplement about two thirds of her diet. And it would guarantee that my current precarious mental state during this time of hormonal recalibration would be at serious risk.

I don’t know if we’re at the point where we’ve tried hard enough, or long enough. I will never know, and I will likely always wonder. What I do know is that we’re at the point where the costs of breastfeeding far outweigh the benefits, and we’re not just risking doing harm to mom or baby – we actually are, to both.

I’m devastated.

It’s not just that breastfeeding seems like this beautiful, sacred thing that has been stolen from me – it’s that it’s my disease’s fault. And therefore, in my heart of hearts, mine.

Would I change my brain chemistry if I could? If it meant not being an artist anymore? Not being the kind of creative parent that can just barely stay one step ahead of Bonhomme?

I soothed both my children to sleep tonight, using my brain, my body, my love, my words, my breath – but not my breasts.

I have a few days of pumping to face, to help alleviate the engorgement as I wean. For me, in this situation, it turns this beautiful, warm, nurturing, sacred act into factory farming. It reminds me only of what I can’t do, what I can’t have. Along with this, I will have another hormone crash to survive, on top of the post-birth load that I am still processing. It will mean some more days of tears and torture.

I know Hibou is just fine with this bottlefeeding plan – it will allow me to give her more of myself, not less. It’s my complicated, guilt-ridden, ridiculously illogical feelings about my mental health that aren’t so fine.

Switching from breast to bottle gives us the gift of time. Hibou will need my cuddles even more, but I will be able to give them while sitting in the sun reading, while holding her in a sling while doing chores or playing with Bonhomme, while doing a puzzle and allowing my body to recover from surgery. It will let us both sleep more at night. Soon, it will give me the freedom to go out with Hibou, to walk and regain my strength, to do all the things my non-medication approach to my mental health requires. It will allow me to enjoy life, to enjoy Hibou, to have the fullest experience of motherhood that is available to me.

I will try to find some sweetness in that glass of wine. Some earthiness, some complexity, some body and weight, some subtle nuances. I will look for a balanced bouquet, flavour, length, feel.

It will taste of acceptance.

The Inevitable Fall From Grace

The darkness has come again, and I am lost in it,
out of tune,
unstrung.
Uninvited tears flood as I struggle to ask a friend to take Bonhomme for the afternoon.
“She’s not fit to be a mother.”
“Look at her, falling apart.”
“What’s she crying about? Because someone else needs to mother her son for her? Because she has to ask? Because she has the gall to?”
“Not fit.”
These are the whispers of my heart music, discordant, insistent, endless.
I cry without reason, without warning, without relief.
I beg.
Make it go away.
Let this period of my life be over.
Please make this song end, let me move on.
There is no rhyme or rhythm, just this pathetic, soaked-pillow begging.
Alone.
Lost.
I am too lost to look up,
to look up from my bed,
from my feet.
I stare at them, deadened, and watch my feet take one stumbling step, and then another.
I have no idea where they are going –
I have only the bleak knowledge that they must go.
This is the only answer my prayers get:
no matter the music,
time still marches on.

A Cup of Something

I stare into slowly forming bubbles of warm milk, slowly, hypnotically whisking.
The last time I made myself a cup of warm milk, it was in the deep darkness of night, beneath a star-studded sky during my week of rented cottage bliss late last summer.
It is as comforting as I remember.
The steam soothes my gritty eyes, while the gentle sweetness blankets my tongue.
I remember needing it then, last summer, begrudgingly awake for long hours as I grappled with my mind.
This time, early summer evening, I’m not sure why I need it – just a sense that it would help.
Help what, exactly, I don’t know.
I’m more – not exactly at peace, but something close to it – than I’ve been for longer than I can remember.

And yet, I’m floating in a vortex, bombarded by storms of emotions not my own.
Dearest has been a wreck for months on end – he wasn’t on the surest of footing last summer before he drove himself crazy with home renovations, and it just got worse from there. Then came the liquid diet episode, in which my man de-evolved before my very eyes. And now, it’s the famous budget cuts, the federal government downsizing. He’s not been himself for so long that I’ve just about forgotten who that is.
My work environment sucks – due to that same downsizing.
And Bonhomme has fully entered his dramatist phase.
Of course, there’s also my monthly maybe-I’m-pregnant-this-month?-nope-not-yet thing.
And so – storms.

Still, there is a stillness in me. It isn’t always accessible, and my running thoughts take over the driver’s seat much more than I’d like, but it’s there. Frequently. Consistently. Daily. Not hourly, not quite. But periodically, every day.
It soothes me. Like warm cinnamony-honey milk. Curling its fingers through my hair, stroking my cheek.
It is me, whispering to myself: “I am here.
I am still here.

A warm hug sits in my stomach now, mug empty.
I feel that I’ve been visited by a good friend, who brought fresh flowers and a laugh with her, let the sunshine in.
I still don’t know what exactly a simple cup of warm milk helped – I just know that it did.

The not-doing

I feel good today.

In fact, I’ve felt good for five days. Five whole days. Monday to Friday. A week’s worth of good.

I’ve been cringing, waiting every day for this freakish feeling to end. Hasn’t yet. Might not.

I don’t feel high, that manic-panic feeling of everything being too bright, too sharp, too fast.

I feel…

…normal.

I haven’t felt anything near the definition of that term for longer than I care to consider, so perhaps you understand my hesitation in stating it.

I feel a regular amount of tired, the amount anyone with young children and a career and a house and a child’s 5th birthday to plan might feel. (Normal.)

I find myself amused by the little things in life, several times a day – at least as often as I am frustrated by them. (Normal.)

When I swear under my breath (as I am wont to do, rather frequently), that’s it. I’m done. I was mad, I swore, now I feel better. When the swearing was directed at someone, I barely even feel guilty for swearing at them. And then I swear at my guilt, tell it to go the bleep away, and I feel better again. (Normal.)

The gorgeous spring weather helps. It helps a lot. But, I’ve been through other gorgeous springs – and at times, it hasn’t helped. There are times when no amount of beauty gets to cut through the gray darkness. Those are the times when I see the beauty, I know it’s there, and I know that I should care deeply about it – but the most I can summon is a vague irritation with myself for not caring. It is the strangest kind of disassociation you can imagine.

I think what is helping more is that I am (slowly) learning not to exhaust myself. I am starting to understand that the most important thing I can do right now is to do all the things that I need to do in order to become as physically and mentally healthy as possible – and when I don’t understand it, I do them anyway. I’ve already learned how to prioritize exercise, healthy eating, and healthy sleeping, and I’ve made each into a (more or less) solid habit. What I’m learning now is to do, and not do, all the other stuff. The stuff that makes me feel emotionally good. Painting. Sewing. Reading. Walking. Having a latte. Doing jigsaw puzzles. Taking a lunch break. Writing. Making jewellery. Napping. Some of these are harder to do than others. Most of these are harder to stop than they are to start. Hardest of all is telling myself that it’s OK to not do any of them, and instead, just sit in the sunshine, or just watch TV, or just go to bed. It’s OK to read a book instead of running errands. It is OK – it really is OK – to just do nothing. In doing so, I am not doing nothing. I am investing in myself. I am not exhausting myself.

To do this, I’ve decided to approach it the same way I approached the physical health tasks. The only way to create habits is to just plain create them. So, I decided to commit to doing one creative thing a day. It could be two minutes worth of poetry, or fifteen minutes of clarinet practice, or a nice long session of crafting with the kids. The point is not the creative result, but the act itself. This has helped me with the guilt, and occasional panic, of the not-doing – because I know that I’ll do something creative again tomorrow.

As I get ready for a weekend of birthday parties, placing a rather enormous stuffed penguin in a special spot for a very excited birthday boy to find in the morning, I savour this feeling. Creaky, gritty-eyed, somewhat frazzled, with a bit of zen thrown in, and smiling.

Normal.

The Grind

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog front for a goodly number of months now. Yes, I’ve been struggling to have enough energy, stamina, to write – but that’s not really it. Really, it’s that I’ve been pulling my punches. I’ve been avoiding going within too much, delving too deep. Writing forces me to turn a pretty glaring light on sometimes – and I’ve not liked the sight every time I’ve flicked the switch lately.

Doc called me on something, at our last visit. His argument:

“How come you feel that it would be OK, it would be justifiable, to choose to postpone pregnancy, or forgo it altogether, if you had a physical illness – such as a uterine problem, or severe anemia – because you recognize that you would never choose to knowingly potentially endanger a fetus; and yet you don’t feel that it’s OK, it’s acceptable, to do the same due to a mental illness? That a pregnant mother experiencing chronic sleep disruption, poor appetite, debilitating mood swings, anxiety-induced breathing difficulties doesn’t pose the same level of potential danger to the unborn? How come you can come to terms with having a physical illness affect your reproductive choices, but not a mental illness?”

Huh.

Damn.

So, it turns out, that I carry that mental-illness-does-not-equal-real-illness stigma after all.

I’ve been so doggedly determined to not let my depression get the upper hand for so many years now, that I’ve delegitimized my needs.

The session ended with Doc wresting a promise from me to consider putting my next potential pregnancy on hold, just for a while, a month or three or six, until I felt that my mental health was stable enough not to unduly affect my physical health.

I fear this.

I fear this time of waiting. What if that delicate balance never comes? I don’t fear another difficult pregnancy (just an unhealthy one); I don’t fear having another four years of early childhood being as demanding as the last half-decade has been. I fear waking up twenty years from now and not being able to forgive myself for having only one child because I wasn’t strong enough to have more.

I’m one of the lucky ones. Yes, I have what’s called major clinical chronic depression – but I’m not impaired by it. I’m highly functional. Having a sister who isn’t really brings home to me what that truly means. It means that my depression does not get the best of me. It does get the worst of me – it gets my punctuality, it gets my attention span, it gets my even keel, it gets my sleep and my peace. Sometimes, many times, it gets the better of me. But it does not get my words. Or my painting. Or my voice, or my love for my son, or my sheer get-through-it-despite-it-all grit. Depression does not get my soul.

And so, I tell you, as I’ve told all the well-meaning and caring people who have tried to offer me fixes in the past few months, especially immediately surrounding my recent miscarriage: I am not broken.

It enrages me that depressives have to fight this fight, while bearing the burden of our disease, in a way that very few others do. If you were in a wheelchair without the use of your legs, we would not encourage, chivvy, or outright order you to get up and walk. Grow new legs. We would not admonish you to stop being such a useless lump. Or to take better care of yourself. We would descend down in righteous wrath upon anyone who made you feel guilty or inferior or incapacitated for not having the use of your legs. We would demand wheelchair access entry for every building, boycott en masse those inaccessible entrances and hallways and bathrooms, renovate for you, and stand, sit or shout in solidarity for your challenges. And yet, when it comes to depression, and all mental illnesses – where inaccessibility is invisible – that wrath is private. It is silent. We do not wear mental illness proudly on our sleeves. Depressives run marathons, yes – it’s called making it through the day. But there aren’t any cheering masses.

The last few months have been eventful. Yes, of course, I’ve gone through the hormonal, physical and emotional demands of a constantly changing body, first due a couple of months of early pregnancy and second due to the sad end to it. Throughout both experiences, I’ve had the additional burden of a chemically unbalanced mind, as my hormonally-triggered chronic depression has ridden the resulting waves. But it’s actually been talking about depression that has been the biggest burden.

Through one of those wacky turns that social media brings us, my mother learned about both my pregnancy and my miscarriage in the space of about a week, through a friend, rather than in person from me. These things happen to those who blog. It gave my mom and I the opportunity to have a heart-to-heart, which ended up centering around depression. But it was a struggle for me, because despite the fact that I’ve been battling diagnosed depression since adolescence, and despite the fact that my eldest sister was also diagnosed at the same age with a much fiercer, and debilitating, permutation of the disease, and despite the fact that I’ve been both proactive in addressing and open about depression, my illness was news to my mom. It’s not that I hadn’t told her, many, many times in many, many ways – it’s that it hadn’t gotten through.

Now it has.

And by extension, it’s gotten through to her closest friends, as she reaches out to them to help her find solace. They, in turn, flooded me with well-intended advice, right about the time when I was struggling to breathe due to weeks of sustained blood loss.

I think this is a battle everyone with depression faces. We get to be educators, advocates, defenders and truth-tellers – all while also living with the disease.

Luckily, many people who have a brush with depression have it once. Maybe twice. This is called episodic depression – often due to life events, such as losing a loved one, losing a job, moving to a new city, serious stressors. It’s still depression, and it’s still serious. It requires the full range of treatment options and support. It can be life-changing. I say luckily only because for those people who suffer episodic depression, it can come – and it can go.

And then there’s chronic depression. Chronic depression differs from episodic not necessarily in terms of intensity – both hurt. But it does differ in terms of frequency and duration, and these can lead to more severe outcomes and combinations with other disorders. Treatment isn’t just about treating the depression when it occurs, it’s also about treating the depression when it’s not occurring, to prevent or lessen relapses. Think about it like cancer. When you have cancer, you are either in remission or you are not – but you always have cancer regardless of its current state, and you are always treating it whether symptoms are present or absent.

Chronic depression gets diagnosed as such once you’ve had multiple episodes – you go through one to get to the other.

To be honest, I can’t even tell these days whether I’m in the midst of, or recovering from, a depressive episode, or if I’m just plain burned out. Work is an exhausting conveyor belt of short deadlines, constant reading and research, little to no feedback, fast footwork and political messaging, and increasingly, soothing frayed tempers. Home is a series of scheduled visits and errands and chores, little to no feedback, and even more frayed tempers. In neither place do I feel like I’m achieving anything. This is what they call the grind.

And just like a ground stone, tiny pieces of me are flying off and dying little deaths every day. What’s left is simply trying to survive – let alone trying to shape my life into the kind of space and structure that I would need if I were to actively try to manage and prevent recurrences of depression.

I feel the overwhelming urge to take a vacation from my life.

Which brings us full circle, to Doc asking me whether now is really the right time to keep trying to have another baby. I cannot express how much it hurts, the jackhammer that this is inside my core, to have to accept that after all this time, after all this effort – to have come this far battling my depression, to have struggled so to regain some health, to have left the best job I have ever had, to have nursed my husband back onto two legs, to have seen the other side of four years of not-sleeping-through-the-night, to have finished my Master’s degree, to have tried and failed to have another child, after all this and more – it’s still not enough. I am still not healthy, nor stable enough to have another baby. I cannot will my way through this.

So, I guess what I need is someone to picket that rampless restaurant. I need someone to boycott that conveyor belt. I need some solidarity.

I am not broken.

I am still lucky, in my way, in many ways.

But I am also very, very tired.

I know – oh, how I know – that the best of me is the only part of me that matters. And I still have the best of me. Even if it’s not enough, not right now, to make another baby. There is still enough left of me to wait, to try to recover, to try again eventually.

There’s enough of me left to punch back.

Those days

On those days –
those days where you lurch,
those days when only commitments and requirements and demands keep you going,
those days when your breath and sleep are shallow and aching is deep,
those days when peace is elusive and anxiety dogged –
on those days,
it’s OK to just sit.
To be late.
To be quiet.
To not get much of anything done.
On those days,
when you can’t for the life of you make a decision – don’t.
There are other days for that.
Bright days, light days, days that pass by in a blur.
When energy is so much at your beck and call that you don’t even realize it.
This is not one of these.
It is one of those.
So, make a cup of tea.
Have a cookie.
Delve into research, reading, charting, graphing.
Maybe writing.
Maybe not.
Maybe nothing measurable at all.
There will always be both kinds of days,
it can’t be helped.
On every kind of day, though, not everything has to be done the same.
Or, sometimes, at all.

One Day at a Time

I’ve not written for a while.
I’ve had plenty to say, just nothing that I wanted to remember. My mind’s become my enemy again, careening from one low to another.
I’d hit a spot with my depression that vaguely resembled a plateau over the summer, with some rather rugged foothills all fall.
But now it’s steep slopes, with the occasional shocking drop.
There’s a reason for this hell, a good one.
A beautiful bouncing one.
I’m pregnant.
At long last.
It took about two weeks once our decision was made, so not so long technically speaking.
But a long time in getting here.
To the deep end.
After our experiences last time there was a baby involved, Doc and I finally came to understand the extent to which my depression is hormonally-triggered.
Which is the primary reason that the stretch between then and now has been so long.
But Dearest finally warmed to the idea of having a bigger family a couple of months ago, and I knew that there wasn’t going to be a better time, a good time, an adequate time any time soon.
So here we are.
We.
Baby and me.
This is something that I have to trust I will eventually be happy about.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the outcome.
Just not the process.
Not losing all the progress I’ve made to get to the point where I could even try.
I’ve got nothing much to complain of, symptom-wise – many, most women have harder pregnancies than this one. Baby seems to be on my side.
It’s just my brain that isn’t.
Even knowing what I was likely getting myself into isn’t helping; depression saps my ability to look beyond the now, to lift myself out of the overwhelming awfulness and remember that it’s all for a very good reason.
A good cause.
Some day, smiles will come more easily.
This high-jacking era will be a distant blur; poignant.
The harsh truth is that I have to get through here to get to there.
We all do.
And that’s why we do this, why we volunteer our bodies, hearts and minds to this baby-making child-rearing campaign. This battlefront.
For tomorrow’s tomorrow.
It’s why we do anything in life, really, including the wars where we fight each other and not just ourselves.
As a pacifist, though, I’d really rather not fight any.
All I really want to do is paint, and sing, and maybe make some quilts, and cook really delicious food.
And sometimes, I get to.
Just not right now.
Now is my time for bearing.
And waiting for beauty to come back.