Monday, February 16, 2015

I jumped.

I was incredibly busy doing....I don't remember what....that I didn't fall apart and grieve on the anniversary of my father's death, 31 years ago on February 2nd. I didn't cry, as I normally do. That's not to say the wound isn't still as fresh as it was in 1984.

Lately, I've been going through a period of deep depression, which is impacting my school work, my social and personal functioning. I'm disinterested in anything except waking up in the morning and surviving each day. And that cycle repeats itself. I'm tired. I'm tired of having to dole out dozens of pills in cups every day to take 3 times a day, just to stay out of a mental hospital. I'm tired of being behind in my work and being unable to concentrate. I'm tired of being in my bedroom, feeling lonely and having too much time alone with my brain.

Somehow, I manage to plug along, help other people, exhaust myself with school, and raise a child, when inside, I'm an absolute wreck who doesn't allow herself the breathing room to glue herself back together.

Something really triggered me today. My mother asked me, as I was talking about school, how much longer I'll be in graduate school. Truth is, I don't know. There are a number of variables which haven't been figured out yet. She asked me what my point was, what my goal was in all of this. Instead of unconditional positive regard for the hard work I'm doing, I'm perpetually questioned about my courses, my school and what the hell I'm doing with my life, when those are questions I can't even answer right now.

My depression tells me I have no goal, other than to stay alive. I got a really reassuring email from Meg tonight about how others view me versus how I view myself, which I really appreciated. Part of my personality is to hide or disregard my own personal crumbling apart when it comes to being there for the people I do love, and I told Meg that my facade of strength is difficult to keep up. I'd rather help other people heal and be well and feel loved, and worry about putting my shattered life back together later, on my own. The hard fact is that statistics aren't really good for the mentally ill. Or the chronically ill. We just want out. If left untreated, my chances of suicide are huge, which is why I stick to that giant cocktail of pills every day like clockwork, and even then, some days it's a struggle not to cross into the oncoming lanes of traffic.

I don't know if I want to counsel, or teach, or write. It's difficult to plan a future, in which I want to be successful, when I'm viewed by so many as a permanent liability on this planet. My greatest enjoyment comes from writing--not research papers, not APA-styled reflections or client paperwork, but utilizing the creative, vibrant side of my brain still capable of penning these words.

Luke probably understands my mood fluctuations better than anyone else, because he's partied to them the closest, even closer than that of my mother, and he's certainly more empathetic and understanding. I have few years left with him with me before he goes off to explore and learn about the world on his own and will need me less and less. As a result of paying close attention to me, he doesn't have to ask if I'm depressed, stable or manic. Moreover, he doesn't ask WHY. He knows why and doesn't judge me because of any of it. None of my close friends do, either. Society might, school might, my mother might, but never those who can gauge my emotions and allow me the breathing space to talk about them if I want or need to, or if I just need to go to sleep for the entire day.

Getting back to my father, I told Meg I needed my dad and regaled the following anecdote;

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I was at the local public pool, and my dad was watching my brother and I from the other side of the fence because he was smoking and they didn't allow that in the pool area. We were by the diving boards and the 12' deep pool. I wanted so badly to climb to the top and just jump into the deep pool (I couldn't dive) but every time I climbed up, I chickened out and climbed back down. I ran to my dad by the fence and said, "I can't do it. I'm too scared." "Yes, you can!" he said, and must have said it a dozen times. He promised he would watch me. It did help me was an advanced paramedic/firefighter then!

I nervously climbed up one more time, amid the annoyed other kids who thought I'd chicken out again, didn't run, and just stood at the edge of the diving platform and jumped down into the 12' of water. I knew how to swim and while it was a deep plunge, I floated back up. As soon as I got out of the pool, I ran over to my dad, who was ecstatic. "Daddy, did you see me? I did it!" I said. He was so proud of me and I was so proud of myself that I wanted to do it again, though I can't remember if I did or not.

Point being, it doesn't matter if you're 9 or 42. We all need those shots in the arm of courage and support which allow us to jump into the water, casting our trembling fears aside. I try to give those shots to the people I love, even if I don't receive them back in kind. I have no doubt that if my dad was still alive, he'd be cheering me on to this day, not constantly questioning my day-to-day activities.

If I can't predict my moods over the course of a week, how am I supposed to figure out my graduation plan or career path with any clarity? Meg told me if my goal is to live, then live. What's difficult is that the quality of life I might lead is annoyingly unpredictable. I told Meg I would like to have hopes and dreams again, and things to look forward to, but I don't see them right now. Logically, I know this depression will pass, like it always does, though it remains latent in my brain and can re-emerge at any time (usually the most inopportune).

Until I can look in my own mirror and see myself as awesomely as Meg or my other friends or Luke see me, I will have to rely on their words and feelings to remind me. For that love, I am deeply grateful.


Kate said...

Such a lovely memory. It also confirms that no matter who we are, we all need someone over by the fence who believes in us. It seems so simple but it is becoming increasingly rare to have that unconditional love right there, urging us on .
A beautifully crafted memory and reminder to us all,

Kate said...

What a beautiful memory. We all need to jump off that diving board and I think she makes a great pont