Monday, December 14, 2015

Don't Sell Me a Gun or Some Facts About My Depression

Since I was a kid, I’ve had these wild fantasies wherein I get some horrible disease that makes/forces everyone to feel sorry for me, and worry about me, know...give a shit. I’ve been depressed for most of my life, but no one feels sorry for you if you’re depressed. People feel sorry for you if you have cancer.

My depression comes from severe anxiety, so when I go through a period of high stress and it ends, I get really really depressed. It’s awesome. So, I’m crazy and angry for a few weeks, and then I’m so sad my whole body hurts, and I don't want to eat or drink or do anything....and then I feel better and start taking on more responsibilities. Then, I get stressed out again, and then I get’s the circle of life. The wheeeeeel of misfortune.

I have trouble getting too close to people because of my depression. I try to be open about it, but end up sounding like an after school special, and then I actually get depressed and become mean and sad and convinced that I don’t have any friends. And I’m scared to call anyone because most people aren’t sitting around hoping their friend will call and say, “I don’t have any friends!!!” but in, like, the saddest cry voice you can think of.

I feel bad for my friends. I love my friends and I want them to know that I love them, but sometimes I can’t smile or be “happy” or stop crying or stop yelling about things or stop locking myself in my room and pretending to be dead.

I was diagnosed with “moderate major depressive disorder.” I’m moderately majorly depressed.
I’m kind of really depressed. I’m a little bit super depressed.

Why am I angry all the time? Because I’m sad and scared a lot FOR NO REASON. I’m just as confused as everyone else is. I would be fine if my life didn’t come to a halt every now and then because of my inability to separate myself from my emotions. I would be peachy.

In reality, I think I’m pretty nice….I think I am. I generally hope everyone is okay. I mostly want everyone to be happy. I’m more than grateful for what my friends do for me. But I run a lot of friends off….being sad. or angry. and then I feel bad...and I just bury myself in a hole of shame. And it’s not like I’m just saying to people “this is me! fuck you if you don’t like it!” I generally try to let people know “I’m depressed, and sometimes it’s really really hard.”

I lose friends, despite my best efforts. It is a lot to take on. My mood swings are enough to make me not want to hang out with me, but I’m always there, tagging along. I’ll go from “I’m an intelligent human being, and I make a contribution to society,” to “I’m an idiot and the worst at literally everything.” Naturally, feeling this way about myself leads to a great deal of anger. I think to myself “if I’m so great and intelligent and funny, why the hell do I suck so bad?”

I used to believe it when people pointed out my flaws as...flaws. I still believe it, but I’ve been carrying around a lot of things that were said to me out of fear and self-loathing that I took on and have continued to carry with me for over a decade. I believe, most of the time, that these people must know better than I, and that, although my primary intentions do not include bitterness or hatred, it must run rife in my blood if so many people respond to me as such. I am mostly just very confused.

I don’t like to hide from things. I don’t find that kind of behavior to be beneficial to me. I may be wrong about that. Instead of hiding from things, and ignoring them until they go away, I like to drown in them, sit on the floor and obsess over them until there is nothing left of me. I will withdraw and moan, but I don’t believe I try to crush people. I don’t believe I try to hurt people. I suppose I withdraw because I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want anyone to feel like I do.

I do not fully and completely see myself as a beautiful person. Maybe in any way. On the one hand. There’s a whole different hand on the positive end of that spectrum, it’s just a small gimp hand that doesn’t do much. Maybe I need a robot hand. A Darth Vader hand.

But sometimes I do look in the mirror and see myself and think, holy cow. I'm gorgeous. And sometimes I look back on my life, what I've done and where I've been, and I think, GOOD GRIEF you've had a life. And I have.

Sometimes I feel like there is nothing but sadness. That my future is only a constant cycle of pain and confusion. Sometimes I scare myself and the people I love. I'm scared of being alone. I'm scared of chasing everyone away. I'm scared that I'll never be able to stop this cycle. And my fear is deeper than I usually guess. It's so deep it takes over and fills my head with noise, and it makes me so angry.

And sometimes I feel like I can do anything. That I'm surrounded by love. That I'm a child of hope. I wish I could feel like THAT all the time.

But I'm sick. Ill. And that makes me forget the love. It makes me forget my life, my accomplishments, my own strength. It's real, and it's hard, and no one should have to do it alone. So I can't be silent. I can't ever be silent. Because I am not alone. No one is alone.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Everything is Copy

Everything is Copy. I don't remember who said that, but I do remember my mom saying it all the time and telling me who said it. A lot of people probably said it. It makes a lot of sense.

I walk a fine line between revealing too much and revealing too little. I occasionally forget that my blog is not my diary. It feeds my narcissism while I practice my writing skills, for what, I don't know. Or maybe I do know.

I paid a visit to a favorite bar of mine when I was in Dahlonega, GA a month ago. I sat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine and some Crack Dip. Trust me. It earned the name. Then I watched and listened. Everyone's (least) favorite street festival had just come to an end, and the tourists were slowly seeping out of the local haunts. Neighbors were huddled together in corners drinking in celebration of the coming calm. And I was deciding to quit my job.

I had arrived in North Georgia the day before, but I skipped town to avoid the festival. Instead, I drove a little further north to Raybun County to visit some good friends in a magical escape the madness cabin. I was an exhausted mess, trying to see so many people that I cared about in so little time, checking my email from work to see if I needed to look forward to any "meetings" when I got back from vacation.

I worked in that kind of environment. You know the kind. The job that you always feel like you're going to lose. Everyone is constantly talking in hushed tones about new policies being rolled out or the fact that the management was now referring to us as "subordinates" and getting fired as "being terminated." They actually used the term "termination" in regards to getting fired. I saw the movie Terminator, and I saw it's incredibly terrifying/awesome sequel (I kind of stopped there because nothing tops T1000). I know what "termination" implies.

My friends in the cabin offered me some anti-anxiety medication, and I slept like a baby. At breakfast the next morning, when I told them I had to head back that day, they were adamant. I was going to have to quit so that I could stay longer. I was also going to have to quit so that I could live longer. I figured that out...or have figured that out.

At one point, in regards to my former position, I thought, "what if I get fired before I can see my psychiatrist about getting on regular Xanax or some form of tranquilizer so that I can handle my job," which ultimately lead to the conclusion, "then I won't be working there, and I won't need a tranquilizer."

So there I was, having made the decision not to go back, the night before I was supposed to be back, sitting at this bar where I used to live. I had a few conversations with some locals that I knew, but was never very close with, one with whom I taught. He was a little drunk in celebration of the thousands of tourists exiting his very small town square after laying claim to her streets for a weekend. We talked about trying to be an artist, compromises you make, the things you never compromise, and the weight that goes with every choice you make, and before he left, he hugged me and said in my ear, "don't stop writing."

There it was. The answer to the next question. The answer that's been following me around since I learned the alphabet. The answer that I knew sitting in the back of Mrs. McCart's class writing poetry about stars and drawing pictures of my flute while she talked about Billy Bud and how to diagram sentences. The answer that I've finally figured out after a number of guys have told me, "you send me these insanely long texts with lots of words."

I have done many things and I have many things left to do. I've been to Paris, Berlin, and Rome, lived in Texas, London, and Dahlonega, Georgia. I've taught Theatre, English, and writing. I try to make people proud, try to make myself proud, fall in love, run from love, fall out of love, drown in fear, get fired, online date, make decisions about my life based on sex, delete my online dating accounts, drink wine, ride my bike, go to the gym, grow vegetables, take medication for anxiety and depression, take risks, cook, quit jobs, play with my dog, make a fool of myself, perform, make sales, make music, try to write comedy, try to write.

Everything. All of it. Is copy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Roll Tide

I'm going to start off with an apology. I've tricked you into reading this post. You think you're about to read a blog about Alabama football, but you're not. OH no. This is not going to be about that.
I don't know if it was just Judy Blume, or if it was just me and Judy Blume, or if it was every damn girl in America or the world, but there was a mysticism behind the menstrual cycle when I was growing up that is hard to describe outside the context of a pre-teen novel about a clumsy girl who thinks she can increase the size of her boobs by flapping her arms around and chanting "I must, I must, I must increase my bust." And until we get it, heck, even after we get it, we paradoxically look forward to the changing of the tides just as much as we dread them.

I had already read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by the time we were invited to the "mother-daughter" night in fifth grade (1990?) where they showed a movie about some girls camping in their back yard and getting their periods. Maybe just one of them got it, but the mom made uterine shaped pancakes to help ease the minds of the confused pre-teens while daddy ran to the store for sanitary napkins. For SANITARY NAPKINS.

They gave us each an Always pad wrapped in a purple wrapper with pink writing on it. I treasured that pad, kept it close to my heart and probably lit a candle and prayed to the goddesses that I didn't recognize yet to please send me the knowledge that only came with the shedding of the uterine lining. I loved it until the day I started my period and wore it to the roller skating rink.

This also happened in 1992. 
It was the glorious summer of 1992. Kurt Cobain was still alive, Terminator 2: Judgement Day was on HBO and my best friend had HBO...and a pool. Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch covered the Velvet Underground. Amy Grant, former Christian pop artist and former idol of six year old me, had broken into the pop scene....remember? Come on?! Amy Grant you guys. Remember?

And roller skating was still awesome. A bunch of kids jamming themselves into a dimly lit room with carpet from the 1970s, donning roller skates with mold in them...from the 1970s...and flinging themselves around curves to Color Me Badd and Guns N' Roses, what's not to love? It was acceptable to laugh at a boy who called himself "BJ," and to respond with "I don't have a name" when asked in those dark corners of that round room.

But for me, wearing that stupid Always pad from 5th grade was a sentence I liken only to death. After one day at the rink, I entreated my mother, "there HAS to be a better way." There was no way I was going to be able to create the roller skating opus I had been preparing to Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" wearing a damn diaper. So I met tampons, and tampons met me, and the rest is history.

Back then it wasn't something that was talked about that much (unless you were a girl, but we're all in the same Coven so that's no surprise), and it seems like that is changing. It was considered uncouth and improper. It still is really, and I'm sure more than one of you is going to have a hissy fit and stop reading my blog because of this, and that's fine.

Someone asked a friend of mine for a feminine hygiene product for her daughter a few years ago. My friend offered her a tampon and the woman said, "Oh no. She's a virgin," with whispered emphasis on the "virgin." My friend is polite, so she said nothing, but I probably would have said, without blinking, "Oh, that's fine, this is a tampon, not a penis."

Did you know that it was ILLEGAL to talk to young women about their bodies at the beginning of the twentieth century? Margaret Sanger, founder of planned parenthood, went to jail for publishing a pamphlet she called "The Woman Rebel" that outlined the menstrual cycle for young women, explained what it was. She was breaking the law to teach women about their own bodies, and she had to break to the law. She HAD to.

I think about what I know now about my menstrual cycle, how much information about hormone cycles and management is available for free via the internet. I can literally take control of my life by understanding and respecting my body and its processes. I no longer have to be a prisoner to the changing of the tides, none of us do, and none of us were, secretly...respectfully.

I met a young girl from Mexico during my first few months here in Chicago. She was gorgeous and delighted to be alive. I remember talking to her at a bar one day where she would sit because the bartender was the man she was going to be dating in the coming months. We were chatting about our periods and he overheard and remarked, "ew," to which she responded, "If blood came out of your penis once a month, you would NEVER stop talking about it," and that was the end of that...because she was right.

Yes, it's a long way to the bottom there, dear. 
If men bled from their genitals once a month, we would never hear the end of it. Luckily for them, they actually go through a full hormone cycle every twenty-four hours. The same drawn out, gnashing of teeth, death to the infidels hormone cycle women go through every 21-29 days. I bet most of ya didn't know that. We don't call it a hormone cycle with them, though. The levels of testosterone and estrogen in their bodies just fluctuates throughout the day, rather than the estrogen slow climb up the roller coaster and then terrifying free fall to the bottom.

The best part about understanding your body? The more you know, the less room you have to feel ashamed. Remember when having a period was a shameful thing? Remember? Anyone read the bible? Anyone?

Well, maybe it's just me. I'm not ashamed of my period. I respect it like the beast it is. She's the animal part of me, the part unaffected by emotions. The part that gets all fluttery when a guy who actually works out and watches what he eats jogs by and I get a wiff of that

I'm sorry. What I'm trying to say is, I no longer ask, "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret," in reference to my monthlies. Instead I just say, "Hey, sorry I kicked the door in whilst screaming about losing my keys, my period's about a week away. I'll pay for it. Love you!"

But the best advice I've seen is from Margaret Sanger in the first volume of her pamphlet, "The Woman Rebel":

A Woman's Duty: To look the whole world in the face with a go-to-hell look in the eyes; to have an ideal; to speak and act in defiance of convention.

Roll Tide.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Woman and Society: A One-Sided Dialogue.

Are you sad? You don't have to be sad! You can go shopping, drown yourself in home goods and fall fashions, and you'll be right as rain.
Have you been sad for a long time? You probably need a boyfriend! Go to this bar, get this app, join this group, give money to this church! You will find a boyfriend!

How are you and your boyfriend? Good? If you don't get married, you might not be good for much longer! You should get married! Luckily, there is lots of stuff you can buy, and you can get your friends to buy you stuff too!
Are you sad? Why are you still sad? Do you have the best cable package? I mean, can you watch Game of Thrones when you want? Then there is no reason you should be sad. I mean...SPOTIFY exists. It may not be the 90s any more, but at least you have Spotify.

Why are you locking yourself in your room and crying like that? You shut the door and sit in the dark crying, sometimes a creepy ghost. That's not good for you. You should stop doing that. Eat some ice cream...or some Lucky Charms! It's impossible to be unhappy when doing one or both of those things. In fact, go to the grocery store and get whatever you want to eat. It doesn't matter how unhealthy it is, it has to be better than weeping uncontrollably.
Why are you so angry? It's hard to tell who you are you're Bruce Banner one day and then you're the Hulk the next day. You should exercise more. Exercising is the best and purest thing you can do. Just go for a run...but make sure you wear these shoes. You don't want to get injured. I mean, a doctor's bill is going to be more than these shoes. Get these shoes...and these workout clothes. These pants really accent your legs, and that color on you is so sexy. WAIT! You should join this gym...maybe you'll meet case you haven't "met someone" yet. Plus, if you're in shape, someone will definitely want you to have his kids, and if you don't have kids...well....I don't know what you're doing with your life.
Why do you think you haven't met anyone? Do you think it's because you're really intense? I're really intense. Remember? Bruce Banner? The Hulk? You have to hide that stuff. You probably intimidate guys. Maybe don't let anyone know how smart you your best not to scare them. That's the best way to find someone with which to spend the rest of your life. Just, don't be your full self. Duh.

You seriously need to work on your anger issues. I just don't get it. You're attractive, smart, and talented. You have everything. Why are you so angry? Why are you so sad? Why do you keep having panic attacks? Why can't you just get over it? Just don't be like that.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Jenny Sticks and Onion Starters

Jenny cut down a lot of saplings in the woods around the Garden at Montaluce to use for "projects." I called us outlaw gardeners, and these sticks were our ticket to whatever structures we imagined for our two acres of weeds in the North Georgia mountains. Jenny justified cutting down the saplings by explaining that they would never get the opportunity to grow beyond a certain size because the bigger trees would, essentially, choke them out.
Jenny Sticks and other foraged supplies.
We called her crazy Jenny, and her collection of saplings and branches, Jenny sticks.

Jenny was a brave woman with clear foresight, but she lacked confidence in her gardening abilities. I remember coming to work in the morning, a bag of onion starters in my back pocket, ready to get them in the ground so we could harvest in the fall, and then spending over an hour debating whether or not we would be able to properly protect the onions with the soil on the top of the hill where we intended to plant them.

Would it be loamy enough? Loamy soil will easily crumble in your hand, unlike clay, which makes up the majority of the earth in Georgia. You can find loam where trees have fallen in the woods and broken down. It's dark, moist, and it smells like soil should smell. Would our clay soil be able to remain well drained with the right additives? Would we be able to amend the clay enough so that it would allow the tiny onion starters room to expand and grow? Anything could upset the onions during their tenure in the garden, we read....admittedly on the internet.

Eventually, as was the case with most of these planning sessions, I would take a deep breath, stop trying to make sense of the diagrams, and start heading for the garden, ignoring Jenny's incessant desire to be "ready." There's no sense in waiting until I'm sure nothing can go wrong. I will never be absolutely certain that nothing will go wrong.

I can, however, be 100% certain that something will, most certainly, go terribly wrong, and I am.

That first patch of onions we planted didn't have a chance. We were way off on our additives, and the starters ended up growing decent green onions but nothing more. It was no matter. We didn't plant all of the starters there. A few weeks later we started a different crop mixed in with our garlic on a sloping area of the acreage that Jenny had used the sticks to terrace. The terracing allowed us to add enough to the soil to give the onions and garlic room to grow, and in the end we filled a room with onions and garlic after we harvested.

People talk a lot about their inability to start a project or make a life change because they aren't ready; I hear myself talking about being ready, about waiting until I'm fully prepared to take the next step, but I find the longer I wait, the more time I spend on the couch feeling sorry for myself, drowning in my depression because I'm not even really trying to swim.
The Garden a half a year later. The fruits of our risk.

So I try to keep moving. The world isn't going to stop turning for me to make sure I have all my ducks in a row. It's spinning pretty fast, actually, and we are all in a constant state of controlled falling. So, I put my seeds in the ground and take what I get.

Be faithful to your work, and be faithful to yourself, and with each misstep, you'll move closer to getting it.......right?

But don't expect to ever get know...just completely and totally right. In fact, now might be a good time to try to let go of the idea that there is such a thing.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Uh.....There's Way More than Two Roads in this Wood

Yes. I am fickle. I promise you love and devotion, and here it is, a full year and a few days since I've even looked at you. How do I expect anyone to ever trust me? As I've learned over the past year, I trust most just as far as I trust myself, which is not much further than I can throw myself, which, and I just tried this outside, isn't too far.

I understand why you're afraid of the cold now, friends. I don't blame you. I never knew what winter was until 2014, and 2015 confirmed my suspicions. I am a glutton for punishment. I've never really seen things from a Russian's perspective until now, and I can't wait to relive Chekhov's classics in their true light as riotous comedies. 

Family, I am a depressed person, but I am not lost. I just don't trust myself, and I really need to be able to do that in order to do, well, anything else.

So, I dove deep into the darkest parts of my own ocean. I stared into the abyss. I cried a WHOLE lot. Sometimes openly, like a big baby. But I was never lost. 

However, I did more than cry while I was staring deep into the inevitability of my own obsolescence (yeah. we're DOING this). 

I listened. I watched. I noted. I tried. And I failed 99% of the time.

I went to Target the other day for Oreo's and left with an area rug and a poster of Wonder Woman. The rug was marked down from $99 to $29, so, OF COURSE, and who cares how much the poster cost, look at it:

                                                 I digress.

The tiny one percent of the time I didn't fail was when I pictured myself as Wonder Woman in that poster, in her stance, fists clenched, legs apart, no possibility of a thigh gap, (because I've got linebacker thighs, I'll crush you) and I kept going.  

I've been so angry for so very long. Why did no one tell me there was someone like me that I could look up to? Why did everyone around me tell me to be quiet, that the best women were the meek women, that behind every good man was a good woman? And why were they all so surprised when I finally lost it? Why did no one tell me that I could be my own hero, and not in that tweaked out Matthew McConaughey I'm my own hero kind of way?

I learned to research in grad school, to read and re-read and to underline in the library books in pencil, and to remember to recheck them out when they were due, once every three months...or was it six...Dammit!

I also learned the hardest part of it all: starting to write it down.

So here we go...again.

But don't worry. Life has been teaching me how to handle it. Nature, in her own violent beauty, is reminding me how hard I must work and how capable I am of doing that work. I learned a great many lessons in the woods.

I find myself in the woods sometimes, but in my head. I summon my Wonder Woman strength, shut out all the sounds around me, and remember how faithful they are, year round. How much I learned of life and death from the micro-movements of the forest floors. How free we were, Linus and I, and how free we still are. How freedom is relative. How peace is a state of mind. How I have all the answers right here.

And how I never would have found it without the people who love me.

Most people don't know the crushing reality of Robert Frost's beloved "The Road Not Taken," that the road itself made no difference at all. Reality dictates that we make a choice, one way or the other.

         And both that morning equally lay
         In leaves no step had trodden black.
         Oh, I kept the first for another day!
         Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
         I doubted if I should ever come back.

We only ever get one chance to be alive, and one way of living is no better or worse than the other. The points don't matter. In fact, and tell everyone you know what I'm about to one is keeping score.

Remember the people that love you. Take them with you everywhere you go. They are the most important parts of your life.

You can go any way you want; you will learn how to get through it as you move forward.

So go.

I'll be here when the weight isn't too much for me, talking about a lunatic, summoning the strength of Diana.