The Dark Side of the Mood

Sounds like I was jamming to some Floyd with a cold, eh?

Some people are just more prone to depression. It is actually attributed to a certain personality profile and trait – that doesn’t mean that everyone with that profile will have depression…they are just more likely to. If you add to it really shitty circumstances you can bet there will be bouts of it.

There are several things at work in depression, I will call them the ABC’s of depression. Attitude, Behavior and Chemistry.

Attitude. How you see the world. How were you trained to see the world? Optimistically or negatively? How were you brought up to view yourself? Your circumstances and situation? What was modeled to you? I am not giving anyone a wild card to blame anyone else for your own attitude and personal responsibility to choose happiness…but there is something to “modeling”. This is where you tend to even accidentally “model” whatever you were exposed to long term in your formative years.

You can fight the uphill battle and strive towards beauty and happiness, but when overwhelmed and beat down, it is easy to slip back into the modeled, or comfort zone of attitude, which may be very negative.

However, Attitude is the first and foremost key to beating most (not all) depression. You do have the power to change your attitude. You are the only one that can control that. It really is that simple. And that ridiculously difficult.

Then there is Behavior. What do you do on a regular basis? Are you into constructive or destructive behavior habits? Are you in a downward spiral? Are you going through the motions? Do you chose to be around constructive or destructive people? Are you making intentional decisions or just being blown around in the wind? If so, are you doing anything to attempt to change it? This doesn’t happen overnight.

Behavior is very hard to change. In fact, it can only be done effectively after you have had a real change of attitude. Attitude is like the rudder of the ship. One small turn can change the whole course. Behavior is like the ship itself. Once the attitude or rudder makes that change, the ship, or behavior start to follow.

Behavior is hard to change because we are such slaves to our habits. Some habits are even addictions in some form or fashion. That is why rehab often fails…forcing a ship or behavior without the catalyst – or attitude, is usually futile.

But it CAN be done. Attitudes can be changed. Behaviors can be modified. It just requires persistence, resistance, believing, and lots and lots of daily work and support is important too.

Lastly, the C. The Chemistry. This is the trickiest of all. God only knows what is really going on here. Science is making break throughs I guess…but it is still largely trial and error.

Trial and error with some catastrophic consequences. Some anti depression medications have actually caused people to kill themselves because they may have been misdiagnosed as just depressed when they were actually bi-polar. I mean this isn’t child’s play. Most drugs have negative side effects like nausea or feeling dizzy…well, how about delusions of grandeur and suicidal tendencies? Now THERE are some good family memories.

Chemistry is the hardest to figure out. Are you clinically crazy? Or just having a piss poor attitude about life like everyone does now and then? And what is normal anyway? It’s all so flattering and glamorous, really.

There are tons of fund raisers and campaigns for all kinds of diseases and conditions…but depression is just a taboo and figment of the imagination. It is an embarrassing, character flaw or weakness of an individual. It is not given kindness, tolerance, empathy or consideration. It is often met with confusion and irritation, which – ironically causes even more depression.

I guess if you know anyone that suffers any of these ABC’s of depression, the best thing to do is treat them kindly. Don’t kick them when they are down. A depressed person is already painfully aware of their flaws.

Know that it will pass, but give them a little break. Maybe even some tough love, as long as it is really love…not frustration. A hug is also always good. Encouragement, not bullshitting or patronizing – cause even crazy can spot a fake.

But the main thing is…let them have their moment. Let them cry. Let them get it out. Let them have a pity party and then move on. Ignoring the pain only increases it. Telling them that their pity parties are really unattractive doesn’t help. An acknowledgement of their sadness, a distraction with some kind of humor and kind arm around a shoulder can do wonders.

If all that doesn’t work, perhaps chemistry is at play here. If it lasts for weeks or months…maybe. If everything else in their lives are seemingly ok, but yet, they continue to reside in the dark…maybe. And maybe then it is worth consulting a doctor. I just don’t know. But if depression is really an illness…it does deserve treatment just like anything else.

Lastly – a comment on love. What is this elusive thing that most seek, but not all find anyway? Is it a place of peace? Is it contentment? Why do some need it more than others? Depression craves love and acceptance. Not a hero, not a rescue…just companionship. Unconditional love. But the problem is that – people don’t love unconditionally. People love with conditions and limits, and rankings, and on and on.

So you are left with your own attitude, your own behavior, your own chemistry. In this world. Battling up hill, hoping, dreaming, believing in whatever you may believe in. Hoping for some relief from this wretched world. Needing to believe in some kind of heaven, or God, or story line bigger than ourselves.

The key is knowing that moments like this won’t last forever. These moments when we cross over into the shadow of our souls for a brief time. Moments like this make the light even brighter when we travel back out of the shadow. It is just a temporary lapse of unreason, as we strain ourselves back to clarity, and happiness. Because no one can live for long on the dark side of the mood.

Mowing Season

I mowed my own grass this weekend. Now that doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, and on the surface it isn’t. But for me it was a big deal. I got to do a lot of thinking while I just walked and mowed. It marks not only a new season of growing for the grass…but for me too.

2 years ago I was suddenly completely unaware I had grass in my yard. It seems like I forgot I even had a yard. I was in complete shock as I had just discovered that my husband who I had mistaken for the love of my life was having an affair on me with a woman from his work that I had met several times.

The shock and awe of it all consumed me. On top of it all, this was happening while I was pregnant and just had our sweet baby girl. Trying to come to terms with the double life he and she had been leading for years was almost more than I could handle. I shut down.

The house and yard and the many blessings that I had been so thankful for became a strange, unfamiliar place. Everything I thought I knew…was a lie. I unattached myself from it all for a period of time. Partly just to survive. I learned a serious lesson – that it is ok to ask for help, and admit you can’t do life all alone – especially when you are injured.

No one would expect someone to keep up with all the housework, yard work, and children all alone if they had just had triple by pass surgery. But most people were largely unaware of the gaping hole in my heart because no one could physically see it. My dad and wonderful stepmom had mercy on me and came to mow my grass. In between that I paid to have it done.

I simply didn’t have the capacity, wits, or ownership left in me to do it. I had a new born, and a six year old at the time and was suddenly a single mom, in the true since of it. My husband had always traveled extensively and I was alone a lot, but I was now living in a shell of a house, shattered dreams and reliving every moment I had lived the 2 years previously realizing that nothing was what I thought it was.

She had been in this house. She had violated my space. She touched my children. She ate meals that I cooked and or bought for her. He was texting her and giving himself away to her under this roof we shared – sometimes while the children and I were in the same room I found out by looking at the phone logs! This house was no longer our house. The yard was no longer our yard. It was a fallen battle ground. It was a sad reminder of the carnage and loss I had suffered.

HOWEVER…that kind of mentality doesn’t last forever. I have to say – it is important to mourn, and get it all out.

But then MOVE ON.

I have mowed my grass twice already this season. I no longer see this place as a shell, or a battleground of defeat. It is just the opposite. This is now a place of victory. We made it…well…me and the girls. We survived. A bit bruised, a loss of innocence too soon, but stronger and more aware.

I am getting ready to hand the house over to him. I am getting my name off of it and he can pick up the pieces that he scattered all over the place. He was gone for so long – under the convenient disguise of “business travels”. And he has continued to dodge a lot of the reality and responsibility of being a full time parent and home owner. I can only hope that at some point he will grow up.

It’s kind of funny or ironic that just when I am able to start feeling capable of caring for a big place like this on my own, that I am now ready to give it up. I consider it just another sign of healing. A sign of awareness. A renewed since of independence, emotional maturity and glimpses of clarity. And lots of prayer, good friends and support.

I’m ready for whatever lies next. Whether it’s a condo, or an apartment where I don’t have to mow…or whether it is a little place to make our own where we get to bring our own mower and I get to mow to my hearts content.

Look out world…I found my walking and mowing shoes…

It’s mowing season.

vroom, vroom!

Uncomfortably Numb

The pressure is on. I am overwhelmed. There is honestly more to do and accomplish in all areas of my life right now then I am capable of achieving. I feel…uncomfortably numb.

I need to find a place to live for me and my girls…and one cat.

Yes – that means I need to find my other cat, aka, miniature panther a new home.

I need to have a tremendous yard sale and downsize a ton of stuff so I don’t have to move unused “stuff” to the new place – wherever that will be.

I need to find full time child care for at least the summer if not full time, permanent care for the girls.

Before I can secure full time child care, I have to fight and win the battle that my ex mother in law should not be the sole child care giver as is presently the case. This is because of inconsistency in availability and also my personal fear for her long term health and strain that would be put on her – spending 50 hours a week with a very busy, independent, fast 2 year old.

Because of my point directly above, I am wasting hours of my already overly busy day trying to secure child care to cover for certain events or needed absences of my current child care giver, and arguing my case to my deaf, mentally stunted and reality challenged ex.

I am working a very busy full time job that I am so very thankful to have but currently is so demanding that I am lucky to stuff a bite of food in my face in between meetings and managing projects. Still fairly new, so I am still on a learning curve. Feeling the pressure of knowing “just enough” to feel fairly responsible, but still clueless enough to not feel confident yet.

All this while being a single mom. Coming home mentally exhausted, helping with homework, fixing dinner, cleaning up, tending to all the household chores (laundry, trash out, kitty litter changed, vacuuming, etc…all of which usually gets neglected), getting the kids bathed, and to bed before 8:30 (usually closer to 9).

Then there are extra curricular activities for both the kids and myself. Good activities…play dates, art classes, girl scouts, sunday school, vacation bible school, women’s ministry meetings, focus groups, and all the meetings and research that go with all that too.

Trying to find time for my great girl friends and a really neat and special person that I would like to spend time with, but struggle to see more than once or twice a week and usually less.

So where is my time to play piano? My love…I miss it. Where is my time to dream, write, create? Where is my time to finish my website and books and CD’s and all the things that make me feel alive? And why do I feel so guilty for even wanting or hoping for those things?

I am so very tired and feel like I am failing miserably at everything. Work, motherhood, juggling tasks, being a good friend – I am not doing a great job at ANY of these things right now.

I feel like I am on some strict task master schedule, reacting…not having time to really think things through very thoroughly. I don’t have a lot of time to analyze how people “feel” right now. I barely have time to figure out how I feel about anything.

I am shutting down. I feel numb. Uncomfortably numb. I know I am not alone. I know everyone else probably feels like this in one capacity or another. I am also thankful that moments in time like this won’t last forever. In 3-5 months some of these things will be done and some relief will be granted. There is comfort in knowing that nothing lasts forever.

But I can still dream. That is remarkable to me. Not sure why or how I can still do it, but I do still dream. It keeps me going. I have tried to stop, but I can’t. Dream of making a difference, being a great mom, a good friend, a published author, a song writer, and to one day be loved or cherished…whatever that really means.

Yet I have to accept that I may never achieve, be or have any of those things. It’s a delicate balance. I fall of the beam frequently.

So for now, I just have to keep going. Keep moving. Keep reacting. Doing the very best I can simply do. Giving my all. Hoping it is enough. One step at a time.

This Man’s Work

I really hate to get all sappy and retrospective on ya, but I have had a surreal couple of weeks. In a span of 2 weeks I have attended 2 weddings 1,000 miles apart, and found out an old friend passed away.

At one wedding I was blissfully ignorant of the slow, painful death a friend was suffering.
At the second wedding, I knew he was gone and as I sat outside waiting for this beautiful climatic moment to begin for two awesome people, it was strangely laced with a sadness for the soul of a friend that I will miss.

But this post is not about me or my temporary sadness. This is about telling the world of a really cool, talented, sweet person that is just no longer with us.

He was a friend from high school and he found me on facebook a few months ago. I was so excited to hear from him and curious to see what he had been up to for 20 years. He was so artistically talented – even back in HS he stood out, but more importantly he had such a sweet natured, genuine soul.

And like all true artists…he was a bit odd. That is probably why I liked him so much. He saw the world differently. I mean I knew I was odd, but I tried to hide it in HS, ya know? But Jeff? He didn’t care. He seemed to embrace his uniqueness. And thank God…that is what made him such a great artist.

Some people you just connect to deeper than others. He was one of those people for me. He was inspiring. He was a free spirit, pursuing his passion…no matter how precarious of a financial situation it put him in. He was doing something so many of us fail to do…be true to our inner selves.

He started reading my blog here, and commented on several of them. I had struck a chord with him too. We had a mutual appreciation of each other’s talents, perspectives and experiences in life. We picked up where we left off in HS. Deep thoughts tossed in with humor and silliness. No need to talk about the weather…that was us.

A few weeks ago I noticed there were no comments from Jeff. He had been silent for about 3 weeks. I figured he was just busy drawing or scheming his trip overseas that he told me he was dreaming about.

So I was quite unprepared for the shock that I had coming to me when I attended a little HS gathering social night out. We’re all catching up and chatting and someone just nonchalantly mentions, “Did you hear about Jeff?”

What I was expecting to hear was something great about his art or travels…I was NOT expecting to hear that he had…died!

WHAT?! No…WTH!? This didn’t even make sense. He had talked about doing some illustrations for me on future children’s books or some other kind of creative projects, he talked about his current and future endeavors, but there was no hint that he was ill or anything.

So I went home and looked up his FB page to confirm only the worst truth possible. It wasn’t even a quick painless death. Apparently he had a few weeks and maybe more of slow, painful, degradation of life to the point of no return.

And while I could be full of regret for not being aware…for not being able to send him some kind of encouragement through it all…I know that wouldn’t really do any good. I can’t change the past…and who do I think I am that I could have made any real difference anyway. Yet, I would have loved very much to see him one last time. To just hold his hand for a moment, to tell his family how sorry I am for their loss, to just do the human thing we do to let go.

He chose to not have a memorial service. His maternal mother posted this on his FB profile:

Being the creative and genuinely real soul that he was he asked that people celebrate him by paying something forward in his name – He wanted everyone to remember him as he was – his words were “Now that my spirit has left this fleshly body I am truly free to be close to those I love, I will live in your hearts and minds”. His wishes were that people honor him with – No wake – no viewing – no funeral – bless others with acts of kindness by paying it forward to someone in his name. Isn’t that just like Jeff – he is and always was God’s best.

I may not have been able to do much in his last days, but I can at least spread his legacy that he left the world. He slipped right though our hands, but left a beautiful and interesting fingerprint. He did some murals around Columbus Ohio, and you can also see his full body of work in the link below.

This is one Man’s work. Thanks Mr. Jeff Dade Abraxas for being brave enough to expose yourself through your art and leave behind a huge part of yourself for the world to hang onto.

My 100th Post!

It’s hard to believe I’ve posted 99 blogs. I hear a Nina parody coming on…99 red nuftblogs…er, maybe not. But that makes this my 100th post!

When I started this experiment last August, I had no real expectations. I only hoped I would have the guts to be real, honest, and not sound angry. I wanted to document my journey from devastation, to a place that I only hoped I would be one day…a place of healing and restoration.

I started blogging for my own selfish reasons. I felt I had something to say, and I needed to get it out. I had kept so many things a dark hidden secret for so long, I just had the urge to bring it out into the light, call it what it is, and talk frankly about the psychology all along the way. I guess I was looking for a release.

I also did it somewhat for my girls who I figure, might one day read this when they are old enough. They are the big reason I try very hard to rise above the pettiness and not verbally trash anyone out…even if they desperately deserve it. I have saved those moments for a select few very close friends whom won’t judge nor disown me when I sink to those depths. But for my girls I wanted to be open, honest, and reflective about life, my pain, my mistakes, all the beauty, and lessons along the way.

But somewhere along the way I realized I was no longer just blogging for me and my girls. I was blogging for 100’s of faithful readers that keep coming back to renter into this window I have opened for people to peer into, look around and feel almost guilty for getting such an intimate look inside, yet still feel like a stranger. It’s a one sided deal unless you comment. But only a small minority actually do.

That started bumming me out at some point, until I reminded myself that my true audience is me. But still, it is amazing how many people I end up talking to that actually read, felt like commenting, but didn’t even know what to say. I love you any way.

So where am I on my timeline from devastation to restoration? Still somewhere in the middle, but leaning well towards the latter. I still have my moments…self pity, doubt, and other silly emotions creep in, but I spend more time living, laughing, learning and loving.

I really appreciate you, readers. Thanks for making this blog experiment more positive than I had ever imagined. Whether you comment or not, I can see your silent partnership in my anonymous stats tracker. Even if I don’t know who you are or what you are thinking back, I know I am not alone, and somehow that is more encouraging than I could have ever known it would be.

So – happy 100th post! Cheers, and I look forward to whatever the future holds. More blogs, web sites, published books, music recorded, possible companies founded, but most importantly, lives touched and encouraged all along the way. One little step at a time.