Friday, May 16, 2014

Dressing and Depressing -- Title for a Friday!

 Not sure what the triggers are, but I've been feeling flat lately. Heavy, blue-ish, verging disconcertingly close to the feeling that precedes the bout of depression I suffer occasionally, and that I tried writing about last summer. I suspect this round is due to a post-term, post-marathon plunge, the exhaustion after the effort and achievement and adrenaline and endorphins. I feel some of the biochemical sensation that I associate with my hormonal cycle, now long gone with menopause, but leaving some ghostly residue behind to bring me down from time to time.
 I've had many lovely moments to write about over the past couple of weeks, and several ideas I meant to work into posts. But a persistent existential sort of "What's it all about?" and "What would be the point?" too often interrupts any movement from thought or impulse to keyboard.

That said, I do feel drawn back here. And I hope you'll be patient with the postings I manage, the garden photos and, as here, a set of What I Wore photos from week before last. My Denham jeans, bought in London 3 years ago, when I was a bigger size, just right as boyfriend jeans now. Lightweight cashmere sweater, Scarf, comfortable loafers with some shine. Shine and cashmere go a little way toward lifting the mood. And silk around the neck.

As does activity, so I'm pushing myself out for a run this morning and then will follow up with a yoga class. Yesterday's yoga class released a flood of tears, but no one seemed to notice or at least my fellow yoginis were too polite (and/or compassionate) to say anything. Actually, that compassion is something I'm working on, trying to aim it at myself. It was the intention I set in class yesterday, and I think I'll try it again today: just to love myself as I am; be compassionate to myself. Let's just say that's not generally my strength.
I'm always pleased when a little discipline moves me out of lassitude -- as in this post. Sitting down at the keyboard, one step moving toward the next, and there is a post even when I thought I hadn't the energy to write one. Not sure if the continual enforcement of such discipline might not be responsible for the emotional exhaustion or flatness. Something to ponder, I guess. Meanwhile, though, here I am. Just showing up.

Can't quite stitch this one up to a close, so I'll just wish you a Happy Friday! And perhaps you'll share some thoughts on grappling with those black dogs. . . .


46 comments:

  1. Good to hear from you again. As for the Black Dog, I sometimes find them trotting around in post-climatic moments. Sometimes I just find some other interest to take up interest again, or in a better stance, just breath and accept. It sounds like the steps you are taking are all goo, especially being compassionate to yourself- I don't know why, but that is the hardest for me, too.

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    1. Thanks, Megs. Sounds as if we take a similar approach. . .

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  2. That black dog! Never far away. I've learned that there's no point in trying to 'busy' the creature out of my life. Now I try to set a realistic work list and stay productive within its confines but allowing myself forgiveness for feeling the way I do. BTW - that coffee date - are you visiting the big city anytime soon?

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    1. I'll send you a Twitter DM, shall I? Might be over in the next week . . .

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  3. I have bee feeling a lot like this too lately, to which I responded by a cleaning frenzy. I am wondering if there is something in the cycle of the academic year that could be responsible for this, at least partially: the intense fatigue at the end of the semester coupled with the sudden end of the semester itself, with no more crazy schedules, meeting, deadlines, etc. All that time in front of us. There is also something that I have a hard time explaining to myself, a kind of fear that I have less and less control over my life, especially with my kids growing up and ready to make their own (good or bad) decisions about their lives. Maybe that's what people call midlife crisis. Take good care of yourself.
    Dominique

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    1. Thanks, Dominique. I'm Impressed that you at least get a clean home out of your down time. . . . I do think the weird changes of rhythm/schedule in the academic year influence my mood. Not so much the midlife thing with the kids as mine are fairly well beyond that.

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  4. Mater, I am so sorry to hear that you are feeling low. If I could get together with you for a cup of tea I would try to suggest that you must take the greatest care of yourself. Do only what you want to do for a couple of days - over the weekend at least - as far as you can. The world will go on without you for a bit. I find getting out into somewhere green - not my garden where there is something to be done at every turn, but somewhere over which I have no responsibility - and just sitting and being is very calming.
    As you say, you have had a lot of emotional upheaval recently, both good - the marathon triumph - and the less easy - the meeting with your sister in law - plus all the usual stuff with which we all contend, and that is bound to have an effect somewhere and somehow. Please give yourself a break and cocoon for a bit until you feel better.

    Your readers shall, I am sure, be thinking of you and wishing you well

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Ceri. That would be a lovely visit over a cup of tea. I'll admit I'm indulging myself today -- but it's my birthday, so I don't feel at all guilty, and I'm being very well looked after. . .And I've taken your advice and spent time in Nature. . . .and just gazing at the ocean. . .

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  5. You know yourself well. I'm sorry you are feeling blue-ish. I hope that you indulge in the things that make you feel loved and comforted such as the outfit you are wearing. The scarf adds a great touch. Tears can be such a release. I find that I weep less now after menopause and I sometimes miss that sense of exhausted emotion from which to carry on.
    I hope that you find rest and refreshment and joy throughout your day. I'll be thinking of you. Take care of yourself.

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    1. Thanks, Lorrie. These tears are more troubling than relieving, as they've been welling up from nowhere, but I'm hoping some cocoon time will see them away. . .

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  6. I empathize and can report to feeling much of the same lately. Mine of course has nothing to do with post marathon exhaustion. Yoga is a great help and I must get myself back to my mat. Enjoy your weekend. xoJennifer

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer. Yes, you'll have to blame post-wine-touring exhaustion. Not quite the same thing, is it? ;-)

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  7. You are such a wonderful writer, able to express so well what many of us feel from time to time but have difficulty putting into words. Some of the compassionate comments from your friends above almost made me cry too. Post marathon blues could account for sad feelings. I think a sort of mourning as things move into the past is part of life's flow, to be accepted and perhaps not analyzed too much. Happiness is sure to follow as you move to the next phase of whatever, and set new goals. Of course letting go, living in and appreciating the current moment, contemplating nature, not trying to do too much are good strategies too :-) I found: A Guide to the Good Life- the ancient art of Stoic joy by William Irvine helpful.

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    1. Thanks so much, Angela. It's true that the comments here are really thoughtful, compassionate, and wise. As is your recognition that we mourn whatever things flow into our past and that we might just accept the mourning, the sadness, and move along. I'll look out for that book . . .

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  8. Sorry to hear you're feeling low. It's such a bore isn't it? Then one morning it lifts and it's gone. Maybe it's the cycles of the moon, who knows but it will go.

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    1. It's such a relief, now, to recognize that it does move along. And to have my husband know well, after so much time together, what to do to help it move along, and simply to remind me that it will be alright, that it will leave. . . .

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  9. That black dog - it so often creeps up when we the alignment of stars and life's efforts lead us to expect some small measure of euphoria. Why is that?
    If cashmere, a little shine and silk help, pile it on, roll in it, dive into it and weep or sleep - whatever works. Walking helps me - a walk and hot bath - they help but don't always chase the black dog off. Sometimes it just takes time - especially time just for me, alone.
    I hope you are already feeling a little more you-ish, and if not, that you can wait it out.

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    1. Exactly, sometimes a walk, a hot bath, music playing, will help but they don't necessarily chase the depression clearly away. Sometimes it just has to be weathered. Rather mean of it to fall on my birthday, but perhaps at some level that's part of the trigger. Who knows? It will pass. . . thanks for the kind words, meanwhile.

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    2. Ah, your birthday. It's just not fair. I had one last week too - all caught up in the jumble of Mothers' Day and the celebrations for a friend's anniversary. It wasn't the best birthday. At this age - after all these years - I still wake like the ten year old who thinks 'this day is special'.

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    3. Happy Belated! I confess that I spent several years of my childhood (until I did the math) worrying that Mother's Day would fall on my birthday. Just seemed really unfair, especially since with such a large family, birthdays were really a day to be special -- and my parents made sure that was so, but I wasn't sure they could pull that off on Mother's Day. Our inner ten-year olds still need care, no?

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  10. Suspect your dx is spot on; you are self-aware (and aware of others, too.) I too have wept my way through a yoga class and think it's a very good thing... the bottled up sadness too often emerges as anger or being short-tempered with the last people who deserve it. Anyway, big virtual hug.

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    1. True enough, K. Emerging as sadness, as tears, as a flatness that wants to be fetal, so much better than lashing out at others (not that I've never gone there. . . ;-)
      Virtual hugs are very welcome. Thank you!

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  11. Sometimes the effort of "just showing up" can be the catalyst for a shift in emotions and energy. You'll find your way through this, as you have through the many challenges you've shared with us in the past year or so. Sending kindly thoughts and my appreciation for you showing up today.

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    1. Thanks for the kindness, Ilona. Much appreciated.

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  12. I was feeling sad and afraid to come home. The "away" me is stronger and more independent. It is beneficial for you to be able to feel your sadness in the yoga class and to express it. I think that self-discipline and control may indeed be responsible for emotional exhaustion. I especially feel that the is true for those who are "on stage" in
    a classroom. Be kind to yourself and do what feels right to you.

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    1. I admire the way you've found balance between your home and your away selves -- perhaps they depend on each other. . .

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  13. I think one of the points of yoga is that you can and do release through the practice. And I agree, finding the balance between driving oneself and forgiving oneself is a key task of humanity. But anyway, sending you hugs and happy birthday wishes. xoxox.

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    1. Yes, and it's not the first time I've teared up in yoga. First time I found I couldn't easily stop, though. So the hugs are very welcome. Thanks.

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  14. I think your yoga is already addressing that black dog (underfoot when least wanted, not that there is a time when he is ever wanted), and I also commend your "this too shall pass" approach. When I was young (very young), I remember thinking that I should read something cheerful and wry and amusing to lift me out of myself, so I turned to Robert Benchley, only to find him mysteriously empty. Then I went to Poe, and the darkness and general gothic ick satisfied me somehow. Now, when simply looking forward and beyond doesn't do the trick, I do yoga and immerse myself in a gaudy, gothic, really-awful book (no disrespect intended to Poe - he just pointed me in the direction) and somehow that works. Unfortunately, it makes me worry that I have the soul of a twisted, psychopathic teenage boy who listens to nothing but heavy metal and broods until he finally breaks, but since it's been years since adolescence and I haven't broken yet, I guess I'm not likely to now. Finding a fictional character who actually feels worse than I do does make me feel better.

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    1. Sunday, now, and I'm almost back. . . wasn't able to read, somehow, which is very unusual for me, but I think I might start into a mystery novel later this afternoon. Like you, I wonder why that dark side should satisfy, but it generally does, as long as it's well written. Thanks so much for taking time to commiserate.

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  15. I always feel let down at the end of the semester as if I have expended all of my creativity and then slogged through grading (hated task). This year has been compounded by my father's cancer diagnosis, and his inability to recognize that he needs assistance. I need to catch my breath, and perhaps so do you. I admire your tenacity. As an aside that Japanese maple is my favorite! Lynn

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    1. Seems many of us find the rhythms of the academic year can trigger mood changes. So sorry about your father's condition -- we did that last year with my mom, then husband's, and it's really tough territory. Take care.

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  16. I'm going to say (late) happy birthday anyway, even though happy is not where you are right now. I can't really add anything to the great comments above - keep being kind to yourself, know that this too shall pass ... But at the same time don't underestimate it. I have a close family member who progressed very rapidly from a few 'flat' moments to severe melancholic depression which has not yet been successfully treated (9 months on).

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    1. Thanks, Tiffany -- it ended up being a good birthday, although we abandoned plans to go out for lunch. I ran, though, and we kayaked and then I just cocooned and it was all okay. I do take your point about not underestimating -- I sometimes worry I'm being both naive and even arrogant to think one can pull through with will and grit. But this time, I think I've beaten it. . .

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  17. The black dogs... what a wonderful image for a terrible condition! As for possible triggers, many ideas have been offered in the comments above. I think your birthday (many HAPPY returns of the day, BTW) might very well be one of them. As a very wise woman once told me: "Never underestimate the power of anniversaries!"
    I can hardly add to the list of suggestions of what might make you feel better. My personal experience is that it's no use trying to run away from the dogs or to fight them. It will only make them keep chasing me. The only way out (for me) is to give up at some point and just sit still. They might sniff at me, but then they just pass on. For a person who is used to taking responsibility not only for her own life but even for some other people as well it is quite hard to give up control (and cry in public without any apparent reason). But that's the way it works (in my experience). I wish you alle the best!

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    1. It's true what your wise friend told you about anniversaries -- I've been surprised, in the past, how part of me kept track and responded to an anniversary even though I wasn't paying attention consciously at all.
      And it's true, letting go isn't so easy for some of us, but I'm trying just to be in the moment this weekend, and I'm getting there . . . Thanks for caring!

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  18. I don't feel I can add anything beneficial to what has been said here but that my thoughts are with you as you work your way through this cycle. Being subject to it myself, I find that I often have to let it take its course, and you are lucky to have someone who cares enough to know how to help you through. Take care of yourself as best you can, and let those terrible black dogs eventually pass you by. It seems that fighting often brings greater damage. Practice being kind to yourself; you have so much going on: marathons and birthdays, the end of the school year, a trip and anxieties already expressed. Try to release yourself from expectation, if you can bear to try. I am new to yoga, but I find it helps, as it appears do you.

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    1. Thanks, Mardel. I decided today that I would try to act toward myself as I would with a convalescing child in my care -- i.e. when I start feeling guilty about inaction, I chide myself gently back into the armchair or the deck chair in the sunshine. Thus I get some practice, as you suggest, in being kind to myself, with a clearer image of what that can look like. Hope your weekend was good and that your recovery is proceeding encouragingly.

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  19. Oh indeedy, that nasty little feeling that washes over you and makes you feel like Sartre, Beckett and Camus all in one. Usually as a come-down after a period of extreme elation, which is, after all, an unusual situation. I comfort myself with the knowledge that it always passes and is just a way of evening up the emotional doo-dads (I don't want to get too technical...) Hot bath, long walk and early night with an old and comforting book does the trick for me. If it continues, enjoy the feeling of baggy jeans. And your garden is bliss. All will be well. As the blessed Julian of Norwich said back in the 14th century. Onward!

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    1. Well put! Yes! all those French existentialists, wouldn't that have been a fun group. . . . And those comforts generally work for me as well although I've felt oddly estranged from reading until -- what a relief! -- I find myself able to sink into a mystery this afternoon. Clever Julian. . . Onward is the only reasonable choice, right?

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  20. I'm feeling similarly out of sorts (but maybe in a totally different way). For me, the focal point is weather. Lord, I cannot stop bitching about it. And it cannot stop disappointing me in the most extreme way. This long weekend is a total weather write-off. So far, it's only threatening to rain. But it's so cold we've got the furnace on. I think sometimes a change of scenery is in order. And I do believe you'll have that soon...

    BTW, I like to say, jokingly: If you're not crying during yoga practice, you're wasting your time! :-)

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    1. You are absolutely entitled to bitch and bitch and bitch some more about weather -- you Toronto people have had such a horrid go of it. You'll be changing scenery soon as well, no?
      as for the yoga, are you speaking of tears from release or from pain? 'cause sometimes I do wonder if I mishear "Powerful Pose" and it's really called "Painful Pose" . . . ;-)

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    2. Oh - from release! Physical pain, revealed by yoga, should be organic and limited in scope (3/10 on the extremity scale). It should never be in joints or nerves! I'm sorry that was unclear - though I know you understood...

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    3. I hoped that was what you meant! good to have it confirmed. . .

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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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