Thursday, December 11, 2014

Felt the earth beneath my feet, sat by the river and it made me complete

These days my respite is the outdoors.

When I am inside, whether at work or at home or elsewhere, I feel caged in and agitated.  I remember when I was first diagnosed with depression, the description provided by the psychologist or whoever was of a general, "free floating" anxiety.  Like I have this aura of grayness that hovers over me, full of malignant atoms whose electrons aren't arranged correctly, or something like that.

I have no motivation to exercise, to cook, to eat anything healthy.  I need to lose at least 10 pounds, but I can't seem to stick with an exercise program, and despite my resolute declarations of "today will be the day I'm good," I give in to temptation because it fills an emotional void.

I am irked by the holiday season, not because I begrudge anyone their time celebrating whatever they want to celebrate, but because it means I have to find coverage for the kids on days that they don't have school because of vacation, and buy gifts when I already feel like my kids have so much fucking *stuff* in their lives that the idea of adding to the stuff in my house makes me want to tear my hair out.

I read books, which provides some distraction. Right now, I'm pleasantly amazed by Michael Lewis's ability to turn an account of the collapse of global financial markets in 2008 and beyond into a gripping page-turner (at least for me).  But the distraction is temporary.

Mostly I want to be outside, not thinking.

My walk to work is the best part of my day.  On the days that I can't do it, because of early meetings or whatever, I'm out of sorts and jumpy.

But even on the days that I can do it, it's too short.  I'm bummed out when I get to work, because instead of walking 2 1/2 miles, I want to keep going.  10 miles might feel like enough.  Or even more.

One of my routes to work takes me through this park.  Sometimes the urge to turn south and keep walking until I reach the top of Pikes Peak is overwhelming.
Anything to stay out of my own head.

Monday, December 01, 2014

I blink, as if at pain

We were on the train taking us from the terminal back to baggage claim, part of the post-Thanksgiving returning throngs clinging exhaustedly to subway straps and poles, the travel-induced blank faces, bodies jiggling back and forth like jello.

I looked out the window and caught my reflection, and was, as ever, surprised and dismayed by how tired and haggard and old I look.

Not just look.  Am.

I tried to give myself a break.  It's a reflection in a train window.  It's shitty flourescent light.  You've been traveling all day.  You aren't wearing make-up.  It was a rough week.

It was a rough week.

I knew it would be.  And I guess it wasn't as bad as it could have been.  But it was hard.  Emma's absence was an enormous presence that we all felt.

We tip-toed around it at first.  Not in the sense that we didn't talk about her, but we definitely skirted the fact that it was The First Major Holiday Without Her.

We did the things we normally do.  The house buzzed with decisions about which sides to make for dinner on Thursday.
Dad doesn't really like sweet potatoes - maybe instead of mashing them we could do roasted wedges? 
Trust me, you may not like Brussels sprouts, but these are sauteed with bacon - you're going to love them.
They're not powdered potatoes - they make them fresh at the store!  But it's one less thing to worry about.
Why don't my pie crusts ever look like yours?  No matter what I do, they don't roll out properly.
The kids had a great time playing with their cousins.  Zeke took to rolling down the big hill in my parents' front yard, and was constantly covered with mud.  We went to the park.

We did our annual Thanksgiving run in downtown D.C. benefiting So Others Might Eat.

And it was all lovely.  But there was this unshakable underlying tension.  Sadness permeated the week, as much as we love each other.  The air felt full of tiny shards of glass that cut our insides when we breathed.  The force of gravity felt stronger, pulling us down and making us feel heavier.

We dressed for dinner on Thursday afternoon, and sat down at the beautifully set table, laden with a gorgeous turkey and creamed spinach and my mom's awesome cranberry jello mold and rolls and stuffing and gravy and potatoes and wine.

Then we collectively looked around the table, took a deep breath, and burst into tears.

We were thankful to be together.  Thankful to be alive.  But it's been such a hard year.  We miss her so much.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I was relieved to be going home and away from my family.  Back in Colorado, I can get some distance.  I can compartmentalize.  I can let the day-to-day chaos of my own life - work, kids, house, appointments, friends -- shield me from that sadness and those tiny shards of glass.

But it still shows in my face in that train window reflection.

My soon to be 45-year-old face, which looks saggy and old and ugly to me.  My soon-to-be 45-year-old body, which looks saggy and old and ugly to me.

I was telling a friend of mine recently that I'm so much more attractive in my head - it's always jarring to me when I see my aging self in the mirror.

People pooh-pooh it whenever I say it out loud (so I rarely say it out loud), but it's how I feel.  It matters to me.  It affects my confidence and self-image.

I want my old self back.  I want the self that had discipline and will-power when it came to diet and exercise.  But when the sadness and stress moved in, the discipline and will-power moved out.

I'm trying so hard to get it back.  Because maybe if I get that back, I can figure out how to be young again.