When depression deprives you of sadness

For the past couple of years, I haven’t cried very much. This is notable only in that before the past couple of years, I was a big crier. Good things, bad things. When I was seven I cried of happiness at my parents’ wedding. Everyone was like, what? Aren’t you seven?

I would hear some bad news and I would even WANT to cry and I’d be trying to squeeze it out of my eyes and nothing happened. I just felt the little tug in my cheeks and that’s it. I noticed the change over time and eventually I just decided, you know what, it’s probably because of testosterone! I looked it up and a few other trans men have expressed the same thing. So that must be it!

Well, since the second week of January, my grandma died, a family friend died in a fire, and today happened (the anniversary of my good friend killing himself). These are all very sad things. And you know what? I have cried. A lot. I watched that episode of Friends where Ross becomes a father and I teared up. That hasn’t happened in YEARS.

What has changed since the second week of January? I started taking my new medication.

It makes me wonder, you know, if I couldn’t cry just because I was so depressed.

I have noted to several people that I’m feeling sadness for the first time in my life without feeling depression. Whenever something bad happened BEFORE, I would just internalize it and consider it a reason to die or at LEAST a reason to hide in my bed all day. But my grandma died and I saw my grandfather crying (which by the way is the greatest heartbreak–they were together for 70 years) and I wasn’t even thinking of myself. I was finally, at long last, able to give and feel freely.

So many people who’ve never had depression just kind of think of depression as being sad all the time. This could not be further from the truth. It is an emptiness. Sure, a symptom of mild depression is crying spells, but that is definitely not the only experience. Depression is calling in to work because even going pee sounds impossible. Depression is not drinking water because you hope you’ll die from dehydration. On the other hand, sadness is expression–it’s life.

Depression is ceasing. Sadness is spilling. 

I feel so lucky I’ve found the medicine I did. It sucks it took two decades but it’s worth it now, to feel for others and give and give as much as I can.

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What they don’t tell you about depression recovery

Being wildly depressed and actively suicidal for such a long period of time as I had leaves the road behind you smoldering.

Anyone I’ve interacted with in that time and was honest with about how poorly I was doing has been affected by me and my actions. Anyone I’d leaned on for support or desperately clung to has taken on some of my burden. The aftermath is war-torn.

Some of my friends are no longer my friends. Relationships have been severely damaged. People are tired of me. Some people aren’t, and some people don’t really seem to bothered. But I feel like almost everyone I care for deeply has grown tired of me.

I think of all the desperate calls for help I’ve left on my shapchat story or all the people I’ve canceled on our plans with. I think of how as far as give-and-take goes, all I could do was TAKE TAKE TAKE because I had nothing to give to anyone. The exchange was all one-sided.

What they don’t tell you about depression recovery is that if you were bad at existing with depression (even if it wasn’t entirely in your control), you have to now live with your actions and you don’t even have the convenience of killing yourself. Now it’s like, how many times can I apologize to the people I love before it sounds like a tired buzz? How many people do I just cut ties with because the damage is so severe it just doesn’t matter? How many realizations do I have to go through about the next three months and yet ALSO try to practice enough self care to not hate myself in the process?

For the first time in over a decade, suicide is not an option. It’s a victory. But now I miss it because it’s easier than dealing with all the unsightly holes in my personality.

It sounds selfish and that’s the root of it all. Depression has made me selfish. It’s made me self-serving. And yes I’m self-aware more than most people I know, but that means NOTHING if I can’t/don’t change anything or make significant progress in doing so.

This is what I’ve been struggling with today. Before I’d stay in my bed all day because I didn’t want to live. Now I’ve stayed in bed all day because I don’t want to live with myself. I feel like the worst person who’s existed. That can’t be true, because I’m not Trump (#BriefComicRelief), but it’s a really hard thing to justify why I’m not dead in the first place. This recovery so far has only manifested in literal survival. “Tip of the iceberg” comes to mind. I thought the entire battle was just overcoming my drive to end myself, but I think that was actually only 8% of the problem.

If you’re reading this and you agree with me, even if it’s just a small part of you, I beg that you have patience with me. I don’t even know where to fucking start.

Here are some action items, though, because I have to turn this post around somehow:

  • Delete my snapchat (which only serves the purpose of self-torture)
  • Stop engaging in political discussions for now (I find them draining and also they make me very angry and I don’t like who I am when I’m angry) (I realize not everyone has this luxury to stop engaging and I’m sorry for that, but I need to step back)
  • Give everyone in my life some healing space (this must be done without bitterness for it to work)
  • Give more of my text-replies a full 60 seconds before I respond (I’ve done a lot of responding fully informed by my immediate reaction-feeling and not very much on anything else)
  • Feel a little more grateful, a little less sorry (I’ve started doing this some more already, but thanking people for their patience instead of apologizing for my existence is probably a better way to go about it)
  • Initiate contact with people with the focus on them, now that I don’t need to come with desperation and crisis (thanks Lamictal)
  • Offer favors outside of myself (trying to push some good into the world to counteract the black hole sponge effect)
  • Gently ask for what I need instead of demanding it (when suicide is always on the line, people felt pressure to cave into my needs)
  • Forgive myself (this is going to be the hardest one, as I feel like I’ve ruined everything with everyone)

If I dare ask for one more thing from anyone who’s listening and cares, it’s that you understand I was ill. And now I’m getting better. And I want to do better and be better and be as good of a person in your life as you were for me.

Being unwilling to kill myself is not enough to be truly living. Now the real work begins.

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24 goals

I’ve been trying a tiny bit to explore the WordPress community. I LOVE when people “like” my posts or comment or interact with my work in some way, but I have previously never returned the favor. I want to get better about that.

In my scratching of the WordPress surface, I’ve found this blog that has New Year’s Resolutions that are actually small goals for each month, all laid out already. Now she’s going to record her progress for each goal as the year goes along. I think that’s pretty rad, and it allows for smaller but still important experiments to happen.

As we know, I’ve already made my big New Year’s Resolutions post, but in addition to these goals, I kinda want to follow whiskywolfcub’s lead and try some smaller goals each month too.

Oh, writing these made me realize that these might sound like really boring goals, or not very adventurous, or something. But I’ve been working on this post for two weeks (I often write blog posts in one sitting and publish them right away) trying to think of goals that are important to me, even if it just means they are chores that I’ve put off for a long time. When they get deadlines, suddenly they have some power potential. ALSO I don’t want to say a goal I don’t actually care about, even if it would be good for me. For example, a goal like “drink 8 glasses of water every day this month :)” is cute and stuff but first of all, I’ll never do that, and second of all, I really don’t care about my water intake. Not a thing I think about. Anyway:

JANUARY

  • Schedule an appointment with at least one new therapist. Sometimes therapists’s calendars are full, so I don’t want to guarantee that I will see someone new before the end of the month, but I want to prioritize this process. (I crossed this off already because in the process of writing this post, I’ve completed this task. woo!)
  • Kick off a new writing project. I haven’t written a poem in a while. I think it’s time to end this break and get going again.

FEBRUARY

  • Do something for Aidan. February 20th is my friend Aidan’s anniversary of his passing and I happen to have the day off from work for President’s Day (??). I think that’s a good opportunity to try and volunteer or at least write about him. Something like that. I usually fall apart in February, so I want to intentionally do something healthy and hopefully productive in his honor.
  • Express daily gratitude in some way. I want to do something like make a FB post or write a blog or send a grateful message to someone every single day in February. It’s the shortest month of the year, so I think I can manage. Again, this is a goal that will help me get through what is normally a very difficult month for me.

MARCH

  • Do my taxes if I haven’t already. No waiting until April 14 bullshit.
  • Cook dinner for someone else. It’d be great if I picked someone other than my gf just because it will be more out of my comfort zone. I hope this goal will help encourage me to make this cooking thing not just a phase but a habit.

APRIL

  • Attend one writing group session. There’s a writing group in my town that meets every Saturday at like 9am or something, and it seems very chill and very cool, but I never make time for it. I want to at least check it out. I picked a month with five Saturdays just in case 😉 .
  • Wash my truck. This sounds kinda funny but I always put off washing my vehicles, and after a winter and spring of grossness, I’ll definitely need it by the end of April. This truck is like my favorite possession so I should probs take care of it. If I’m feeling ambitious maybe I’ll even get it detailed.

MAY

  • Change my name with Social Security if I haven’t already. Talk about problematic procrastination! My name is legally changed and it’s changed with the bank and everywhere important… except with the Social Security office. It’s only really been an issue once and it worked out fine, but it’s still something I need to do. It involves a few hours of my time on a business day, but maybe planning ahead will actually make it happen.
  • Get my eyes checked. I could probably use an updated prescription by this point. I already sense some changes in my vision, but it’s not a huge deal right now. I have good insurance for eye stuff so it will be worth the time.

JUNE

  • Go to the dentist. You might be like, ew, why do you have to schedule this out so far, what the hell. That’s fair. But I haven’t been to the dentist in like 5 years and I really really don’t want to go but this will help motivate me to put a deadline on this.
  • Sing karaoke again. I’ve been thinking about a couple of songs. I might go country. I know you didn’t know this (it’s not your fault) but I’m actually Keith Urban in disguise.

JULY

  • Go somewhere new. This can be a vacation or just going to a new restaurant. I want to keep this open. But I tend to even stick with the same restaurants once I like something. I like new things too ok! I just don’t prioritize them.
  • Try canoeing or kayaking or something. I’m not much for swimming because wearing a swim suit when you have boobs but don’t want them is complicated. Maybe by July I won’t even have boobs, who knows, but I think kayaking or some other water activity like this can be pretty dry but still really fun.

AUGUST

  • Go see a show. I want to keep this open. Is it a play? Is it a concert? Is it a jazz trio in a quiet club? Don’t care. Go see a show.
  • Treat myself? I am thinking like creating an amazon wishlist or something and choosing an item I never prioritize but am pretty interested in. For example, I’d really like one of those wireless bluetooth fancy speakers so I can sing in the shower more effectively. But when I’m out and about, I never think to get one or care enough to drop the cash on it. This goal only makes sense if I’m responsible with my money in 2017, which I plan to be (don’t we all). It also only makes sense if I do/buy this thing with some intentionality. So like if I just buy something I want, that doesn’t count. What GIFT am I gonna give myself?

SEPTEMBER

  • Find an open mic and read a poem at it. I’m gonna h8 myself later for this.
  • Successfully move or successfully stay. At this point, my apartment lease will be up and I’ll have to decide where I’m living. This might seem like a cheater goal but moving can be really fucking stressful and I want to be sure I don’t sign up for too much. I want to take care of myself in this process! (I guess).

OCTOBER

  • Watch 7 youtube videos that will teach me something. I know of YouTube (lol), but I don’t spend like any time on it at all (the only thing I use it for is to practice karaoke). It seems like a resource I should consider. It’d be great to watch a bunch of videos teaching me how to change a tire or do car things or like, do something crafty. This would be fun to blog about too, like I can list what videos I watched and if I found them useful.
  • Spend time with a dog. This should be all 24 of my goals. October has historically been a challenging month for me, and even if I’m feeling wonderful in October 2017, I think going out of my way and seeking out a dog is extremely legit. This can be my parents’ dog too–I don’t think that’s cheating, since she’s like, the best dog of all dogs.

NOVEMBER

  • Host a Friendsgiving of some kind. Maybe make it a pot luck so I don’t have to feel scared of cooking for a bunch of people by myself.
  • Make a list of movies I want to see and maybe even fire up a Netflix account. I think a lot of people in my life want to watch fewer movies/tv shows because they have so much screen time. But I’m completely movie illiterate, and it’s not for hipster I’m-too-cool-for-movies thing; it really just means I miss out on a bunch of pop culture stuff. Also, another thought behind this: as it gets colder and winterier and sadder I want to have a little indoor project.

DECEMBER

  • Write a Christmas letter. For a few years I wrote my family’s Christmas letter and I loved it. It was so fun to do a recap of the year and touch base with people I don’t talk to all the time. I regretted not writing one this year. This letter task also includes collecting addresses to mail them 🙂
  • Read a book. LOL. So you’re probably like, hey, don’t you read already? No. And chances are, I’ll make it for the entirety of 2017 without reading a single book. So I want to put this in here–I want to read a book. I can spend 11 months deciding which one if I want. But by the end of December, I want to be one book more well-read.

That’s all! If you want, you can copy me (or copy the WordPress user I copied). I have a few friends that are starting blogging a bit and this might be a good way to stay focused/consistent. 🙂

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Fuck it. Here are 34 things I’m thankful for.

Often people’s advice when you’re depressed is like supremely unhelpful. Eat chocolate? Really? Do you think that’s going to treat my suicidal ideation? Really? Give me a reason to live?

But one consistent piece of advice from loved ones and lists on the internet is, although annoying to hear while on Rock Bottom™, pretty healing and good. This piece of advice is making a list of things for which you are grateful.

It’s super cheesy but these thoughts certainly can’t hurt me more than what my other thoughts have already done.

What you’re seeing right now is a blog post, but this is actually the second version. I made this post and it contained a great list of things I’m grateful for and then it got deleted because I accidentally refreshed the page. 😦

I think it’s the universe’s way of making me make this list and truly check it twice. I must REALLY need to be grateful.

THINGS FOR WHICH I AM GRATEFUL 2.0:

  • Silicone spatulas
  • My new discovery and love for cooking? (talk about plot twist… but more on this later in a different post)
  • Coffee and coffee creamer
  • Music that makes me jam
  • Spotify
  • My parents’ dog
  • I have p good follow-through on writing projects and stuff
  • Friends who call me out of the blue and leave a very long and delightful voicemail
  • All the friends who’ve texted me to check in in the last two days
  • My girlfriend, who experiences her boyfriend’s depression almost just as much as he does, and yet she sticks around and says beautiful things like “I want a future with you.”
  • Graham cracker pie crust
  • Key lime pie (probably one of the most underrated desserts ever)
  • Haircuts!
  • My birthday is next week
  • Google calendar
  • The word “bosom” (say it. let it savor on your tongue.)
  • The TM emoji
  • The fact that I have three physical chapbooks I made myself and they are not the worst thing ever
  • Each and every one of my lil beard hairs
  • When my gf wears dangly earrings bc she knows I like them
  • The feeling of showering after not having showered for a couple days
  • Brand new socks
  • Warm towels
  • How unique and independent the word “orange” is. Nothing rhymes with it but “door hinge” and it’s a stretch.
  • Egg sandwiches. I have one every day for breakfast except on weekends when I have
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Mangos. Seriously, what did we do to deserve mangos?
  • All of my bow ties, but especially the knit black one and the one with dogs
  • One of my friends wants to get one of my poems as a tattoo, which is terrifying but also very nice
  • Bowling a turkey in the 10th frame
  • Supportive writing feedback
  • My truck ❤
  • Winning that chess tournament in fourth grade
  • When there isn’t a spider in the room 🙂

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