Day 35: Area 6, Ease on Down the Road

Angela puts on some music, I don’t even know what the heck she picked in terms of genre but what I do know is that she must love the sax, because that’s what’s playing again, and it’s one “Fausto Papetti”. What is a Fausto Papetti? Fausto was an Italian sax player who was kind of a big thing in the 70s and he liked to put sexy ladies on his album covers, which was also kind of a big thing in the 70s.

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He’s playing some sort of mambo. Next up is “The Blob”,

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so I guess we’re going for a sax-heavy co-opted Latin American Flair today. Unfortunately, “running” from this music is not an option for me while I’m in the chair.

What else, what else. Well, I kinda come out and tell a lot of people that I’ve been doing TMS. Of course, folks are pretty supportive and all but, it still makes me anxious to come right out like that. It definitely puts me in a state of vulnerability, which often seems to get me into some sorta jam, as it’s veeerrry difficult for me to stuff down and it aaaaalways lends itself to a craving for intimacy…

Oh, vulnerability. Oh, you.

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Because vulnerability is kinda problematic when you don’t really have anyone in your life to be vulnerable with, doesn’t it? Like I mentioned before, my closest friends have done a bit of a drift and my family either worries their well-meaning faces off (which makes me want to keep things from them to protect them), and/or steamrolls me with advice. So, guess what happens.

I mean, you have no clue if you haven’t been reading this blog all along. But if you have?

Then I bet you guessed correctly.

Enter LT!

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Yep, my not-boyfriend, LT. My not-so-healthy option. But you know what? He’s there. He’s more there than anyone else is or can be, and he is strong, and so this happens. If there’s nothing to eat but chips, you don’t starve, you eat the damn chips. And so when I am aching to connect, I find myself in the arms of LT.

Listen, I don’t want to say the guy’s just a bag of Doritos. He does care about me. Genuinely. And we have a reciprocal relationship. I’m just saying that…I don’t think this one is in it with me for very long, realistically. And so I have to be very, very careful with getting invested. Unfortunately, being open and disclosing things about yourself often leads to emotional bonding. So I tell myself that I just need this for now, and I’ll create some space later, to balance it out.

Because I’ll totally be safe, and totally do that.

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Anyway. I want to ask him these stupid questions. Questions like, “Now I know you said you aren’t going to up and run if you know what the deal is with me…but now that I’ve revealed this thing, is that still the case? Is it different now? Or are you still not going to run?”

I know, I know, that sounds sad and why would I care? I guess because, when you have this thing with so much stigma attached to it, the last thing you want in a vulnerable state is for someone you do care about to confirm these fears that there’s something wrong with you

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and you’re not worth being around, because of it. So, they’re not so much stupid questions at all, because it’s not about the general idea of it ending. It’s based on very real fears of it ending…because of that. If he’s gonna bail, I want it be any reason other than this thing I already feel insecure about. Make sense?

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Oh, sidebar: despite these worries, on this day I feel…pretty good. Not wiped out. For no good reason I can think of, really. Is it TMS working? Something else? Sometimes I just get these good days, and I don’t know what the determining factor is, which makes me annoyed. What’s even more annoying is people who are still like “Just Enjoy It!”

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which I understand is meant to be supportive, but in its way…it’s kind of dismissive. It doesn’t take into account the big picture at all, and so I then know that the person doesn’t really know what it is to have MDD. “Just Enjoy It” doesn’t quite cut the mustard, because the depressed person knows that the unusually good, well-balanced feeling probably won’t stick around, when they don’t know what caused it, and therefore, how to replicate/extend it. One knows that one will be sinking back into, at best, a dysthymic state sooner than later. A state that is, for all intents and purposes, one’s unfortunate normal.

“JUST ENJOY IT!”

I love you, non-depressed person but, this is another one of those teaching moments in the blog. If a depressed person feels unusually good on a particular day and is anxious about it, because they know from their history that it won’t stick…please don’t say the above. It’s a conversation ender, and makes the depressed person feel like their valid concern…isn’t. If you were starving for 2 weeks, and found food to eat, you wouldn’t love it if someone waved their hand said

“JUST ENJOY IT!”

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to you, if what you were trying to do was figure out how you could continue to get said food in the future, because being hungry doesn’t feel good. Be happy for them for having the relief of a good day, but maybe also listen, and empathize, and/or help the person sort through what might’ve been different about that day (although don’t get super frustrated if you can’t figure it out; brain chemistry is not an uncomplicated thing).

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Anyway. Even though I don’t know if the good feeling is TMS related, as my sessions wind to a close (the final session is next week), I know that this process will always have been important to me. At the very least, it helped me do my little part against stigmatization, by starting this blog. Which, in turn, helped me “come out” to people close to me.

So, back to LT… now he knows. He knows this is who I am. Intellectually, I am aware that there is nothing I can do about the fact that he could bail over the condition I manage. And that if he walks because of that, that’s on him. It doesn’t make me a defective joke of a human. I couldn’t have gotten this far in this project- a project that takes a shitload of time and heart and apparently helps people, that I do for free- if that were true. I would be a total societal non-contributor, which is not what I am. I’m actually a pretty incredible human being. If he fails to recognize and value this…his loss.

I know these things. Intellectually.

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But I suppose that doesn’t help my heart, that feels that sting of rejection, that is more sensitive to Maj, that believes her when she says that if she drives everyone away, I deserved it.

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This is the back and forth I go through. What I know vs. how things irrationally- yet convincingly- feel. I try, though. I try to lean into letting go of what I can’t control. To say, let him come to his own conclusions. Let him sort through what I’ve laid on the table, that which most keep hidden away behind bulging closet doors.

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Let him decide if he’d rather know who he’s dealing with upfront, or if he prefers a tidier picture with the imperfections not showing. He will do what he does, he shall choose how he chooses.

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(I know that’s the third time with this guy, but I love him, all Getting It and shit).

For me, I choose to continue to be vulnerable and brave when I can stand it. If that puts me in a place to where, worst case scenario, I get attached to LT…I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. Because I choose to be relatable, instead of present myself as some sort of ideal human. I have to be open and real in order to continue to help people who suffer from depression feel less alone and ignored.  To do that, I choose to continue to tell my story and give my take on what it’s like to live with this condition, and what it’s like to love someone who has it. With or without LT…or any other man. Yes, I crave intimacy. Yes, I want to be loved. But for who I am, not a false version of me. And if I can’t be cared for romantically the way that I am, I’d rather be alone than modify myself to where I can’t serve my purpose anymore. Because while the men seem to come and go…the purpose sticks. It is always there.

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How could I turn my back on something that has been so faithful to me, for the comfort of a man, which may be transitory (no matter how much of myself I give to him) due to factors beyond my control? I can do my best with my purpose, and it doesn’t abandon me. And it’s my mark on this world…that I did something worthwhile when I was here. So I guess, the journey comes first…and then, Dream Guy and I can walk together on our respective journeys, or not. It’s not my job to determine who, if anyone, will walk with me. The right people will do so, in their way…all on their own.

Area 6, Ease On Down the Road.

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Day 33: Area 6, I See You Making Changes

I can’t believe I have written like, 50 posts on this topic. How I am still not famous I don’t even know.

Anyway I have 4 more sessions. And I’m feeling A-MAAAAY-ZING AND ON TOP OF THE WORLD!

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Just kidding. Don’t worry. TMS does not turn you into that type of person. Certainly, you can have moments like that, but you’re not walking around like Pollyanna 24:7, unless that’s what you’re aiming for. In which case yeah, you can probably eventually get yourself there, and you do you. Personally, after what I’ve been through and seen and given the state of the world, I find acting that way somewhat delusional. But if I wanted to? Well…I’m seeing that I maybe have the tools- and therefore, the choice- now. Whereas before, I simply had no chance…not even for a moment.

Unfortunately, TMS does not automatically make me the kind of person who jumps out of bed all ZIP-BE-DEE-DOO-DAH with a ton of energy. It didn’t go that far. I’m still super tired, and I know I say that in every goddamn post, but I’m here to report a truthful experience, and the truth is I am still not a morning person. So there you go.

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Today Angela and I both muse about how nice it would be to be lying on a beach somewhere. We are both summer people and both can’t wait for it to get here already. She sets me up.

For whatever reason- maybe it’s because I’m tired- the first sequence hits hard.

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My hand twitches something fierce, like Thing having a seizure.

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(This is a more chill Thing).

But the rest of me doesn’t jump, because I suppress it. I don’t like Angela seeing me jump. She worries, and then is all like, “You take your medication today? Try to relax.” Then I feel like a pussy. I mean, I’m on session 33 for fuck’s sake, I shouldn’t be jumpy.

Today, Dreams by Fleetwood Mac on the YouTube. Perfect.

When I am done, I feel pretty good. I realize it’s the third session in a row for this, and I make note of it. Again, external, environmental factors help; there is an Americana singer-songwriter on the train that lifts my spirits, who I am surprised to see this far down the subway line. It seems like he’d be too cool to be down this way- I didn’t think any hipster came that far out on any subway line unless it’s The Great Gray Corridor.

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Perhaps he just came in from Portland and doesn’t know where the cool areas are yet.

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I catch my reflection in the subway window. I look casually cute today. No makeup, but the hair is pretty alright. That’s a step up, considering I usually look rather beat this time of day.

I do ok until lunch. Then I find myself sitting near a woman on the phone with someone or other- I think it’s her man- talking about her lunch and what kind of sandwich she’s having. At first, I am irritated. Who wastes phone minutes talking about bullshit? Who does that? Who is it that gives a flying fuck about your sandwich?

But the anger doesn’t stick today. It comes to me…it’s not about the damn sandwich. It’s about human connection. She’s just connecting with someone and the truth is, this one ain’t exactly changing the world right now and the sandwich is the only thing she has to talk about at the moment. And someone cares enough to hear her talk about her mozz and pesto on a roll. I think, given the context of the conversation, that other person actually asked what she was eating.

I laugh about the idea of not only texting LT about my sandwich, but also blatantly stating the I-Want-To-Connect subtext, as I have a habit of doing when I think he doesn’t get something (he gets things more often than he lets on…he just sometimes is very good at pretending not to). LT would probably find me to be a wacko or a loser or both. And I realize.

I miss having someone who gave a goddamn about what I’m having for lunch. Or if they don’t care, who will pretend they do, because they know I just want to connect with them, just want to hear their voice, just want out of the isolation that a job that encourages limited social interaction lends itself to. And I’m not sure I will have that again. This kinda thing always results in X resentment. I hope X doesn’t take for granted that he was able to jump straight from one person who cared about his lunches to another, without ever having to feel the loneliness of examining his own sandwich, not that he ever ate sandwiches because GRAINS ARE BAD, but, you get what I’m saying.

Anyway, for now, I guess I better get used to talking to myself about my damn sandwiches.

Area 6: I See You Making Little Changes.

Day 27: Area 6, It’s Just You and Me

re: Present Day:

Writing this blog is a challenge. It’s examining my own head in the context of a treatment I hoped would help with depression. But the blog isn’t totally insular. We don’t live in individual bubbles, which means the condition is affected by that which happens around us, and it affects those around us. As I write in attempts to connect with others on the issue, I find I come to realizations, and to new questions. This is my story, but in an attempt to find wider perspective, I reach out to  others to discuss depression. How it got to where it was, what effects it has had, what it means for my relationships now. Questions that only others can answer…manifest. But depression is a sticky subject. As much as we tout the phrase “Don’t keep it inside…Reach Out!” when it comes to depression, there’s often this clumsy reality of it meaning you’re going to bring up things others don’t really want to talk about. Sometimes the “Reach Out” catchphrase seems to have this crummy subtext that’s like, “But I hope it’s not me you reach out to. At LEAST I hope you don’t talk about THAT particular thing”.

Navigating a swamp of uncomfortable subject matter- what can be said to who- can be so debilitating that oftentimes we find ourselves just clamming up. Which can get isolating. That isolation is what lead me down a dark path. Writing became the solution as, being one who I feel is often loved from a distance, it seemed fitting to share the story where others could take in these experiences from said safe distance. The downside is it can be painful. I find myself crying sometimes, hurt from recalling not-so-distant memories that never really found closure…and fearful of the perceptions of others.

I can easily then imagine being advised- the depressed receive unsolicited advice from the not-depressed quite a bit- “Stop writing, if it HURTS you!”. Ah, platitudes. But. No. Doesn’t deep tissue massage hurt? Doesn’t exercise hurt? And yet we need to do these things to work out kinks, balance imbalances, strengthen where we are weak…so yes, this process hurts, but burying it under a veneer of false happy hurts more in the long run. Avoidance doesn’t make that past go away. 

And if it hurts someone else to read? Yeah, you might read things here you don’t especially like reading. And so, you don’t have to. At the end of the day, this is my story to tell, a story about hurt, humiliation, humility, hope…and leaving out certain inconvenient, awkward bits will not do it justice. Again, the blog is bigger than me. It’s also a reflection of things other depressed people wish they could say. The thing is, there was a time when I thought I shouldn’t be here. At all. And then I still was. And I couldn’t imagine what purpose I could serve, that someone else couldn’t. Then I started this blog. Because few people are writing about TMS, and depression, at this level of detail. And I thought, maybe my accounts can help somebody else. It seems they have. People I don’t even know. So I have a conviction, that’s stronger than the pain. I need to do this. I believe I’m still here so I can do this. Through the discomfort- mine and yes, I realize, sometimes yours- rises a sense of purpose, and in my mind, that supersedes all else. I want to thank those of you who do read, and I hope it provides some insight- or at least a sense of connection, or a good laugh during dark days. On to the story. Buckle in- this one is a long and twisty-turny ride.

I slept badly last night and am exhausted this morning.

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My jaw is locked up on one side. It throbs.

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I’m also processing a family friend’s unexpected death, so there’s that. I don’t know really who to talk to about it. I don’t want anyone to try to reach into their magic solutions bag and try to make me better. This is the problem with too many well-meaning fixers.

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If I want to know what to do, I’ll ask (incidentally, I run into the opposite problem with professional therapists, whereby the latest trend seems to be to just listen and offer 0 guidance, when they should be the most qualified person to do so…but given the fact that they don’t know to do this, Maybe Not! IT’S A RIDDLE).

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I just want to connect with another human and talk about this. I walk into DD in a haze to get coffee before TMS…even though I’m not really supposed to have the caffeine beforehand for some reason. An overview of the Grammys plays on TV.

I am thinking a lot about love this morning. My higher powers of reasoning are seemingly obliterated by senseless, pointless, useless infatuation. All my lizard brain wants to do is bond, bond, bond.

My lizard brain is looking out for me never. My lizard brain is a pain in the ass.

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Ah, fuck it. I know partially why I didn’t sleep well, and I know why my brain is turning to thoughts of LT in particular and infatuation in general. It’s because when I am authentically me, I am really fucking good at being with somebody, good at making someone else feel special. And I was not so much in my marriage, as an in-denial, untreated depressed mess. And now, dammit, there’s that part of me ready to prove what I can really be, as the clouds clear just a tad.

Oh yeah, I didn’t mention that. My head feels a little more clear the last day or two.

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And also, we like to distract ourselves by doing things we’re good at. And I need distraction over something that really bothered me, that kept me up last night. A thing that happened with the X.

Going off topic for a second, we’re going to say “X” now, not “STBX”, because, let’s get real…the only thing that makes us not officially exes now is paperwork, and honestly, relationships- by and large- form in the brain, and the government doesn’t determine whether that switch is on or off. For the record, while I acknowledge that this is how the game must be played, I find the law being involved in marriage- a matter of the heart- and requiring filing paperwork for it… to largely be bullshit. But these are the rules on how you acquire certain rights and call yourself family (how I think those rights should be acquired would be a tangent, so I’ll hold off). But the point of bringing this up is that I find myself resentful lately, because a handful of folks who found the starting paperwork soooo important, seem to be just tickled to now deem the marriage over, even though the ending paperwork doesn’t exist yet. Because hey, that’s what makes X happy!  And it works, as long as I keep my mouth shut about how that makes me feel. It works, as long as I am erased from memory. The whole thing pisses me off, because you either in principle give a shit about someone else’s paperwork, or you don’t. So there’s that in the background.

So, those feelings going on, and then…reminders of the new relationship. Enter the Accidental Text from X.

I get a hooray-toned text yesterday from X about doing some sort of event that’s not for another month. It’s pretty clear this is not for me, that this is for the new girl. He catches it, but the damage is done. This whole thing is becoming more and more real. Him making plans with the new girl way ahead of time makes shit very real.

It stings.

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So do the tears that spring to my eyes. It’s funny how you can get so used to heartbreak, to that dull ache, that you forget about it. It’s just there, a part of you. Until something pokes that fragile spot and you’re like, oh yeah, I have a broken part in me.

I reply to the text, forget what I said. I get an apology. It doesn’t change much.

Why do I even care? I feel this uncomfortable shift that forces me to recognize…he still matters. Even what he does…matters to me. And I become furious. I don’t want him to matter because I don’t matter much to him. Not anymore.

It’s hard to let go. Why? Attachment? No, it’s not that, not anymore. It’s…it’s…well for one, it exacerbates just how foolish I feel. Did I ever really know the guy, even after 6 years? This whole ordeal over the past few months seems to be further proof that I, in fact, did not. So if I did not, well hell, when do you know someone? Do you ever? Or should have I seen the full scope of what he was capable of, and just have poor judgement? Where do I go wrong when it comes to character assessment? Was my love blind? If my love is blind, is it better for me to not be in love, or at least, not so in love? Or perhaps it is not so much blind, but was a love so determined not to disturb the ties that bound us, that it left me in denial? How do I correct this? How do you know “your person” won’t change into someone totally unrecognizable?

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                           ↑ MY BRAIN ↑

And I think the answer is: you don’t.

You never really know. And why do I even have those questions at this juncture? I’ll get into that in a moment.

Others say to not think even about those things. Others say to just jump in, get back on that horse, girl. Date, Date, DATE!!

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I wonder if these people have an unlimited capacity for psychological pain, even in the face of the radically-different-from-5-years ago dating culture that now exists in the city, courtesy of apps that provide seemingly unlimited options, leaving you feeling like, well, just an option…not terribly valued. Maybe my well-meaning advisors have Herculean hearts, and it doesn’t crush them the way it does me. I wonder if being immediately replaced- Good Luck Chuck style- after a serious relationship for now the 4th time (yep, although this was the first time it followed a marriage, which does hurt even more), with a woman who becomes the long-term partner might have anything to do with it… something that has ramifications most cannot relate to. Maybe my heart is just not so different from my body; my divorce is like an old football injury that never really disappears, effectively retiring me. I turned in my wedding dress like an old jersey.

But putting well-meaning advisors aside and addressing why I bother asking the aforementioned questions about really knowing someone, knowing their tenacity, their sincerity:

It isn’t about the past, readers. It’s about the future. It’s because the question has since become, how, going forward, could I look at anyone now, who promises forever, and take such a person seriously? How on earth could I do such a thing, as my dearest friends and family bear witness? Perhaps these jump-back-in-the-saddle folks subconsciously DGAF what their wedding guests think because it’s really all about the reception (getting fed and hammered) anyway. And/or possibly they don’t love the way I do, in such a complete, all-encompassing, trusting way. They got one eye open, one foot on the ground, just as you have that personal bank account with enough to get by on should your partner check out- just in case. Do they too they have a certain level of love on reserve, kept on ice, so that if the relationship ends, they will be hurt, but not devastated? Their lives disrupted, but not destroyed?

I’d be lying if I said that’s easy for me to do, but I’d also be lying if I said a part of me does not aspire to be this way. Yet if that’s the case, well it seems quite silly then, doesn’t it, to vow “’til death do us part”? Wouldn’t “for as long as I can” be a far more authentic statement? Isn’t this the world we live in now? Less romantic perhaps, but so are prenups, and those exist. And yet, is there anything more romantic than daring to speak so very candidly- and doing so publicly– to your partner? Is it not romantic, to define your commitment in the context of truth that is personal to you, rather than in the context of crafting The “Daaaawww” for the sake of your community? Your community, who, ultimately, are going to side with and fight for whoever they happen to be closest to in times of trouble anyway…not the actual union? They’re witnessing the vows to support their friend/family member- it’s less about witnessing the social contract itself.

So again, these days the hurt isn’t that I lost him; it’s that I don’t trust my own judgement anymore, and I’m not sure how this uncertainty about someone else’s promises, promises is going to play out going forward…and that’s scary.

Now listen, I know I’m not unique. I’m aware that people immediately take up with a new partner after ending a marriage all the time. This does not make it healthy or normal. This does not discount the feelings of the one left behind. And just because I happen to have some photos online of me and a hot young thing smiling at the camera with me does not mean I am ok with any of this.

Another thing turning around in my brain in the chair that upsets- a piece of unsolicited advice I get…”Stop Looking At What They’re Doing”.

Again-

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And why not take this standard issue advice? Because what’s popular isn’t necessarily right for all the people. Ever heard of exposure therapy? The more we expose ourselves to something unpleasant, the more desensitized we become. Do these people really think I’m never going to find everything out in the end, given social media? And I’d rather find out from myself, than through the grapevine from a friend who (inexplicably!) refuses to unfriend the guy who broke my heart…casually mentioning “Did you hear? Did you hear they’re engaged? Did you hear they’re married? Did you hear they’re having twins?”. So in my particular situation, “exposure therapy” works best for me. I’d rather see the whole thing unfold on my own, taking on each bit of information that smarts…than fill in the unknown with a narrative I want to believe, and be walloped with the whole truth later on.

Anyway, The Accidental Text was just one more of those things whipping a very hurtful reality into me.  I didn’t break down at my job when I got it, but it all feels like a weight on my chest. I held it in. And this is how the hurt spills out when I’m in the chair today. This is why I am so tired and drained at TMS, thinking about all of this.

And then. Something clicks for me in that chair.

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There is going to be more and more of this. This couple will become more and more public. There will be dozens upon dozens of tandem photos, professions of undying love, fancy vacays…and the applause of all that surround them, so deafening that my crying is drowned out. And I’m going to have to get used to that.

People, we can’t avoid hurt. I don’t know why we think we can. Things may progress between them. And so I can’t avoid if they co-habitate, get married, have a kid, with everyone around them, even people I thought cared about me, act like it’s the fucking second coming of Jesus Christ.

Ok, that last line was bitchy. But I guess the validation that surrounds all of this is what hurts the most. That’s the hardest part. It isn’t just about two people anymore, and how their actions affect me. The effusive displays of approval make it feel like the effects on me don’t even fucking matter. Like I don’t fucking matter. If feeling like I don’t fucking matter 4 months after X moved out makes me a little bitchy, I’m sorry.

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Yet there’s something rather utilitarian about bitchiness creeping in, when you’re in despair. Bitchiness slaps you in the face and pours ice cold water on it. Bitchiness hauls you off the floor. Bitchiness wakes you up. My eyes are opening. This is going to be a part of my reality. An accidental text can’t be setting me off because it’s proof of a relationship I still am bewildered by. I don’t have to embrace or normalize what X has done, but I do have to accept it, and steel myself for every new hit that’s going to feel like a punch in the gut. I may have tons of apprehension about the future, but for the present, I can accept what currently is.

It’s not to say it’s crazy for X to matter to me. It’s not. But the development of that relationship, I have to try not to make it matter, as hard as it is to watch. I have to focus on what should matter. My health matters. Growing as a person matters. Helping others matters. This blog matters. These are things that are, more often than not, with you much longer than any one person is- your body, your mind, your potential, your creativity, people in need that you can help.

And, addressing the depressed people out there now, I think that’s something to try to remember, when you feel like a person, or even a whole group, has turned away from you, and you’re never getting them back.

X said on our wedding day that I was his constant. As painful as it is to say, I have to refute that. I was never his constant. He was never mine. You cannot count on one, single person to stick with you until the end…you really can only count on the fact that as you move through this existence, there always will be some person or other whose life you can benefit, who can benefit your life. That, and you, what you offer this world, these are your only constants.

This may be discouraging. But the reality is, all people come and go. Life is not The Notebook where you die together. “My kids!” Yeah, if you outlive them and they also really like you. But there are no guarantees…except you! You have you. ‘Til the end. So take care of that. Going beyond the end, you have the legacy of your achievements, your good deeds, your art, your business ventures. That’s what lives on. I’m not telling you what to invest your energy in. I’m simply saying that, if you are left, if you never find someone in the first place- as long as you have some other shit going on- it’s ok. You have these other things. I guess for me, I find I can depend on my abilities and contributions more than I’ve ever been able to depend on one person…they seem like a better bet. I’d rather look back on my deathbed and be proud of what I accomplished and who I helped, and take the hit of not having invested my time in constantly dating in search of the one.

Yes. Rather that, than look back on all this time I spent on flashes-in-the-pan who don’t care about me, in pursuit of something- long-term love- I was perhaps never meant to have…when I could’ve spent the time on something else fulfilling that was always more there for me than any one person ever was. Let me add this: when you’ve experienced depression, you can help people who are in the depths in ways those who have never been through it like that cannot.

When I had to write essays back in school, I was always the worst at writing conclusions, at least any that really made any sense to me. I came to the- ahem- conclusion, that conclusions existed for the purpose of tying things up in a neat little bow for the reader, to give a refresher on what points the paper made and, most importantly, a feeling of closure. ‘Cause like, otherwise they kinda feel hanging, right? Hanging and a little uneasy. So, my old standby became “In conclusion…” and then I’d summarize the points.

But this is not a college essay I’m being graded on. I’m not even being paid to write this. So, given I have no neat lil literary bow that feels quite right

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to put on this post, if you want a reminder of what the post is about, reread it. As far as the closure? I’m just going to leave these loose ends hanging. Not because it’s a copout and I couldn’t theoretically do it, or I don’t care that I leave you scratching your head. It’s that writing one would feel disingenuous towards you on this post that’s all about uncertainty. This is how life works for me- there often is no closure but rather, a lot of loose ends. A lot of them. But don’t let that feel unsettling, reader. Hang on these loose ends for a while, like they’re a dozen cord lisses. Swing around on them, let yourself flip around and roll and spin. Here’s a visual aid, as an example of just how fun loose ends can be.

Part 2 of Day 24: Area 6, What’s Our OxyDopaPressinephrine Plan? A long (and long overdue) post.

I want answers.

“Who ordered that their longing’s Fire, should be, as soon as kindled, cooled?” -Matthew Arnold, To Marguerite

I DO, MATT. ORDER THE COOLING.

“Nothing can affection’s course control, or stop the headlong fury of his speed.” –William Shakespeare

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SHUT UP, WILL. DO NOT WANT. 

“I think we can control this passion. But one has to trick the brain…someone is camping in your brain, you must throw the scoundrel out.”- Helen Fisher, The Brain in Love.

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There’s that backlash again to my brain’s attempt to bond.

After further reading, I believe it was a panic attack in response to an unusually strong bonding attempt, far more than I was ready for (given it being such a high-stress time in my life). I simply could not handle any psychological intensity just then. But I knew that. So why did this manifest with a stranger I could not trust? Why that evening? What was different to set me off? My new, easily met low standards? The rosé? The oysters I had for dinner? Listening to Fleetwood Mac earlier that evening? The symmetrical ram-face thing?

So I hate taking my readers out of the moment, but I think it’s important to explain that while the research on all this happened on-and-off for a very long time, this next part is concretely more present day (more than a year after the panic-attacky whatever thing). I realize that all the reading in the world was not going to be able to help me with this like a human could.

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I put out a call for help, not expecting much, but amazingly, not only does it turn out I have a friend who remembers some stuff from freshman chem, another friend actually knew someone who teaches biochemistry, who was willing to give me the time of day. 

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This clears up a lot. Thanks to my friend I’ll call ChemPal, I am walked through the background of the chain reaction of how these neurotransmitters come to be in your brain, which like, no doctor will ever explain to you when prescribing an antidepressant (it all starts with DNA, my friends. DNA to mRNA/tRNA, to amino acids, to peptides, to proteins…if you want to know more, do some research or I’ll just send you ChemPal’s number, he’s happy to help. Just kidding, ChemPal). Then it was on to the biochemistry teacher, who I’ll just call BCT (because that’s what science does- abbreviates everything into acronyms), who explains how the process of how precursors interact with enzymes to eventually create dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

And he clears up some misconceptions, i.e. how the norepinephrine in the brain (factors in when we’re talking about depression) vs. the norepinephrine in the adrenal glands (factors in when we’re talking about panic attacks) affect us differently (I think? Right? If you’re reading, BCT?). Therefore, I can’t really equate the former involved in my SNRI’s work with the latter that spiked when I got hit with the LOOOOOVE cocktail.

And so we’re talking and so on and so forth and…well eventually, I tell this total stranger about the heart of why I’m asking all this stuff, which involves mentioning um, this had to do with a sort-of-intimate encounter where I freaked out, TMI?

It was not TMI. It gave him context, really. And he says this:

“You had a moment where you felt totally out of control. And so I understand why you’d turn to science to try to figure it out. A lot of people do this. But I would hesitate to tell you that you will find what you’re looking for at the end of this yellow brick road. Because this science is still largely not understood. You ask a psychologist, they’ll give you one answer. An acupuncturist, another. A neuroscientist, another. Maybe it was just The Perfect Storm of the new effect TMS was having on your brain, the new SNRI, what you ate that day, what you were going through psychologically, something the other person said, all of it.” (and the alcohol, he forgot the alcohol!).

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He then referred me to the story of the blind men and the elephant. You can read it here. And that’s not to say that everyone’s opinion is equal, but it means there are many different ways of looking at an issue.

And then he says, “I’m not sure you’re going to find the clear-cut answer you’re looking for.”

Things were going so well, and now I’m like:

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(I inserted this gratuitous business of a bikini babe in case I’m starting to lose you by this point).

But I mean, this is what intelligent, proactive people with a medical condition often do: when they’re plagued with something it feels like they can’t control that is affecting their work, their relationships, and indeed, perhaps whether they live, or not, they do what I’ve been doing. They seek out information, desperately trying to understand these processes going on in their own body that we can’t see, to try to fix it, searching for clues to fix our lagging work, our failing relationships, our falling-apart lives. Look on the bluelight.org and socialanxietysupport.com forums; you wouldn’t believe what these people who’ve been on meds for years understand about neuroscience. I guess they figure if they’re going to be dependent on this shit, they at least want to know what it’s doing in their body. And when doctors often won’t take the time to explain, who can blame them?

So while there are other ways to go about this- therapy, eastern medicine, etc.- for me, when it comes to depression and related treatments, it’s 1/2 science. Why? Because when

1) you’re tired of therapy not working

2) you’re fucking tired of being told you have “too many words” when that’s the only way you can wrap your head around a complex world

3) you’re spending a ton of money you don’t really have on treatments so you’d like some degree of assurance that it works (given the thousands you’ve thrown down the drain on treatments that didn’t) and

4) you’re really, really fucking tired of being told you’re too emotional,

it’s no surprise that I would gravitate towards the scientific (which celebrates/validates the verbose, yet tempers the emotional), to try to counterbalance all of that. (The other 1/2 for me is spirituality, to fill in the gaps where science doesn’t help me. And which, incidentally, flips the script…lower on the words- to where I find some of it cliched at times- higher on the emotion).

And here’s BCT saying, well, I may not find what I’m looking for. A definitive root cause to explain why I reacted like I did. And it kind of sucks, when I want to know how to not react like that again. Like seriously, what if that happens again? What if I’m on a first date and I get weird again and it makes the person totes bail (for the record, LT did not bail, although I cannot say for sure whether this was a testament to his character or if me just looking really, really hot that night made me impossible to walk from)?

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But he’s right. I may not find that definitive explanation. At least, not for a while. Not while brain science is constantly changing. That’s something we have to deal with. And…I’m going to get into why that can get sticky.

Of course, we want to figure it out for ourselves. Because we want to feel better. This goes without saying. But there can be more to it. See the thing is, the non-depressed don’t always exactly demonstrate patience with this mystery-disorder that the depressed wished they would. So often we feel this pressure to give them a precise answer, to say, this is it! I found it! I found The Thing! The Thing that’ll make me all better and never panic or be sad again. And then I will blog about my journey to being The Hero(ine) I Am Today. And I will be what you want me to be.

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But that’s just not realistic. Even if the science as we understand it remained constant, our brains change. Our activities change, our environment changes. All factors here. So many variables, guys. And then all we can really do is say, “Look. I’m doing the best I can. I do the homework, I ingest the things, I employ anti-depression practices. I am not Einstein, or even God, and this, as an ordinary human, is the very best I can do.” And at the end of the day, that person is with you, or they’re not. They bail, or they stick. If they stick, and you’re lucky, they’ll even give you a hand when you need a little help, a little push here and there. You can’t control any of this. If they’re close to you and have a degree of compassion/empathy/are not an asshole, they’re with you.

BUT OMG WHAT IF THEY’RE NOT THO

Then remember this: there are an infinite number of outcomes, and while some of those end in the worst-case scenario, let’s focus on the best-case scenario at the moment. That scenario, however you imagine it, theoretically could be yours, as the end result of the work you’ve done on your mental health. And when you’ve succeeded, well, that’s when everyone comes sniffing around, isn’t it? But then you’ll have a choice. You’ll remember who was there at your worst, Little Red Hen, and who elected to wait until the bread was baked. And justifiably, if you wish, you can choose to say:

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So you just keep at it, ok? Keep searching, please? Science, psychotherapy, New Age philosophy, getting in your body, whatever works for you. This is complicated, and you don’t “owe” anyone That One Answer that allows for 100% certainty that you will never, ever have depression again, ever. Give yourself credit for simply doing what you can. Anyone really worth having around on your good days will take into account your efforts on the not-so-good ones.

Now, flipping to addressing the non-depressed for a moment: maybe the above Will Smith quote sounds reductive, and smug. Maybe. It doesn’t account for the harm the depressed person does, on account of this thing that warps their thought processes and thus, behaviors. Still. This is a thing they’re stuck with. That you’re not, non-depressed person. And as long as they’re acknowledging they have it, and trying to do something about it amidst all of this bewildering, conflicting science, muddled psychological theory, companies knowingly selling crap they know damn well won’t work, and well-meaning practitioners that don’t know what the F they’re doing…the depressive’s endeavors to beat it, when getting out of bed in itself feels monumental, do lend credibility.

So if you’re thinking to abandon someone when they’re trying, really trying…I mean, I get it, a depressed person is a tough deal, and you are certainly not obligated to make the choice to stick with them. But the point of the quote is, you have to understand, you make the decision to walk, that means that if they do end up overcoming MDD and coming out on top as some notable figure in the mental health field or whatever, and don’t especially want you around ’cause you weren’t there for the bad…well, you can’t exactly give them hell for that, without looking like a total dick.

But if you can, I hope you will stick around. I think that’s a big problem as to why depression is so prevalent in the first place. And I don’t have neurochemistry to back that up- it’s more of a feeling of how (American) society functions, particularly urban society. How a shift in how we interact could change so much.

But that’s a later post.

Thanks for reading, after such a long delay.

Day 23: Brain Chemistry

I forgot to say “Enough with the sax covers, Angela”. I mean, you know, in a nicer way. So it’s more:

I don’t count the

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today. At first I zone out, but then I panic. I don’t like not knowing how many are left. I start thinking about unpleasant stuff. Like this idea of wanting to be seen as the rock for once, not the stepping stone (more on that here), a subject that’s on my mind a lot lately. But my oh my, what fun we had! What charmingly peculiar (but not too peculiar!) places he’ll take her to, activities he’ll treat her to, now that the seeds of adventurousness have been sown from his time with me. I wonder if he’ll take what he learned about communication from me, too….Pretty little stepping stone with jagged little points…nothing to hold to for long, but a means to an end. I want to shout to him and I want to shout to everyone that did it before:

Can’t you see you’ve only seen and touched the glittery crest of me, that under the water I’m actually a rock? A Boulder! All you have to do is look deeper… 

I tear up. Again. As I’ve been doing day after day since it all came out.

I’m angry with him for doing that and feel righteous in that anger, and I’m also ashamed of myself, feeling it’s useless self-pity. And that the hurt is disproportionate to the action- that I’m piling up the anger towards everyone that did the same and putting it on him. Then I swing back and think, well, he was supposed to be different from them; he married me. Then I wonder if I would’ve felt better if the pattern broke, and for once, my Old Guy’s New Girl had been a total freakshow with a mohawk and more piercings than I’ve got quirks. Then I just feel shitty and pathetic again like I’m not supposed to feel these things and I’m not supposed to talk about these things. I’m certainly not supposed to write about these things.

And then the session is over and I damn near rip the cap thing off my head myself. I’ve never felt worse after TMS.

So it’s strange that two days later, I feel good. Not exceptionally good, but that baseline of general well-being with really no anxiety. How I imagine “normal” people feel. What’s strange is that it’s not like anything brings it on- I didn’t engage in any hardcore therapy as of late or even have any revelations. It just…happens. When the “good spell” ends (no, it doesn’t last, nor did I expect it to), I think- will I be seeing more of this?

And I wonder how much of this comes down to brain chemistry. Like, you can have a certain set of circumstances, but if you mess with your chemistry (like, ostensibly, TMS is doing with mine), you can feel bad, or good, just based on those changes. And it just depends on what you change, how much you change it, when you change it, etc. Maybe whatever results we desire could be neatly broken down to a chemistry and math dyad. If it weren’t for the fact that the science is so complex we still don’t entirely understand it, there would be no mystery to what generates our states of mind at all. Which is a bit of a downer, I suppose- there’s something about the mysterious that makes it seem…meaningful?- but mostly it’s unnerving to me. A reaction in my brain can just…happen, from some sort of external stimulus; when I don’t have a grasp on the process, I can’t fully foster the good ones and stave off the bad. Seriously, to have total control over our state of mind…that would be

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Admittedly, unforeseen, unyielding pain does inspire personal growth and works of art and blah blah blah but I still do wish I could crack my own code anyway. I definitely wanted to when I went spiraling down hard some months back. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to rehash it all right now, but you can get some of sense of what happened in this post. Let it suffice to say when you’re long-partnered to someone, that person and that life become like habits. And when it gets taken away suddenly and unexpectedly, it fucks with your brain chemistry. It’s like drug withdrawal. Add that to an already chemically unbalanced brain. That’s what I went through. A crash. Your standard diet/exercise/antidepressants/therapy was about all I could do (this was pre-TMS), but what with the mind-body connection and all that, with the harshness of grief and the med side effects, I didn’t want to sleep or eat. 20 pounds came off. I called it the divorce diet.

I used to have a marriage. It wasn’t perfect for me 24:7, but it felt balanced. A balanced emotional diet. I had thrown so much of my resources into it, once the marriage was gone, I had little to psychologically sustain me. I’m not saying I didn’t have family and friends who loved me. But it doesn’t really match up with someone you’re with day in and day out. And maybe I didn’t have a sufficient amount of self-love to fall back on so…there you go. I was starving. Eventually, I recovered to where I was nourishing myself with enough self-compassion to get by; it was the best I could do. My brain chemistry leveled out. I was doing ok.

And then we’re to now. And by now, I’ve gotten used to the new diet, to a minimal amount of affection. I’ve gotten used to eating alone. Sleeping alone. I had to. Have I gone out on dates? A few. They weren’t too good. And so now I have very low expectations. I’m just looking to talk to new people, make friends. Given this bland diet, I’m not looking to go from 2 to 10 and suddenly stuff myself on any sort of tenderness, of closeness.

Enter LT.

I don’t see anything especially out of the ordinary about LT. Sure, he’s Army and if you remember Zoltar from this post, the Great Automaton Sage himself spit out a card that said I would soon have new “friends in the armed forces”. And yes, LT’s been to my hometown which is a claim that maybe .001 percent (I’m guessing) of people within a 50 mile radius of me can claim. And ok, also his real name has a level of significance for me. But still. When it comes down to brass tacks, how much does a couple of coincidences and a fortune from a goofy rest area attraction amount to? You can find coincidences anywhere. Here’s what I do know: he was adorable. And I was having a nice time.

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Fast forward a few hours to one of the most unpleasant psychological experiences I’d had since this whole mess began.

I was sober. No drugs. But here’s another way you can mess with your brain chemistry. Touch. So commenced my Great Oxytocin Flood of 2016.

All it took was being held. LT is a cuddler. It is very much unexpected; he doesn’t  really know me. But I roll with it because I once was a cuddler too, until I got used to…well, not being one, out of necessity. I’m getting warm, fuzzy feelings I haven’t experienced in quite a long time. Oh gee, I think. How nice this is. After nearly half a year. Of not being held. Of sleeping alone. I can handle this.

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I cannot handle this.

The longer I lay there, the more the warm fuzzies dissipate. Something is off. Something reminds me of a TV show I saw once where this guy has a lap band put in and then tries to gorge himself like he used to and then gets sick from the indulgence. Safe, strong arms begin to feel like a trap. I feel panicked. Nauseous. Dizzy even.

I bolt up.

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I don’t understand what’s wrong with me. I just know I need to be away. Untouched. What’s the matter, honey? he asks. The pet word drips on my ears like its namesake and my heart leaps while the rest of me tenses up like a threatened animal. Don’t call me that. Don’t call me that! Please, please call me that again. It sounds so sweet…

DON’T CALL ME THAT. EVER. AGAIN.

I can’t look at him. I go to the other room. It’s just an oxytocin flood, I tell myself. You’re not used to any kind of real intimacy and you just hit yourself with too much, too fast. Breathe. You’re fine. You don’t know this guy. You don’t owe him jack.

I feel calm. Back in the room, I finally look at him. He’s asleep now. I can see his full, kissable lips in the dark. And the perfect nose sprinkled with freckles like a little dusting of cinnamon. I want to kiss that too. The longing fuels the flood, a too-sweet syrup splashing all over my brain that it just can’t take, and I feel uncontrollably sick again. This leads to fear, which leads to irrational anger.

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Who the fuck are you anyway, and what are you fucking doing here and what’s your game and what are you doing to my brain. Guys don’t do this straight out the gate unless they’re out to break her heart. I’d be safe here if it weren’t for you. You don’t know the first thing about having your heart ripped out and this, this is an experiment for you, this is a game to you, this is a story to tell. How dare you fuck with me. Fuck you. You Young Millennial. Fuck. You.

I catch how ugly the words in my head are. And how much they don’t sound like me…

MAJ. 

I didn’t even notice her come in.

I bite my lip when tears spring to my eyes. Why am I letting her have agency in this? Is she trying to protect me? She has a messed up way of doing it but…I wonder if for once, she has good intentions.

Probably not.

Instinctively, I push her out and the pendulum swings hard; out of guilt I overcompensate, then attributing a sort of archangelic purity to LT.

Direct this hurt towards him? He has no clue what’s going on with me. Even I don’t know totally what’s going on with me. That face…so innocent. How could I hold anything against him?

Breathe in, try again. In reality, he’s human. In reality, you don’t really know what he senses. In reality, a handsome face has nothing to do with this. In reality, he’s more likely somewhere between Wholesome Gentleman and Puckish Rascal.

The flood is running its course, and then subsides. I don’t know how or why. It just does. It’s unsettling, this lack of control I have over the cycle; just when I started to think I had a handle on things, this new layer of chemical overload comes traipsing in to fuck with me.

I sleep.

And then I think it over the next day. What the hell was that? I know that touch I wasn’t accustomed to sparked a chemical reaction. But why the anger, the resentment…and underneath that, the fear? I know some self-protection mechanisms must have been set off, and Maj jumped in when my defenses against her were down and being directed elsewhere. I feel bad. And I feel fragile. The walls need reinforcement against the rising tide before they

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For me, knowledge is power. I don’t want this happening again and worst case, I want to handle it responsibly if it does. And so I set to looking into what might’ve been going on in my head. Heads up, it is damn complicated. I’m no scientist, but if I was? Well, even the scientists give conflicting information. Next time: Area 6, What’s Our OxyDopaPressin Plan?

In the meantime, I try to practice self-compassion and forgiveness. I was scared. 100% legit or not, no one can just throw away the experiences of their past hurts; we can’t always discern the invariable kernel of truth in the reasons for repetitively painful history, but we know we don’t desire more of that pain. When we can’t find the truth of it, and thus how to prevent it, it’s frightening, so we develop these iffy notions to safeguard ourselves. I certainly know the heart of mine.

Day 22: Area 6,What Is This All For?

I think for clarification purposes, given that in this entry I relay concepts more so than recount experiences, I need to remind readers that while they are seeing this in June 2016 or later, the basic outline was drafted in January 2016.  It may not be an account of my state at the time you read, yet I still believe that where I was at the time could resonate with others. Now then:

I need to switch up this music Angela’s been putting on. The sax covers. Good Lord in Heaven.

I had a late night conversation about the prior night’s meeting, and how I’m doing, and etc. etc. And so I didn’t sleep enough and am super exhausted this morning. I can’t believe I used to go to TMS 5 days a week. Today I tell Angela about the blog, but I don’t have the nerve to tell her where to read it. I’m afraid she and Doc Magnets will be offended by my jokes. I hope if I ever do point them to it, they understand that I am very fond of both of them, and my snark is either a manifestation of my frustration/fatigue/hurt that has nothing to do with them, and I’m just trying to deal during a rough time. Or that the joke is an expression of my endearment to them. They really are both nice, helpful people.

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That’s all there really is to say about TMS on this day. So I’m going a little off-road again to dive into the depression side of things. Which, at the end of the day, is a related topic because after all, that’s what I’m treating, right? I want to talk about depression as it relates to identity and purpose, the latter two being things that really do tie in together.

I’ve been talking about divorce, and as uncomfy as that might be, there is no way I can accurately refer to this time in my life without talking about it. It had a huge impact on me. So, it’s on the table, and that’s that. I’m going to get into how it affected my identity and purpose in the context of being a depressive, what I plan to do in the future, and why I believe in the necessity of that plan. A breakup of a long-term relationship will shake a depressive to the core, but it’s pretty common, so maybe some of y’all can relate to how it affected me, though you may not necessarily share my approach as to how to proceed. This is a long one…

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So there’s something about divorce- especially when you didn’t want it- and especially when you didn’t want it and you’re affected by major depressive disorder- that really throws off your identity. Who am I now? Depressives can put a lot of stock into their partnerships, as if it’s the thing that can fix everything that isn’t as it should be. Here’s what I know: it doesn’t work that way. And the danger can be that if too much of your identity is wrapped in the marriage (those who aren’t necessarily depressed, but are just codependent do this too), you lose more of yourself than one can stand when it dissolves. I suppose that goes for any relationship, vocation that is limited in scope, etc. I don’t know that I made a mistake by dedicating myself so much to one person; I took a chance, I was a romantic, I believed in it wholeheartedly. The whole damn thing is marketed to society as “FOREVER” and like I said, I am (or was) a romantic idealist. Foolish as it may have been, I didn’t think I’d be a part of that half of marriages (does anyone?). So when it was done, as a depressive, I was a lot worse off than I would have been, had I had safeguards in place. It’s not about playing it cool, being the one who gets “chased”, an ego thing, or any stupid games like that. The truth is, unless he or she has a crystal ball that says the partnership will definitely last

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if the depressive does not consistently maintain their identity outside of the relationship, and it ends…lacking the resilience that a non-depressive has, they are really, really fucked. As in, it can crush their psyche so forcefully, it kills them. Literally. I don’t need to say more on that.

As an aside, in case anyone reading hitched their wagon to a depressive, that person still needs the reassurance that you love them, even as they’re healthily doing their own thing. Regularly. Don’t make them constantly come asking for it. You are not intriguing them or keeping them on their toes- you are stressing them the fuck out. You do that to them, now they’ve lost focus on maintaining their independence and instead are focused on validation from you. For the love of St. Dymphna, if you love the person and wish to continue to enjoy the benefits of being with them, do not let them get sucked into that fixation, even if it strokes your ego. Your depressed partner needs to be engaged in personal development without anxiety over how you feel about them. Let them know on the regular you care in word or deed. It’s not that fucking hard. And yes, hold them responsible for making you feel appreciated/respected/loved too…although you may not require it quite as much.

Anyway. I didn’t know better, I threw myself into it, it’s done, now here I am. The void, the big gaping nothing, it is there. And so the task has since become to fill that void in another way, because I didn’t feel needed anymore, and if there’s one thing a depressive needs- it’s a reason to…be. So I made a decision.

I decided I would not fully dedicate myself to one person in the long-term ever again. I don’t mean that I would never engage in a partnership with the intent of a lifelong commitment. What I mean is that going forward there would be a part of me on reserve, and I would always, always ensure that I was committed to something greater- an ideal that I will always be able to work toward, in some way or another. Like, this is my journey, and you have yours, and we can join each other on those journeys if they line up. I support yours, but my personal journey isn’t stopping because we’re together now. I mean yes, there are times when you have to give your 100% to the person who most has your back (some sacrifice is the tradeoff for getting to have someone who totally has your back). And I’m prepared to drop everything and do that. But as soon as 100% of me isn’t needed, I’m back to incorporating that greater purpose into my daily life. The other person has to accept that this purpose is as important to me as they are, and with me sharing equal time with it.

Now, this may sound cynical (and, admittedly, I still haven’t totally resolved whether this is just the depression getting crafty with me), but part of believing I must do this this stems from the fact that I’m not sure I can really trust one person to stick around long-term anyway. Things are probably going to have an expiration date, and I have to be able to get by when that happens.

“And why do you think that? Because you got hurt? People divorce every day!”

Thank you, this has already been pointed out to me, and anyway, it doesn’t make it anymore devastating than the birth of a child is joyful, just because people do it every day. In any case, it goes further back than the split- it’s just that the disintegration of the partnership shined a harsh light on things I didn’t want to look at, truths I never really wanted to own, as they complicate my romantic ideals (I am very much a romantic).

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For starters, I’m a weirdo. I write a blog about my personal stuff, which is not common. While I can enjoy pastimes with wide social appeal- your dinner, drinks, movies- by and large, my recreational pursuits are…unconventional for someone of my demographic. I turn thoughts around in my head in a very thorough way. And yet, I don’t seem to attract off-the-wall men who are of the same temperament (unless they’re really out there to where they cannot pick up on basic social cues, are forcefully obsessive and in denial about being an emotional dumpster fire in general). I can’t say why this is. Who I do routinely attract are socially conservative men, and always have felt that while they cared about me, I was something of an experiment, someone a more reserved man gravitates towards in order to open his mind, broaden his creativity, etc. But an experiment always ends. It’s as if I’m the training ground, he gets to feel really alive for a while and then the guy, he moves on to someone more…normal. Sure, he can never forget me, but still:

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And so it goes. At this point, I almost feel like I must anticipate this. I don’t mean to sound like I have horrible self-esteem, and it’s not as if I think I don’t deserve to be cherished for a lifetime. Of course I do. It would be great if someone who sits at my level of weird (so, not so completely out there that he’s lost in his own head, but not a stay-within-the-lines sort either) turned up. And I could profit from what someone else taught, for a change. But I know who I am (and that ain’t changing), and who- historically- I steadily attract, and it seems it would be just a tad nutty to pretend I don’t see any of this.

I could be proved wrong. Someone could break pattern and the Experiment of Me could go on for a decade. I could even find myself in a mutual pledge of lifelong commitment again. I suppose it’s possible that another 8 on the Weirdo Scale would look my way, or one of the traditional sorts slowly “turns weird” in time (or rather, dares to unleash with pride his personal brand of quirky that was always hiding in there to begin with). I don’t see myself turning conservative (I’ve tried- I become agonizingly restless). But I’m going off of a pretty consistent trend over the course of decades, and it’s not crazy to base theories off of trends, so I’m not just pulling this out of the air.

Still, to play it optimistically, I’ll use “if” instead of “when”: if somebody makes big promises in the future and then takes it back, I’ll still have my personal mission that exists with or without them, and I’ll be better off for it. If in a dry spell, I’ll still have my personal mission, and I’ll be better off for it. And I will never, ever give that up.

The problem is…though I have a sense of the principles behind it (more on that in a moment), I haven’t pinpointed exactly what form that purpose takes. Depression makes it harder to decipher, because its tricks would lead one to believe that not only could they not possibly fulfill an important role,

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society is actually better off without them. That the greatest gift you can give is removing yourself from the equation. Even when you know that’s not true (and I know it’s not), the thought pattern that is not your own can be very persistent. And when you get divorce in the mix, when the one who supposedly valued you most doesn’t even want you, “What the hell’s the point?” becomes a mantra. Try engaging some laser like focus on a potential vocation while having that dance around in your brain. Even when you find it, there are these lingering doubts of whether you are actually achieving- whether you could ever achieve- what you set out to do.

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So I have to reconfirm self-worth all the time, even when holding some idea of how I’m going to shape my existence. And all during late winter, my least productive season.

But I catch a tiny glimpse of it today. Of why it might be good for me to be here. How I might be needed.

A man, possibly homeless, lay on the floor of the train, writhing. He screamed and screamed either the words “I don’t wanna die”, or “I wanna die”, I couldn’t decipher it exactly. What I did know is that he was in agony. I didn’t know what to do. It made me remember, and I could feel it again, and it was breaking my heart. About 95% of the people in the car ignored him.

About 5% of them- I was part of this group- spoke to the conductor about it. Who claimed he had called and whatever, help would get to a station when it did. It wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted to say to the 95% that the way he was acting, this could be any one of their own. People who seem very normal most of the time. People like me.

When I got above ground, I called 911, begging the operator to send help for the man. If he hadn’t been so much larger than me, I would’ve dared to bring him to the hospital myself. The difference is, if he doesn’t want to go, the EMTs can make him. I can’t. I’m not saying the hospital is an awesome option. But when you’re in that state, unless you have a responsible loved one to look after you- you need medical help (initially I did try to ask him if he wanted to come up with me and I could call someone, but he was too lost to really communicate with me). I did all this not because I’m awesome. I did it because I have had a taste of feeling destroyed. If there was something I could do to help lessen the amount of pain he was in, I wanted to.

So what I’m saying is, maybe, as someone who has experienced being a shattered wreck, cannot forget, and is moved to action when seeing it in someone else…maybe I’m needed here.

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And if you’re reading this and are depressed, think about that. While your pain may be off the charts, maybe you’re still needed here. Don’t take for granted your own acts of kindness, particularly when it comes towards helping people suffering like you. Even just telling your story can make someone else struggling with major depressive disorder- a still stigmatized condition, despite increased public awareness- feel less alone. I hope you give yourself credit for that and recognize how important that is.

I think my identity, my purpose…lies somewhere in those principles. It starts here, with this blog, and time will tell what happens next. It is a time of exploration.

This is a GIF of an exploring Pallas Cat (if it turns up. It’s been a bit sneaky. Like a Pallas Cat. So if not, check it at the image source link).

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Area 6, I just hope I’m on to something.

 

 

Day 21: Aftermath

He is hugging me, and crying. Hard. He’s saying something but I can’t understand; he’s speaking fast, and quietly, kind of mumbly, as he often does. I ask him a few times what he’s saying because it sounds important. I finally catch it.

I’m sorry. I hope you know I did everything I could.

 I say that deep down, my real self always knew that. Now I’m crying too.

 

 

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I wake up from the dream by my alarm clock made of fur, meows and persistence. It’s Monday, 6 AM. My pillow is wet. My heart feels heavy and broken. I’m sad, but more than anything, I’m angry. In real life, I’ll never hear that exchange. I think about what the real deal in life is. In all my years with him, I only ever saw him cry like that for an animal. Never a human. Certainly not me. He would never cry like that for me.

Enough, I think, wiping my face. He’s not worth your tears. I think of the old clichés…

 

Because those are the kinds of things “strong women” are supposed to think, right?

I can’t think of anyone I truly loved that didn’t make me cry at one point or another. Does that mean I don’t “get” love? I don’t think so.

 If only life was so simple as to be explained by reductive, pseudo-sagacious platitudes.

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I’m angry but it is not an explosive anger. It’s paralyzing. I am angry that he’s worked his way into my dreams and this is how I have to start the day, not by jumping out of the bed with Riot-Grrrl defiance but by dragging a sluggish, aching body one agonizing inch after another.

I am not a morning person. He was always the morning person.

Of course, this isn’t really about “being a morning person”.

I have to get out of bed. I have TMS treatment today. Where is my inner pool from where I draw strength? I feel dried out. I must have tapped it over the weekend during the episode. “Please”, it says, “don’t use me unless you really, really have to. There’s not much left”.

I have to get out of bed. I have TMS treatment today. Somehow, I manage to pull myself out of the bed and it feels like sacks of potatoes have been sewed into my PJs. After having had them dropped on my head. I look in the mirror and my face is…aw shit, my face looks like a potato.

Not even like this potato:

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This potato:

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My face probably does not look like a potato. These are the cognitive remnants of a depressive episode. This is just what the tail end of a depressive episode looks like.

I don’t want to go anywhere today.

 I sink to the floor.

TOO DAMN BAD.”

Meet a new character in my head. He has far more well-defined features than Maj (who is always bluish gray but whose face changes, and sometimes she has no face at all, and sometimes her face is too awful to even look at). He is a grizzled old war vet with a face craggier than the White Cliffs of Dover and just as chalky. His beard is scraggly and his eyes are piercing blue. His body is strong for an old guy, despite- or because?- of the fact that he’s on crutches. He sort of has a Hershel Greene thing going on

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except he’s far, far more cantankerous.

He doesn’t have a name right now, so I’ll just call him Old Man. Old Man is gruff and abrupt and a pain in my ass. But he’s got this seemingly interminable amount of resilience that I have to credit for past recoveries…and he’s often right about things, so I don’t much like to piss him off. Although he could stand to lose the lousy fucking attitude work on his delivery.

I haven’t seen much of this guy lately. I think he’s been too worn out. During the depths of a depression, Maj knocks him down to the very, very back of my brain; he’s tough, but no match for a full-blown episode. And yet, just when I think he’s kicked down for good, always, always, this hardened, beaten down part of my consciousness seems to know its role- that it’s not only vital, but most effective when that one last heave-ho is needed during the final act of an MDE….so here he comes, hobbling up to the front lines of my awareness. He squints at me, leans forward on the crutches and bellows

GET. YOUR ASS. READY. NOW.”

His voice is gravelly and I hear the weariness, but it still comes off as authoritative, militant. Now he just waits, scowling at me. There he is, I think. Always a ray of fucking sunshine. I hope he can’t hear me.

I suspect by the increasingly furrowed brow, he can.

There’s nothing to do but carry out the Old Man’s orders. I am propelled into action. The demand is like a hand pulling me up, just as my father did once when nothing less would set me in motion. I ready myself, hoping that the sadness and resentment that keeps raining down will gently slide off my brain.

They don’t. They stick like Nickelodeon Slime.

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And at TMS, I feel jumpy. Unsettled.

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I jump at the first sequence.

Try to relax….you take your medication?” She sorta pronounces it like mee-yedication.

I did. But it doesn’t make all the hurt go away. When one is going through something traumatic like a death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, a stressful relocation…medication + therapy + TMS just isn’t a cure-all. I try to remember that. I try to remember that just barreling through life like a bull…

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…just “Doing”, without thinking, while it could make for some hilarious moments to the outside world, isn’t going to heal me any faster, and someone- me or another- is liable to get hurt. The only way out is going through, and as painful as self-reflection can be, it was essential to rehabbing my broken heart, broken brain. And a the end of the day, if I could just go a little beyond surviving, if I could thrive even just a little, and in some way have the energy to make a mark while I’m here- it would still make this treatment a success.

Still the hurt isn’t stopping soon. I feel sick today, like I’m wearing a weighted vest in water, fighting to not be pulled down.

As the day goes on, somehow the weight of the MDE subsides enough to where I can drag myself to a divorced people’s meeting. It seems like a thing I should do so I can tell people about the something or other I’m doing to get better and then they can be all like

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And Everything is O.K.

The meeting is a sort of seminar with practical life advice and dating advice and stuff. The practical advice lady is a very no-nonsense, perfectly coiffed blonde, sporting an expertly tailored suit, and the dating lady is sort of all over the place and an all-around goof. They are such the stereotypes you’d expect them to be, that as I heartily down free wine and cheese- my favorite snack ever- and flirt with a silver fox nearly twice my age, I feel like I’m on a sitcom. The situation is so oddly comical to me (hence, “situation comedy”!), the load on me lightens more.

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Never did I ever think I would be at one of these. And no, I’m not here looking for a man, for God’s sake. Because with the exception of the silver fox- who is clearly not a group member but just helping out with coordination – quite honestly, all of the men come off as burned out and run-down- even the ones who claim they’re dating. With only one does it manifest in a more emotional way (who tells me a heartbreaking story of infidelity); with the rest, the hurt manifests in pragmatic questions about Guarding His Bank Account. I read somewhere that generally, men define themselves more so in terms of their success and money, and so I’m guessing that preserving their dollars is part of how they deal, especially if they don’t have a new partner to latch on to, to ease the pain. Or maybe the ex-partner did him wrong and he wants to really stick it to her. Who fucking knows. All I’m saying is the message I’m getting here is well, if I got my money and maybe a new hot chick, Everything is O.K.

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Except I know they’re not. I’m looking at these guys and I can’t imagine them genuinely close to anyone. They seem so….watchful. Watchmen standing on their own thick walls. I look around and wonder how many of these people are cheerfully moving forward like my soon-to-be-ex appears to be, vs. how many are on meds like me. In therapy like me. If they broke down like me. I’m sure no one is getting TMS like me. We talk about money and laws (and then dating tips, which no one seems to care about- the majority isn’t ready and the rest seem to have that area under control) and I feel like going over these details is just sort of a way to sew ourselves up so our insides don’t spill out. But maybe it’s just me. Maybe these people are A-OK and I’m the only one here who feels like I died inside. Maybe I’m the only one screwed up and still waking up crying over this bullshit.

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People start drifting out of the main room; I join a group huddled over the booze in the kitchen area. I listen to other people’s stories. I want to hear theirs, I don’t want to tell mine. I don’t want to fall into talking about my depression tonight. I’d had enough the past weekend. But anyway, hearing their stories makes me feel less alone. I guess some people find love at these shindigs- my own parents found each other at a meeting like this, can you believe that?- but to me, the real heart of it is simply a shared experience. I like this. These people are successful, kind people- they just had partnerships that didn’t work out- and it sounds like most of them really, really tried to make it work. All of them are single. And some of them genuinely are depressed. All in all, for a night at least, I don’t feel like a loser. I suppose it could be the Chardonnay talking,

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but I really think it was this connection that was responsible for the lifting of the heavy feeling in my body that lingers after an episode is over. By the time I leave, I do feel…sad, but a healthier, more manageable kinda sad. I mean, it’s overwhelming, and I don’t think I could do this every week, but still, it’s an emotion, not a state. Not just sad for me, but sad for everyone there…and hoping they found some solace in other people going through what they are.

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The silver fox holds the door for me on my way out and I wink at him, and it hits me then that nothing really remains of my episode now but a hushed melancholy.

And The Old Man, who was watching the whole day go down, grunts and hobbles away into the recesses of my mind.

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Area 6, keep an eye on him for me, would you?

Also, I just tipped y’all off on where you can score free wine and cheese once a month. You’re welcome.

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Day 20: Meltdown

I really thought I was done with these. I’d had some “up” moments with TMS. And Day 20 is supposed to be the day you experience “the lift”.

Day 20 is my worst day in the whole process.

I’m giving a heads up here: this is going to be a long post. Not only does it involve talking about what happened, but for once, I divulge the details of just how I got there.

It doesn’t start off well. I am flatlining and in a daze from bad sleep, not unusual. I tell myself that maybe I’m just going to have to take the K-pins to knock me out. I hate that. I head out to a cold, cloudy day. Angela cannot believe I’m wearing heels instead of winter boots. I say that today I’m doing everything I can to boost my mood. Between looking less cute and taking the chill, the latter was the lesser of the two evils.

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A blizzard is coming. When there’s a blizzard, it’s nice to have company. But no friends really live all that close, and with the cat’s insulin necessities I really don’t want to be outside of walking distance so, it looks like I will be spending it quite alone. This does not help my mood.

This sense of loneliness and isolation sets the stage for what happens later. I want to clarify that normally, I am not someone who minds being alone. Normally, I enjoy it. But there are circumstances here. And though they’ve been something of a running theme since TMS started, I haven’t elaborated on them.

I haven’t, because these are real events, and I have been trying to protect real people. I haven’t, because I didn’t want to come off as vindictive or “calling out” anybody. I haven’t, because I was apprehensive about real people becoming defensive and assuming that how I felt then is how I feel now…and that’s not necessarily true. The last time I came up against this was when I wrote “the New Year’s Eve post”. It was cryptic, and it skirted details, all in attempts to protect the not-entirely-innocent, but protecting them all the same. Result: one hell of a convoluted post. A bit of feedback I got on that was that it was so vague as to what exactly led to a bad night, it really brought up more questions than answers. Another response, “You’re talking in circles. Just tell the fucking story”, was less charitable. But essentially the message was, if you’re going to talk about an incident that set off a depressive episode- which is the whole reason for getting treatment in the first place (in order to lessen the severity/recurrence of, if not eliminate, episodes), you can’t speak in code in terms of the backstory, or your audience is lost. That’s not good. Besides the fact that the reader disengages, maybe the shot is lost in relaying circumstances someone else can relate to in terms of how they got to a bad spot, which can be helpful. Basically, they need to know how I got there.

So I’m telling the story this time. I’m going to try to keep it to what happened, how it felt, how I handled it, and what I learned.

A blizzard is coming. It’s the night before it’s supposed to hit. Spice invites me out. I’m on the way there and…I check Facebook. Bad idea. I’ve found that one of my worst fears was finally being realized: my soon-to-be-ex-husband’s new relationship was worming its way on to social media.

Let me back up here. I’m separated at this time. To be clear, I didn’t want to separate. And I take my share of the responsibility for the relationship falling apart. My depression had everything to do with that. It’s not an excuse- it’s a reality. The more I read about how the illness influences thoughts/behavior and vice versa and round and round we go, the more I know this to be true. I didn’t love myself. My biggest mistakes were buying into stigma (I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so being viewed as “defective” made me feel ashamed), not recognizing the self-loathing MDD brought on as not my own, and not being honest with myself about how depressed I was- thus not treating it…well, at all. That was hard for him. I wasn’t acknowledging and monitoring it, much less getting any help. It took a real smash to the teeth for me to get it- that my depressive behavior functioned like a wrecking ball.

But I did not see the signs. There hadn’t been any serious talk of splitting up. It was in the span of one night, one argument, that it just suddenly became this real topic. And when this became clear to me, I got it like a stubborn old man with a heart condition goes into cardiac finally gets it. I was 100% committed to finally addressing and treating MDD. And I was making progress. But that didn’t matter. No dice. It was over. He let me know as much. I felt totally destroyed. I mean, of course. That’s generally how it feels when you aren’t interested in your marriage ending. Foolish for not seeing it coming. Anger for-  a dozen different reasons. Guilt for my share of culpability.

But the part that gutted me the most was the idea of having to someday see him with someone else. That someone else would be swapped in to the life I thought would be mine. I feared being swiftly replaced once I was discarded, before the dust had settled. And here’s where it gets sticky: I already had suspicions about one specific person before things were even officially over…though he assured me repeatedly those suspicions were unfounded.

And I believed him. After all, no. knew her. I’d socialized with her. He wouldn’t do that. She wouldn’t do that. At the very worst, I thought, he will impulsively take up with someone a couple months after the split, but it would be someone I don’t know. Still, the thought still made me feel sick to my stomach. It was still going to be immensely painful.

He assured me he wasn’t thinking about getting involved with anyone any time soon.

I believed him. He would need time on his own, to heal. He had to be hurting too. He couldn’t just jump into someone else’s arms right away. He couldn’t just- get over it like that, by getting under someone else.

A little over a month later after we were done, we spoke again. He had moved out about two weeks prior. He tells me he’s being encouraged to date (Jesus Christ, by who? What is this? The Young and the Restless?) already, but isn’t ready.

I believed him then too. The problem was, it wasn’t true, and he told me as much weeks later that he only said it so I “wouldn’t feel hurt”. The truth was, he had every intention to start as soon as we weren’t under the same roof.

And with who? With exactly who I feared- her. The one I suspected, who I tried to dismiss by telling myself I was being paranoid. But I never did entirely shake those misgivings. At the time I didn’t know about the one-on-one hangs pre-split (because he didn’t think I “would be comfortable with it”) where at least once, our marriage issues were discussed. Or that when my husband-at-the-time claimed he had no idea why she and her husband-at-the-time seemed so unhappy, it wasn’t true. He knew, because he later admitted she had told him. All I knew was I felt a little uneasy when the two of them were around each other, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. So I tried to ignore my gut and convince myself I was being ridiculous.

Only a week or two after moving out, he pursued her. He said the feelings didn’t start until he moved out, they just appeared out of the blue right then. The whole thing horrified me. This wasn’t someone random I’d never seen in my life. This was someone who had befriended me that past summer. Whose birthday party I attended only a few months prior- where, when I lost track of my then-husband, finally found him listening attentively while she sang prettily at the piano. Who I went on a double date with, with her and her husband at the time. Who saw, who knew what he meant to me when I did all I could to make his birthday special.

New Year’s Eve had everything to do with this. But I’m not going to rehash an old post. It’s written, it’s done. However, what the two nights had in common was how I had to face facts that this nightmare was actually, truly happening. It was really happening. I couldn’t just stick my head in the sand anymore as I had been for months. I had to deal with the truth of the matter that he was linked up with the one I dreaded he would, and fuck was I gonna do ’bout it.

Nothing quite makes you face the music like a broadcast on social media. And there it is, her post. Bright as day in the darkness of the cab, clear as her bell-like singing voice… they were clearly on a nice date at the theater.

“And now everyone knows”.

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And now everyone knows I have been supplanted, just a few months post-separation, nowhere close to divorce. And it is humiliating. I feel my stomach drop and drop and drop and my face tingles and I can’t breathe. Tears spring to my eyes. They’ve actually already put it out there. I can’t imagine how she could not know it was humiliating. I wanted to believe she’s just missing a sensitivity chip, and truly had no clue how unkind it really was. It’s hard to say the same about those who had been held more closely in my life, who “liked” that status, who knew me. But maybe- and this is one thing I thought about on New Year’s Eve- to some folks, social interaction with me had little to do with me as a person. Maybe it solely had to do with my ties to my soon-to-be-ex. Now that those ties didn’t exist, it was like I didn’t exist. Isn’t that strange?, I thought. How you come to find out, it isn’t necessarily about who you just independently are at all? Depression tried to push in dichotomous thinking for quite some time after, demanding to know whether I’m really a naive, hopeless schmuck lacking value- or if they’re all just heartless.

Of course, my rational mind knows it’s not that black and white. It also knows that this situation isn’t uncommon. What did I say in the New Year’s Eve post?

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We have our groups. And as a less significant part of these particular important fragile bonds, even if I was ever appreciated solely for who I was, if my STBX and his girlfriend were going to disregard my humiliation, “their people”-who I had known to be good people- had to as well, if they wanted to avoid social friction and get on with life as usual. Smooth waters being so considerably valuable, inconvenient truths- like my feelings- get pushed to the floor of the ocean. I’m going to be gracious and call this a rather…clumsy state of affairs, so in order for everyone to get comfortable, being the outsider, how I felt had to be the sacrificial lamb (I hate that term because it’s a bit dramatic, but my therapist used it, and I had to admit it’s kind of accurate). As long as any feelings I had about it were swept under the carpet, there was no problem. Now, I am not a perfect person. It’s certainly possible that, at some point in my past, I have done the same (though with a new understanding, I am sure to be far more conscious of it in the future)…or something like it. So I don’t pity myself, and don’t expect it. But on the flip side, any expectation of me being cool and breezy (or to just pretend it wasn’t happening) at that time, for the sake of harmony for a “greater good” I’d been ousted from anyway…was laughable.

Yet in the back of that cab, this does not bring on laughter. I am not laughing. I feel disappointment, heartache, rage over the fact that the discretion I intended to show towards him- putting his feelings first when it came to anything I didn’t need to do, like slap up goo on social media before the papers were even signed- would not be returned. And I have to accept that her friendship had been false, or at best, simply one of convenience…and that maybe many more friendships I bought into, people I met through him, were not what I thought.

And that, yeah. It could happen in life again. And again and again and it will hurt every single time. You just can’t know what’s going on in people’s heads, but you can’t just stop trusting everyone either. At some point you just take a breath, plunge in, hope for the best. But in a state of depression, not being able to control this in life terrifies me. Getting It Wrong when it comes to judging character means I’m flawed.

And though I never expected things to be the same, now that he’s hooked up with someone “in the inner circle” of his social group, it hits me like a ton of bricks that it was quite possible I had been cut off in the minds of quite a few people, and in my heart, I have to say goodbye to all of them. Faces and memories flash in my mind as I’m getting out of the cab. I hold back tears. It was a lot of people. What a gullible sucker you are, I think. Of course this would happen. Of course her, she was right there and deep down, you knew…of course you lose them too. Not that I could face them anyway- I am mortified. I am the loser now who at worst they pity, a ghost of the past at best whom they ignore. Depression grips tighter and I am unable to grasp the fact that this too-soon announcement probably wasn’t a cruel joke on her part- that more likely she never gave me a second thought at all; just did a thing she wanted to do, and that was it. On the other hand, I cant see my STBX as malicious at all. But I can see him as flighty and impulsive- and get to thinking that his feelings were never real if they can disappear so fast…that our history was all fake. And that’s highly unlikely. But I can’t see it just then, and it rips me up more than him straight up hating me. At least that’s a feeling. At least it means you’re not forgotten.

I still feel like I flunked at being a TMS patient, and try to reconcile this to avoid losing my shit. As in, maybe I wouldn’t be spiraling down so hard, if there hadn’t been a tipping point.

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And so maybe if it was just after a breakup, where I hadn’t promised forever, it wouldn’t have happened.

Maybe if it had been 6 months down the road, or after the papers were signed- not less than a few months after he moved out, it wouldn’t have happened.

Maybe if it had been a total stranger, and not someone I knew and had hung out with, it wouldn’t have happened.

Maybe if I hadn’t been told before that dating wasn’t happening anytime soon, and that there was 0 attraction to this woman until it magically appeared upon living apart- it wouldn’t have happened.

Maybe if she hadn’t tossed that post up, it wouldn’t have happened.

Maybe if he- a champion of mental health awareness- had asked her to pull it after I told him how how I found it callously premature, how painful it was, it wouldn’t have happened.

Maybe if dozens of people- some of whom actually witnessed my vows, and who knew I was devastated and in a severe depression- hadn’t approved that status by “liking” it- it wouldn’t have happened.

That tipping point theory: that was how I first rationalized this backslide. There had to be something in there that did it, or else I would have taken it in stride. But as it was pointed out to me later, it didn’t really matter what the particular breaking point was. The fact of the matter was that all of those things happened. All of them. And that’s what I had to work with now to claw out. All I knew is that while it could’ve been worse-it could’ve involved a relative or close friend, for example- it was still a pretty bad hand to be dealt and expected to handle like a champ on the heels of our split. Bad, even for someone who is healthy enough to not necessitate the kind of treatment I was getting.

Back to what happened. I can’t go in the bar. Spice comes out. He wants to hook me up with someone who was on a hit TV show once. I can’t even think like that. I am a mess. My whole network knows I am easily discarded and have little value. And since I am still putting so much stock in how my STBX views me- or how it’s coming across- now I think that is what everyone will do. Disregard me.

I’m bawling.

“It’s not working. The treatment is not working. I’m wasting my time with this. I should not feel this way. I should not be breaking down. I should not I should not…”

I can’t speak properly. My mind has gone dark. Maj doesn’t have the loud band in tow tonight- it’s just her. But she has grabbed a hold of me and has me at the entrance of the darkest hallway again. She tells me the old lies- someone you loved is so ambivalent about you, they probably don’t even care if you live or die. You are getting TMS and you still failed. You aren’t strong enough. You don’t want to see this through.

I don’t believe her, but I can’t get the lies out of my head.

Thank God for Spice. I don’t remember what he said to calm me. I was too focused on his eyes. They were full of earnestness and compassion and concern. I remember him hugging me. Sometimes our expressions and our gestures can say so much more than our words can. Somehow, these actions allow me to wrench my hand out of Maj’s and walk away from that hall. Someone cares about my existence right now, in this moment. Did I still feel sick inside? Did I still see a smug expression on her face in my mind? Was I still angry and fantasizing about calling her out in a dozen different ways and watching that face fall, using things she probably didn’t know I knew to hurt her right back? Did I want to rip up every letter he ever wrote me and throw the pieces at his feet? Was I enraged by Maj and her shitty persuasions to pact break? Yes, to all of that.

But in walking away from the dark hall with the help of another person, I can think for myself instead of letting depression do it for me. I reiterate: human connection is so important in the midst of an episode. I could begin the process of rejecting that I was worthless and forgettable just because their actions would make it seem so. I have to remind myself that even when I knew he was done, checked out, fin- I continued to fight depression. Not for the sake of the relationship anymore, but for me. Even though at one point, the STBX claimed that while he was proud of what I was trying to accomplish, he did not believe I could sustain it. Even then. And though I couldn’t say why- when I was in TMS, taking meds and in therapy- I could still be set off to such an unsettling place, what I did know was I was still trying. Giving it my all to fight something that takes an enormous amount of energy, when the truth is, I have less to work with than the average person. No one’s indifference towards me defined me. Even Spice and any other loved one’s compassion and love does not define me.

I alone define me.

And who am I now, outside the context of being linked to the STBX? I don’t know, but I know you can transition from one way of life to another, and become someone with new purpose.

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I don’t stay outside that bar long. Let’s get real. No one wants a crier at the bar. Buzzkill. No, I didn’t suddenly completely stop caring about what other people think that night. So I go home. And alone, I feel unsteady again. I am shaking. I reach out to Spice but be it drunkenness or somnolence, there’s no answer.

“I alone define me.”

Inner pillar. All I have. I breathe. I close my eyes. I sit with pain that feels red-hot inside. I access the pool. I see the pillar. I feel it. I feel it flow up and over and it floods me Bellagio fountain style. It doesn’t warm me tonight. It feels cool and Blue. But it’s my life force and this is as good as it will get. Maybe that’s what I need to alleviate the burn inside. The wind whips outside. 2:49 AM. The storm is coming. At some point, the cat jumps on my legs. He needs me.

Someone needs me. The shaking stops. The sobs stop. It’s just tears now…

Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that were I not undergoing treatment and making it priority #1, I would not have done any of that. I would have been coming up with a concrete plan to show myself out- wouldn’t I.

But, No.

I will not pact break. I’m pretty scared, but I’m pretty sure. Instead, I am looking at it this from a more rational angle. I bring myself to a safer place this night. I know I will be busted up for a while. But I believe that happy moments could come again. Not #blessed, #thatnyclife moments. Not a false persona I create online to feel loved. Genuine, happy moments offline, where I am strong. Secure. Things a status update or a photo can’t really capture.

“Oooh-Kaaay. Did you really need to share all of these details in this post? It makes it so incredibly awkward.

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Well. I’m sorry if I made it awkward. I promise I won’t make a career out of it like our friend up there on the left. But carefully dodging the facts, when there are more people reading who care about the subject matter (treatment for depression) and who need context, than there are people who aren’t interested in the actual blog at all and just need their feelings spared, is not a principled approach. There are readers who may be going through it, and need to know that yes, one can experience specifically what I have, be getting TMS, and there are could still be some triggers (this being a rather common one) that are enough to break you down. And that’s confusing because “Where’s My Miracle Cure?” Because where’s the one thing that makes me adept at handling anything? That makes me not a failure? The point is, it doesn’t exist- not quickly anyway- unless you shoot up an 8-ball and don’t give a flying fuck about anything.

It’s a process.

But you can use other tools in your kit to get through. And I believe TMS has balanced my brain enough to where I can actually recognize and access them. Given the depressive state I was in, I was damn proud of myself that the worst thing that happened at the time was a temporarily crippling episode that I did pull out of in a matter of a couple of days.

Closing out, I’m aware of the real potential of my post’s intentions being twisted here. So again, the point of the post is not to hurt or embarrass anyone, or lash out. But keeping it all safely on the ocean floor in order to not rock boats is not the point either. This isn’t a place for superficiality, of only portraying the most pleasing of pictures and singing you the prettiest of songs. I had a story to tell, and these are the things that happened, and how I felt about them at that time.

And if you don’t give a good goddamn what happened to me personally because it doesn’t affect you as long as I keep my trap shut about what happened? And still consider the worst part of it all to be that I’m not? Well, the purpose of the blog supersedes that, just as there were social bonds and priorities that ended up superseding how I felt at the time. I deliberated. And deliberated. And eventually, I just had to say:

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And start writing.

Last thing: this post is written with those of you who don’t have your mental health figured out in mind. It’s not for the Golden Boys and the Golden Girls (unless they’re looking for ways to understand/help out those who are struggling). It’s for those of you who know damn well you’re not Shiny and Golden, you may never be, there’s nothing wrong with that, and you don’t have to be afraid to say as much. Because just as we can be inspired and learn from the Shiny and Golden, we also can be inspired and learn from the Rusty and Broken.

And if anything has kept me going, it’s this thing in my head that says “tell your story”. No matter how inconvenient or inopportune or how it makes me look or you look or the mental health field look or America look or the whole damn world look. It’s this thing that says just keep writing, keep being heard. There is space in the world for my words, even when I’m Rusty and Broken. One more time, Tupac:

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abye6

 

 

Day 19: Area 6, I Have Even Less to Say to You Today

Seriously, I just don’t have much to say.

did have something to say, when I drafted up this post. In fact, I was really looking forward to writing Day 19 at that time. This post was going to be gangbusters. The cat’s pajamas. Really hit on all sixes. And all other old-timey phrases meaning “good”. But as you’ve probably figured out, I write all this in retrospect. And, looking back, for whatever reason, rough week, I don’t know, I’m really just not feeling as excited about it now…

Nothing really happened at TMS, except me telling Angela about this country singer’s concert I went to the night before, and what unintentional camp it all was (which is the best camp). How, if you’re playing to New Yorkers, and you’re wearing sparkly jackets tailor made for a Royal Caribbean show and clap your hands in the air all goofy like, the New Yorkers are just going to think about how much better it would be if The Scissor Sisters were ironically covering your songs, or if it was at least a really stellar drag cover band…

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(how this particular country singer does not have a huge gay following is beyond me).

Except even though the concert took place in NYC, it was pretty clear the audience was from…not NYC (there was a good chance my friend and I were the only ones, and the only ones thinking these hilarious thoughts). Some spectacularly awkward cultural appropriation was the cherry on the sundae, a sundae so American I wished I’d hit Applebees beforehand so I could really get in the mood. Let’s bring that disturbing Applebees gif back.

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These America jokes are sort of lost on Angela. So I tell her about the blog. I can’t tell her the name because I’m still like, what would she think, the stuff I write about her? I mean, I’m obviously fond of her, but I’m not sure what she would think of the things I find funny about this whole experience. And you know, she does my treatments so, I’d kind of like to be on her good side. So I’m still skittish.

Anyway, the America/concert jokes. Tonight they’re lost on me, too. Not because I don’t intellectually get the humor. I just…don’t feel it. I’m sad tonight.

But I’m ok with it.

The good thing about impermanence- and I try to remind myself of this on the regular- is that the bad stuff can pass. Unfortunately, it also means the good stuff can too. We don’t like to look at that side of it. What I’m saying is, even if a depression treatment works for a while, there may not be a permanent cure for depression, for every single person. That could be tough to accept for people who have been through so much pain for so long, they’re just looking for that one miracle…knowing that most people do recover to 100%, but you might not be one of them. I really don’t know how one comes to accept this…I just know it has to be done. I mean yes, if you want something to keep working, you for sure keep fighting for it, or you just keep exploring new options- Yes You Do. But accepting the possible impermanence- despite best efforts- I think would make it at least a little easier to deal with when something stops working, during a relapse, etc.  I would venture to say that being open to that possibility could make the process of recovery less draining, knowing you could be revisiting this repeatedly, so that you shore up your emotional resources for the next bout accordingly. Think of it as insurance.

It’s tough, but in your healthy times, learning self-love is crucial, as is remembering that being a depressive also often means a whole host of other good qualities (please read more on that here, this article is so important!) you can take pride in, so you can have that on reserve for when you’ll really, really need it again. And every day that the thing you’re doing does work- even if you find yourself cured for life- just as you shouldn’t in relationships with others, never take that healthy relationship with yourself for granted. Be thankful.

Now, if I actually figure out the “how to” on all of that, I’ll get back to you.

So I Talk That Talk. I try to remember all of this. And yet, I’m guilty of wondering…

Area 6, Will You Fix Me For Good?

Day 18: Area 6, WTF With the Fusillade

My brain is tired and I can’t think straight. I was up late. Worrying. I am more than halfway through. What if this does nothing? I’m blogging about this and what if it does nothing?

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The handful of people actually reading want a SUCCESS STORY out of this. What if I am not one? Does that make me a failure?

I take responsibility for everything. I’m working on it.

But you didn’t come here to hear me work out my stuff. You came here to hear about an experience. So, the mental state. I’m not able to think linguistically when I am being flooded with random imagery and concepts. I try to focus on practical shit, which is being constantly interrupted by unbridled bursts of creative energy that have to go somewhere, and which I can’t seem to fully liberate in any way other than mini-videos I make and toss up on social media for whoever cares to look at them. “Creative jerkoffs”, I call them. They are sometimes time consuming and sometimes strange and do not dovetail nicely with my responsibilities. If I don’t do them, my brain is on overload and I am distracted and get nothing done. If I do them, they take up the time I could be using for things like organizing the closet. So I do them. Stress is going to happen no matter what, so at least then I get to enjoy life for a spot.

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Angela is quiet at first today, but when she sees I’m run down she suggests I take Vitamin D. That Angela. Always has a tip. To be fair, it’s a good tip. I’m just really bad at taking pills and supplements and stuff. I’m working on it. I tell Angela this, how it’s actually easier to make it to the clinic every morning than to remember to throw Healthy Stuff down the hatch, because she’s here waiting for me, holding me accountable. But yes. I will do my damndest to add the Vitamin D.

So then. I’m not “fixed” yet. A “fixed” person methodically takes all of their supplements each morning, from a little M-S pill pack that were placed there in an orderly fashion, don’t they. But it has been a while since I cared to be engaged creatively with such fervor, since I was hit with such a fusillade of imagination. Fusillade. Isn’t that a great word? Fusillade.

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I don’t know if this is recovery, or just Area 6’s idea of a good time, or what it is. I am at once over and underwhelmed. I dig the creative bursts in my brain, I dig how they make me me and what they generate, but at the same time I realize this is not a thing most people do. And then I just feel weird. The creative bursts are weird and how I analogize them is weird and this post is weird, and now this just sounds like an 8th grade girl’s diary. Because an 8th grader says “weird”. An adult says…well what I really mean when I say “weird” is…

“alienated”.

I know. You didn’t come here to hear me work out my stuff. But I so don’t think I want to be me today. I think I want to be someone else today. Your Lady of Perpetual Happyface, who works in a respectable field and whose idea of a wild time is a wine tour bus up to the Hudson Valley and who flies off the shelf when it’s time to pick a friend/an employee/a new love/someone to watch the luxury apartment for the weekend. Because she’s just…the good, safe, traditional choice. On paper, at least. I don’t care if she’s as boring as…as boring as…as boring as a really boring thing. She’s Applebees, she’s America’s favorite neighbor, people will always go there because they know what they’re getting and they at least pretend to be excited about this.

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I wonder if a completed course of TMS will bring me anywhere close to this…if the aforementioned Fusillade is temporary, as things work themselves out in there.

Area 6, Sometimes I Just Want to Be Applebees.