Friday, August 16, 2013

Too Depressing for Words? But Let's Try, Shall We?

ADDED HOURS AFTER ORIGINAL POSTING: JUST  poking my head in to thank you all for your supportive feedback and to assure you that I'm fine now. Have been fine since Monday. Hope that doesn't make me seem fickle, but the reality is it comes and (mostly, thank goodness) goes . . . 

One of the most rewarding aspects of writing this blog is the reader feedback. I appreciate your comments so much, and I'm often bowled over by the wealth of this community. The most recent example validated my decision to write this post -- not only did some of you tell me that you had also experienced sadness on such occasions, but some of you offered thoughtful hypotheses about the causes and displayed kindness (and erudition! Proust!) while doing so.

I only tickled at truth, though, when I wrote about emotional confusion, about being surprised by sadness at the recent reunion of the maternal side of my extended family. In fact, I held back; I dissembled. I think there are some very good reasons for not spilling all here on the blog. More and more, though, I suspect that the pressure I put on myself to keep the mucky stuff tucked neatly away -- in "real life," as we say, even more than on the blog -- might not be doing anyone any big favours, myself least of all.

As seems to be my wont, let me hurry to reassure; my instant temptation being to play down, if not to deny. I pride myself (and yes, I know, it goeth before a fall) on being practical, on carrying my weight, on not making a fuss, on being a trooper. Et cetera, et cetera. . .

But sometimes I feel as if I'm standing in a doorway, trying to keep the inexorably closing automatic doors from shutting on me, my body forming an energetic X as I push, arms and legs outstretched, against the two incoming panels with all the force I can muster. Sometimes I feel I'm just not going to be able to ward off the depression that capsized my mother regularly, that inundated my mother-in-law in her last fifteen years. And yes, obviously there's no genetic link that would impose my mother-in-law's clinical sadness on me, but despite the generational difference between myself and these two older mothers, some cultural realities around gender affect both of us. They also affected two aunts: both my father and my mother had a sister who slid quite dramatically from what seemed an engaged and productive life into years of serious clinical depression, near-catatonic in one case. Especially with my mother's death, I feel I've entered into this territory, these last two decades until I'm her age. . . .will I become another elderly woman, rolled under by depression?

For my first 20 or so adult years, some combination of anger and sadness and frustration might roll together in an explosive mix perhaps once or twice a year, an eruption of tears, convulsive sobbing, generally dissipating within a few hours, only my swollen reddened eyelids to tell the tale the morning after. In the last ten or so years, though (and yes, I can see the likely link with peri- and menopause), the pattern has changed significantly. Especially in the last five or six years, something will trigger a shift deep in my cells, a shift that registers, somehow, as biochemical, that feels palpable, physical. Sometimes the trigger is obvious, sometimes it's indecipherable. The shift itself, though, tiny as it begins, tends, always, to have its way. Once started, it raises its whisper to a nasty undertone to a dull, heavy, insistent declaration of my failure, my lack of worth.

 Luckily, these episodes have generally been limited to once or twice a year -- they tend to build, over a day or two, towards a crying jag. The tears and intermittent sobbing, almost impossible to stop once started, seem to run their course leaving me completely wrung out after a long day, part of a night until exhaustion pushes sleep. The next day, I'm generally ready to limp back to whatever normal is, and by the day after, I will generally try to run or do something equally physical, craving the endorphins.

This last year, though, with the intensely emotional care of my mother in her last weeks, then her loss, followed so soon by the decline of my father-in-law, his death, the subsequent shocking family rift that emerged in its wake, I've been ambushed more and more often. Tears well up in a moment, at the tiniest triggers. Sometimes I can't stop them, even though I know they're embarrassing those who witness them, and wonder. Sometimes, indeed, not only am I helpless to stop the tears, but I can't even speak to explain them. And sometimes, at home on my own, the tears multiply themselves into a welter of self-reproach, of the weirdest of illogical despair (because really, look at my life. Why, why, why, is she crying? Buck up, baby!). And the tears turn to sobs, an absolute snotty paroxysm of sobs, moving in waves from the gut up.

So when I wrote, the other day, that I was holed up with a box of Kleenex and a cup of tea, I wasn't lying, but I was definitely prettying up the picture, keeping myself in control. In reality, when I'm in this state -- thankfully, not often, my (slightly im-) patient problem-solving husband will offer me a cup of tea. And much as this is my habitual comfort drink, the idea of letting something in, of parting my lips, sipping the liquid heat, even the act of picking up the cup. . . somehow this act seems too much a decision I can't make, some kind of commitment I'm not up for.

I didn't lie, though, when I said that I got myself up and out and back with the rest of the family for dinner. Although I discomfitted myself and a brother and a brother-in-law by stupidly tearing up when they asked how I was. They rallied, though. And I got a big hug that almost made me cry more except that I used a big shoulder to bury myself in while I sucked the tears back.

And I let a couple of sisters know, too, later when it seemed relevant, that I've been struggling a bit. The world didn't stop. I know.

And now I'm telling you. And you can tell me too, if you want.

Next up, some gorgeous photos from a little cycling trip up a big, big hill. 'cause I bounce back, don't you know? Now, deep breath. . . . click on Publish. . . go on, Mater, do it . . . Click. . . . Publish. . .  You're writing about Life in your 60s, and this is all part of the truth.  Okay. Publish. It's done. . .






52 comments:

  1. Your emotions sound very much like grief. I felt deep despair when my father died and it would shock me with it's frequency and it's intensity. It will take time but you will find a balance.
    Unfortunately the family situation may never be mended...those rifts often never resolve themselves.
    Take care to get enough rest and be gentle with yourself.
    Hugs,
    Leslie

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  2. I always read and enjoy your posts, but rarely comment. I had to pipe up today because I am sad that you are hurting. I want to reach through the computer and give you a big hug and tell you that it will be OK. Having suffered from severe depression myself and witnessed the pain it caused to my family, I can relate to the overwhelming and often roller coaster feelings of anger and sadness. Please don't take this as a prescription...I got an immense amount of healing, joy, and release from EMDR treatment under a psychiatrist coupled with nutritional psychology (look up Julia Ross's The Mood Cure). Wishing the very best for you--may your 60's get better and better.

    Sarah

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    1. Thanks Sarah. I'm actually fine right now, and most of the time, although this year has been tougher than most. I just decided it might be better to be open about the tough times because perhaps more of us experience them than we think. And judging by the response so far, I was right about that!

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  3. I read with great interest and sdness your post. I have been there as well. I was trying to keep the big boiling pot of emotions under control. trying to keep the lid on, a little steam to escape might lead to the lid flying off. I had to get help, learned new ways to cope, new cognitive skills. All the best to you.

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    1. Thanks FF. That metaphor works pretty well -- time to try a new recipe, right?

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  4. I’d love to give you a hug and invite you for coffee somewhere so you could talk and cry, or not, but I live too far away. I have not suffered from depression, but have lived in the fear of being a victim of it until a couple of years ago. My Mom suffered from it when I was a teenager, I saw the ravage this illness did to her, I know it can run into families so I was scared to death it would just fall on me. It didn’t, even though I went trough bad times. You wrote a post some years (?) ago about the decline of your mother’s health, and you expressed the same fear of going in the same direction as your mother. But in the same post you also wrote something like, “I may not be like my mother, I don’t have to be like my mother” (very approximate paraphrase). While you have no idea how that post helped ME, it can help you. You may have many relatives who suffered from depression at a certain age, but you are not them, you have a different knowledge of things, you live in a time when depression is neither dimissed nor stigmatized (it was probably when your mother and aunts started showing symptoms), you have different ways to react and you have different people around you. Now maybe this is none of my business but I hope you are getting some help. This is beyond what tea, kind husbands, and even Proust can do. Sarah gives some interesting suggestions and I hope other readers who dealt with depression will manifest themselves. Hang in there.
    Dominique

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    1. Thanks for reminding me, Dominique, and thanks simply for taking the time to comment here. It's hard to grow up watching someone suffer from depression, isn't it? But you're right, and I'm glad you point me back to that post -- at a rational level, I do know that I am not my mother, nor do I have to be like her. (Sweetheart that she could be!)

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  6. Be kind to yourself. You have had two losses this year and I wish that I could say for sure that it will take time to "recover" but, in reality, life will never be the same. As we look at the struggles of our mothers (only 20 years older) it is impossible not to be afraid. I started writing this year when my dad died but I am feeling more sadness now than I did at the time of his death. We are all afraid for ourselves as we age. Being with family often makes me sad. I don't know why. I have always been called "the high-strung one" in my family so I can identify completely with your story. I am afraid of loss of loved ones, my health and my looks. Exercise, diet, SSRI's, church, blogging are all tools that I
    am using right now. You will find some new ways of dealing with your emotions, I'm sure.
    You need a hug, Joanne

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    1. Thanks, Mme Joanne! My dad's been gone now 13 years, so I know how permanent the shift into this territory can be. And other losses bump up against us in the trauma of new ones. We do our best, though, don't we? Luckily, we've learned a few things about ourselves and about life by the time we get here. . . I hope!

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    1. Thanks, son. Thoughts of you and your sibs and the grands always lift me. Always. love you too.

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  8. Oh my, another post that I understand completely. I don't cry often, but I do get overwhelmed with feelings of sadness as well as fear that I might have inherited my mother's borderline personality disorder or my grandmother's depression. One of the pivotal issues for me is expectations -- mine, my family's, my employer, friends, etc. I feel as if I need to meet all of these, but I don't always have the resources to do so. Unlike you, my family is tiny so all the interactions are intense and often demanding since we have no one else to turn to. Somehow the current push to look great and vibrant at 60, while still much better than expecting us to be over the hill, adds additional pressure.

    Please take care of yourself and know you are not alone. We have always been the generation of women who have walked new paths and tried to "make it work" and sometimes we need a break!

    Lynn

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    1. I find that helpful, to know that others experience similar feelings. Like you, expectations (many self-imposed, I know) are an issue. Thanks for taking time to leave such a thoughtful comment. It's really appreciated.

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  9. Mater, I am sad you are feeling blue. It is ok to be grieving. Please know that I think of you even though I am not here every day to say so. xoxo

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    1. Luckily, Susan, it's in the past right now, although I suppose that the grief is a quiet undercurrent, not done with me yet. Thanks for the kind words.

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  10. I also have to say I get where you are coming from and what you are feeling. My trigger is in a way my passions, in that when what I am doing does not work, with that particular passion taken away from me by thoughtless people, even my sister, or the politics of a group, I go to pieces with my helplessness, or lack of control. I do fine with what I can control, I am a good problem solver, am very reasonable, and find my mid-sixties a challenge for all the above listed reasons. Tearing up - yesterday we went to our financial planner and when he asked how I was doing, I teared up. So I also struggle, even with the help of modern chemistry!

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    1. So tough, when the things we're passionate about alienate us, somehow, from the people who matter to us. And yes, there's so much we can't control. We just keep struggling, right? just keep showing up. Thanks for commenting. Take care.

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  11. (((hugs))) Hate to resort to something so overused and clichéd, but it's the only response that feels in any way adequate. I get what you say about the cup of tea. Sometimes I think we need to NOT pull ourselves out of it, to just sit with and go through it. Having gone through the loss of all of both our parents within a 5 year period, I've also experienced waves of sadness that seem to come out of nowhere, and I've come to believe are grief. I've also found that back-burner sadness tends to be how I feel when I'm overwhelmed, and not able to find the time to do the things that sustain rather than drain me. My mother struggled with some sort of mental illness which she self-medicated with alcohol, and destroyed relationships right and left. It's so much better to be open, to get it out there, to ask for understanding and even help when you need it.

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    1. Sometimes going beyond words is the best response, and you have learned this through your own experience with grief. I think you're right -- the backburner emotions (what a good term!) probably caught me because we'd just had a week of company. Good company, but still probably wore down my reserves.
      I find it so useful to know that others also work through and around episodic grief, if not depression, and that it's simply another part of life. Thanks for your always thoughtful honesty and openness and warmth.

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  12. Just random thoughts...do you have any close female friends, outside of your family? Our female non-related peers can reflect back and support different aspects of our selves that have never seen the light of day (for many reasons) within our family of origin. You are the big sister, the eldest, maybe the rock who is meant to be always steadfast for others' sakes? Are you in fact lonely for RL female peer group company? IME, (wild generalisation coming up), men like to be solution focussed and when there is no solution per se, they get all twitchy and a bit - in your words - 'impatient' with seemingly illogical distress. Women just nod and know, no answers, just being, wordless empathy.

    The biochemical surges of helpless swamping upset sound like major cascades of cortisol releasing into the bloodstream, a stress overload leading to meltdown.

    Then there is the meet-up with people who take you straight back to when you last met, early adulthood, to who you were then. No matter how good life is now, there must be some painful confrontation of choices made and options not taken. For us all. Roads to individuation considerably delayed, as your professorial hat was so long in the making and only through enormous fixity of purpose and strenuous effort. (More stress, to good ends, but still decades of stress.) Meeting the former us might be cathartic in the long run but short term can be very very painful, vivid, searing, the intense emotions of late adolescence suddenly viscerally revisited, as if those experiences never leave us but lurk in our cells.

    One final thing, just my impression, but you seem subconsciously fixated on the premise that you will live your mother's life span, that the clock is ticking, that you only have twenty years left. What if you don't, what if with your running and knitting (good for theta brain waves, akin to deep meditation which promotes longevity) you live to a healthy 100? What if you spend the next 20 years subconsciously obsessing about time running out only to realise when you get there, that you still have miles and miles left? Let the time frame be, let there just be now, ish, and a bit of next year. OK, not possible 100% of the time but maybe, just try and be in 'now' a bit more often, less terror of 'to be'? What if there was 40 years left? Could you relax a bit more? Even if there isn't, just pretending there might be, might loosen things up?

    Hope I don't offend, just proffering perspectives. It is very brave of you to post about mental health. You sound more deeply sane than most of us who breezily proclaim that all is 'fine, just fine'.

    Lettys

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    1. Thanks, Lettys. And no offense at all. You're right that over the past five or more years, for various reasons, I haven't nurtured RL female friendships, always the best bulwark of mental health for exactly the behaviours you cite. I'm tweaking that lifestyle reality although demands of work and geography impose limits. I think back to the outlets I was so lucky to have when my kids were small and I was at home with them, all those kitchen table coffee mornings when we all shared and listened, nodded and knew, just as you say.
      Your other comments are also spot on, AND helpful. I do feel those childhood and adolescent experiences ghosting me. . .
      And wow! the thought of living to a healthy 100! Perhaps I might finally get to fluent bilingualism, catch up on my reading. . . And I love the reflection that knitting is good in a way similar to meditation. Thank you!

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    1. and that is such a huge comfort, my dear. Love you back, so much!

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  14. Thank you for the honesty in your post. I, too, have been writing a blog but keeping a stiff upper lip about things but then I realized I was denying those feelings and they are there for a reason (what, is a whole other issue!)

    My mother always talked about a "biblical year of mourning". I'm not sure about the biblical part but she was right to say that it takes each person a certain amount of time to mourn and that you can't hurry it away because it comes back to bite you.

    We used to have rituals of mourning that let others know we were hurting (ie.,black arm bands or whatever the culture proscribed) but we don't anymore and grief is has turned into this elephant in the room.

    I guess I'm saying that you need to be kind to yourself and take the time you need. It sounds like you have a lovely supportive family and that it is okay to lean on them as they have leaned on you. Moms are huge figures in our lives and lose one is no small matter, mater!

    Take care of yourself.

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    1. I think your mother was very wise -- and you're right that these days there seems to be a stopwatch governing our mourning. Perhaps this is why grief spills over when we last expect it. I would add, though, that not all my sadness has to do with my mother's death although that's the most obvious and most recent trigger.
      Thanks so much for adding your voice here -- it's been quite wonderful to discover all this wisdom in readers I didn't know I had. . .

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  15. Sometimes it's hard (mega-understatement) to use this platform to tell the big truths. What I find, actually, is that very few people anywhere want to tell the big truths because they don't want to upset people overly, they don't want to be too dramatic, they don't want to expose themselves irretractably.

    It's a rare person who goes through life without being driven by - or suffering at the will of -- extremes. Extremes are fucking scary (other mega-understatement), like being plunged into ice-water, singed by fire, suffocated, spun around in a centrifuge. You are only one person and I suspect, in the grand confluence of recent life experiences, you are working overtime to make sense of the hugeness of loss (the death of a mother is in some ways, the death of one's childhood self). This is to say nothing of the fact that you had your own experience of motherhood at an early age, one which suffered its own kind of death only to recently revive. It wouldn't surprise me if you feel smack in the middle of lost and found at the most existential of levels. Fun times.

    Mothers and children: When you come to terms with who you are in the context of each of these roles, as my own mother says, you understand everything. So sorry, btw, if I'm sounding like a bossy thing. I'm not trying to be an armchair psychologist. I know practically nothing of your life and its complexities and I don't mean to assume to know how you feel.

    I'd just like to say that I think extremeness is ok. It doesn't feel that way, I'm sure. It's probably ugly. But you have no choice. Well, the choice you do have is to talk or hold your tongue. I sense you know which choice I'm in favour of! Self-expression is EVERYTHING. It makes sense of the nonsensical. It gives a cadence to the things your mind cannot accept otherwise. It's beautiful and deep and every bit as complex as the emotions you're in the grip of.

    I say, cry and write and talk to the people you care about and then talk to the people you don't have to care about and drink some wine and eat some food and work with your hands and then cry some more and one day, your grief will "magically" disentangle from its sources and things will be clear. I have confidence. xo

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    1. What a thoughtful response. ou're careful to separate your experience from mine, and you give me some credit for my own strength, you know that I'm getting through this, but that I, like you, value putting it out there for the sake of honesty. (and yes, at the same time I can't stand the idea of being too dramatic or upsetting people)

      So glad you posted this, after first retracting it, as I believe it's worth others reading as well. I do think that extremeness is scary. I also think that at times, despite my practical core, my pragmatic coping self, I can move close to the abyss. And I think it is good for people to see your analysis of this, to know that this can be okay. I see a huge rush to medicate or treat or whatever therapy anytime anyone bumps into hints of extremity. In fact, I find that some self-knowledge, some endurance, some exercise, bubble baths, and chocolate, and I can get through. The grief, I hope and trust, does "magically" disentangle itself. As for the fear of ending up like my mom, I don't think they've found the SSRI yet that will erase that one. . . .but I'm thinking seriously about what Lettys says (see above). . .

      Thank you for taking the time to write this AND for posting it. . . twice! xo

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    2. I'm glad Kristin put the comment back. It is an intriguing one. Yes, extremes. So much to think about. I am glad you are feeling better.

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  16. With some sense of cosmic synchronicity, I just watched today 'L'amour fou' which opened with footage of Yves San Laurent discussing his depressive episodes and quoting Proust!

    Lettys

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    1. Thanks for this -- I just checked and found it on Netflix. It will make a nice break from Breaking Bad!

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  17. Your nuanced and resoundingly accurate description of your recent feelings and experiences (I say "accurate" because I trust you to speak honestly, and because what you say resonates so clearly with my own life) is very much appreciated. It reminds me of someone I knew when I was in my early twenties, a classmate in her fifties who didn't let her tears stop her from speaking her piece to the group, and whose graceful explanatory words remain with me: "Who knows where tears come from?" They demand acknowledgement, but not necessarily analysis. For me, depression is like tears in this respect - it's not there to be solved, but lived through, and no apology is necessary. I get a visit from "the black dog" once in a while, often when I have chosen not to express profound anger, but now I recognize it and know it will pass (this is something another wise older woman told me when I was young, and it has brought comfort for many years). I remain the captain of my ship even during the storm, when I control nothing and must wait for the rain and wind to abate. Like you, I no longer have my parents living, and it would be untrue to say that there is no fear when I contemplate my own later years (Mom had Alzheimer's, which oddly became a blessing as it unlocked much that had been withheld for 80 years). But, also like you, I am not my mom, and I already know that my chosen attitude can shape my experience even if it can't change the biochemical/physical/emotional reality that confronts me. So, I wish you courage and I emphasize that you are already far ahead of the game.

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    1. Oh, Marsha, there are some wise words here. There are blessings in getting older, knowing ourselves, and having a rich resource of remembered wisdom. Thank you.

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  18. There's so much wisdom in the other comments. Lots to think about.

    Healing can take so much time and in our fast-paced culture, we ignore that, thinking that we need to get on with life too soon. Be easy on yourself. Your self awareness is positive.

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    1. We should start a Slow Healing movement. . . and yes, isn't there a wealth of wisdom here. I feel so much grace.

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  19. We're expected to be happy or at least content most of the time, but how realistic is that? I haven't yet lost my mother and I dread the day when I do. Too much loss is like having your roots cut out from beneath you. Can you ever recover? I think it's fine to be sad and I don't see why you need to carry on - although I suspect you're the sort of person whom many rely on so you feel it's your job. It's the female dilemma. I'm so grateful to you for writing your post - it was raw and honest and completely relatable (sorry if that's not a word). Anyway, I have no wisdom or advice to offer. Just know that you have my sympathy, empathy, and very warm thoughts.

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    1. I think your first sentence is key. I don't think it is realistic to be happy always, but there's not much room to talk about our sadness. And fair enough, I don't want to be overly burdened by those who focus only on sorrows. But the (perceived, at least) need to present strength and positivity is its own burden, obviously.
      (I'm almost ready to give in on "relatable" -- my students use it so often that it must be useful -- it's going to make it into all but the stodgiest dictionaries before long -- I must admit I'm unlikely ever to love it, given that I only have 3 or 4 decades left!) Thanks for the wise (despite your disclaimer) and warm thoughts.

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  20. i've been lurking more than commenting recently but just had to stop by to say, i hear you and understand. the soft tide of melancholia washes in and out unbidden. and somehow we do come out on the other side with a little more self-understanding, a little more strength - the sun always seems brighter and the garden seems more magical. keep believing.

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    1. Thanks for breaking your commenting fast to add these kind words. You're so right that the dark patches make the golden ones that much more precious. . .

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  21. Late to this post as have had a tech holiday so want you to know I'm thinking of you. Grateful you are not taking these bouts lightly, diminishing them. You know I lost my sister after years of depression, way too young. Various therapies are available that were not, in 1972. Please do not be embarassed or ashamed to avail yourself of them, of whatever helps you... the cost otherwise is simply too high, to you and to others. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. Many hugs.

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    1. I either didn't know, or had forgotten, that sad loss of your sister. Luckily, so far, my depression seems to pass within a few days, perhaps not a true clinical depression although troubling enough to me. And so far, I feel that I can manage, although I really count on my husband's support. I did think it was worth talking about, though, simply to try to tackle the shame factor. (although I experience self-reproach more than shame, but perhaps they're pretty closely related). Thanks for the hugs!

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    2. Did not mean to imply your path would be same as hers! And, before the end, there were many years of the exact intermittent effects you describe. I now see friends with similar depressions greatly helped by either drug or other therapies. My tendency is to panic a little when someone I care for says they are struggling, because everything seemed "better" for her until one day, impulsively, she took her life.

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    3. I understood the context of/and your advice/response. I can only imagine how I would respond to others' depression after such a tragic and traumatic loss. Right now, I'm holding my breath watching someone very close going through withdrawal from SSRIs in preparation for (hoped-for) pregnancy. It's all quite scary territory -- I do think that speaking out is important. I also think we might all expand our understanding of a range of moods and emotions -- there's much social pressure to be easy and happy and temperate, and not all of us can manage this all of the time.

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  22. Hello Mater - I don't have anything much to add here, even though much of what you say is very familiar to me (I read it yesterday and couldn't comment, it was a little too close for comfort on first reading). It's so amazing that you can open up in this way and I hope that this act, as well as the wonderful responses, has given you some clarity and comfort.

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    1. Sorry this post stirred up discomfort in you -- I think so many of us struggle, from time to time, and yet it's not so easy to talk about. Aren't the reader responses here marvellous?!

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  23. Oh my, what a resonant post, followed by astute, wise, and kind comments. As Kristin said extremes are scary and we are not particularly comfortable with them. But they happen. There is so much going on in your life and grief is an underlying current but I am sure not the only one, pressures from work, family issues, so many things can bubble up and carry us away. I think there is something to the "biblical year" for grief, but I think it is actually longer: from what I read most people need longer even if they allow themselves to feel what needs to be felt, to rise, to sink, to experience. And this rising and sinking, especially the sinking is not looked upon kindly in modern life. But you are climbing out of the holes, not sinking into the mire, and that is good.


    Having recently lost my spouse I think of this a lot. I am in some ways in a similar boat, and in someways not. I have always tended to be one of volatile emotions, of great joys and deep sadnesses, tempered by long periods of quiet peacefulness. I struggled with this a great deal when I was young, felt that it was somehow not "right", as my tendencies toward impulsiveness and quick decision-making were not appreciated. As a result I managed to repress this side of my nature for many years only to be caught up in rolling waves of tears and anger during the years that my husband suffered from dementia: Tears of loss and grief and sadness, tears spilling forth out of unacknowledged anger, tears not just for the loss of the other, but tears for myself and the bits of ourselves that we don't always acknowledge until they rise up snarling and angry, tears that seem to pour forth for no apparent reason. I have come to realize that this was part of the process of grief, and that I was simply surprised by grief while I was witnessing the slow loss of the one I love. I think you will eventually roll out of it, magically or not, but with time. Sometimes I think we have to let the emotions roil and wash over us before we can actually isolate and integrate our feelings with our more rational responses. Ugly but necessary.

    A cliché perhaps, but many hugs, for both the good and the bad times.

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  24. Thanks for taking time to write this, Mardel, so close to your own deep, deep sadness. I, too, would probably extend the biblical year -- even watching girlfriends survive the death of a marriage, it's become obvious to me that these events have a longer trajectory than we might easily imagine.
    The comments are astute and wise and kind aren't they? And I really like Kristin's attention to the fear with which we face extremes, as well as the value they do pose. Deep sadness, grief, anger, they're so uncomfortable, painful, to experience or to witness, and we want to hide our faces. But yes, "sometimes I think we have to let the emotions roll and wash over us before we can actually isolate and integrate our feelings with our more rational responses." Thank you.
    And if hugs are clichés, as a few commenters besides you have worried, they are the very best of clichés and will never be scorned by me!

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  25. I have been thinking for days about posting here but hesitated. I'm inspired by the honesty of your post, and the comments. I have suffered from depression since my teens. I have good times and bad times, and I can avoid medication if I remember to exercise, meditate and do things that are not for me (the word 'serve' sounds too, well, servile, I suppose). Doing all those things doesn't stop the episodes, but keeps me on a more even keel than I would be otherwise. Four years ago, my mother went through a massive bout of depression and attempted suicide. We had invited her to stay with us (she lives in Asia) because we knew she was ill. I found her, with my brother. My daughter (8 years old at the time) had to hold the door open for the ambulance guys. Despite suffering the same illness myself, I still have so much anger in me about that. I feel guilty that I feel more anger than empathy - and then I wonder whether I'm as fundamentally narcissistic as my mother. It's difficult ...

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    1. Oh Tiffany, thank you so much for mustering up the energy and courage to post this. I don't know why it should help to have company in sadness -- shouldn't I want the whole world to be happy? -- but it does. Not that I want you to suffer depression, but it's encouraging to know that others move through episodes as well, and that some of the techniques I use can and do work for others as well.
      But my mother's struggle with depression never led her to attempt suicide -- that must have been so traumatic, and I can see how your daughter's presence there would thorougly complicate your response. All these threads that tangle back through our lives, back through generations.
      You don't write like a narcissist, I must say. . . .and from the snippets you've divulged, I'd say you've got considerable justification for anger (and sadness), but also that you've made a life with much support and kindness and wisdom and joy. Take care.

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  26. I so appreciate the honesty... Ie... the humanity in your writings. i believe it is in such shadings... our deepest connections are often made.

    xoxo

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    1. Thanks so much, Tamera, for taking time to read and to comment so kindly.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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