Driving My Perspective

“Grab your camera; let’s go for a drive!”

Ric knows how to pull me out of my doldrums. Despite the cold wind, the day is not without merit. We drive to another small town, just thirty minutes away. Here, wetlands and a wooded trail attract a multitude of birds.

I snap a few pics of the small wading birds near the shore, but my heart is not in it. The sky is catching my attention today.

Heavy Autumn clouds hover, mirroring my sense of doom at Winter’s arrival. I know I have to fight this darkness. I wander down the trail, lost in my inner battle. A woodpecker drums nearby, but I haven’t the energy to look for him. I gaze upwards, a silent prayer for strength.

Despite the heavy cloud cover, the sun breaks through casting a shimmer across the water. I raise my lens capturing the moment. Even in its moodiness, Autumn has a special allure. I need to stay focused in the now – finding something to be grateful for each day.

Clouds reflected remind me that how we experience life is guided by how we set our lens.

I must remember, each day, to set my lens on miracles, no matter how small.

(Photos taken in Mitchell, Ontario, at the West Perth Wetlands.)

If I Knew; I’d Change It

I’m struggling with myself. It isn’t the first time, and I’m certain it won’t be the last.

There is no definable reason, and yet my emotional self tries to find blame: it’s Ric’s behaviour; it’s because I’m homesick; it’s my illness.

Rationally, I recognize that my life is full of blessings right now, and this is how depression works. It is a back and forth tug-of-rope between the logical and illogical.

I try to counter every negative thought with a positive one. When my dark self complains that I am trapped and have lost my independence, the lighter side reminds me that I have choices. When the shadows plant seeds of resentment; I fight them with affirmations of gratitude.

Today, I just wanted to stay in bed – let sleep numb the angst, but then Ric suggested a drive and I pulled myself out of it.

When I’m feeling this way, it’s one moment at a time. I distract, remind myself to keep breathing, try to eat healthy.

I feel like I’m biding my time – just waiting for this funk to lift.

Why does this happen? I read once that are hundreds of reasons for depression. Almost all of them applied at the time. Can’t remember any of them right now. Does it even matter?

This too shall pass, I am sure. For now, it’s just one of those unanswerable aspects of life.

(My weekly challenge is unanswerable. When I set the challenge, I had no idea where it would lead. I guess it’s inviting me look at my shadow.)

July Blues

Summer bursts with activities and plans, and I am already wondering at the folly of trying to move in the midst of it all.  I put out a group text yesterday to solicit help from our kids, and the response was as expected:

We are away that weekend.
Can we help with the pre-move prep?
Sorry, Mom.

Our youngest son has offered to dedicate a day to help with his truck, which will be great; and the others have said they could help of an evening, but we are moving outside of town, so that doesn’t make much sense.  We’ll hire help.

The other event happening this month is my 60th birthday.  I haven’t really wanted to say it aloud, or make a fuss.  It’s just another day.

“It’s an important birthday,” my husband chastises me.  “I am disappointed you haven’t heard from the kids.”

I am not.  Birthdays in July are always hit and miss.  Kids go to camp; families go on vacation.   For years, my family went away the week of my birthday.

“No worries.  I am getting a new house for my birthday! What more could I need?”

Truth is, July has always been a difficult time for me in terms of depression.   It is not   a conscious thing, but nevertheless it has taken up residence in my psyche.  It hit two days ago.  As usual, it catches me off guard.

“Where did this come from?” I wondered as the heaviness descended.  Even this morning, I felt an urge just to remain prone on my bed, lacking incentive to budge.

It wasn’t until I saw the prompts for the day that I realized the source of this discontentment:  birthday month.

It is not aging that sets me off:  in fact, sixty has a freeing ring about it.  It is a history
of disappointments and letdowns, dating back to family of origin.  I have tried to lessen the pain over the years with therapy, and yet, it lingers: a dappled bruise on my soul.  Maybe some things never heal.

“Send the kids a message that we will host a birthday celebration here,” Ric suggests.

I do.  One family is just getting back from vacation then, another out of town.  So far, one daughter can come.

“Let’s just go away,” I suggest.

And then, sometime later, another text…outside of the group chat.

“We’ve been trying to put something together Mom, as a bit of a surprise, but your messages are messing things up.”

A warmth rushes through me and I smile.  This is not the family of my childhood; these are my kids, and they care.

I had momentarily forgotten.

(Today’s prompts are as follows:  Fandango, lessen; Ragtag Community, dappled; Daily addictions, resident.  Thanks for dropping by.)

Hawk Inspired

Inspired by the poem “Time Wrapped Moment…” on Windswept’s blog, Lakeshore Ponderings, I’ve decided to reblog this short story from 2016.   Funny how something written so long ago can have relevance today, but it does – perhaps even more so.  Windswept has eloquently captured in a few words the sentiments the I tried to portray in writing the piece.  Lovely synchronicity!

 

One Woman's Quest II

(A short story; fiction.)

The grey days are the hardest; you know the ones, when the clouds, so full of tears, are working themselves up to a full-blown cry. My projection, I know, but I prefer to think that the weather mirrors my own inner gloom. I am less alone that way.

This winter has been a particularly hard one – stripped me of all resolution – I am hanging on by a thread. I stopped answering all phone calls weeks ago, too weak-spirited to listen to the false cheeriness on the other end.

I linger a little longer in my bed, eyes focused on the cold, slate sky, old bones resisting movement. The kettle is not going to boil itself, I tell myself. Slipping on the battered mules that guard the side of the bed, I shuffle to the kitchen, muscles moaning.

As miserable as I sound, I…

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A Timely Message from Someone In the Know

I have been following policecommander for some time, as I find his posts sincere and thought-provoking.  In this Ted talk, he reveals the story behind his wisdom, and offers the world a mandate for interacting.  A timely message worth spreading. (Note:  click over to the original post for video.  Give John a shout out of encouragement.)

policecommander

I think I might have done a TEDx Talk…

I think you might be able to watch it here…

Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 18.03.53

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Tired of the Same Old Endings

“I’ve started to write short stories again – something I haven’t done since I was a kid.”

“How’s that going?”

“It’s disturbing, actually; the endings are the same even after all these years.”

“Like what?”

“Me in a straitjacket, completely mad.”

“Oh, I see!”

th-1As do I – there are never happy endings, just a worsening of the situation caused by my inappropriate actions.

I used to fear I was going insane as a child – not a far stretch considering that’s what happened to my older sister.  This conversation is with my psychologist.  Just when I thought things had settled out in my psyche, the dreams have started again – not so much nightmares as deeply disturbing.

I grew up in a house full of secrets, where chaos was the reigning element, and hope, if it dared rear its head, was quickly squashed.  As a child it was difficult to see a way out of the pain, other than suicide or extreme acts of violence.  I attempted neither – was the ‘good’ girl in the family – but it doesn’t mean I didn’t fantasize about it.

“I left home when I was seventeen!” I whine to my therapist.  “It’s not fair that I’m still struggling with this.”

“How have you been feeling lately?”

“Tired,”  a ludicrous comment (I have ME/CFS which is characterized by systemic exhaustion); “I’m sleeping more than usual, which is actually a good thing, given I don’t  sleep well with this disease.  Have lost interest in food…generally depressed, I guess.”

Damn! Depression is like that elusive fly that keeps buzzing around but I just can’t catch.

“You have lots of good things going on right now; is there something that has triggered it?”

th-2In fact, there is – a conversation my younger sister and I had around Mother’s Day.  While I have sought extensive help to support my healing process, my sister prefers to hold it all in, and then every once in a while bits spew out.  Her mini revelation was enough to ignite the dreams for me.

“I don’t have a conscious memory of what she’s talking about, but the dreams would seem to indicate I was affected too.”

“Do you want to explore it further, or do you think you know enough to move on?”

I had been doing quite well – had gained enough perspective to be able to extract past wounds from present occurrences – yet, in my writing, there has always been something else lurking – another layer of hurt.

“I just want to know that there is going to be a different ending!  I need to know that there is a purpose to all of this and that my life won’t end up tragically, but right now I can’t see any other options.”

And then it hits me – this is what I love about effective therapy – my upbringing was not about love and connection, it was about survival.  I did not learn the skills that I need to have a fulfilling life experience, thus the need for re-parenting.

th-3.jpg“Do you have a copy of Growing Yourself Back Up?

“I do!  Found it the other day when I was clearing things out!”  I’m feeling lighter now, having identified the current dilemma and having an action plan in place.

No matter how innocent, children take on responsibility for the dysfunction that adults dish out.  They absorb the abuse, violence, and imposed secrets as reflections of their own lack of worth.  Consistency, enforced guidelines, and predictable parenting help build a secure sense of self, and a foundation of confidence from which a child can progress.

“Try to see the good things that have come out of it all,”  my therapist offers kindly.

“You mean like resiliency?”

“Yes, that’s a good place to start.”th-4

Illness and Isolation

Prolonged illness almost always equates to isolation.

Initially, kindness reveals itself through visits from friends and coworkers, meals dropped off, and many offers to help in any way.  Not yet adjusted to my rapidly changing situation, I was overwhelmed and somewhat embarrassed by such an outpouring, having always considered myself strong and independent.

Perhaps, I pushed others away.  More likely, having been forced off the highway of life, everyone else moved on.

In the past, I defined a relationship in terms of responsibility.  If I felt needed, then the relationship had value.  In illness, I no longer have much to give. I now recognize that my former definition was not necessarily healthy, yet still struggle to imagine who would find my friendship worthwhile: another barrier to connecting.

Professional relationships have almost all disappeared.  The commonality of ongoing training sessions and shared education-related challenges are no longer part of my life.  Annual goal-setting reports absent, I am focusing on new goals now:  baby steps really.  Who can relate when aspirations equate to meeting daily hygiene requirements and hoping to publish one blog post every other day?  Hardly inspirational.

Illness changes a person.  From the outside, the transformation must be incomprehensible.  Having grown up with a sister plagued by life-threatening illnesses, I know I interpreted much of her behaviour as selfish.  Only now (long after she passed away) do I understand that it is self-preservation that drove her actions, not selfishness.  I suspect most outsiders lack that perspective.th-1

Add depression into the mix – a natural response to such dramatic life change – and there is another wall to interacting.  I find myself battling with hypersensitivity, analyzing personal comments and twisting them into evil rejection.  I am anxious of conversations that involve justification of how my life turned out so pathetically.  I fear judgment.

Isolation is seldom listed as a symptom of chronic disease, but it certainly is a component.  The need for human interaction is very real, in fact, psychologically, I would say it is essential.

Making a conscientious effort to reach out to others, balancing social activity with limited energy, and valuing myself enough to keep the negative self-talk to a minimum, is how I am currently countering isolation.

(Featured image:  jessica-art.deviantart.com)