Posts tagged with "depression"

keeping the rage tender

Fall has fall­en, and I was ready. I was wait­ing. I was trapped for months on end, when my body would­n’t coop­er­ate or anx­i­ety got the bet­ter of me. Even hear­ing Townes Van Zandt sing to me about snow in Raton was enough to make me miss win­ter again. I’d live vic­ar­i­ous­ly in any form of visu­al media I could find, just to remem­ber what it was like to feel the tin­gle of sun on my skin.

Now I can go out, but on my own terms and for the sake of it, not just ther­a­py or a doc­tor’s appoint­ment. It’s giv­en Heather and I a chance to date — to dress up for each oth­er, to trade secret glances about peo­ple who might be the oth­er’s type, to hold hands and show each oth­er off — instead of all the cop­ing we were left doing after falling into the rela­tion­ship so sud­den­ly.

portrait of Heather and Jeff

Rachel Weisz has noth­ing on dem brows.

Ever since she began her career, I found it dif­fi­cult to deal with how lit­tle we saw each oth­er. It felt like we were bare­ly con­nect­ing or hav­ing mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences when we had such lim­it­ed time. Now that she has a bet­ter shift and a car­pool, we have an extra hour and a half togeth­er on week­days. Combined with Jesse com­mit­ting to hang­outs twice a month to play games or jam, it’s made a huge dif­fer­ence in the way I approach my goals and plan my time.

They’re small steps, but after so much regres­sion, I tend to be hap­py with any move­ment in the right direc­tion. Still, I won­der if I’ll ever find a bal­ance that won’t leave me fran­tic, one that’s con­ducive to get­ting my intro­vert needs met while let­ting me feel secure in my rela­tion­ships.

Continue read­ing “keep­ing the rage ten­der”…

whales in the bodies of tiny fish

It’s been months since I had an appoint­ment with my ther­a­pist. I’ve need­ed the time to work on myself before mak­ing fur­ther progress with him; a sign that I’m at a point where there’s a sense of direc­tion, instead of relent­less con­fu­sion and dread. Now it’s a mat­ter of absorb­ing the con­cepts I should know by now, devel­op­ing health­i­er emo­tion­al habits, and let­ting time heal what rea­son can­not. As my body recov­ers from the phys­i­cal reper­cus­sions of depres­sion, find­ing the ener­gy to do these things gets a bit eas­i­er each sea­son1.

As a result, I’ve been pick­ing up new respon­si­bil­i­ties in my pri­ma­ry rela­tion­ship, which I have to care­ful­ly bal­ance with my per­son­al goals. Maybe that’s why my wants have become such sim­ple mat­ters. Some days, I look for­ward to noth­ing more than eat­ing ice cream after din­ner, or play­ing a game until my thumbs are raw. The dis­til­la­tion of my dreams has giv­en me anoth­er child­hood, which I’m deter­mined not to squan­der.

underboob

Part of the rea­son I stopped tak­ing pic­tures is because I need­ed to believe Heather was real. To prove to myself that she would­n’t sud­den­ly dis­ap­pear and only exist as a col­lec­tion of pix­els on my screen, like oth­ers lovers of my past2. Mostly it was because every­thing was ter­ri­ble, and just being con­scious was a bur­den. Some days I was too sad to walk or eat, let alone decide what lens to put on my cam­era or how to frame a shot. The start of any rela­tion­ship tends to be a time of won­der and excite­ment for me, but I don’t remem­ber those years with par­tic­u­lar fond­ness3.

Continue read­ing “whales in the bod­ies of tiny fish”…

  1. There have been many steps back on the jour­ney for­ward, enough for the progress to be indis­cernible from a week-to-week (or even month-by-month) basis. []
  2. It’s strange to real­ize that my dri­ve to pho­to­graph things was par­tial­ly a way of deal­ing with my aban­don­ment issues. []
  3. At least I feel secure in the knowl­edge that Heather stuck by me when I was lit­er­al­ly at my worst. []

facing eternity, or the lack thereof

Heather man­aged to snag a job at a great com­pa­ny on the oth­er side of town. She start­ed her train­ing last month, and I could­n’t be more proud of her for mak­ing the cut after months of resumes and appli­ca­tions, hope and patience.

While it makes sense for her to start work­ing, I’ve been forced to deal with an unset­tling void in the house — like the deaf­en­ing silence of a black­out, when the elec­tron­ic hums and glows cease to pro­vide their per­pet­u­al com­pa­ny. We nev­er spent more than an hour apart before this, when she might have stepped out to grab some gro­ceries or a pre­scrip­tion1; near­ly two years where we could­n’t help but be close­ly in tune with each oth­er’s needs and moods. Now, it feels like we bare­ly have a chance to get our dailies with a bit of extra con­tent before it’s time for bed.

Cadem Forest in Plains of Ashford

I always trav­el with my menagerie of cats; this month with Zuzu, Cat of Darkness at my feet (in cel­e­bra­tion of Halloween) and Brill on my back (who’s actu­al­ly a tiger cub).

Losing so much of each oth­er has been a dif­fi­cult adjust­ment. I was­n’t ready for this. It was­n’t a deci­sion I made. I’m not use to being so alone, or even tak­ing care of myself, for that mat­ter2. When she’s away, the void makes it painful­ly clear how much I sur­round­ed myself with her. I can’t even write with­out men­tion­ing her, cause there’s rarely a deci­sion I make with­out con­sid­er­ing her first, whether it’s how we’re going to spend our time or what I’m going to say next.

It’s a dif­fi­cult reminder of many years spent with­out a part­ner or par­ent to rely on. I’ve been try­ing to reclaim my inde­pen­dence by pick­ing up small respon­si­bil­i­ties. Something as sim­ple as mak­ing my space more com­fort­able, whether it’s a thor­ough clean­ing or new light­ing arrange­ment, turns into a chance to suc­ceed and feel accom­plished. Even games become lit­tle projects, ways of exer­cis­ing my cre­ativ­i­ty or keep­ing myself sharp.

I knew Heather would even­tu­al­ly be work­ing, and I’d be alone. Now the day has come, and I’m con­stant­ly won­der­ing: who am I when I’m by myself? What do I do to fill the hours that she’s away?

At least it’s giv­en me a chance to write again. The break has­n’t been entire­ly inten­tion­al. Part of it is the fact that writ­ing takes ener­gy, and I rarely have any to spare when I’m try­ing so hard just to feel okay. Another part is the fact that I haven’t need­ed this in the same way since I met her. She’s become an impor­tant out­let, one who always makes her­self avail­able to me. There has­n’t been the same long­ing to write, cause I haven’t need­ed to vent, or sort out my thoughts, or feel val­i­dat­ed.

Nevertheless, this peri­od of empti­ness has become a chap­ter in itself. A change that will be a great deal of the rest of our lives. I’m stuck here, while the days stretch out before me with end­less pos­si­bil­i­ty. The hard part is final­ly stum­bling into the life I’ve always want­ed, find­ing a part­ner who fills in my gaps in all the right ways, but not being ready for it all.

  1. Aside from a few days she spent vis­it­ing her fam­i­ly last year. It was the first sig­nif­i­cant amount of time we were away from each oth­er since we met, and I had a pan­ic attack before she was out of the city. []
  2. She still han­dles the meals, and has a sys­tem where most things are done in the slow cook­er; all I need to do is pour the con­tents of a bag into the pot and turn it on at a cer­tain time, although, some days, even this can slip my mind. []

you die, all you do is die, and yet you live

I nev­er intend­ed ther­a­py to take such prece­dence, but it’s become the re-occur­ring event around which I work all my oth­er plans. I’m still learn­ing how to be an emo­tion­al­ly healthy per­son, while unlearn­ing the destruc­tive habits I devel­oped to sur­vive the rela­tion­ships of my past. They affect me every sin­gle day, and I know I’ll be doomed to recre­ate the dra­mas of my ear­li­er life unless I have out­side help. At the same time, it’s not a process I can rush. Every ses­sion leaves me emo­tion­al­ly exhaust­ed, and I need a healthy dose of hap­py to recov­er1. It also takes time to process what I learn, reflect on ongo­ing behav­iours, and put new tech­niques into prac­tice.

I’m for­tu­nate to have found a com­pe­tent ther­a­pist with whom I’m com­fort­able, espe­cial­ly when doing cog­ni­tive work that often leaves me unsafe2. After so many months, he knows enough about me and my his­to­ry to under­stand the kind of guid­ance I need. There’s no struc­ture, but he always lets me start. As a per­son who’s spent his entire life being social­ly sub­mis­sive, the role rever­sal is a wel­come change. It’s a reminder that the time is mine, that I’m free to be myself, that I get what I want out of our hour.

Sometimes, I catch myself wish­ing he would val­i­date me with­out the need to explain myself, but he con­sis­tent­ly remains the neu­tral ally (albeit one with plen­ty of com­pas­sion). I’ve learned that it’s impor­tant he nev­er side with me out of loy­al­ty the way a friend might, so I can trust his opin­ion is always bal­anced and fair. Other times, I wish he would sim­ply tell me what I need to know, but he lets me come to real­iza­tions by myself, to make sure I’m always in con­trol, and to avoid influ­enc­ing me by the act of mak­ing a sug­ges­tion. It’s a unique role in my life that he plays well.

I dread the pain, but still look for­ward to every ses­sion. So much of my progress is tied to the mem­o­ries I’ve kept in the back of my head and the emo­tions I’ve left to expe­ri­ence. It’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to show myself com­pas­sion, while flex­ing men­tal mus­cles I don’t get to use often enough nowa­days. Not to men­tion the grat­i­fi­ca­tion and hope that comes with uncov­er­ing long-seat­ed, self-defeat­ing thought pat­terns.

Heather has­n’t been com­ing in with me late­ly, but she still comes with; I don’t need her as a wit­ness as much as a sup­port when it’s over. It’s com­fort­ing to know I have a part­ner who accepts me now amid all this uncer­tain­ty, and will con­tin­ue to no mat­ter who I become. She’s the one who tends to my wounds at home, the love I’ve been miss­ing my entire life, the rea­son I’m strong enough to do this work. The least I can do is strength­en my bond with her by learn­ing to be more a trust­ing, patient, and accept­ing per­son.

  1. Something that usu­al­ly involves turn­ing into a blitzed-out her­mit for a few days. []
  2. I’ve always won­dered what oth­er peo­ple’s expe­ri­ence with ther­a­py is like. I don’t know a sin­gle per­son who goes on a reg­u­lar basis. []

so soft with scars

It’s hard to imag­ine what life will be like when I’m still try­ing to sur­vive from one day to the next. I’ve nev­er been more dis­con­nect­ed with real­i­ty, but dis­tance is what I need. At first it was days; now weeks have start­ed blend­ing togeth­er. Stretches of time feel short­er as they get longer. It’s been more than a month since I took a step out­side, and about as long since I’ve seen any­one but Heather. I can’t even remem­ber the last time I answered my phone or made a call.

Every day, it feels like I’m falling deep­er into a hole I can’t seem to escape as I slip fur­ther away from myself. I used to enjoy being inspired and cre­ative, but some­where along the way I stopped dream­ing. The lines in my face tell me my body has paid a price of it’s own. It’s left me unsure of who I’ll become; if only I was­n’t so fond of the per­son I used to be.

My new ther­a­pist is shock­ing­ly young com­pared to the man who retired and forced me to look for some­one new. Every few weeks, we care­ful­ly explore the thoughts I keep tucked away in the back of my mind. Heather often serves as wit­ness, to under­stand what I’ve been through and have to re-expe­ri­ence. It’s exhaust­ing to go into a past that pains me so much, but impor­tant work that I hate and need and want all at once.

girl and cat

Not quite two years ago, her stay with me began as refuge from an abu­sive part­ner. She was a frag­ile girl back then; pan­icky dur­ing heavy winds, blind to her own bur­geon­ing nubil­i­ty, uncom­fort­able around any­one else for more than a few hours at a time. Fortunately, my inse­cu­ri­ty hap­pened to man­i­fest itself as a need to take care of oth­ers, and I found both val­i­da­tion and hap­pi­ness when I had the chance with some­one so deserv­ing. It’s hard to believe how quick­ly our roles have reversed. Now I’m the depen­dent, a posi­tion I have a hard­er time accept­ing than she does1, and one I’ll like­ly have for the rest of my life.

Through my strug­gle, I’ve seen her grow into a con­fi­dent young woman who knows how to cook a steak medi­um-rare (even though she’s a veg­an), enjoys every chance to exert her sex­u­al­i­ty, and often under­stands more about my med­ica­tion than the doc­tors who pre­scribe it. I thought I knew what love was, but every day her unwa­ver­ing patience shows me how much deep­er it goes.

Guild Wars 2 character with Eternity

Totally not com­pen­sat­ing.

This is the face I wear most often as of late, while explor­ing a world large enough for me to get lost in. I can set goals at my own pace, whether they’re sim­ple ones that leave me sat­is­fied enough to sleep, or com­plex, long-term ones that help me feel accom­plished enough to do big­ger things. Every day, I’m giv­en the chance to be kind, gen­er­ous, and pos­i­tive to vir­tu­al strangers, while keep­ing a dis­tance from the real world. I even start­ed a lit­tle guild with my friends, and we recent­ly claimed the hall which we’ll call our home; even if I’m not emo­tion­al­ly avail­able to them, this is how they stop by and spend time with me.

It’s hard not to hate myself when my issues are pre­vent­ing me from being the per­son I want to be. I’m in a rush to get bet­ter, when time to heal is what I need most. Heather reminds me that the suf­fer­ing I’ve been through is the rea­son she feels under­stood and safe. I tell myself that this time is just a chap­ter in the book of my life — a stop on the way to who I am — and that there’s more left to write.

  1. I keep remind­ing myself: she knows what she wants, and what’s best for her. []