Gone Coastal

Friday, March 20, 2009

Life is good

Sometimes it's hard, and now is certainly one of those times, but it's good.

I was talking with a friend sometime last week month, and an offhand comment stuck with me. I'm not even sure what we were talking about before. "You think your life sucks? You should try walking in my shoes." Now, we didn't go any further with that thread, so I don't know what trials were wearing on her at that point, and obviously it wouldn't be for me to share here if I did. I expect it was an overflow of frustration with any number of things piling up on her horizon. I do know very well that any trip down her path would be far from a vacation. I know I couldn't do what she does, and I don't know how she does and handles everything else as well as she does.
But the reason the comment stuck with me actually has nothing to do with her. In the back of my mind, it bothered me that, doubtless due to all the talk of my various struggles, I'd given someone the impression that I thought my life sucked. I like my life. And you should know that if I didn't feel that with some certainty, it would be a lot harder than it is.
A little disclaimer here. The rest of this post could get a little graphic, a little scary perhaps. If you're the sensitive type, or you're just feeling a little vulnerable now, you might want to skip this and come back another time.
That said, I choose to share this because one of the hardest things about going through depression and mental health issues of any sort is feeling like you're the only one who's ever felt this way or experienced this. I know of at least a few people who are currently struggling with something similar, more who've been there before and perhaps there are others among my readers who are still silent. And perhaps there are some out there who will stumble on this little corner of blunt reality and feel a little less alone.

One of the ways depression manifests itself for me is intrusive thoughts. Ugly thoughts about things I might do or that might happen. I've learned, though, that there's a huge difference between the thought that just crosses my mind and the one that sets up camp. If, say, the thought of shooting myself in the head fluttered past in a moment of high stress, I'd let it go and pay it no mind.
On the other hand, if it started doing laps, passing by somewhat predictably, I'd need to pay some attention to what was happening, lest it just sidle up on beside me like a shadow.

This is where things get a little hazy. I started this post well over a month ago and so much has happened - little day to day things that keep me busy as well as grander things pondered, learned or revealed. It's hard to remember exactly where I was at and where I was going when I left off writing this post. As such, it won't be quite as potent as it would have been had I managed to finish it much sooner. The sharper edges grow dull with distance.
But if I look at what I'd written, I remember one key point quite clearly. The marked contrast between those dark thoughts that sometimes fill my mind, and what I really believe and value. When things are most off balance, when the storms in my head are raging, it's difficult to see anything else. I seek desperately for any way out of the chaos, and that's where the dark thoughts come in. The urges for anything other than the chaos. Nothing makes much sense, especially from the outside looking back, but in the midst of it somehow it seems that slamming my head against a door frame would be a useful tactic for dealing with it. As obviously irrational as that is, it is amazingly difficult in that state to fight those urges and follow reason.
That's where I was when I realized I needed more than a little moral support or a day off. When I knew I had to talk to my doctor and take some concrete steps. I had given in to those urges on a couple of occasions. Feeling totally out of control, even over myself, I had ducked around the corner from whatever room the kids were in and let loose. The result? Add a horrendous feeling of guilt and despair at what I'd done to the mix. And a good sized tender spot on the side of my head. Then came the day when I didn't leave. I didn't have even so much control left as to spare my kids that sight.

When I'd come through the initial challenge of finding the right meds, I remember I described the effect of the meds as keeping a lid on things. Keeping the thoughts and anxieties from boiling over. Leaving enough room in the cauldron for reality to remain on top, and just let the steam out slowly.
In the calmer times, I'm able to go through those alien thoughts and think about what I really do believe. In the last couple of months, there've been a few longer stretches of calm, and I can see things a little clearer, bit by bit. When that door frame taunts me lately, I've been able to recognize not only that it's not what I want, but that I'm really longing for a place to rest my head. I can change the picture.
After I started this post, I was bathing the kids one night, and peeling again at the plastic liner that didn't come off the tub before we started using it. We were trying to protect the new tub while various construction stuff continued, but the end result is that it's no longer going to peel off nicely. So every time we have a bath, I peel at the edges of the film. The film is now pretty grungy and a little grey, so as I peel back more and more the clear surface is revealed. That's kind of what it feels like to be coming out of this. Very slowly.
As dark as things sometimes get, even when I'm desperate for anything that feels like control, even an end to life, I've always known that my life is good. It's hard, in more than a few ways, but it's good. I have two beautiful children. I have a marriage that, while bumpy, has been a blessing through 12 years and is worth fighting for. I've been blessed with good friends who encourage and inspire me. There've been cracks of light from unexpected sources. I've been blessed with gifts and abilities and great opportunities to use them. And above all I know there is a purpose for my life.
Knowing all this gives me strength in the storms. And the means to capture those dark thoughts and turn them back. And that's about as far from a life that sucks as I can imagine.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Language learning made easy, if not exactly accurate

Ok, so I haven't posted anything in a long while. There are posts in the works, but not the sort I can rattle off in my spare moments. But this, this just begs to be shared. Soon. And widely.

Caught this on a banner ad just a little while ago. I was so glad it was one that cycles through a loop so I could catch a screen shot. This speaks volumes for the quality of language training available, don't ya think?

Somewhere, right about now, a designer is polishing up her resume.