Checking In

20 Feb

I know that I haven’t written here in a while (SIX WHOLE DAYS, LIKE, YOU PROBABLY THOUGHT I’D QUIT BLOGGING OR SOMETHING), and I just wanted to check in and let you guys know that I’m doing all right.

More than all right, actually. I feel better. Frighteningly, miraculously, tentatively better. It’s so new and so strange that I’m a bit hesitant to write about it yet or even say it out loud – like I could jinx it or something. But I also want you to not worry about me, so I thought I should tell you: I feel better.

I don’t know if I would say that I was happy exactly, but then I’m not sure that “happy” is the opposite of “suicidal”. I’m coming to distrust the idea of being happy anyway – I hear the word thrown around too much, hear too many people talking about how they deserve happiness. But I’m not sure that anyone deserves happiness, you know? There’s a quote from Zadie Smith’s White Teeth that the cynic in me has always loved, and I feel like it might apply here:

You hear girls in the toilets of clubs saying, ‘Yeah, he fucked off and left me. He just couldn’t deal with love. He was too fucked up to know how to love me.’ Now how did that happen? What was it about this unlovable century that convinced us we were, despite everything, eminently lovable as a people, as a species? What made us think that anyone who fails to love us is damaged, lacking, malfunctioning in some way? And particularly if they replace us with a god, or a weeping madonna, or the face of Christ in a ciabatta roll—then we call them crazy. Deluded. Regressive. We are so convinced of the goodness of ourselves, and the goodness of our love, we cannot bear to believe that there might be something more worthy of love than us, more worthy of worship. Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.

I’m starting to think that maybe not everyone deserves happiness all the time. Actually, I think I’m just getting tired of hearing people talk about deserving anything – I’m tired of people’s sense of entitlement, their willingness to trample over others in order to acquire something they feel that they deserve.

But anyway, I digress.

I’ve been trying to follow the hospital psychiatrist’s orders and prioritize things that make me happy, and I think that by and large I’ve been succeeding. I’ve started keeping a proper, paper journal again, and it’s actually wonderful to be able to write without thinking about having an audience (except that I basically always think about having an audience, but I’m figuring that no one will read my journals until I’m dead and thus don’t care). I’ve been taking time out of my day to go to hip cafés where I sit and scribble happily in my notebook while sipping a latte, feeling like everyone looking on must know that I am a For Real Serious Writer Lady.

I’ve been doing other things too – things like spending an hour or two at the art gallery, or wandering around Roncesvalles and checking out the cute shops. Today I went to a friend’s place and lay on her couch for three hours, sipping gin and tonics, dissecting Salinger books and watching Star Trek. It was nice – more than nice, really. And I felt like myself, for the first time in a long time. But I also felt guilty.

Let me see if I can explain the guilt. It’s like this: I constantly feel like I’m running out of time. I don’t just mean that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done (although I do feel that way) – I also mean in general, in my life. I feel like I spent too much time fucking off (read: being depressed) in my early 20s and now I’m 30 and all of my peers are ahead of me and I’m struggling to catch up. And I know it’s not a race, but it still feels like one, and I feel like I now have to work extra super hard just to prove that I should even be allowed on the track.

Anyway, what all this amounts to is that I have a hard time doing anything that I don’t view as useful or productive. Even spending time with Theo fits into this category, as I see parenting as a way of creating and shaping an awesome future adult. And yeah, being Theo’s mom is pretty rad, but sometimes that seems more like a pleasant side effect of parenting rather than the main point.

I also feel guilty because it’s like, who am I to get to do all these nice fun things? Like, why do I get to go out and see my friends and hang out in coffee shops while Matt has to stay home and parent? How is that fair? What if he starts to resent me?

Do I actually believe that being depressed gives me special privileges or something?

And then I think, if I were sick with anything else and the doctor’s orders were to take it easy, would I feel guilty?

No, probably not. But if I were sick with anything else, there would be blood drawn, tests run, and hopefully some kind of irrefutable scientific proof that I was sick. But with depression there is no proof, not really. You all have to take me at my word that some days, I feel like dying.

And what happens if you ever stop taking me at my word?

After years and years of talking about suicide but not actually dying, won’t I start to seem like the boy who cried wolf?

I don’t want to lose you guys. Because I love you. Because I’d be lost without you. Because your support has mostly been what’s kept me going these past few weeks.

Anyway, all of this is to say that you don’t have to worry about me, because I’m feeling better.

And that means that, at least for now, I don’t have to worry about losing you.

xoxo

Annabelle

P.S. On a lighter note, just in case you were wondering what a Shrevolution looks like:

shrevolution!

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14 Responses to “Checking In”

  1. Jonnie February 20, 2013 at 5:40 am #

    “I constantly feel like I’m running out of time. I don’t just mean that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done (although I do feel that way) – I also mean in general, in my life. I feel like I spent too much time fucking off (read: being depressed) in my early 20s and now I’m 30 and all of my peers are ahead of me and I’m struggling to catch up. And I know it’s not a race, but it still feels like one, and I feel like I now have to work extra super hard just to prove that I should even be allowed on the track.”

    I’m 33 and feeling the same way. I’m back in college (graduating in May, hopefully), but I’m years behind everyone my age. It makes me reluctant to hit accept on friend requests on Facebook that are from people I went to high school with. The only consolation I have about “being behind” is that I still have more days ahead of me than behind me (though just barely). Anyhoo, I’m feel like I’m rambling on (no doubt because of the three beers and two thirds of a bottle of wine that I’ve had) so I don’t really have a point, but I started following your blog a few posts ago and I just wanted to say that your descriptions of what you’re going through really clicked for me.

    “… watching Star Trek”

    I just started re-watching some episodes of Enterprise from season 3 and I have to say, they’re not all bad.

    • bellejarblog February 25, 2013 at 4:31 am #

      Thanks for the comment!

      For what it’s worth, my mother went back to school when she was in her mid-40s and started a whole new career after she graduated. So it’s never too late to start doing what you love! That being said, I do hear you on feeling left behind. I feel like everyone I went to school with has their master’s now or whatever.

      And yeah, Star Trek is PRETTY DECENT 🙂

  2. ktmade February 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better, and I relate to so much of this – the feeling of being behind, needing to catch up, the uncomfortability with an illness that doesn’t have scientific metrics to back you up and prove to the world that you need the kindness it’s prepared to offer. My only suggestion on that front is to remember all the kindness – from your husband, your readers, your friends, strangers – and when you’re in a position to give some back, give it. That is, I think, the best we can do.

    • bellejarblog February 25, 2013 at 4:22 am #

      Thanks. I do need to give back, probably more than I already do.

      I’m glad others can relate ❤

  3. Britni February 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    I don’t think that anyone deserves to be happy all the time. It’s unrealistic to expect that you will be happy all the time. My goal is to be okay all the time. That is enough for me. And by “okay,” I just mean that I can handle whatever life throws at me without shutting down or wanting to go to sleep for 3 years. I can handle life on life’s terms. Sometimes I am happy, but most of the time I’m just okay and that’s enough.

    Acceptance is what brings me to that place. I accept things the way they are, as imperfect, as ever-changing, as sometimes sucky. And I know that things are that way because life is that way. I can’t control it and I can’t fix it and I can’t expect everything to work the way that I want it to because a) life isn’t fair and b) who the hell am I to determine the way that things happen. Am I really that vain? When I accept things as perfectly imperfect, I am okay. I am at peace. I am content.

    This is something that really helps me with that (it’s from AA, but it totally applies to everyone):

    ” …acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

    For me, serenity began when I learned to distinguish between those things that I could change and those I could not. When I admitted that there were people, places, things, and situations over which I was totally powerless, those things began to lose their power over me. I learned that everyone has the right to make their own mistakes, and learn from them, without my interference, judgement, or assistance!

    The key to my serenity is acceptance. But “acceptance” does not mean that I have to like it, condone it, or even ignore it. What it does mean is I am powerless to do anything about it… and I have to accept that fact.

    Nor does it mean that I have to accept “unacceptable behavoir.” Today I have choices. I no longer have to accept abuse in any form. I can choose to walk away, even if it means stepping out into the unknown. I no longer have to fear “change” or the unknown. I can merely accept it as part of the journey.

    I spent years trying to change things in my life over which I was powerless, but did not know it. I threatened, scolded, manipulated, coerced, pleaded, begged, pouted, bribed and generally tried everything I could to make the situation better — only watch as things always got progressively worse.

    I spent so much time trying to change the things I could not change, it never once occurred to me to simply accept them as they were.

    Now when things in my life are not going the way I planned them, or downright bad things happen, I can remind myself that whatever is going on is not happening by accident. There’s a reason for it and it is not always meant for me to know what that reason is.

    That change in attitude has been the key to happiness for me. I know I am not the only who has found that serenity.”

    Also, awesomely, this song came on my shuffle when I turned my music on after reading this post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlFCfkyuQM0 And speaking of Ingrid Michaelson, this is my coming out of depression song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rfE37ekubg

    • bellejarblog February 25, 2013 at 3:43 am #

      “My goal is to be okay all the time. That is enough for me. And by “okay,” I just mean that I can handle whatever life throws at me without shutting down or wanting to go to sleep for 3 years. I can handle life on life’s terms. Sometimes I am happy, but most of the time I’m just okay and that’s enough.”

      Yes. This is perfect. THANK YOU.

      Also that AA quote is basically perfect.

      As is Ingrid Michaelson.

      I ❤ and am so happy I have you in my life!

  4. playfulmeanderings February 21, 2013 at 3:53 am #

    Muhh. Muhh. That’s the sound of me kissing the monitor. So wondrously pleased to hear things are improving. Muh.

  5. Kylie February 22, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    I am damn happy for you that you are doing things that make you feel happy. That is one of the worst things about depression- the idea that we don’t deserve ANYthing at all.

    • bellejarblog February 25, 2013 at 3:40 am #

      xoxoxo FOR REAL. And as much as I know that depression lies, it’s so hard to remember that when I’m in the thick of it.

      • Kylie February 25, 2013 at 5:45 am #

        I just talked with my husband about it tonight, and we decided that the best way he could help me take care of myself was to give me gift certificates. Otherwise, I just tell myself I don’t deserve things like buying plants for the garden or getting massages.

  6. Humans Are Weird March 10, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    Hey. Just found your blog through FP. And I like it (granted, you won me over instantly with your explicit love for Sylvia Plath).

    Just started a blog based on mental health, namely depression / mania. If you’d wanna write for us, would love to have you contribute a post, or seventy. You seem prolific in your ramblings. This would be useful.

    The blog’s: http://www.amanicworld.com – if you’re interested, all the deats are there in the “submissions” section. Or, just click on my big, blue eyed laughing head for links to my other blogs.

    Either way, nice stuff. And by stuff I mean words.

  7. Mark April 11, 2013 at 2:51 am #

    Thank you. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this.

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