Monday, January 02, 2006

I was sifting through my archives tonight and noticed that October and November were especially fertile months. I was writing a lot, and a lot of what I wrote was (if I may toot my own horn) pretty darn good. Because I was feeling good. And then came December, and lo, the pickins, they got slim. It isn't just work or the holidays, it's me.

I am not out, but I am down. I am struggling to remain emotionally and socially present, to be a worthy sister, friend and child. I'm afraid I am failing miserably.

To the people in my life it probably looks like "Danielle's entered another one of her funks," which they'll tolerate until I tumble out the other end like I always do. Whenever that may be. I feel fortunate to have friends and family who stick around through my rough patches. Then again, I work pretty hard to make things look smooth. I don't think anyone realizes how hard I'm kicking just to stay afloat and participate, even minimally, in life. I realize others exhaust themselves treading water the same way I do (especially bloggers, such a sensitive bunch of navel-gazers we are), but it's an exercise in self-isolation so I may as well be the only one out here.

If you're frustrated with me, try to understand: It takes tremendous effort to break my routine (work-gym-dinner-write) and spend time with other human beings. That routine is my anesthetic. Even if you're not a hibernator you might be numbing yourself too -- those of you who are always running shopping talking driving going going gone. You know who you are. We all do what we must to evade our demons when we don't feel strong enough to face them. In all the time I've spent lately hunched over my Powerbook, starting dozens of essays I can't flesh out beyond the first few lines, I've said I feel emotionally constipated because I haven't been able to write. In truth I haven't been able to write because I'm so corked up.

I almost just apologized for posting such a downer, but hey -- this is my blog. I've lost sight of that lately. It's still my space in which to speak my mind, and this is what's on my mind today.

I've been accused before of caring too much what other people think. Well, I don't really care if airing these unhappy, unfunny sentiments makes you think me crazy or tragic or brave or pathetic. I do care that it makes you think about those who are bumming you out with their moping and withdrawn silence. Realize that they're treading water and help them stay afloat -- not by doing something but by just being there.

There is much more to say on this subject; A history with medication and therapy and what I still think was a sound decision to stop taking pills and manage my depression in other ways. I started an essay about it two months ago and I will post it when it's done. Whenever that may be. But I've got plenty else to blog about in the meantime. Writing, even writing I never finish, seems to be the best therapy.

21 comments:

Washington Cube said...

I'm glad you wrote this. We all go through our tortured patches and our in limbo spells.

Yesterday I wrote a piece that only briefly mentioned a conversation I had with a friend in Florida. During that conversation I told her about my blog, she asked if she could see it, and I told her I would have to "work up" to exposing her to it, even though she loves my writing and has never been anything but 100% supportive.

Now I've written about her, indirectly, and I wonder how that would sit. You've been a lot braver than I have. I usually sit and wonder, "just how much can I say" in any piece, knowing I could be stepping on emotional toes with every word.

Anonymous said...

The amateur detective, or psychologist, might wonder whether there was a change in your routine in the fall that might be attributable to the change in your mental health. The onset of lousy weather, an increase in work stress, the emergence of someone old or new who causes you, perhaps quite inadvertantly, to think less of yourself and your situation.

The amateur detective, or psychologist, might advise you to compartmentalize that effect, isolate it, innoculate it. Easier said than done, of course.

But necessary?

Jamy said...

The routine may be anesthetic, but perhaps you need it now. This is your way of coping with whatever it is you need to cope with. Use the blog too, though. It's the best therapy I've ever had.

I-66 said...

Down and not out or up and not in... we're still here for you in all your blogginess and wonderfulity... and I realize I've just made up 2 words.

I'll keep coming back.

Velvet said...

Sometimes the best pieces are the unfinished ones, that never get read by another person. Everyone needs something for themselves.

Gordon said...

Never wanting to miss the opportunity to drop in a Fitzgerald quote: "The reason one writes isn't the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say."

playfulinnc said...

Interesting...someone I love quit his meds and feels better than he has in years...maybe we should chat?

I am proud of your honesty. Like swimming in the ocean, sometimes we just have to float.

Hey Pretty said...

With so little sunshine, it's a wonder that we don't all wilt. Consider yourself in good company.

Kayla said...

I am often the most down person I know - but I put on the front that I am very happy (aside from at work, where I let everyone know just how unhappy I am :)). I randomly cry - too much for my own good. I often feel very isolated, very alone. You should never justify how you feel because your feelings are just that..YOUR feelings - and that is a-ok. Friends are friends no matter what - and can recognize when you need space and when you don't. The holidays were a brutal time for me and now, I am just thankful they are over and that spring is less than 4 months away.

Reya Mellicker said...

Artists go up and down, they always have, perhaps they always will. It's easy to remember this when I'm on the upswing than at other times.

Thank you for trusting us. I'm sending you strong life force energy, warmth.

Merujo said...

Winter is a challenging time for everyone, especially for anyone who has ever struggled with depression and recovery. It's no wonder that, in our gloomiest and greyest months, the most talented among us grasp to be creative while keeping head above water with daily routines.

Whatever you share with us, on your own schedule, is great with me. You are a writer of exceptional quality (as opposed to Madame Random Crap Generator, here) and I look forward to your new posts with a little delicious anticipation. It's always worth the wait.

Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel right with the world, and share with your readership when you want to. Don't let this piece of the Internet make you feel pulled in 10 different directions. It's your blog, gorgeous! We're just along for the ride. :-)

Trey said...

Great post and the reason why I say that is because it's honest. That's the way you feel and that's okay.

And I do agree with you, I think we bloggers do seem to be a bit more introverted than most. Blogging is an introvert's way of being extroverted.

I love your line: "We all do what we must to evade our demons when we don't feel strong enough to face them." So true. As long as we don't aviod them forever. I think there's a danger there.

Hmm, yes I need to think about that a bit. Made me think of something else.

Anyways, great post. Like you said, the funk will pass. It always does. Here's hoping it passes quickly. Happy New Years!

Chairborne Stranger said...

Well, I read and enjoy just about everything you put down on paper. Err, the blog.

I hope you are doing well.

Thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

I am not a blogger but a lot of my friends are. That is how I came across your blog. I really love this post. I have been dealing with the same struggle for the last several months. Being a very happy person my whole life, it's a very scary. The causes of this who knows. The darkness of a winter up north, a lost love, disappointment in myself, feeling trapped in the situation I am in, regret. This may sound cliche but just reading your entry and seeing that I am not "the only one". You can puke now. That's fine. But, coming from a impossibly tough family who believes that you should suck it up in traditional New England form. It's hard. And, today I went to lunch with probably the only person who sees my problems and really sees them as just that. Not things I am fabricating out of the sky. (I can't even see the sky from where I live.) She didn't just see me as a person clinging to the past, or someone trying to get attention, or impossibly sentimental. It was an amazing feeling. I have huge goals for myself and my life. But, sometimes, the things that I used to love to do, they seem shallow and selfish and trite since I don't have what means the most. Being where you don't want to be, without the person you want to be with, and it's all your fault. That is a hard place to be. I am changing things for the better and identifying the problems. But, you're right. People just need to understand that being there is the greatest thing you could do for a person. And, meaning it, not just saying it...that's huge too. I actually took a depression test today and the test came back, "You have moderate depression. You may be in danger of hurting yourself." Which, I think is bull, I know I am not. I understand, they need to protect people. But, it made me feel worse about my situation and self pitying and going around saying, "hey guys I may be in danger of hurting myself" is not an option. Then, by simply going to lunch with my friend, and have her truly look at me and see what I was going through was REAL, I felt like I could smile without tremendous effort. You're right. It is hard work tredding water. Work, gym, read, sleep is my routine. And all the while looking enthused...exhausting. I am not saying that psychotherapy is not valuable. I am just saying that it doesn't take a lot to help a person through. I have never felt so alone these last few months. And, people trying to tell me I should, "just get over it!" and telling me what I should do with my life. Not helping one bit. It only makes me feel more alone. I don't know you, you're history or why you feel the way you do. But, sometimes there are more important things than being clever and tough. And, it seems that you are both. But, you don't always have to be. That's what I keep reminding myself. Thanks for your post. By writing for yourself you could be helping someone else. It doesn't have to be deep everyday. Tides always change. Just stay true to yourself. Write what you want to write.

Barbara said...

I too have noticed that when I am flying high the words just pour out of my fingers. But then there are those days when nothing comes. Those are the days when I know I am depressed. Fortunately they don't seem to be so frequent lately. But unless you live in a fantasy world, depression figures into most people's lives from time to time. You are honest in recognizing it and figuring out coping strategies that best suit your needs. But sometimes mental health issues can seem ready to suck us dry of all life forces. Those are the days when it doesn't seem fair that other people can be so happy and so seemingly carefree. Feel free to e-mail if you ever need someone to talk to. I will be happy to be your friend.

Eric the Something said...

D-

You write what you are feeling. You write what you are. What anyone takes from it is where their mind and yours overlap in a shared thought or sentiment. I know I have found myself reading your words and nodding to myself thinking "Exactly!" This post was one of those.

You write for yourself. The fact that many folks have found this space and your words does not mean that you write for them. I have had to remind myself of this during the writing of some of my more serious posts.

From the first word of yours that I read and with every word since, I appreciate your wit, your humor, your intelligence, your emotion and all the things of yourself that you put out there. I look forward to whatever I find here, whether it be up, down, left, right or what have you.

Thanks.

And so that I can use a quote too, "What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure."
- Samuel Johnson

And

"I exist as I am, that is enough."
— Walt Whitman

Larissa said...

thanks for writing something so real and that i totally identify with.

Claire said...

When I read this post, I felt like I'd written it (in the sense that everything in it describes my life too), but it articulates better what I've been thinking lately but haven't felt like writing.

I've been rereading my blog recently too, and it seems so obvious now that my writing is better when I feel better. It's easy to think I feel more compelled to write when I'm depressed, but it's really not true. I recall more detail more vividly and feel more inspired on the upswing.

MemeStream said...

Your blog is a delight to read, even if the subject is depression.

Paulo said...

Paulo loves you.

~Paulo

Mickey said...

Writing, even unfinished, as the best therapy. Most definitely. Process over product.

Thanks for your thoughts on Rites of Passage. I think it applies well to what you've said here on decisions about how to manage ones afflictions...

-Mickey