May is apparently Mental Health Awareness month. Of course, I don’t pay attention to national-anything-days unless it’s food related (well, hello there National Doughnut Day…I love you), and to be completely honest the days of the week/month are a little hosed in my head right now as I get used to a work-from-home routine…but I DO pay attention to The Bloggess.
Things have been upheaval-y for the past four or five months. Moved across country, separated, living alone (well, living without another human in the house…no one is alone with two people-sized dogs) for the first time in…huh, first time ever. It’s a lot to process, right? My go-to therapy for bad days is writing. Sometimes it’s here (although that’s only if what I write about follows the rules of my blog). Usually it’s in journals. I have a journal addiction: they’re my favorite purchases and favorite presents. I think I have eight blank or partially filled journals at any given time, but unfortunately I often don’t write the good stuff down. The good stuff doesn’t need to be purged from memory: I WANT those to float around in the mental file cabinets so they’re available at will.
The bad shit, the self-destructive lies and anger and attempts to kick out the asshole inner voice who drives the depression down a spiral of ickiness…that’s the shit I write down. Emotionally laden writing, once out on paper (physical or digital) no longer pokes at my brainpan. That’s both good and terrible: I usually can’t quote my own creative writing, but I also don’t carry emotional burdens overmuch if I’ve taken the time to fully purge them. Sometimes that takes a very long while: I didn’t write anything significant for six months or so after the accident.
I looked through a couple of the old journals as I was unpacking, and part of me thinks I should get rid of them. Someday when I croak, anyone looking at them will have a FAR grimmer picture of my life than the way it actually is since I hold the good episodes inside and only let go of the negative. There’s probably some lesson on letting go in there…(seriously, STOP SINGING THAT GODDAMN SONG!). I’ve thought about burning them in a whole “be rid of the bad stuff” thing…except 1) never ever burn a book of any kind and 2) re-reading some of it was both helpful and hilarious. So far I’ve not done anything with them…I may want to giggle at the stupidity of myself at 20 again later, after all.
I’ve been prone to relative depression episodes for as long as I can remember (I say relative because I’ve not been unable to work or needed medication, and I know many who have worse episodes than I). Mine are often tied to my energy levels, which becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of exhaustion causing depression which inhibits energy which causes worse depression…ugh. Maybe it’s part of the whole creative cycle in my own brain: I often have a burst of writing energy after one. I don’t know: it’s just part of me, and over the years I’ve talked to a few people when it’s particularly horrid.
One of my best friends gave me this analogy, and because it helps me to remember it on a bad day I’m sharing it here (paraphrased).
Do you know what vertigo is?
Do you know what underwater vertigo is?
When you don’t panic…when you force yourself to be calm, think you way through it, it works out fine.
If you don’t…well..you drown.
Some people are better at it than others.
Some people can FEEL their way back to the surface.
Those who can’t have to figure it out.
For me, the key is not to panic and wait it out and I come back to myself. Sometimes it takes a couple of hours, sometimes a couple of weeks. I often think the bad ones that last more than a week are particularly more terrible for those around me than they are for me, because I know how awful it is to watch a loved one in a bad situation and be powerless to fix it. I’m sorry for that, and I love you for sticking it out anyway.
I’m lucky that writing and patience and a receptive ear is usually enough. That doesn’t work for everyone, and getting help figuring out the way back to yourself is never a bad thing.
Not all this change has been bad or difficult: I know it’ll irk my Houston peeps, but I’m ridiculously happy back in Minnesota. I see Han and Evil regularly enough that now Evil army-crawls in a really creepy-fast-horror-movie way toward me when I get to the house. And Han is all little-person now, although posting a picture of him on the blog will be rarer since he’s in a no-pants-dance stage of attire. Yeah…it’s a family trait.
Tonight I’m going to a coloring book party, which seemed fairly surreal yesterday as I asked the Barnes & Noble girl if they carried adult coloring books. Adult as in…coloring books for grown ups, not porn. FYI: Amazon has those, right along with zombie apocalypse and delinquent unicorn coloring books. Oh yes, my order is pending. I guess this “let’s do 8 year old art activities, only with wine” idea is becoming a thing, and somehow making fun of it on Facebook last week turned into a whiskey/cake/coloring party tonight. And since the bearded, unwashed, hermit thing really doesn’t work for me, I’m trying to remember that I need to get out of the house and see other humans occasionally. Sick-minded women with alcohol and markers should be a whole new genre of entertainment.
I draw the line at coloring, though: I firmly believe Play-Doh and alcohol are a potentially terrible combination. I mean, have you ever TASTED Play-Doh? Gross…