Shrinking heads

Sitting in the waiting room at the shrink is a lot like I imagine it is at an STD clinic. You all know why you’re there, but don’t want to acknowledge it.

Sadly, I think it’s probably more socially acceptable to have gonorrhea than depression. At least you’d have had some fun getting the clap.

It’s been designed to be deliberately soothing and non-confrontational. It has the complete opposite effect.

The thing is, you can’t help sizing up the others waiting their turn. On a scale of 1 to bat shit, where do you fall in comparison to the tidy little man in a suit sitting next to you? How many more screws do you have loose than the woman in the corner. Just one or a toolbox full?

And what if you recognise someone?

A hint: You do not acknowledge that recognition with anything more than a discrete head nod and don’t bring it up at the water cooler in the office. Ever. What happens at the shrink stays at the shrink.

Just knowing that someone is about to clinically evaluate my brand of crazy is enough to have my blood pressure going through the roof. Bats of anxiety fleeing the belfry. Most of them ending up stuck in my hair.

My head doctor is very nice. She’s very put together. Very… dare I say it… sane.

The more she looks at me the more I flight the urge to flee. I’ve actually being doing rather well, but you couldn’t tell that from my demeanour.

Every random tic suddenly comes to the surface and I end up twirling my wedding ring, playing with my necklace and tapping my foot at the same time. And then, I realise I’m doing it and try to sit on my hands instead.

I’m practically vibrating like a out of pitch tuning fork.

None of which is convincing her of my ability to be a productive adult.

Sometimes, I think that I rather have head shrunk by some headhunters in Borneo.

Of course, if I ever run into her in the real world, like at the mall, I can guarantee you that it’ll be a day when I haven’t brushed my hair, am wearing yoga pants and can’t decide between chamomile or aloe loo paper.

C’est la vie.

Don’t feed Fred

Fred is a big bastard of a dog.

He’s strong as all hell. After spending a lot of time being carted belong behind him and scraping my knees and elbows on the tarmac, we’ve reached a tentative detente.

Right now, we’re walking side by side.

Sometimes, he’ll get ahead of me and sometimes he’ll lag behind, but as we stuck with each other for now, I’m trying to make the best of it.

Still, I think I am more of a cat person.

Depression is like the tides, it ebbs and flows.

Sometimes, I can almost forget it’s there and then I start obsessing about things I cannot change.

I start feeding Fred.

Little tidbits on the side and, if not careful, the whole damn plate. It’s hard to ignore him slavering at my side.

This time it was the state of the world I brought my children into and how selfish I was (and am) to put them in such a harsh and horrible world.

What if they have to go to war, what if they get hurt, what if I can’t afford food and lost my house?

What if there was a zombie uprising?

How would I keep them safe?

Could they climb the walls?

Should I stockpile food?

It’s not like zombies are beating down the door, but I managed to work myself up into a panic before I remembered my mantra.

Don’t feed Fred.

Turn the music up on the radio.

Find something to keep myself busy.

Read a book.

Just don’t give in to puppy dog eyes.

“When days are dark, friends are few”.

The bumper sticker may be true, but the ones who stick by you are the best you’ll ever have.

Thanks for the flowers.

Thanks for the hug when I was feeling low.

Thanks for making me go out and face the world.

Thanks for not letting me dig a deeper pit and hide in it.

Thanks for not telling me what to do or how to feel better.

Thanks for telling me I can get through this, that I am strong enough.

Fred is not a good boy

dog-head-1449001_1920
Fred is a very big, black dog. And he sheds. Everywhere. And drools. He is not house-trained and takes up more space than a St Bernard.

 

Fred is a very big, black dog.

And he sheds. Everywhere. And drools.

He is not house-trained and takes up more space than a St Bernard.

But, since Fred seems here to stay for a bit, allowances must be made.

I can’t deal with the big things right now, but I’ve learned some tricks over the years, some survival skills that are slowly kicking back in.

I will pick my battles.

I can’t handle everything, but I can handle the small things.

Each small thing I do I can count as a victory, even if usually, these things are so small I don’t even notice them.

I will get up and go to work.

As much as I want to lie in bed and revel in my self-induced misery, it won’t help and will just make it worse. It’s basically like patting the bed for Fred to jump up and make a nest in the covers. Before I know it, he’ll be taking over the whole damn bed and I’ll be sleeping on the floor while he snores in my Egyptian cotton (I wish) sheets.

I will dress well.

I want to live in sweatpants and a hoodie, but sometimes you have to fake it ‘til you make it. Dog hair is not PETA friendly.

I will eat.

This part is hard. I don’t want to, it makes me nauseous. Still, I know that I have to that I have to keep my body functioning even if my brain isn’t. Fred can pack away a lot of calories.

I will find something to smile at every day.

Yesterday there was a double rainbow that stretched across from horison to horison and it was beautiful. Fred whined and hid under the table.

I will not dwell on things I cannot change.

I can’t home every child on the streets. I can make sure my children have a good home. I can’t drop Fred of at the SPCA, but I can stop him howling.

I will not let my mind get the better of me.

It’s easy to let it run wild. Let Fred out without a leash and set him free on the neighbourhood, peeing on other people’s cars and growling at passersby.

Fred will go to obedience training and learn how to heel.

Basically, F#$k you Fred.

My Black Dog is called Fred

dog-188273_1280
Meet Fred. Fred is my Black Dog. Fred follows in my shadow. I hate Fred.

I cried in my car on the way to work today.

Getting out of bed, showered and dressed took everything I had in me to give.

Not quite like being flung into hell when I wasn’t watching.

More like waking up to find myself in a black void of sorrow.

Like every nerve ending has been scrubbed raw and the slightest breeze has me curling over in pain.

Rationally, I know how irrational it is.

The thing about anxiety and depression is that it is utterly irrational.

Logically, I know that one day soon I’ll wake up and it will be gone and the sun will warm my skin and the birds will sing.

Right now, it just feels like I’m a drowning person futilely grabbing on to a straw to keep from going under.

I should have seen it coming.

When I had to cancel a party I’d been planning for months, because just thinking about it made me want to vomit.

When I couldn’t make plans on Tuesday for Friday, because I was scared that by Friday I might not be able to look anyone in the eye.

When people around me are dealing with big issues with grace and strength and I fell apart over groceries.

Something so small and insignificant.

Something anyone else would have brushed off.

Something that broke me.

It broke me because it showed me how not okay I am.

That all the time and energy expended on pretending to be a normal, functioning adult was for nothing.

I couldn’t take the tears out of my daughter’s eyes when she lost her race.

I forgot to put water in the car.

I parked like a nana.

I bought the wrong groceries.

I gave the wrong person the wrong boxer shorts when I did the laundry.

Such small, stupid things.

So, what the hell is wrong with me that they made me cry?

That they made me question everything, that they highlighted every bad thought I have about myself.

That I’m a useless person.

That I’m a terrible mother.

That it would be better if I just disappeared.

42398940_1110502119100777_4640356143706551906_n“How are you?” asked my husband this morning.

“Fine.”

Honesty is not always the best policy.

Because what should I have said?

“I’m not okay. I’m falling apart. I don’t know what I’m doing. I want it all to just go away.”

How would that help us when we have real challenges.

Real mortgages and debt and kids and a failing economy?

When homeless kids are going to die on the streets?

When people who have nothing are doing everything they can to eat tonight?

And I can’t put my shoes on.

And it doesn’t really matter, because I know I have depression.

But nothing really seems to matter right now.

Because it doesn’t matter how I feel.

I still have to function.

I still have people depending on me.

I still have bills to be paid.

I still have a job to do.

I can’t afford to hide in a cave and sleep until this passes.

And the kind looks, the “Are you okays” just make it worse.

They just shatter what’s left of my defenses.

And I reply, “It’s nothing. I’m just coming down with something.”

Because it’s easier for other people to think it’s the flu.

Like depression is something contagious.

But it will pass.

I know it will.

I have to believe it will.

If I can just get through this one hour at a time, things will be fine.

And when someone asks I can say, “I’m fine” and not be lying through gritted teeth.

 

largeI am not alone.

Thousands, millions of people just like me are not alone.

We’re not freaks.

I am not a freak.

And if by sharing how I feel today, it makes just one person feel a little less alone, than at least something good can come out of this.

 

Enough with the smiling through the rain

Be true to yourself

This has got to stop

No-one is happy all the time.

It’s like a unicorn on the hot/crazy matrix.

It doesn’t exist.

So, why is it not okay to not be happy some of the time?

Why do we expend so much energy creating completely fake personas to fool everyone else that we’ve got our shit together and our ducks are waddling off in a neat little row.

We post carefully cropped and filtered pics on Instagram of our beautiful baking that don’t show the icing smeared on the counter, or the eggs we broke.

And while we’re judging ourselves to impossible Kardashian standards we somehow believe everyone else has it made.

Spoiler alert. We don’t.

Not even the most perfectly put together person feels like they’ve cracked the secret of adulting.

Without the contouring and team of stylists, the Kardashians probably don’t either.

So, why can’t the rest of us just be real and drop the rigour mortis smile once in a while and just be real?

It’s okay to be depressed.

It’s okay to feel a little lost.

It’s okay to be happy when you are.

It’s not okay to pretend to be when you’re not.

It’s okay to make a change no matter what your age.

It’s okay to be real with your tribe.

That’s what they’re there for.

Just like you’ll be there for them.

Don’t worry about letting them down by not being a bubbly little ray of sunshine.

They’re probably worrying about why they can’t be more like you.

Everyone has a few little rain clouds pissing down on them and the occasional bolt of lightning that splits the sky.

That’s why we’re human.

I asked a Wise Woman Aged 12 what she thinks the most important thing in life to know is.

“Don’t turn yourself into what you think people want you to be. Turn yourself in to someone you want to be.”

I’m 42 and I don’t have the answer to life, the universe and everything, but my daughter is sure helping me out.