Krissie: Finally

These are the ugliest pajamas of all time. The shade of green is really sickly, but they’re knit, which means they’re comfy, except they’re so big the pants slide down when I’m in bed. Maybe I should dump these for something prettier.
Anyway, here I am. Temporarily climbing out of the slough of depression.
Such interesting stuff back when we talked about it. How Depression Lies.
I don’t know if I’d ever thought about that. When I’m in the depths of depression I’m so beaten down that it all feels like reality, and when I come out of it I don’t think back.
I definitely never thought about grief lying, but you guys are right on that. You definitely feel like the hurting will never stop when someone dies (particularly someone young). But there’s an element of truth to that — there’s an emptiness that you feel will never be filled again.
And you know, that bit of emptiness stays. There’s a hole inside me where Stuart was, where my father and brother and sister were. Where my mother was. A little bit of emptiness remains where they were.
But you also can be happy again.
I’m sort of climbing out the pit. I’ve switched meds to Cymbalta, which may be helping. (If anyone takes Effexor email me). The book is off, and that definitely helps, though there wasn’t that surge of relief or sense of reclaiming my life. I think it was just too difficult, not because of the book but because of the misery of writing it.
Fortunately as I did the revisions I discovered it was a good book. Phew.
And I’ve been pulling myself out of it, until yesterday, when I suddenly had to think about things again, and I started slipping once more. I hate that I connect story with misery — it’s my lifeline.
But I don’t have to think about that until after the holidays. I’m using this time to daydream and refill the well, and I’ll face it afterwards.
I need to not dread it. Accept each day as it comes.
I wonder if one should fight depression or accept it? Or maybe a combination of the two. I think maybe accept it and then move past it, fight it by moving past it.
One thing I’ve done is go to church, trying to get outside myself, reconnect with community. Another thing is to listen to audio books and read. I can do that.
And if I can just clear the decks in the house it’ll make it more cozy, and I can enjoy it more.
So at least I’m feeling better enough to make plans. Alex has been over a lot and Tim’s been great with him. Loving and encouraging, so that’s good.
And I’ll get through this.
I was going to talk more about this but I have to go to the doctor (follow-up on the meds change). Anyway, I’m pulling myself out of it, bit by bit.
As long as I don’t think about writing.
I also want to go back to what Kieran was talking about — the essence of who we are. It’s worth thinking about.
But appointments come first.

55 thoughts on “Krissie: Finally

  1. AuntieJB says:

    It’s *very* difficult to fight depression, yet I understand the need to do so. I try to be an observer of my depression – I guess like an out of body experience. It helps me think of depression as a separate thing – like the cold or the flu or something. (bad analogies?) It then becomes this thing that’s hanging around; not really me or my true thoughts.

    I find that the way I *can* fight depression is to take *everything* one step at a time. For me that means 1)get out of bed 2)take my meds 3) shower 4) dress for work 5)go to work 6)come home 7) change my clothes 8) cook dinner 9) eat dinner 10)read a book 11) feed the cat 12)brush my teeth 13) change into jammies 14) take my meds 15)go to bed. It’s seems too simplistic but the idea that all I have to do is “this one thing” gets me through. Eventually the depression lifts (with the help of time, drugs and my therapist.)

    The other thing I do during depression is to ask for help. My BFF cleans my apartment every other week. That helps immensely. When I’m feeling good I cook tons of food and freeze it so that I have healthy meals to eat when I’m too depressed to cook. If I needed to I could ask for help with the cooking too. I buy paper plates and silverwear, etc. for “those times” because I hate to do dishes when I’m depressed and I don’t have a dishwasher.

    The bottom line is that I have a set of tools waiting in the wings to get me through the depressed times because I always come out the other side.

    I guess it’s like Aunt Flow coming every month – she’s a bitch when she visits but she never stays very long. 🙂

    • Danielle says:

      This is a very interesting idea, to me. You’re sort of preparing for a rainy day, knowing that when they do come up, you’re covered.

      I get HORRIFIC periods and I’ve gotten better at taken them into consideration when I know they’re coming (planning meals, making sure laundry is done, washroom – ’cause that’s where I spend most of my time on those days – is clean, etc). I never thought to apply it to depression, but that makes total sense.

  2. AuntieJB says:

    One more thought… I’m on the fence about the value of pushing the worries until “later”, “But I don’t have to think about that until after the holidays.” I can’t stand the suspense. I guess I need to resolve it NOW. Maybe that’s just me. I wonder what your therapist would say…

    Anyone else have thoughts on this?

    • Danielle says:

      I actually had this same thought when I read Krissie’s post. I don’t know that putting anything off helps – I think the added anxiety of knowing that some big issue/decision/whatever is waiting for me to deal with in January would just make things worse. Then again, I’m me and Krissie is Krissie, so whatever floats yer boat, as we say ’round here.

    • For me it depends on if I can really push it off. If I only sort of push it off and the vague anxiety exists continually underneath everything, then I know I have to deal with it now. There is no later for that item.

      On the other hand, there are things that I can push off and not think about until the assigned time. It depends on what happens internally as I push that determines the deal with it now or put it away for later choice.

      • Actually a number of therapists and experts have said with grief you can’t let it rule your life. You have to keep going, so you make an appointment to deal with it (usually later in the day, when you’re home and safe). You absolutely must keep that appointment, but apparently it works well when you think you can’t make it.

      • Chris S. says:

        I’m with Maria: if you really can put off the worrying, why not? That way you get to actually enjoy the holiday, and you may be in a better/stronger place to face the worries later.

        But if those worries are going to be hidden streams quietly undermining your support systems, deal with them now. Better to get the floor wet and messy than to watch your house float away when the whole foundation crumbles.

      • romney says:

        On a mild tangent…apparently, when it comes to post traumatic stress disorder there are two types of people. It was assumed that everyone benefits from talking about it, but actually some people benefit from ignoring it and never mentioning it. I suppose this is where having a therapist to advise you individually helps.

    • I’m actually a big proponent of “avoidance coping.” For years, I didn’t dig too deeply into my (non)relationship with my father. The odd time I saw him wasn’t pleasant, but I wasn’t in the space to address the underlying issues. Eventually, I got the energy and the right therapist to do what had to be done. I think this approach may work better if it’s a conscious decision.

  3. Tracey says:

    You might want to read “Darkness Visible,” by Wm Styron. It’s a longish essay, pub in the late 80s as a book tho its very short for a memoir. It’s a retelling of his experiences w/depression, and was written just after the Prozac/Paxil/Zoloft class of SSRI-depression drugs (serotonin-reuptake inhibitors) came on the market and it seemed like everyone was talking or writing about depression. It’s a great essay, but he wonders , as you do, whether depression should be actively fought or if one should endure it until it passes. I don’t think that modern SSRIs were available, so he took the “first class” of lithium-based anti-depressants, the Welbutrins and the like. It’s a gorgeous piece of writing which everyone should read whether they hv an interest in depression or not. He does say that he was self-medicating w/alcohol and that he decided to quit cold turkey; and that’s when the depression descended. Also, anything by Kay Redfield Jamison. She’s a prof @ Johns Hopkins and a researcher into, as well as a sufferer of, depression. She’s written both memoirs and explanations about the link between creativity and depression.

  4. Can I just say that telling someone they don’t have a job once the school year is over in mid December is crappy timing. I’ve got to get through Christmas and then another five months knowing my boss doesn’t feel I was worth fighting for. Yay.

    And having a broken leg makes me not want to do anything. So no job + broken leg = despondency. Or perhaps depression. Fuck, and I was getting along so well.

  5. Tracey says:

    @Auntie JB – cold or flu are not bad analogies. Like them, Depression is a disease. It’s not your true self. Your mood is disordered. And if the Big D doesn’t stay long at your house, count yourself lucky. Untreated Recurrent depressive episodes train yr brain to think that way…so the lies CAN become reality. That’s why fighting D thru meds, therapy & lifestyle changes is so important.

  6. Danielle says:

    Hey Krissie,

    I don’t take Effexor, but the hubbie does – for generalized anxiety (and I’m not 100% convinced that it is effective). I don’t have your email address, but if you have any thoughts/advice, I’d love to hear what you think. Can you send me a note using the email address I’m entering here?

  7. Karen says:

    I think that Depression is as if you were looking though a false lens or those mirrors in a Carnival Fun House. Your perception is skewed and perception is everything.

  8. I’ve never really suffered with depression for any length of time, or taken any medications, but once in a while my mood turns blue and I withdraw from social things. I know what triggers it and if I can catch that trigger and wrestle it to the couch I’ll be good to go by the next day. For me it’s always been a low self-esteem issue and the pressure that comes with having to speak in public, or be in some way under the spotlight, and that dates way back to childhood. I mean heaven forbid I should say something wrong, the whole world might cave in or something. ; )

    In recent years, I’ve dredged up a memory from when I was about four years old and the humiliation that came from that public embarrassment. Now I smile. Sometimes I laugh out loud. I think what I’m trying to say is I’ve taken a memory that was painful and negative and can now see the funny side of it. I view it from an adult POV just like the people in the audience who laughed out loud. They weren’t being mean and poking fun, they saw something cute and funny. Pity my father hadn’t been mature enough to also have that view. He instead berated and shamed me.

    From what little I understand about these things I know to take out the memories that hurt and let the sun shine on them. They’re like spores that can remain dormant for years and then suddenly flare up. Spores don’t like sunshine they like dark places. ; )

  9. I’m not battling depression but I’ve had a blow lately that has taken me down a bit. When this happens I react as Roben describes. I withdraw. Mostly because I have to concentrate on the problem but right now I have other things I can’t put aside to focus on ONE thing. December is going to be a challenge of the kind I haven’t faced in several years. If I can just get to Dec 30th, we’ll make it through. Three weeks. I can make it three weeks, right? Sure.

    Very happy to see you coming out the other side, Krissie. Whatever you’re doing is working so I say don’t question that and just keep doing it.

  10. So many wonderful thoughts and ideas here today. Love the thing about the bad moments/memories being spores, Robena. Plus, taking those moments out and looking at them again through the lens of being a grown up and loving the wounded child that was you. Most excellent ideas.

    I think of life as taking a raft down a river. Depression, grief, challenges of all sorts are the white water parts of the trip. You have to go with the flow of the river, but you also need to direct and paddle the boat in order to stay in the “lane”. To deal with it, you have to both ride it, and control it. No easy task and you need to do it all without being sucked under.

    I am not a huge fan of Yoda and his “Do. There is no try.” caca, but when dealing with depression he may have a point. You have to make yourself get up, get out of bed, do things. If you don’t, the river will flip your raft and hold you under while whispering hideous lies to you about yourself until all you want to do is lie down and let the water rush over you.

    If you ride the river and direct the raft, the depression will spit you out back into a calmer part of the flow. The thing is that you really aren’t ever off the river, but some parts of the ride simply aren’t as difficult.

    • I’d heard a quote on television the other day. The person had attributed it incorrectly to Yeats, but I found the quote and the person who had said it. I am thinking about getting this book.

      “The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love: it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment.” Dr. Colin Murray Parkes from Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life

  11. H says:

    My favorite flannel PJs come from Target – the Nick & Nora line. This year I’m asking my hubby to get me these for Christmas: http://www.target.com/p/nick-nora-women-s-birdwatching-flannel-coat-set-blue/-/A-14198567#prodSlot=large_1_9 I have 2 other sets that feature sock monkeys, and they make me happy. And warm!

    And things that make me happy and warm nowadays are good, since the days keep getting shorter and shorter and shorter. I look forward to winter solstice every year because it means we turn the corner, though it always seems to take longer for the days to lengthen than it did for them to shorten.

    Hang in there.

  12. Rebecca (Another One) says:

    I used to take Effexor, and only stopped because of the dizziness/ nausea side effects. I thought it was the best anti-anxiety medicine.

    I use a combo of Lexapro and Wellbutrin now, which is as good, but it is two medicines.

  13. Kieran says:

    Like water over rocks. That’s you!!! Zen Krissie!! Fighting against the depression, I think, might take your energy in the wrong direction. Use that energy instead to climb over it, around it, and under it–the way you’re doing with all your well-filling activities like sewing and playing with Alex.

    Notice all that movement is about not letting the “rock” of depression block you–there’s a purpose to the movement, and there’s a direction. It’s not just a frenzy of wasted motion, which is what addictions are. They help you forget the rock. But they don’t get you away from it the way you do when you’re…

    Water over rocks!!!

    Yay. I love that phrase. Have you ever read the Tao of Pooh? Great book. That’s where I learned about water over rocks.

  14. Chris S. says:

    I’m a big believer in a two-pronged approach to emotional turmoil. First you have to acknowledge what you feel. Sorrow, frustration, loss, fury: allow yourself to really feel it. This part SUCKS. It’s hard, and it hurts. But it’s necessary. You can’t get past barriers you refuse to see.

    Then you move past it. That’s the second step, and it’s tricky. Sometimes assigning a deadline can help. Like: ‘I will spend the whole weekend in bed, but Monday I will get up, wash my sheets, and take a walk’. Or: ‘I get the rest of this month to hate my boss, this job, and the economy that keeps me trapped here. But next month I have to look up two new jobs every day.’

    It’s not about scheduling emotion; it’s about giving yourself some sort of structure to hold onto. That way, in the words of the immortal Terry Pratchett, you’re not floundering around alone — you’re floundering on the end of a long line. And that makes all the difference.

  15. Micki says:

    All these beautiful and wonderful thoughts . . . and I keep coming back to the jammies (-:.

    OK, so that’s me. Try ripping into the casing and pulling out the elastic. Tie it in a knot to make it shorter . . . and I have no trouble sleeping and living with the knot, but if it’s a bother, then put a couple of stitches in the shortened elastic, and snip off the know. I wouldn’t bother sewing up the ripped hole in the casing, but you could if you liked.

    You can also just replace the elastic.

    (-: I hate it when pajamas are falling off my hips as I try and walk around the house.

  16. ChelSierra Remly says:

    Okay. This is probably going to sound like I’m crazy, but these worked for me, and maybe they’ll work for someone else.

    When I was a teen, I’d get this urge to open up the car door and throw myself out while we were speeding down the road. This really scared me, because I was worried I might lose myself and really do it at some point. The more I tried to block the urge/thought, the more persistent it was, and the stronger it was. So, one day I gave in to it, and ‘imagined’ myself doing it. I imagined myself opening the door and jumping out … rolling along the freeway, and sometimes going under the wheels, etc. I did this every time the urge hit me, and found it hit me less and less, and I no longer get this urge.

    So, I realized that running from it made it worse, and ‘going with the flow’ got me through it, and beyond it. I put this in action with my other fears. I decided if I couldn’t run from my fears, I’d make friends with them instead. In my imagination, I’d offer them a drink, and I’d give them a hug. And I found they did not like my being friendly with them, and they would run from me. This helped with most of my fears, but neither ‘tricks’ helped with the mean voices.

    Not until I got the idea to try the ‘smiling’ with my whole body technique. Of course, if I don’t stay on top of it, those mean voices dip their toe in the water to see if they can come back with a vengeance.

    So, it’s official … I’m nuts. But why fight what works even though it seems off the wall? Maybe running from, and fighting, depression/grief, or whatever, makes it worse. Instead, try embracing it. Allow yourself to go with it, through it, and also to ‘chase’ it, instead of letting it chase you. Become friends with it. Offer it a drink, or something to eat. Ask it if it wants a hug. Then hug it whether it wants you to or not. Get it on the run, and have it fear coming back to pick on you.

    I hope this helps. Cause I’ve never shared this with anyone before, as you can imagine why. But I thought, why keep it to myself if it could actually work for others too.

    • Auntie JB says:

      Yes! Exactly. No, you’re not crazy. Or maybe I am too…

      whatever…

      There’s actually a visualization exercise in one of my retreat books that asks you to sit quietly and imagine all the different parts of yourself coming to sit with you at a table. What does each part look like? What does she/he say to you when they sit down? How do the others react to him/her. This exercise really helped me separate all the jumbled up mess I was feeling and, ultimately, understand that so many times it’s my disease that’s talking, not ME.

    • Tracey says:

      Years ago, when I was in college, a man broke into my room & tried to kidnap me. We assumed his intent was sexual assault, and I was just lucky he didn’t think to do it in the room. I got away but I was badly beaten up, and as you can imagine, filled with fear and rage. We never found him so I never got the emotional payoff of prosecution. However, when the rage became overpowering, I did what ChelSierra did: I imagined a white room w/padded walls. I put my assailant in the room, and then I added myself…with a baseball bat. It was a *very* violent, bloody fantasy, and I pulled it out several times a day in the beginning, then every few days, then once a week… You see where I’m going with this. I used my revenge fantasy whenever the anger & powerlessness got to be too much, and gradually, over time, I needed it less and less. I have to say, it felt REALLY good to beat that guy to a bloody pulp in my head. So, yes to embracing your negative emotions, in a positive way. It really helped me, at a time and in a place when no-one else really knew how.

      • Kieran says:

        Tracey, that’s terrible. And probably every woman’s worst nightmare. Kudos to you for dealing with it. I admire you very much for getting through such a traumatic experience and for sharing your story with us in the hopes that it can help someone else. XOXO

      • ChelSierra Remly says:

        Tracey: Very sorry to hear about your experience, but very glad you got away. And that you found a way to overcome your mental anguish.

  17. When I was in graduate school, I had my first real depression and spent most of second term reading Lord of the Rings, instead of studying. My excellent therapist was a cognitive behaviour specialist and not a fan of drugs – she was, however, very keen on exercize as a way to manage depression. In between reading LOTR, I dragged myself to the university pool every day and swam laps. Eventually I got better – before I finished the 3rd book.

    In dealing with subsequent depressions, I have forced myself as much as possible to do some form of exercize, whether it’s as minor as walking my dog. The act of moving seems to work for me. I also try to set one task for myself every day, whether it’s organizing the silver wear drawer or taking out the recycling – this helps counteract my tendency, when in the grips of a depression, to negate everything I do. By setting myself small goals, even I have to acknowledge that I accomplished one thing on a particular day.

    Even though I haven’t had a serious depression in several years, I have an underlying fear that I may wake up one morning, down that black pit. Thank you for talking so honestly about your depression – the posts and the ensuing comments are really helpful.

    • Auntie JB says:

      Susan, I share your fear of “D” coming back and sucking me in. That’s why I always keep paper plates in my kitchen cabinets… just in case I go through a bout of “I don’t give a shit” depression again.

      I went through a similar thing with anxiety and it has never come back full force. I now recognize when Anxiety arrives and I acknowledge her and then proceed to move on with my day. She’s not ME, she’s just talking trash. She eventually gets bored and leaves. Sometimes she overstays her welcome. But she’s never been a permanent fixture in my life. Thank the gods!

  18. Eileen A-W says:

    Krissie, I’ll be emailing you about effexor which I’ve been on for 13 years. More about that in the email. Regarding the pj’s – I”m a nightgown type of person, I need loose things on me while I sleep. However, my elder daughter works at Soma which sells bras, underwear, pajama sets/separates, & lounge wear. They have this line of cool nights wear that helps keep you cooler at night, especially from those with night sweats. Since you are such a wonderful seamstress, you could just shorten the elastic or replace it.

    Kate – what a rotten boss. You will survive and find something even better. We went through this a year ago when my eldest daughter loss her youth director job of 4+ years. She has since started grad school in social work which seems to fit her well and she is much happier than she was in her job – despite loving the job. Sending {{hugs}}.

    • Eileen A-W says:

      I forgot to mention that ALL my pants fall down. I can’t find ones that fit properly over my “no hips or butt” but larger belly – due to having 4 babies & being only 5’1.5″. My daughters say I need longer crotch than those that are made today. Elastic waist fit at first but halfway through the day start falling down. Yes, water retention. Anyone know of a line that would work?

      • Micki says:

        I *hate* today’s fashion trend. Young people complain that “high rise” waists feel like diapers. But, I’m constantly hitching up my pants. (And at my size, I can’t mail-order bikini panties easily, so I’m flashing my underwear.)

        Some stores (esp. on-line) will indicate where a waist-line sits — Lands End is particularly good at this. I also find Lee’s Relaxed Fit Jeans (which come in brown and black that I can wear to work) work really well for me, but I think I’m a different shape than you are. Some jeans have an adjustable elastic waist that you can button up when they get loose.

        Have you tried a belt?

        And I have to say, cute suspenders could be a quirky fashion look, if you are into it. (-: I am tempted, myself.

  19. Sharon says:

    EileenA-W You need to find a seamstress who will measure you and make clothes that fit or a tailor to remake the ones you have. My sister has to do this and she says it is worth every penny. Sometimes she finds namebrand clothes at Good will and that off sets the cost of the tailor.

    Krissie-my mother used to say this ” No matter how bad you have it there’s always someone in worse shape. Get up, get dressed, comb your hair, wash your face and go find a way to help someone else. That is the key to happiness and contentment within.” I think you dwelling on past problems with your mother and the deaths of your family members take you to someplace bad. Be glad they are with the Lord-you will join them someday but until then they would want you to live your life with gladness and fullness. So count your blessings and forget the guilt and live your life with Richie.

  20. ChelSierra Remly says:

    I got this idea last night while I was blow drying my hair. It’s only a partial thought, and I’m not sure where it was going. Maybe someone can figure out where I was going with it and finish it for me.

    But I was thinking about how Jenny says a protagonist should ‘act’ and not ‘react.’ And then I thought we should see ourselves as the protagonist, and the depression/guilt/hurt/whatever as the antagonist. And set up a conflict box to help figure out how to take action against it and not just react to it.

    I think I need to mull that over a bit more. It just seemed like a good way for a writer to use this in real life to overcome problems. It works for books. =D

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