PoeticaL
cluttering the net since 2001

take that! and that!! and that!!! you nasty disease

Monday, Nov. 29, 2004
I was never a happy kid, nor was I a happy teenager, but after I had a husband, a child, a house and a palm tree and a couple of dogs to round out what should have been a happy quotient of at least 110% and still found that deep inside I was really not ever happy I came to the foregone conclusion when I started to imagine driving into oncoming traffic and how painful it might be if I miscalculated my own death, I accepted that I was never going to “just be happy” like my ex-husband used to say. In fact he often told me, “I can never make you happy, I try but you’re still not happy.” After filing bankruptcy, enduring one marital affair and trying to forgive him for it and then finally admitting defeat and seeing my home foreclosed upon, and finding out about affair #2 and then sub sequentially having him leave me two days after Christmas, I came to the foregone conclusion that he was surely not going to “make” me happy and that upon his departure the only thing or person that could indeed make me happy was myself.

That was a daunting and very fearful thought. And then the depression that came in those few weeks finally taught me that I would bend with it, or break against it. I felt myself braking and finally fell against a wall one night shortly thereafter and begged him to help me get help. I blamed it all on him in a big rage and fury of tears and a “YOU DID THIS TO ME YOU BASTARD!!!” just for good measure. Oh, I knew it was NOT fully due to just him and rather that something in my chemical make up was never right or hadn’t been right for a long long time. But I laid it on thick with tons of tears and more tears for good measure because THIS TIME damnit I was going to get help and stop feeling so helpless and lost in the world. And besides, he did enough bad things to me to finally do one good thing. Which he did. He started to foot the initial money for the shrink bills and the Zoloft too. Why shouldn't he? He's the one that dropped my insurance and never ever wanted to talk about how I was sad, etc. For years he made me feel guilty for even saying, "something is wrong..I need help."

I had long blamed my sadness on the fact that I had no mother to rely on, no shoulder to lean on, no family to be rooted to. All of those things were difficult and would break anyone with less strength than I. But bottom line is, I overlooked my own mental health because I was too busy trying to “find” happiness and “reap” happiness from any source available just to ice over the pain I lived with constantly. I can recall going to school functions to watch my son perform and I would sit there and will myself to feel anything. My depression became a matter of my finding numbness to outdo the pain. It became a fulltime thankless job. My pretending everything was ok, knowing it wasn't and finding a bandaid of false happiness or reasoning to cover it up. Oh, but that pain was the big enemy, and my pain was not an ache but rather a void, and I looked for anything and anyone to fill that void. After my ex’s first affair I admittedly cheated back. I find this to be despicable now but I did it then because I was lost. I had no one and nothing to lean on and the depression worsened and it was then that I spent hours of my time blabbering away in my diary about anything and anyone that provided any source of normalcy and fulfillment and a moment of relief from the pain. When the depression was at it’s worse my ex left. He knew about it, didn’t understand it, but he left. I recall he told me he most wanted “someone to take care of” him. That he felt I was like a child that needed coddled and helped constantly. This was probably not so far fetched because I just could not ever figure out how to overcome the debilitating feelings that come along with depression. I never thought I was “good enough.” I always felt like I was ugly, fat, undisciplined, stupid and unworthy of goodness. I saw only grief and pain in the mirror. I would always wear clothing that was out of style, etc. I can recall on my day’s off over the weekend I would stay up til 3 and 4 a.m. nightly and then sleep all day. I can remember rolling out of bed and having to will myself up by 3 p.m. I recall my ex’s face, my son’s face watching TV when I would walk out into the living room. It was all of my effort to be any part of the world. There were several times when I got “real” with myself in those daunting years between my son gong to kindergarten right after I arrived in Florida from Pennsylvania and the spiraling downfall of my marriage when the ex started a business and paid the mortgages on houses we didn’t live in and ignored the one we did live in. For years I blamed my pain and anger and depression on the “things” that he did and never on the fact that I was wrestling with a disease. I blamed most things on him and yes he was a dick and he still is a dick. I mean c’mon what kinda guy qets fired and leaves his wife to come up with all the money to pay all the bills? I thought it was just me back then….I sometimes want to call her and tell her “welcome to my nightmare!” but it’s pointless and not my problem anymore. However, despite his shortcomings, he was not the source nor the cause of my pain. Oh I blamed him, I blamed my non-existent mother and gave credence to my pain constantly. I had therapists, good old Bernie, tell me that anyone else in my circumstances would be on the streets smoking crack and I should cut myself a break and just “be happy”. Those words, “just be happy”. Why can’t you “just be happy?” Why not just tell yourself to “just be happy!”. These are the things that the entire world tells you to do, and yet…yet…it’s an uphill battle and there is no miracle drug, no self help book. It becomes a struggle between you and the pain. You punch it, it bites you back. You bite it and it knocks you down. You get up and get up and get up until hopefully one day it stops trying so hard and it becomes a pushing that you have the strength to push back against.

I’m by no means cured. I still take Zoloft and have finally accepted that to truly be entirely healthy I need to spend more money on more time at the shrinks office and I need to get exercise and I need to be red pen checking things off of my list of “things that make me happy” daily. This is why I allow myself to get my nails done, to buy books, to stop for coffee, to breathe deep and stress less. To take bubble baths even though I’m just going to get up in the morning and take another shower. This is why I tell people how I feel, etc. And every now and then I even let myself forget that I have depression and that depression will not disappear or go away. Oh sometimes I fool not only the depression but myself into believing that it’s gone and I am “normal” and all is ok. And then something happens to remind me and haunt me once again.

Yesterday in the doldrums of boredom and too much time off and Sunday blah football hour after hour I was moping and lethargic and just a little bit out of sorts and R says to me, “ya know you’re never happy, I try to make you happy, but it never works.”

These words clutched at my throat strangling me, the idea that someone I love with all my might thinks he must “make me happy” and that I’m “not happy” …this was a replay of something from my past. And I had no words. I hugged him and told him I was happy, but fact of the matter is at that moment I was out of it, feeling as though I was at the top of a spiral that could go either way. Feeling a need to find my fray for a few hours, I felt those old familiar clutches of something that although familiar and in that familiarity somehow soothing yet…wait, it’s that ugly friend depression who isn’t so friendly and is more than ugly and yet, those initial feelings were much like the longing for a cigarette or the last sip of cold coffee. Familiar enough that they go overlooked. And then…his words, a slap in the face, a wake up call. And….what to do, if I ignore the beast it will disguise itself as beauty and I will succumb without a notion to. Instead, I rolled around in bed last night trying to find some comfort, convince myself that a bad moment would not lead to a bad month or traipse into another bad year of my short life. I talked and talked to myself and rolled and tossed and finally decided to turn off my brain and insert reading material the likes of something to take my mind off of things. Two hours later I crawled back into bed and found myself wrestling with R over the covers. I finally said aloud, “ya know we could share much easier if you just came over here and held me.” He listened and held me and even though I told him this morning, “my training is coming along nicely, you listened to me so well last night on that sharing thing and held me” What I really should have said, and yes I’m still learning to beat down the monster of depression and say what I mean and mean everything I say and open my arms and hold those that I love and fear no more pain, I should have looked right at him and said, “last night I was struggling with that damn old demon of a disease and when you held me, I did not feel so alone, when you noticed I was not feeling up to par and pointed it out to me, you helped me and for these reasons I love you and will always fight this devil on my shoulder. For the mere reason that you want for my happiness I too will always fight for it, no matter the cost".

I already know, I will always be better than I was in those 11 years because I denied my problem. Now I have many weapons and I wield them better these days, and I will never again allow myself to drive down any highway imagining taking my own life just to avoid the pain that sometimes just is. I am better, bigger and stronger, even on a bad day. Oh and it greatly helps that I have someone in my life that wants me to be happy and realizes when I’m just not. Always remember when you are the “other one”. The one that depression does not strangle, if you love someone that is sick, remember their sick and it’s like any other infliction, not something they can control, only something they can fight against. I know I ramble on aimlessly when I talk about my depression, and it is because it is so very much like a ball of string that has slowly unraveled and revealed itself wholly to me. Like a puzzle that’s had pieces added over the years. No one tells you that first time you feel angst and pain that it is depression, all you know is that your mind, your world, your heart is torn apart and you feel at fault even though you are not.

The initial pain and sadness and aloofness that comes is usually followed or accompanied with stress, anxiety and nervousness, (I call it my inner pacing and yah sometimes I start smoking like a chimney when this phase comes over me, "and..i'm not a smoker..really I'm not!") and when those things are not sorted out and relieved then comes the inexplainable anger and acting out of that anger in some sort of defense mechanism. I can only hold it all in for so long. I have finally come to realize that I need to recognize the beginnings and seek refuge and peace and find myself a piece of something good to hold onto until it passes, and before it grows into that anger and confusion and outbreak. I am finding the signs easier and I'm stronger and know that these feelings cannot be helped or avoided but rather have to be dealt with correctly and quickly. Last night getting up and reading and removing myself from those bad thoughts helped immensely..so did that arm around me.

To R…thanks for holding me last night…that one arm around me was like having an army behind me fighting that unexplainable sadness along with me. You have taught me what it means to hang on, hang in and be strong “together”. You have given me a lot of happiness and tons of new chapters of so many things that are "good" to write about. I love you.

-PoeticaL

P.S. I talked to the ex in person on Friday and saw my son's dog he has there, Sport, ugly dog stupid name, not the dogs fault so I held him anyways. In that brief exchange he told me, "you seem happy, you smile more, you're doing ok?" I said, "ok is what I strived for with you for years, I tried hard to get to ok and hardly ever did...this feeling, this life I have now, is not OK, it's more than that, its so much more than that.
2:04 p.m. ::
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