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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

The Magic

Words have left me.  Oh not the normal words like, get your backpack, get in the car, get ready for bed, have you brushed your teeth yet…I still have all of those words and then some.  I’m talking about the beautiful words.  The ones that when strung together can make someone feel something you yourself simply made up.  The ones that are capable of making someone pause for a second and see something new within.  My writing has left me and I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself.  I wrote a post last Tuesday but it was so miserable I didn’t put it up.  No point in making everyone else feel as bad as I did.

I wrote that I quit trying to be a writer, that I had officially given up,  I would never get published and I think I said a few things that weren’t very nice about myself.  Yes I was depressed, but I was doing all the right things, meditating, praying, trying to write, exercising, but nothing was working.  I was pushing all the right buttons but getting all the wrong items to fall out of the vending machine, or just getting nothing at all.

I felt my story calling to me but whenever I went to it I was painfully disappointed at how inadequate the words were. Sure it had a beginning, middle and an end.  Of course the words said something, but they didn’t paint the emotion or affectivity (my new word for the day) of the story.  They didn’t flow with the beauty and magic this story is and I couldn’t fix it, and the dark cloud got thicker and colder around me.

Sunday morning I sat in church with this weight in my chest, cuddling up to my children, too overburdened to speak with anyone and a thought formed in my head; I am supposed to be learning something from this. This awful feeling has something to teach me. Peace came over me for a second and then it was gone.

Over this past week I just dragged the depression around with me.  Getting through the week, no longer trying to write through it.  What was the point.  Sometimes depression needs to be fought, sometimes it needs to be felt but every time it needs to be heard.  And I wasn’t listening. (Again!)  My default setting needs some serious rewiring.  This is getting ridiculous.

But interestingly enough, on occasion something would peek through the clouds, little gems of my life showing themselves.  Tuesday I stumbled my way through planning a Girl Scout meeting.  When my co-leader asked my reasoning for doing an activity the ‘hard way’ I automatically explained, without thought, that letting the girls figure it out for themselves not only gave them a chance to lead but gave us a chance to see the dynamics of the group at work.  To see who could stand up and lead, who needed to be encouraged a little more and who stood on the sidelines with the potential but not the opportunity (that’s me by the way).  Later walking into the grocery store (for the fifth time this week!) I thought through the darkness, hey, I’m still in there somewhere.  It was a relief to know the best of me was not as lost as I felt.

Later in the week, I was changing out of my work clothes into my comfy lounge pants and noted, it was almost time for bed, my husband would be home and soon I’d be lying next to him, warm and safe.  After 11 years of marriage, it is still the absolute best part of my day.  “Life is good,” crossed my mind.

Thursday I worked and of course the kids asked how my book was coming.  I think I growled.  “That good huh?” One responded.  “I’m in a slump,” I answered.  I stopped their questioning and got to work, we had homework to correct, a story to read and MCAS prep to do. No time to distract Mrs. Warner today.  We read the story and I asked the questions the teacher’s book told me to ask and the kids asked their questions.  Why does the author use that word?  Why can’t he just say the kid felt bad instead of “remorse settled on him like a quilt”?  and I told them, nothing an author writes is for no reason.  Every word is suffered for, thought about, revised and re-revised.  Authors used words to create art, like a painter using colors.  The more vivid the colors the more vibrant the painting and the same goes for writing.   Writing is Art.

Today I opened up my email and a blog I follow was on there, and honestly I don’t follow many.  Mainly because I don’t have time and I am easily distracted if I am checking my email before I get to writing.  “Live simply, travel lightly, love passionately & don’t forget to breathe”  is written by a woman who travels and photographs the places she experiences.  What I like about it is that she has the courage to go places I wouldn’t dare to dream about and she takes me with her in her posts, in her photographs and with her words.

Thank you Elena for reminded me the Magic is always there.  I just forgot for a little while.

“Your salvation lies within the soul of your story.”

(a whisper running around in my head when I woke up at 2am)

Magic can never be owned.  It can only be experienced.  My words are magic and I have to let them bloom rather than force them to be what I think they should be.  I write for more than hope of a paycheck.  Writing is my connection to my God and my self and I forgot that for a moment. My words are back, the dark rain cloud is away for now, and the magic is waiting.  I can’t wait to discover it all over again.

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Finding Solace

My daughter couldn’t find her homework this morning.  My son couldn’t find his backpack.  They ate their cereal amid papers, mail and cups of water left from the day before and my son went to school wearing his skeleton costume because he doesn’t like jeans and his preferred pants were all in the wash.  It just goes to show, when Mom is not on the ball…nobody is.  It’s kind of nice to see that despite my domestic limitations I at least do something productive around here.

I’ve been to Taunton so much in the past two weeks it feels like 495 is my front yard and I’m just passing through picking up the mail on my way to my mom’s house.  I’ve helped where I can with the funeral arrangements.  I’m home today for about two hours before I have to go out and pick up my husband’s suit and few items we need for the wake tonight and the funeral tomorrow.  I should be unearthing the kitchen table or at the very least making myself something for breakfast other than coffee, but I just don’t feel like it.

My body slipped into this melancholy as if it was a warm waiting bath.  This is what depression is supposed to be.  It slows you down, makes the outside world blur a little and gives the heart and soul time to grieve and process sorrow.  I haven’t really stopped and cried.  I keep trying to but there is always somewhere I need to be or something I need to do.  Yesterday I carried around this knot of sadness just under my heart and slightly above my belly.  It sat there and grew over the course of the day until I thought it was going to violently pummel its way out of my chest.  I frantically looked for a place I could hide and cry but then my cousin laid her head down on the table and said there was not going to be a eulogy because she just couldn’t do it.

I took the computer from her and we fell into an old rhythm of her telling me what she feels and me taking notes.  I then moved to an empty room in my Aunt’s house and wrote her eulogy.  No one will know it was me.  It sounds so much like my cousin that even my mother congratulated her on how perfect it was when she had watched me type it.  But I wrote.  I created a speech that not only expressed my cousin’s feelings but enveloped mine as well and the knot loosened and I felt grounded again.

Walking across the lawn from my Aunt’s to my Mother’s (they live next door to each other) I think I felt her for the first time since she’s passed.  I felt her smile and I felt her pride and for that brief moment I thought, maybe this is why I write, just so I could do this. I know that’s not necessarily true.  I know that for me writing is more than one  final produced piece.  But I could do something nobody else could do.  In the midst of our sadness writing was the last thing on anyone’s mind, except mine.  For me it was all I wanted to do.  It held me together, made the long, repeated drives easier and connected me to my Aunt’s spirit.    It reminded me of who I am and that she loved me too.  Writing is my magic and it will help me process this loss and move me toward my future and I know my Aunt will be up there watching over me as well as everybody else in our family because that is what she did.  That was who she was and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was her plan all along because now she can watch over all of us at the same time from a seat high in Heaven.

 

 

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Yeah you guessed it, it came back.  But if you think about it, I have been depression free for 11 weeks straight.  That’s nearly 3 months! 77 days! or if you really want to get technical; one thousand eight hundred and forty eight blissful, depression free hours.  And!  I did say that by the fourth week of waiting for an agent response I would be a nut job and I have made it to five with nary an outburst.  (Well none that had to do with the book anyway.)

So what happened?  Well two of my triggers are a lack of purpose and the guilt over not having a full time job.  My husband has begun to read my book and one morning he mentioned that he was having trouble getting into the story and maybe I need to put more into it to keep the reader’s attention.  He also explained that he didn’t want to just tell me he liked it even if he didn’t.  He was not going to be someone who would simply tell me what I wanted to hear and he then gave an example, “like your friend so and so, she wouldn’t tell you to go get a job if that’s what you needed instead of what you wanted.”  Bam! my two issues in the same innocent sentence.  So off he goes to work leaving me home.  I keep busy, doing laundry and cleaning.  I was working on another spiritual problem while making some teacher gifts when sometime around 2 in the afternoon it dawned on me, “Damn, (sigh) I’m depressed.  When did that happen?”

So here I am feeling like my book will never be published, I will never be a writer and I need to start looking for some sort of full time job.  The other spiritual lesson I was working on told me to take some time.  To go with the flow, relax.  Give it three days.  (OK that’s not specific or anything)  But how can I?  I need to start looking for a real job!  I need to do something!  Relax.  But!  Relax.  But!  REEE…LAAAX!  Yeah it wasn’t going well.

By evening I had the wherewithal to check where my husband’s bookmark was.  He was on page four.  Really! Page four!  I’ve read books where the introduction lasted well into the third chapter.  He was bored on page four?  I lay in bed while he brushed his teeth and my mind automatically started going over my book.  The funny scenes, the tense scenes, the ending, all the scenes he hadn’t gotten to yet.  It’s a good story!  It does not follow a typical format and when I focused on the different scenes I became confident that someday this book, one way or another, will get published.

The next morning I got called to work.  I put on my suit jacket, grabbed my coffee, kissed my husband good-bye (sent off the two younger kids to the neighbor and dropped off my older daughter to high school) and walked into school with a full and happy heart.  It was gone just like that.

Later that night I told my husband, “you need to get to chapter two and then we’ll talk.”  Ok, chapter two got his attention.  Now he complains he’s confused and still thinks he, as the reader, needs more background on the two main characters.  He tells me what he thinks chapter two means and I tell him with a wicked smile, “That’s exactly what the author wants you to think and as for the lives of the two main characters before the beginning of the book, you will just have to wait.” 

I am having a blast watching him try to work it out because honestly what he is feeling is exactly what the author (that’s me!) wants him to feel.  The character is confused and so is he and I can’t wait until the rug gets pulled out from under him (in the story that is) in about two more chapters. 

I have always had difficulty when my writing was criticized.  My mother would tell me she didn’t understand something and I refused to write for days.  I had such a difficult start that too often I doubt my ability, which scares me because I love it so much.  My husband is helping me learn how to field criticism in the safest environment possible and I am so grateful for that and while I know the day may come where I will have to go out and get a real job, my writing is going somewhere.  Someday I will not only be able to say I am a writer but also that I am depression free because I had the confidence and pride in my own abilities and in the gifts the spirits have chosen to give to me.  I will continue to choose the way of my heart, I will work on listening to my spirit teachers and I will strive to be grateful every day for all that I have and all that I am.  There is no room in any grateful heart for depression.

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I have not been depressed for a month and a half, not at all.  I was exultant when I sent my query to my first agent, disappointed in myself for the mistakes I found in the first three chapters AFTER I sent said query, crazy stressed with too much to do and not enough time to do it in, regretful when I said something stupid, proud that I followed my heart, exhausted while making untold batches of Easter cookies, rejuvenated at yoga and peaceful with an inner knowing that where I am is where I am supposed to be, but depression has been ignored and turned away as it stood knocking on the door the one time it tried to darken my front steps.

A therapist I once worked with told me that depression is inclined to become a habit.  It is the “go to” emotion when we don’t allow our bodies to feel other feelings like anger, frustration, disappointment, or sadness because society frowns upon negative expression.  It is where we find ourselves when we refuse the experiences of happiness, joy, exuberance, or contentment because we believe we don’t deserve them or that they are too fickle to be depended upon.  Depression is the black hole where all our other emotions are obscured because we don’t like them, fear them or distrust them. 

After writing 7-8 hours a day for close to six weeks straight I came to a screeching halt after I pressed the send button.  I will have to wait six weeks for a reply or lack thereof to move on to the next step.  I was exuberant with the knowledge that I had listened to my heart’s calling and I was completely confident that eventually my mental follow through will lead me to where I am supposed to be.  Then I recalled how spiritual journeys are never easy and thought, “oh boy, this is just the next beginning.  I am in so much trouble.”  I then went crazy; between premenopausal insanity, too many commitments at one time and a transition I should’ve seen coming I was flooded with emotions that sent me out of control for three days straight, (a funny story for another day.)

Monday morning I woke up and everything was back in place.  I made time for yoga.  I went organic grocery shopping, washed the kitchen floor, cleaned the bathroom and did laundry.  In the afternoon I got the kids off the bus and played with them, I made a balanced supper, listened to their tales of the day and read to them before I kissed them good night. Finally I have time to fit in those other parts of my life.  Ok so maybe I haven’t found the dining room table yet but there’s time now.  It’s not that writing is totally on hold.  I still have corrections to make, new query letters to draft, three blogs a month to write and a story to abridge for my youngest daughter’s class but it wasn’t until the pell-mell writing jag was done  that I was able to see how imbalanced I had been and how much I liked not only that time but this time. 

My plan is to be a writer (preferably a writer who brings in some sort of revenue) and if this is my plan then this will be my life.  I will start a new book, research, begin the writing, get to the point where I will need to finish within a time frame, and then send the copy off to the agent, publisher or editor and wait.  My life will follow this pattern of planning, research, writing, writing like crazy, send, wait, repeat and honestly, I adore every single part of the process.  At first my mind reeled at the sudden change of pace but then I stopped long enough to embrace the time of rejuvenation, the time to get myself, my life and my family back in balance.  This “down time” is not a break.   It is an essential part of my writing process.  It is where I reexamine my spiritual beliefs, reconnect with who I am and open myself up to new lessons.  Those lessons change, morph and become the themes in my novels, and lead me to the next story which begins the cycle all over again.  I’m in a new place right now and this place excludes depression and embraces all those other emotions that come along in this life.  It is exciting, crazy, and joyful along with sad, disappointing and frustrating, but if I allow myself to feel the bad I also allow myself to experience the good.

Have I kicked the depression habit for good?  I don’t know.  I guess only time will tell but when I look back at the last six weeks I feel light.  I feel free.  Like the wings of my life have taken a huge beat, filled with air and are ready to fly.   It’s exciting to be on the edge of anticipation.  My senses are awake.  I am present and trying to keep my eyes and heart open for the next lesson and the next story.  So listening to my heart paid off.  It brought me to this moment and for now I am content.  Granted in four weeks with no response I will be a total nutjob, but for right now I am blessed with peace, a sense of place and the satisfaction that when you listen to your heart everything eventually falls to where it is supposed to be, including depression, outside and alone on the cold doorstep.  Yeah!

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