Recovery

Trigger warning: mental illness, depression

Recovery is a strange thing. It doesn’t really seem to matter what it is you’re recovering from – an illness, injury, or loss – the process is more or less the same. I suppose the five stages of grief would apply in a lot of cases, possibly even mine. Anyone who has dealt with the five stages knows that the stages aren’t linear, they aren’t predictable, and you spend a lot of time repeating them. Eventually you come out on the other side, some other side, be it a good one or a bad one, and you learn to live a changed life.

In 2005, I was diagnosed with chronic depression. It was neither surprising nor pleasant to hear. Depression is something that has lurked around my life for a very long time. I have several definitive moments in my life that are filed under I Will Never Forget This Moment:

1. The hell of 8th grade – something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy
2. The day I was walking to work in college and realized I was depressed
3. The past three months (give or take)

Having dealt with depression for so long has made it a grim sort of companion for me. It is always nearby and it has, for a majority of my life, ebbed and flowed quite gently. Some drops were more difficult than others but they always ended and I could get back to some sort of even keel.

Then the even keel disappeared. Any semblance of balance and rationality left with it. Then my concentration exited the building. All of it, anything I had inside, was then replaced by a very dark fog. I began having panic attacks. I stopped cleaning. Stopped cooking. Stopped caring. I pushed through the week just to get to the weekend, and then I spent the weekend crying on the couch, wrapped in my blankets, and wondering how I’d get through another week.

I stopped sleeping. I went to bed very late, woke up very early. I became obsessive. I listened to the same song for hours on end, all day and all night, for a week. It began affecting every corner of my life. Every single corner.

There was a breaking point, as there almost always is with stuff like this. I am fortunate to be surrounded by supportive and kind people who understand, who help when they can. And then I decided, after another Saturday spent terrified and panicked and fragile on my couch, that I couldn’t do it anymore.

I needed help.

There are many, many layers to this story. Many chapters I could write, many things I could tell you about all of these journeys and experiences, but that’s not my intention for this blog or this blog post. (And seriously, it’s just way too…what’s the word? Depressing.)

The short version: my doctor prescribed me an anti-depressant and it’s working. I noticed a change within two days. I started humming one morning when I got to work. I was putting my things away and what? Why am I humming? Like, I don’t even want to stop! WHAT IS THIS MADNESS.

It was followed by quite possibly the most wonderful feeling I’ve ever had in my life (and THIS, my friends, is finally the point of this blog post). I didn’t hate writing anymore. In fact, I was kind of infatuated with it. Well, not so much the IT of writing but the IDEA of writing, and that’s huge. The tummy tickle happiness and freedom that I used to feel when I thought about writing came back. I don’t know when it left. I don’t know when I turned that corner. I do know that it was like someone had severed one of my limbs. My identity has been, for the longest time, tied up in writing.

I know, it’s weird that I’m that way. The audience who gets to see anything I write is handpicked and even then, you kind of have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. And then there’s that whole I rarely even write anymore, I’ve never had anything published, and I have very little desire to even TRY to get something published thing. Everyone has her process, amirite?

Ah, yes. Writing. Writing! I’ve missed it over the past however many years it has been missing from my life. The void is not completely filled in yet and there is still so much more I need to do in terms of myself and my writing (and a million other things), but there is a spark of hope. A tiny blip of light, like a single firefly in a giant field.

It’s the first step of Recovery. That’s what I’ve taken to calling the gentle breaking in of my atrophied writing muscles: Recovery. It started on Sunday with something horrible and elementary and a moment of sheer frustration where I wanted to throw my laptop out the window, but I took a deep breath, reminded myself that a lot of crappy gunk is going to come out first and that later, down the road a bit, better and cleaner things will appear.

So baby steps into Recovery. It all starts here.

Writing is a love/hate sport

Sometimes it feels like a curse. Sometimes it feels like death is the only preferable option. Sometimes it feels like there’s an elephant on my chest or sand in my lungs. Sometimes the pain is exquisite, delicate and sharp behind my lungs, resting on my stomach. Sometimes the person trapped inside screams, thrashes herself bloody against the walls, retches until her sides split open and everything rotten inside pours out onto my floors.

Tonight it is dark, deep blue, velvet under my fingers. Tonight it is bittersweet, staring out a dark window into a dark night. Tonight is cutting out my heart with a dull knife. Tonight is cold, stale, filled to the corners with emptiness. Tonight is mourning a friend who turned out to be a stranger. Tonight is evidence and conjecture, tonight is hopeless. Tonight is unending.

*

I have a very volatile relationship with my writing. I have for a very, very long time. If pressed, I think I’d call it my longest, most emotionally unstable relationship ever. I’ve thrown it away, only to pick it back up ten minutes later. We’ve experienced uncomfortable alienation from time to time. At best, we are antagonistic toward one another these days.

The italicized bit up there is how I felt about writing last night. Tonight I feel less. Next to nothing. I can’t decide which night is worst: the one where words won’t come or the one where I am apathetic toward the process.

A thing I hate

Finishing books. I hate finishing books. I’m pretty sure I’ve hated it since I began reading novels. It doesn’t happen with every book, but to me it’s a sign of a good book. It’s the same kind of feeling I get when I’m sitting on the tarmac in a plane that’s going to take me back home and away from my parents. That kind of lump in your throat, knot in your stomach empty feeling. The kind that grates on you and nags at the back of your mind for awhile. With books, it can last days. The last time it happened that I remember is when I finished Atonement.That was last year. Or the end of the year before it. I don’t remember. That book gave me the empty gnawing feeling for several reasons. For one, the book was over. No more world to escape into, no more moving through the story alongside the characters I either loved or hated. For another, it made me crave words again. I hadn’t felt that in a long time, so it was difficult to put the book down once I finished.

In case you haven’t noticed, I just finished a book. Oh, internets. I just finished a book. In fact, I finished three books. Not simultaneously. Tonight I wound down the last 60 or so pages of Mockingjay, the third and final book in the Hunger Games triology.

Y’all, I want to rip my still-beating heart out of my chest and light it on fire. Despite everything that has happened through all three books, I didn’t cry until Buttercup showed up. And then I bawled through the last few pages. And then I read the last words, put down the..uh…Kindle and cried. Like a baby. My heart. Hurts. A lot.

I hate finishing books. And these books…if you’ve read them, you know. The overwhelming implications of our current actions played out in a future version of the U.S. It’s mind-boggling and scary. But aside from that, there’s the mental anguish and abuse that takes place. It’s a lot to process.

I have opinions on the series (ranked in order: first, third, second) and might get into my critiques later, but for right now I’m just going to mourn the finality of finishing a book and try to find a way to ease my mind into sleep. Because smarty pants that I am, I decided to finish the book right before bed. Excellent idea, especially since I just figured out it’s been giving me nightmares for a few weeks.

Do you enjoy books, internets? Are you sad when you finish them? What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

Either you’re surprised or you’re not

I am behind on NaNoWriMo, which is not surprising. This is how it happens with me. I might start on a good note but then I fall behind and then knock out 30k in one weekend. MARATHON WRITING FOR THE WIN. My story is about baseball. See what I mean about either you’re surprised or you’re not? I’m writing about baseball. This should surprise NO ONE these days. It’s a good story. The writing is not good. The story is good. Or at least it has captured my heart. I’ve already shed tears over it and I’m only at the beginning, before the real meat of the story even starts. Our intrepid hero, Bennett, is just so down on his luck right now. I don’t want to tell you more because I’ll jinx myself. Maybe someday I’ll share some excerpts of it. I probably won’t but you know, whatever.

Speaking of baseball, SF Giants LHP Jonathan Sanchez (38-46, 708 IP, 607 H, 360 R, 376 BB, 736 SO over 6 seasons) was traded to the Kansas City Royals today, along with minor league pitcher Ryan Verdugo, for OF Melky Cabrera (.305, 18 HR, 87 RBI, .339 OBP in 2011). Fact: if you couldn’t see Dirty’s departure approaching from a thousand miles away, you might want to have your vision checked (unless you aren’t a Giants fan, then you get a pass). He’s probably already peaked and he was erratic at best in 2011 (when he wasn’t injured). A quick Google search will produce a dozen analyses of this trade that are far more sophisticated, professional, and based on actual facts than this blog post but my baby baseball brain says this will probably work out in the long run, if for no other reason than to not have two craptastic pitchers on our roster who are costing us waaaaay more than they’re worth.

And speaking of the Giants, I’m pretty sure everyone knows this happened over the weekend:

 Photo credit: Brian Wilson’s Twitter

The argyle socks and Nike Air Mags are just the cherry on top of this tremendous outfit. I should’ve known it’d turn out to be an awesome day since this was how it started for me. I was blearily putting together our Ikea coffee table (without coffee! right after waking up!) and then I just at on my floor shouting OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE YOU DONE at the television for a good five minutes because seriously, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE.

His mom must be so proud.

But back to how epic Saturday turned out. Electric Girl and I got a bed and a mattress set and I put together MORE Ikea furniture and then LSU beat Alabama and then I CRIED REAL, ACTUAL TEARS when Oklahoma State beat Kansas State. ACTUAL TEARS. ON MY FACE.

I grew up watching OSU football. I grew up on Thurman Thomas and Mike Moore and Hart Lee Dykes (okay, maybe not the best example) and Mike Gundy and Barry Sanders. BARRY FRICKIN’ SANDERS. Who is on Twitter, by the way. Oh and Thurman Thomas is on LinkedIn. Sometimes I’ll get an email from LinkedIn and it will be all THURMAN THOMAS POSTED A MESSAGE IN THE OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY GROUP and I’ll be all OMGGGGGGGGG and go read it because y’all, I was mad in love with him in the third grade. Y’all don’t even know. I WROTE HIM A LETTER AND HE WROTE ME BACK. He had atrocious penmanship but was very, very nice. I even got a signed picture! Which I need to find when I’m at home for Christmas.

Okay, where was I? Right. OSU football. So we’ve not been good in a long, long time. We’ve been better than usual for the past few years, and we did all right most of the time I was in college. At least I didn’t have to deal with what my brother dealt with during his time at OSU. I think they had a losing record every single year he was at the university. Oops! Anyway, this year we’re good. We’re GOOD. We don’t play like the OSU of the past. We make plays in the second half. We claw and scratch and dig it out, week after week. And last week’s game was hard to watch. So very hard to watch that I actually DIDN’T watch a lot of it. I kept it on in the living room while I built furniture and when I was done being all crafty and productive, I sat down for the last quarter. And aaaahhhh! I screamed out of joy! I screamed out of frustration! I screamed out of joy! I screamed out of frustration! I flailed with delight when Brandon Weeden started bouncing around like it was Christmas morning after the two-point conversion. I screamed NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO each and every time KSU tied the game up. And when it was all said and done, when we finally beat them, I was so relieved that I cried. I felt like I did during the entire summer, watching baseball.

Oh, and Brandon Weeden? Currently the only Yankee I have ever loved.

Don’t worry, Yankees. Sometimes I spell his last name “Whedon”. HABIT.

Babies make great birth control

No, really. They do.

If you’re single, like me, and you enjoy your single existence, like I do, then you know that to spend five minutes in the presence of a child, no matter how cherubic and squishy, makes your ovaries retract up into your ribcage. Don’t argue. It’s science.

I work in an office with four other women and we enjoy a very unusual work environment: absolutely no drama. It’s strange but it’s true. It’s a nice place to work because we’re all friends, we all support one another, and there’s no competition (except for last month but that was for the sake of free food, so c’mon). Two of us want to have children. Three of us absolutely do not.

I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this incredibly boring and unimportant information. I’m suffering from a severe case of L;AKDJFL;AKSDJFLAKDJF ALKDSFJ ALDJ AJFLKJDSLFKJDSF when it comes to words – just take a look at the three (3) drafted posts in my dashboard. Oh wait. You CAN’T. But trust me, there are three (3) drafted posts that I both hate and want to finish.

This is the problem with having an intense, passionate relationship with words. Stringing them together can turn into a giant clusterEFF. Like, in a span of three seconds. The past three nights, I’ve sat down to get some writing done (posts and otherwise), and my brain has transformed itself into a big brick wall. BIG. BRICK. WALL. I can’t scale it. I can’t knock it down. All I can really do is stand there and flail my ineffectual fists at it.

Why have I been given this incredible gift of needing to have words available to me 24 hours a day? I don’t know. Someone up there must love me A LOT.

I think some of the brick wall is made up of what happened at work last week, which STILL has me distressed even though I have proof that it was not my fault at all and that in my line of work, it happens to EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US. But still, it hurts your feelings when people don’t like you and think you’re an idiot. Even if you’re not an idiot and even if it’s not personal. It feels personal and that’s all that matters to my brain and my heart.

So I’m sitting here writing this post, with The Hangover on in the background (Bradley Cooper, me gusta), and No One’s Gonna Love You playing in iTunes. For a second there, I let the Tumblrites overtake my brain and I thought “IT IS SO TRUE. NO ONE’S GONNA LOVE ME” and then I remembered that that’s not FACT because a lot of people love me. I’m a loveable girl. It’s not MY fault that not ENOUGH people appreciate me.

Okay, this post is borderline creepy and completely weird. Do you have any questions for me, random people I probably know who don’t need any questions answered? Do you have any words of wisdom? Inspiration?

What’s your favorite song at the moment?

Where do you want to vacation this summer?

What color shirt are you wearing right now?

What sports do you like?

Do you know that the All Star game is tomorrow (or today, or yesterday, or three weeks ago, depending on when you read this)?

What’s your favorite snack?

Do you like sweets?

Have you ever put your feet in the Atlantic Ocean? How about the Pacific?

Which ocean do you prefer?

This is what the world is for, making electricity

I am kind of overwhelmed with feelings right now and I’m not really sure where it’s coming from. Well, I probably do. I’m coming off the busiest week I’ve had at work since I started. I love that I’ve been given more responsibilities but geez, the adjustment period is pretty rough. Plus, there was a mistake with my health insurance (our rep at the insurance place didn’t process my paperwork – THANKS, PERSON) and my paycheck, which is making things kind of tight until I get the rest of my paycheck in the mail. It was supposed to come Thursday. And then yesterday. But no. Ugh. I was planning to use that money for our Giants weekend in September and then the rest for, you know, life during the month. So it’s just kind of hard to wait, especially since I don’t know how much will be in the check.

Thursday night was weird because Electric Girl was hanging out with a friend, and hanging out turned into a stay-over, and I didn’t hear from her on Friday until early afternoon and since I am a worrier*, I was stressed until that moment. SO ANYWAY. Here we are now, on Saturday morning, and I’m listening to the same Bon Iver song over and over and over again. Except I  just put on a playlist, which is called “Tiny Vessels Transatlanticism” and it’s exactly what you think it is: Tiny Vessels and Transatlanticism. On repeat. I’m weird about music okay? Deal with it.

What I’m trying to do by listening to these songs over and over is spark some inspiration. I don’t talk too much about writing anymore because I’ve fallen off doing it and when I do try, I get really discouraged and frustrated because I SUCK SO BADLY AT IT. I don’t suck so badly that I should give up completely, and I’ve never been a person to write for other people’s enjoyment. This is all about me. It always has been. I’m not shy about admitting that. If I’m the only person who reads my stuff** that is just fine with me. I don’t write to make money and people who do write to make money are a) delusional because there is not money in writing sorry, and b) hacks. And I’m not talking about freelance writers who write articles and stuff. I have no problem with that, and I wouldn’t mind getting in on that action. That’s writing that can pay. But writing fiction? That stuff can’t be inspired by money. It’s something deeper than that. The place where the words come from is too far down in you to be touched by anything like monetary benefit or recognition. Of course we want people to like us and what we write because it makes us feel like we aren’t wasting our time, but even if they didn’t, what matters most is how YOU feel about what you’ve written. You’re going to be your harshest critic but at the end of the day, you’re putting those words on paper because you can’t do anything else. It’s a drive. It’s something you can’t really control.

I lost most of that drive a long time ago and I’m always trying to get it back. I still feel like I can’t breathe when the words don’t come and I still feel like my life lacks meaning and purpose if I can’t get something out. It’s part of why I blog and part of why I sit around listening to the same songs over and over again. Eventually something will break and words will leak out. You just have to be patient.

I’m bad at being patient.

So this blog post wasn’t really supposed to be about writing. It really wasn’t going to be about anything because I plan my blogs like I plan my stories: NOT AT ALL. So I’m going to stop writing before I ramble on for another five minutes about how our washing machine sounds like a jetliner taking off when it’s in the spin cycle.

*Also there’s a lot to our friendship that I haven’t even gotten to divulge on this blog yet, even though a lot of people reading it know the circumstances already

**And by ‘only person’, I mean Electric Girl also gets to read what I write. It’s her toll for living with my writing-related meltdowns