Monday, March 02, 2015

Timing is everything

It's been a weird month.

I've been battling a pervasive bout of depression for a couple of months.  I keep waiting for it to abate.  Like if I say, "OK, on Monday, things are going to be better, and I'm going to feel better and energized."  And by saying it, I can make it so.

But it's still hard.

My aunt, who is a psychologist - and also in the line of relatives from whom I inherited the crazy - suggested I ask my doctor about trying a different type of anti-depressant.  It's not an SSRI - which kind of work for me but also make me feel kind of numb - but rather something that works differently, chemically speaking.  It is usually used to treat seizure disorders, but also can be prescribed for people with bipolar disorder (which I do not have) or as a mood stabilizer for people with less severe forms of depression.

So I went to a doctor who prescribed it for me, and gave me the starter pack - it's the kind of drug that you have gradually build up in your blood stream, so I'm still in the process of ramping up the dosage.  I haven't felt huge effects yet, but for the past couple of nights, for the first time in I don't know how long, I slept soundly without lying awake from 2:30 until 4:30 in the morning.

In the meantime, my mother took me to Canyon Ranch, in Tucson, Arizona, for my birthday.
Desert gardens, with mountains in the background
For those who don't know, Canyon Ranch is considered one of the premier luxury spa resorts in the world.  A four day trip there, with one of my favorite people in the world, is seriously the nicest, most generous gifts anyone has ever given me.  It is extraordinarily beautiful, set in the desert hills behind Tuscon, full of saguaro cacti and desert flowers and javelinas rustling in the bushes.

A water feature designed to allow people to sit and reflect quietly, surrounded by beauty.
We spent our days going for walks and taking exercise classes and getting massages and facials and pedicures.  We talked and read books and enjoyed each others' company.  We ate incredible, healthy, beautifully prepared food.  We played bingo one night and I won a $140 gift certificate for spa services (which doesn't cover the cost of a single spa service, except maybe a pedicure).

The saguaro cacti are amazing looking.

Flowering prickly pear cactus
Desert musicians 
Fountains at dusk.

Barrel cactus.
Enjoying an early morning walk.
Absolutely everything about the place is top-of-the-line.  It's totally luxurious, but in an unostentatious way.

For example, no one goes around in resort wear or fancy clothes.  People wear workout clothes or jeans and flip flops, even to dinner.  There was only one lady who acted like a snobby bitch - this woman from DC who, when we were chatting in the massage waiting area and my mom said she was from "Washington D.C." but clarified it to "McLean, Virginia" when asked for specifics, said, "oh, well, that's not really D.C., but my husband is in real estate, so I know McLean is lovely - at least it's not Rockville!"  From then on, we referred to her as "the DC Madam," and anytime we were talking about different places, we would say, "but at least it's not Rockville!"  But everyone else we met or talked to was really friendly and down-to-earth.

At times it made me uncomfortable.  For example, on Sunday, after enjoying a delicious gourmet breakfast, I went to an exercise class, then had a facial, then a massage.  At one point during the facial, I was lying there as a Russian lady extolled the virtues of the hundreds of dollars worth of exfoliants and creams she was rubbing on my face ("vee only use Sisley products - they are most expensive in vorld"), and I started feeling like a spoiled asshole.  I had an overwhelming urge to go out and do charity work or volunteer in a homeless shelter.  It all felt like too much.

Part of the problem is that, particularly since the separation and being a part-time single parent, I don't have a lot of money to spare.  So the extent of the pampering - and the amount of money it cost - made me a little uncomfortable.

Another part of the problem is that I was enjoying all of this luxury in the middle of a period of reading about people suffering from injustices and deprivation in places like Russia and North Korea, and the juxtaposition of what I was reading and what I was experiencing was a bit jarring.

I came home feeling refreshed and relaxed and lean.  But also a little guilty.

So, long story short - go to Canyon Ranch, if you have the opportunity.  It's an incredible place.  But read something mindless and frothy while you're there.

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