I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kind of things. Also, that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival. But no, it's clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in the silence, in the dark. - Anne Lamott Grace (Eventally): Thoughts on Faith
"Well, if that's your thing then go with it. Write about that."
This was her answer to my reason excuse for not writing lately. I was explaining that I felt like every time I show up at the page (or the Mac, in this case), I write about death or the emotions, circumstances and general crazy surrounding death.
“Ahhh,” she said, “Grief.”
Yes. Grief. It hangs there over my head like one of those speech balloons in a comic strip. It showed up when my mother died, and has lingered far too long. And so, for the last few years, everything I write seems heavy with sadness. Everything I say sounds like something an old woman would say.
Just as I would start to feel a little better – something else would happen. There was the tornado. And then PJ’s daddy died, and then Bobbie Jo’s brother, Wesley, died, and then my Gran Gran died. I started to worry all the time about my own mortality. I began to imagine the worst if PJ was even five minutes later coming home than usual. Maybe he had a wreck. Or I would flip out if I didn’t hear from Bobbie Jo after work. What if she’d been shot? Oh dear God, what if PJ was in a fiery crash because he was driving recklessly on his way home to let me know Bobbie Jo had been shot? Holy Mother of God. It went on and on and on. It was maddening.
“Right,” she said. “That’s anxiety.”
Yes. Anxiety. It smothers me like an itchy wool blanket. It showed up when I was too young to know it was even there. I don’t remember a time that I didn’t feel like everything I accomplish just isn’t good enough. Or that everything I love seems likely to slip away while I’m not paying attention.
She didn’t bring up the subject of depression per se. I think we were just focusing on the recurring symptoms at this point. I realize my depression isn’t likely to just go away.
Yes, depression. We’ve talked about this before. It’s quite likely the root of all of my issues. And it’s the reason I found myself this day sitting across from my therapist spouting off a long list of reasons why I haven’t blogged. My not blogging (or not writing in a journal or not crafting/creating) is a red flag. It’s the notice to me (and everyone who knows me well -all 3 or 4 of you) that something is wrong. That I’m headed down the rabbit hole.
So maybe the way out is to write about it. Maybe that’s what I’ve been trying to do here. Although I haven’t posted anything in over a year, I’ve written many things that I abandoned midway through for fear my voice had become maudlin. I worried I was becoming the Joan Didion of blogging. (Not that this would be a bad gig – I rather love her work.) But I started finding it difficult to read my own stuff. After all, I was trying to cheer up. The cynical ramblings of a melancholy middle-aged woman with clinical depression and free-floating anxiety were not helping.
Is the fact that I’m here today any indication that I’m getting better? I think so. I’ve made conscious decisions to focus on the happier things in life, and I’ve made real efforts to nurture the more positive relationships in my world. I finally made a decision about grad school, and took a year off from the doctoral program. I’m back now, and I will finish my course work next semester. We recently bought a house in a super cute historic neighborhood, so I’ve been enjoying all the Pinterest hopping and magazine flipping that comes with decorating a new space. I’ve gotten healthier (and thankfully, leaner) from a physical standpoint as well by upping my protein intake and lowering my wine intake. My doctor hasn’t changed the medication I take for depression and anxiety in years. We discussed and considered increasing my dose at one point during all this, but I wanted to try and just work on it all from a more cognitive or emotional angle. I’m not sure why I decided to handle it this way – I think it took much longer than it would have had I just let an increase in medication balance me out. And I’m not even sure that I’m completely out of the woods yet.
Just yesterday on the way home from work I was listening to 70s on 7 when I heard “Come Monday.” Immediately I was in the passenger seat of my mother’s 1972 red Malibu Classic sitting at the light at Parkway East and Roebuck Drive. She was singing along. A year ago this memory would have left me in a sobbing mess. My evening would have been ruined. But yesterday, I sang along, and remembered her tan legs on the white vinyl seats and that she had her flip-flops at her side just in case she needed shoes for some reason. (She rarely wore shoes in the summer. We spent most of our time by the pool.) And I was OK with that memory. My evening wasn’t ruined at all. I didn’t even think about it again until I sat down here at the Mac today.
So maybe I’m back. I hope so. I have to admit - I've kinda missed me.