#DayofLight – Day Late and a Dollar Short

I am accustomed to being behind in task and topic.  I have elevated “getting behind” into an art form.  It  encompasses several components:

  1. That uncomfortable feeling of swirling uncertainty, doubt, and fear in my chest that translates into a tight throat and churning stomach is the precursor.
  2. Procrastination and avoidance followed by last-minute frenzy sees the mission accomplished.  I still get things done.
  3. Then the beating up myself starts with negative self-talk. The result of the procrastinated task could have been accomplished in a better fashion if only I would not have been like I am and done a half-assed job.

This is not a funny topic.  But, learning to laugh has saved me from completing this swirly carnival ride into depression many times in the last ten years.
I still ride it occasionally. I sometimes wake up realizing I have been transported to the ride’s destination overnight:  the desolate void of an abandoned midway with garish booth lights flashing through a muted drizzle and reflecting off the light-absorbing slick of pavement. Carnival of depression, I know you well.
I have learned over the years, through talking, writing, and reading to get out of bed and not to pull the covers over my head.  I stumble off to get a cup of coffee and take my Zoloft.
Thank heavens for addiction.  Without the threat of caffeine withdrawal, I might never get out of bed.  Once out of bed, I just have to remember to take  the damn pill from the prescription  I will have to take every morning for the rest of my life.
Caffeinated and medicated, I can mentally zap the Killer Clowns from the Outer Midway (intentional homage to Killer Klowns from Outer Space) off the planet for the rest of my day as the ludicrous abomination they are.
Sometimes it helps to actually form the mental image of Marvin the Martin zapping my nemesis. Daffy Duck without a beak always makes me laugh.  Two things that are always good are laughter and giving myself a break.    Then, I look around my disheveled house and quote the Talking Heads, “This is not my beautiful house…”  and I move on to ignore the piles of laundry, dirty dishes, stacks of mail, and pet play detritus, and begin to write.
Writing takes me to a rational place where words tumble on to the page like a conversation with an old friend.  Writing comforts me, soothes me, makes me feel whole.  I excel at writing when I cannot find a path to excellence in housekeeping, or holding down a full-time, or stressful job, or even staying current with the social media that substitutes for writing on days when the muse takes a vacation.  Then when I have said something worthwhile on the digital page, I can move on to other tasks.  This is okay.
The tasks might include scrubbing some pots and pans, or it might include attending a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting and calling Rumsfeld a liar, or cradling granddaughters in my arms.  I have done such things.  I will do such things.  It all depends on how I feel.

Women bloggers chatting in NYC in 2012
Women bloggers chatting in NYC in 2012

I have learned how to navigate with my depression as compass.  It is not bad.  I just try to avoid those vortexes where the needle spins out of control.  Writing every day grounds me, allows me to succeed, and in these days of blog networks allows me to connect with other people.  I’m not alone anymore.  Through my bloggy connections I have connected with my peers, a fabulous generation, as we walk down this boulevard of midlife and beyond, with a clarity of purpose: to change everything.
Breathe.  It is okay.  I am not alone.
I walk with sister writers who really don’t care if yesterday’s hashtag was #dayoflight and I am only now writing about it.  There are things they have not yet gotten to, too.  “Getting behind” doesn’t bother me, I no longer worry about “getting ahead,”  well, not much anyway.  Women, and writers who write about being women, realize that things come around again. Blood, life, death, community, they are all experienced as part of a cycle.  Cycles are real.  Monthly cycles are real.  Life cycles are real.  Generational cycles are real.
Breathe.  It is okay.  You are not alone.

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  1. Hi Nancy,
    GREAT post, you must live inside my head. Except I had to give up caffeine and lotsa’ other things to be able to move at all. I have just taken a HUGE step and announced on my own little blog that-hardly-anyone-knows-about-and-that’s-OK-for-now, that I am planning to write a book. On Overcoming Depression. I am stating my intention out loud hoping I will follow through and a little nervous I won’t, but I have always wanted to, so I am.But I don’t know what I am doing. It’s OK. Am collecting thoughts and chapter titles and peoples stories and research resources, oh my. Such a busy little bee.
    Anyway, this is my further statement of intention. I also love to see the words flow out, it is indeed a comfort, it is the editing that hurts a little.
    Ah so. Hope you are well!!!

    1. Gerry, you are a treasure! Thank you. I hope I have conveyed some of the reality of living successfully with depression; suggesting that I live in your head (love it!) certainly tells me I managed to connect with something that others feel. I am off to read your blog, and I will read your book too!

  2. We’re too hard on ourselves. Way too hard on ourselves. I hope you are able to create the life you are comfortable with and not judge it. I’m at terrible housekeeper, by the way, and that’s A-ok with me. Sounds like you’ve found your passion and that kind of comfort is such a blessing…

    1. Carol, I concur. We are almost all too hard on ourselves! For the people with depression that hardness is dangerous. My passion has been found, you are right!

  3. I think one of the most interesting things I learned is that most people are functional…they find ways to cope. Just heard Rick Springfield say, depression is a lifetime traveler. I learned so much from this Nancy. I appreciate you sharing. You really deserve support. There is no way for some of us to help unless we have a clue about what or how you suffer. I hope you will allow those you love to be there for you even though they may not know how.

    1. Patricia, It has taken me a while to formulate a response. Yes, people can help with their support. The Catch-22 here is that people are put off by needy people. I know I am. When I first identified that the part of me that needed to heal was the little girl who long, long ago suffered from medical child abuse, also known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, I started a group for survivors. I simply was not the right person to organize or lead such a group. One of the problems is that for every depressed survivor who wants help, wants to help themselves, and works toward health, there is a person who sabotages their own path to health. We do this in many different ways. Many of us who are on the path to health now formerly engaged in self-sabotage. Most people do not like to be around, and do not understand how to interact with someone who is self-destructing. It is painful to watch and frustration can quickly build to intolerable levels when we fall into the many traps of unhealthy interaction and communication that a self-destructive person is often expert in creating. I think I will write a follow-up on this piece. Thank you for your tweet that alerted me to #dayoflight and for your comments.

      1. I love your thoughtful response to Patricia about support. I remember the extreme neediness, it cost me 2 marriages and my relationships with my children, who went to live with their dad and stepmom in California, and since they still live there, to this day are not really part of my life. We talk a couple of times a year. I’m an extra mom. Their LIVES center around the LA family. That one is still not healed. My kids (now in their forties) still tell their stepmother it’s uncomfortable to be around me, because it always feels like I want something from them (to be a real part their life). Although it’s true, when I was in my darkest days, they were teens, and were probably better off with their dad, what a huge cost of my depression that I work on not dwelling on, because we know where that leads.
        I remember husband #2 saying, shortly before it was over, when I was in a big sloppy puddle, that I was creating (with my tears and neediness) the very thing I wanted to avoid( his leaving me), but at the time, I had no control. Shortly after that I was in in-patient treatment.

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