Tag Archives: depression

Christmas Poem

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Lay teenagers sleeping
A snoring husband and one grouch.

The election was over
(The whole country lost)
And my heart’s temperature
Could rival Jack Frost’s.

Recent politics and worry
Were still stuck in my head.
Sleep wouldn’t come
So I tossed in my bed.

So far I’d not heard
One jingle bell ring.
Where was the joy
This season should bring?

When suddenly a noise
Cut into my doom and gloom
A crash, some clatters
A few bangs and one boom!

Could it be? Was it really?
Could Santa be here?
Had he arrived just in time
To bring me Christmas cheer?

As usual, my cohabitants
Kept snoring away
I peeked out the window
For a glimpse of the sleigh.

No reindeer in sight,
I wrapped up in my gown,
Headed for the stairs
And then made my way down.

Anticipation mounting,
The living room drew near,
I softened my footsteps,
Stayed silent to hear.

Would old Saint Nick
Finally be caught in the act?
Would forgotten childhood magic
Come flooding back?

My excitement was palpable
I was giddy with glee.
I still couldn’t believe
Santa was here to see me!

I got my camera ready.
(I’d do whatever it took
To get of a photo of Santa
To post on Facebook.)

Unable to contain
My impatience much more,
My iPhone and I,
We burst through the door!

And what did my wonder-filled
Eyes get to see?…
The cats had knocked over
The damn Christmas tree.

No Santa, no sleigh bells,
No presents galore.
Just tinsel and ornaments
Scattered all on the floor.

As has been the mother’s duty
From the dawning of time,
I stooped down to clean
A mess that wasn’t mine.

This story could end here.
A sad tale, yet true.
But this is not
What a poet must do.

A poet finds lessons
In all that abounds,
A poet must turn
This sad story around.

While sweeping up tinsel
I found in its wake
Homemade childhood ornaments
With nary a break,

Presents still wrapped with
A mother’s loving care
For children, nearly grown,
Still sleeping upstairs.

I swept up the mess
In my warm, cozy home,
Sat down on the couch
In the silence, alone.

Realized this ole world
Would keep turning around
Even as politics and Christmas trees
Come crashing down.

The life that still mattered
Surrounded me in this place,
My family and I?
We’d still show loving grace.

We’d treat strangers with kindness
We’d put others at ease
We’d help others up
When brought to their knees.

The spirit of Christmas
(Acceptance and love)
Was still in our hearts,
Still what we were made of.

No President, no politics
Would be changing that.
Our family, each other,
That’s where it’s at.

Looking around at the tidy
Living room once more,
I rose from the cushions,
Put my feet on the floor.

Enough of this sadness
Enough of this gloom
I’d put myself back together
Just as I’d done this room.

Tomorrow was Christmas
A good time to begin
To move back towards the person
I was once again.

Nothing would put me
Back into that slump,
Not even the thought of
Old President Trump.

I went back to my husband
And turned out the lights.
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good night.

christmas-cat

***

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
– Charles Dickens

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Time to Rebuild

“People are constantly not feeling, but numbing themselves, either through medication or playing on their phones. If you start feeling bad, it’s like, ‘Distract! Distract! Put on Storage Wars!’ And I know because I’m guilty of it, too.”
– Mary Lambert

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the biggest “non” Donald Trump fan that is currently walking the planet. But in this blog, I have to borrow one of his stupidest ideas and use it as my own.

Sometimes, a “wall” really might be the only answer.

And it’s time to rebuild mine.

A few months ago, I made the decision (together with my doctor) to discontinue depression medication. It was not an easy decision, physically or mentally. If you’re not a regular follower of this blog, I wrote once about how “addicted” I was to the medication I was on (see here). It was a timely and difficult process of weaning, but here I am on the other side and all is well, right?

Wrong.

And here’s why: I feel things again.

You know that feeling when you’ve been sick for a very long time and you finally get the inklings of starting to feel better? That the end is in sight? You become so appreciative and aware of how great it is to not feel sick. It’s almost like euphoria.

Well, what I’m feeling right now is the exact opposite of that.

I had a random discussion with someone once who declared himself an empath. As I listened to him talk, I wondered if that was what I am – if I had finally found the right “diagnosis.” An empath feels things. Not just temporarily and not just on the surface, but they feel them. That doesn’t mean they are just sensitive. Being sensitive means that you feel your own feelings very strongly. No, an empath not only feels their own feelings – but they feel others’ feelings at the same level that they feel their own (sometimes even more). It’s actually a fascinating phenomena. But the more I researched it, the more I realized that even though it may be fascinating, and even though it sounds like being this way would be a good thing, it’s actually quite horrible.

For instance. When my children were small, whenever they’d have a tummy ache, my stomach would hurt too. When they had their tonsils out, I could hardly swallow anything for a week. When my son had yet another bout of strep throat in his toddler years, my throat would not only hurt but I could ‘smell’ the sickness on him. Crazy, right?

Well, over time, I just passed all that off as a mother’s intuition. But it just wouldn’t go away.

And it’s not only my children anymore.

In fact, I don’t even have to know the person.

National news; the political firestorm that is surrounding us right now; the constant struggle for equality; the bombing and devastation in foreign countries – I literally cannot stand it.  I can’t sleep. My stomach hurts. I cry.

empaths

See? I read that quote and it started to make sense to me. Is this what is wrong with me right now?

And you know how I handle all of these feelings welling up inside me? Oh, it’s a complicated, difficult method that I’ve worked hard to hone over the years.

I get pissed.

Yup.  I get pissed right off.  Because anger is the easiest emotion to deal with, right? When everything starts piling up and I can’t stand it anymore, I just get mad. Those other emotions are hard, but mad? Oh, mad is easy. It’s my favorite.

picDoes it solve anything? Nope. Does it make me feel better? Nope. But what else am I supposed to do?

Oh yeah. Now I remember.

Drugs.

I sound like I’m joking, but I’m not.  That medication is apparently the only thing that’s going to “save” me. I can’t live like this. I just can’t. The medication serves as somewhat of a blinder. It helps me not “see” all that I’m seeing right now. People are so damn cruel. They just are. They are egotistical, they are condescending, they are furious and taking it out on any and every one who is around them. And me? Hell, I’m mad too. I’m so pissed I can’t even think straight. I start having a conversation about current issues or political happenings and what happens? The convo turns to criticizing and belitting me. Simply because the person doesn’t agree with me or doesn’t see things my way.

What the hell, man?

I recently started a fundraiser in my area called Agreeable Disagreers.  And even though it has done a tremendous amount of “good” in my little county, I’m starting to realize that everything has a price. Because of the title of the group, I have been personally attacked and ridiculed many times because I engage in controversial discussions on Facebook.  The last attack was just too much. The entire fundraiser’s goal was challenged because I, the leader of the group, chose to write a negative review about a local restaurant. Apparently “agreeing to disagree” is supposed to be interpreted as never opening your mouth and saying a word. I was made out to be a liar, a hypocrite, and a fraud, simply because I choose to place a review on a restaurant’s website when they asked for it.

I guess I didn’t make myself clear with the title of the group.

It has the word “DISAGREERS” in it. Do you know what that means? It means we still disagree. People aren’t going to agree on everything all the time. They just aren’t. But when you don’t agree, you don’t personally attack a person. Because this restaurant is in a small town, it was viewed as a “personal attack” on the owner because I wrote a bad review. To me, that is absurd. It’s a BUSINESS. I don’t know that owner from Adam and I personally don’t care who she is. She’s running a business and she has a website that asks for reviews. I gave one.  (Incidentally, this “negative” review included how fabulous the food is, but that the wait time is ridiculous. I’m sure I shut the place down with that, right?).

And here’s the thing – I’m sure people aren’t going to like a negative business review. And I’m sure that business owner has friends who aren’t going to like me now because I gave it. Fine. Be that way. But to publicly humiliate me?  Move to shut down a fundraiser that I run because of my “hypocrisy?”

What the hell is wrong with people?

And most recently, I had someone who was supposed to be a “friend” bring this up as well – throw it my face that I set out to intentionally harm another person with that review.  Are you kidding me?  Me?  Set out to intentionally harm someone? Why on earth would I do that?

I feel their pain too.

I would never ever intentionally harm an individual. Ever. Trust me on this. Sure, it might happen – but it is never my goal. And I know I can be a fiery fighter when I feel like someone has been wronged, including myself, but I would never want to personally attack a person for some kind of personal gain. That’s just plain ridiculous.

Unlike some of my other blog posts, there’s no happy ending to this one. There’s no life lessons, no rays of sunshine, no finding the silver lining. No sir, this blog is just pure and simple telling it like it is. People treat each other like shit now, and I absolutely hate it.  It hurts me to my core and I don’t think I can stand it anymore.

Time to rebuild. Back up goes the wall, and I’m checking out.  You guys duke it out on your own, I’m choosing not to be a part of it anymore.

***

“Depression is something that doesn’t just go away. It’s just… there and you deal with it. It’s like… malaria or something. Maybe it won’t be cured, but you’ve got to take the medication you’re prescribed, and you stay out of situations that are going to trigger it.”
– Adam Ant

That Time I Shut Up

“The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, will point blank not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. You are not for everyone and that’s ok. Talk to the people who can hear you. Don’t waste your precious time and gifts trying to convince them of your value, they won’t ever want what you’re selling. Don’t convince them to walk alongside you. You’ll be wasting both your time and theirs and will likely inflict unnecessary wounds, which will take precious time to heal. You are not for them and they are not for you; politely wave them on, and continue along your way. Sharing your path with someone is a sacred gift; don’t cheapen this gift by rolling yours in the wrong direction. Keep facing your true north.”
– Rebecca Campbell, from her book, Light is the New Black

Make sure you read that quote up there. Read it very carefully.

Did you read it?  Good. Now, go back and read it again. I’ll wait. Really, go on.

There.

[See? Still here. Told you I’d wait.]

I read that quote yesterday for the first time and it really got to me. And I mean really. I went back and read it again. And then again. And then one more time for good measure. Seeing those words, and then committing them to my heart and mind, reminded me of something that I don’t talk about very  much.

And today, I’m going to change that.

I want to tell you about the time I shut up.

I know, I know. Sounds like fiction, right? Me? Shutting up? But nope – this story I’m going to tell you is all true. Every last word of it.

Unfortunately.

Most of you who read this blog either don’t know me at all, or know me through the wonderful world of social media. With that being said, you know the “me” who is a talker. The me who posts a Facebook status or a blog post every time a thought enters my mind. The me who is a performer, a writer, an extrovert in every sense of the word.

But there was a time before all of this. A time before Facebook. A time before the writing and the sharing and the openness.

A time between performances. An intermission, so to speak.

I was involved in a bad relationship. Now, don’t take that as my saying I was in a relationship with a bad man. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying I was in a bad relationship. A really bad one. And what made it so bad was this: I was with someone who didn’t like me.

It’s true. I spent almost five years involved with a man who didn’t like me. Oh, he loved me, I suppose. But he didn’t like me. There’s a difference, ya know. He didn’t like who I was.

For example, he didn’t like when I told people things. Anything. Because, of course, I could have been telling them our problems and those things needed to remain private. So, I stopped telling people anything, good or bad, in person or on social media. I just stopped reaching out; kept to myself.

He didn’t like my writing because I might make him the subject of it and, again, that needed to remain private. My views were so outlandish anyway, no one would ever possibly identify with anything I had to say. I should just be quiet and save myself the embarrassment.

So I stopped writing.

intermissionHe didn’t like my acting. After being involved with community theatres for as long as I could remember, I let the curtain fall on those aspirations. Theatre took time and time was something I didn’t have. I needed to be with him, not out doing God knows what with God knows who for all of those hours. A woman belonged with her family, not on a stage. What was wrong with me?

So I stopped acting.

For someone as bold and blunt and hardheaded as I am, I’m sure it’s hard for you to believe this when I tell you. How could this have happened? How could someone like me become someone like that? But folks, I’m here to tell you – it happened. I wore my hair the way he required. (He once refused to look at me for an entire day because I straightened it and he wanted the natural curls.) I dressed the way he required. I obeyed the way he required.  (Until the time I didn’t – but that’s a story for another day.)

I became so entranced with trying to please him and be what he wanted that I lost me. I had no idea who I was anymore. I became depressed. I slept for hours at a time. I gained weight. In short, I was miserable.

Why does this matter now? Why am I writing about it all these years later?

A few reasons.

First, I posted a blog earlier this week that wasn’t popular with a few people. (Okay, a lot of people.) My viewpoint didn’t jive with some others…including that of my own brother. I don’t like disagreeing with people I love, and for a moment, I did what I used to do. I stopped talking. I got off of the internet for a few hours and didn’t say a word. I didn’t stand my ground, I didn’t argue my point. I ran.

In other words, I shut up.

But then a few hours later, with a sudden jolt, I immediately realized what I was doing. I was once again allowing the sound of me to disappear because someone didn’t like what they heard.

Second reason I’m telling this story: I saw something a week or so ago that I can’t seem to shake from my mind. There was a news story going around about a woman whose husband was being prosecuted because of forcing her to have sex with many men over a period of years. While the story itself was atrocious, the comments that followed the posting of the story were almost worse. I saw so many people saying, “she obviously wanted it or she wouldn’t have participated” and “why doesn’t she go to jail too? She is the one who did it.” Etc. etc. I saw the woman called every unsavory name under the sun, followed ironically by the question of, “Why didn’t she leave?”

Ah, yes. The “why didn’t she leave?” stance. My favorite.

Sigh. What is wrong with us? What is wrong with people today? Why are we so full of ourselves that we think we know everything? Why do we feel like we know the true story of something that happens behind closed doors that we’ve never even peeked around? Why do we feel that we know the obvious answer when this poor victim didn’t? Do we think we are that much better than her? That much smarter? That much wiser?

I don’t know, guys. I really don’t know.

But I do know this.

I am now someone who tries to recognize the ones who are between performances. I know too well what that feels like. I try hard not to judge. I try hard to remember that I don’t know what happened that put them where they are today. Until you’ve been there, you don’t know how easy it is to slip down that slippery slope of people pleasing. You want so badly to be loved…to be liked…that you find the pieces of you that they don’t like slipping away a little at a time until you don’t even recognize yourself anymore. If you haven’t been there, you don’t know. But trust me, it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens in fits and starts and the further you go down the rabbit hole, the harder it is to turn around and crawl your way out.

Back to that quote at the beginning.

Are you someone who’s between performances? Is it intermission time in your life? I’m here to tell you that I understand. I truly do. But I also want to tell you that I finally…finally…also understand what it feels like on the other side.

“Talk to the people who can hear you.”

Find your song again, friends. Find it and sing it loud. Sing your heart out. For the ones who like you, your song will be music to their ears. Your song will be the best one they’ve ever heard. To them, all other music stops when you start singing. Your voice is beautiful.

And for the ones who don’t like you? They won’t be able to hear you at all. They just won’t. And you can’t make them. It’s such a hard lesson to learn, but it is a necessary one.

Never, ever, let yourself believe what I did. Never tell yourself that the answer is to stop singing. Believe me, dear ones. There is a place for your song. A place that would be empty without it.

Find it. Okay? Promise me. Find it.

And don’t let anyone, or anything, ever shut you up again.

Intermission is over, my friends. It’s time for the second act.

BR9KJP Empty movie theater

***