Monday, June 21, 2010
Got up this morning around 4:45 (I dunno - I just can't sleep later in the summer. I make up for it in the winter, though), went downstairs about 40 minutes later and peeked in on the nest on my way past the door. No birdies!? Fearing the worst, I investigated a little. One birdie, obviously one of the fledglings, remained in the nest and as soon as s/he saw me peering in, s/he took off. too. That explains why the parents were so omnipresent and fussy the last two or three days - babies learning to fly.
So, that's that. On the one hand, I can now use that door again (we've been using the kitchen door only), weed the gardens there, hang up the Wave petunia baskets. On the other hand, I'll miss their crabby little faces. It's always bittersweet when your babies leave the nest. *sniff*
Friday, June 18, 2010
This started out as a memo to myself, but it grew too long for the secret Journal place on SP so I figured, what the hell? may as well share. Maybe someone can gain something from my ramblings.
- I've cut walking paths on the farm twice now, and both times it made me feel so much better - just to be out, riding around on the tractor.
- I planted a dozen tomatoes today, and just puttering around in the soil made me want a salad for lunch instead of something heavy.
- There's no water that is filtered, cold and easy to get to. I need to fix this.
- I need to exercise, preferably outside.
- I need to cut back on my drinking - a single cocktail at cocktail time, then nothing after dinner ought to do it. If not, stop altogether (and if that's an issue, fix it.)
- I need to plan my meals so I can shop, and therefore have on hand what I need to make healthy meals.
- I keep forgetting to meditate and stretch - I need a schedule.
- I feel SO MUCH BETTER when I do something - ANYTHING - rather than sitting around feeling frantic/frustrated/crazy. The only way out of these various dilemmas is to walk out of them one step at a time. The House Dilemma. The Farm Dilemma. The Weight Dilemma. The Writing Dilemma. Walk out. One. Step. At. A. Time.
- I have to remember what used to make me happy, and the little things that used to, I believe, keep my weight in check - getting out on the farm for "fun walks" (as opposed to "boundary patrols") with the dogs, taking the stairs (always) instead of the lift, all those things that added up to a quality of life that Im missing right now.
(I feel like I've written this blog a hundred times... when am I going to put it into motion? When, oh when, am I going to learn? Even my kids are better at deferred gratification than I am, and I have so little self-discipline (and that's been the case ...God, I remember my mother telling me to "Learn self-discipline!" when I was just a kid.)
- I need to remember that I honestly do feel better when I eat right, drink enough water, get some exercise. And I need to care about feeling better. Maybe that's the crux of the matter.
I have been depressed - clinically, for real, chemically imbalanced depressed - for nearly forty years. I've never admitted that in a public forum before, because the way I was raised, depression was a character flaw - anyone with any backbone whatsoever rose above it. I first started to be depressed - for no reason, nothing to cause the fear, guilt, and unrelenting sorrow - at about fifteen. That influenced a lot of the choices I'd make in the next decades in ways I'm just now beginning to piece together.
I had severe postpartum depression after my first child was born, and my mother told me I'd get over it - I never told my doctor. And I did get over it... after convincing myself that my delusions were indeed delusions and no good would come of harming the baby or myself.
When the kids were growing up, I remember several incidents of them coming home to find me sitting on the kitchen floor sobbing, and they'd pat me on the head, ask me what was wrong, and I'd answer them honestly: nothing. There was nothing wrong in my world, except that, inexplicably, I was miserable. Then I'd pull myself together and make supper. I didn't have a choice - my husband was on the road three weeks out of four and I had no family nearby and too much pride to ask for help (and no money to buy any) so I just did what I felt I had to do to take care of the children. I thank God daily that they both turned out to be wonderful, whole, healthy individuals.
I tried everything known to man or woman to help my depression - everything from vitamin supplements to wearing a special hat that had a full-spectrum lightbulb in it. Yoga. Talk therapy. Special diets. Blue-green algae. You name it, I tried it. But not pharmaceuticals. I still believed that only the weak resorted to Drugs. (Never mind that in my wildly misspent youth I'd had as my motto, "Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess!" and that included any drug that made me feel better, however briefly. [No, my children do not know this.])
The only thing that ever made a difference was a supplement called Sam-E, but it was - and is - so expensive that I couldn't afford to take the amount that I needed daily (it would have been roughly $5/day.) Naturally, health insurance wouldn't cover it.
So finally, at about age 45, I leveled with my family doctor and she sent me to see a psychiatrist. I was ready to try anything - the constant, unrelenting undertone of grief, what John Irving referred to as The Undertow, was just getting to be too much, and I dreaded going into menopause, the children leaving home, and my mother (who by now was over 80) declining, without some sort of relief. I knew I'd wind up shooting myself. For real.
So the shrink was of no use, really, except that he finally made a diagnosis. After so many years of being told I was selfish and weak (and totally believing that), being told to "Snap out of it!", that it was "All in [my] head", he put a label on it. He determined that I'd had no traumatic events that were causing the depression externally - that it was all consistently and wholly internally generated and a textbook case of what has become known as endogenous depression. He strongly suggested that I try pharmaceuticals.
After another six months of back-and-forthing, I agreed. The very first dose made a remarkable difference - something, apparently, that is typical with my type of depression (the kind caused by events or failure to cope typically takes a few weeks to respond to medication.) As is my way, I was in for a penny, in for a pound, and wound up taking two separate medications at moderately high doses - and I feel like a normal human, as nearly as I can tell.
The next couple years were spent trying to figure out who I actually was - often, we think we know a person, but all we really know is their depression. Was I really anti-social, or was that the depression? Was I honestly a procrastinator and a slob around the house, or was that due to the fatigue the depression caused? (It takes a huge amount of energy to keep dark things at bay, leaving little for other endeavors.) I'm still sorting it out.
One thing I know, and if you're still reading, this is the thing to take away: people who are depressed can no more "snap out of it" or "pull themselves together" than someone else can snap out of diabetes. You wouldn't dream of telling someone with hypertension to "Get over it!". Believe me, if depression could be cured by an act of will, I'd have done it. It takes work, self-examination, and, sometimes, drugs to reestablish balance.
And that's where I am today. Still sorting, still learning. Still un-learning four decades of wrong assumptions and false beliefs. Still mostly just putting one foot in front of the other.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
... and now we know.
Little cranky-looking baby finches(?)
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I love National Public Radio. In my car, almost every button is programmed to one of the local NPR stations, and I can tell what time it is by whose program is on. I thought this was worth sharing (and the recipes look great!)
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Warning: lengthy. But (I hope) worthwhile.
I was whining to a dear friend a few days ago about how I just couldn't seem to get my mind right, to get in gear for sparking or cleaning or planting or anydamnthinging. This (edited for family viewing) is what she had to say:
"You've pretty much checked off every item on the Stress List in the past few years. You went through the bankruptcy and the enormous stress that the financial mess caused that year. You had to go back to work and work your ass off just to keep the house and live at a very basic level of survival. ... Kids left home and we both know what a mother hen you are and how strongly you react to kid things. Your lack of reaction on that is symptom enough that you're shutting down. Your mother died and you not only had a ton of emotions to weather in regard to that beyond the standard grief fare, but you had to deal with the ... mess of that estate PLUS Joe G's bulls***. On top of all of that, you had to get used to the idea of being a widow and nursing him through terminal illness, then after you'd grieved him, [he] is getting well. Now you're wondering why you don't feel up to the monumental tasks of losing weight and power cleaning your house? Jesus, Mary and Joseph C. Phillips, it's a wonder you can still walk upright! ... "
A few months ago, that felt like "reasons" - now it feels like "justifications" and "rationalizations"
She went on to suggest that I perhaps ought to take a year off to heal, to relax, to gather my strength and wits, and while that has a certain appeal, I think what I'm craving isn't more-of-the-same, self-indulgent slacking OR 800 calorie per day, exercise til you drop, FlyLady action but gentle, positive change.
I took a walk an hour ago. I have 200 acres of varied terrain and conditions in beautiful Central New York. WHile walking, I remembered that when we moved here 12 years ago, the children were elementary age, the collie (now a geriatric 12 1/2) a pup. We covered every inch of the farm, fields and woods, turning over rocks, harassing the wildlife and generally enjoying every minute. In recent years, though, the only time I go out is to walk for exercise, and that only if I feel particularly guilty.
I couldn't remember the last time I'd walked for pleasure, written or drawn something that wasn't for publication, made something that wasn't for sale or commission, or grown something that wasn't sold ahead of time. I quit planting flowers in favor of vegetables and gourds (for sale, naturally.) I was raised with a certain hard-core Scottish practicality and frugality, but hell, even the Scots have fun sometimes! Something is most certainly amiss.
So here's the new plan: Water. Salad. Meditation. Sleep. Walking - slowly, and with an ill-behaved dog or two so I remember to look around. Cozies (a mystery genre.) Yoga. More sleep. Petting cats and sitting in the sun. Ignoring - politely - my husband when he's racheted up about something, instead of immediately locking on Phasers.
Because what's the point of all this healthiness if it isn't any fun? If your whole life is to work, and to work hard, both professionally and personally, then what's left at the end of the day?
Do you really live longer, or does it just *seem* longer?
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