A day in the life…

photo(11)

7:00-7:30 a.m.  Scritch, scratch.  Lulu is at the bedroom door.  It isn’t her feeding time.  She doesn’t go outside.  So, what does she want?  Company.  Me.  Sometimes I get up and let her in to snuggle for a while.  Other days I get up straight away and go downstairs with her.

Almost every day I get out of bed with an “itch” to write.  As regular readers know, I haven’t written much in the last few months.  So if I get up with a desire to write, what’s keeping me from doing so?  In part, it’s because I’ve been as busy as a honey bee in a bed of clover.  There was a while that I couldn’t write because I was seriously depressed.  That is no longer a problem, thanks to antidepressant medication which has worked a not-so-small miracle in that regard.

My upbeat mood and new-found energy have given me a joie de vivre that I haven’t had in a very long time.  I’m finding my schedule almost over-booked these days simply because I feel like doing things and seeing people.  Who knew there were so many entertaining endeavors waiting for me?  Well, I did.  But I couldn’t get past the lethargy that depression causes.  I’m grateful for another chance to live my life, and to enjoy doing so.

In the past couple of months I have been walking regularly with two of my neighbors.  (It’s lots more photo(19)fun when you have company.)  I’ve attended numerous grandchild functions:  a pre-prom photo session, an elementary school graduation, a high school graduation, two engagement parties, a gymnastics celebration banquet (the end of a rather lengthy gymnastics career–happy and sad), and more that I can’t remember at the moment.

In addition to the fun stuff, I have taken on a front yard project.  I’m wondering if my meds have made me a little more wacky than I normally am–not an easy feat since I’ve always been pretty wacky. As some of you know already, I don’t grow grass very well, so I decided I should construct some around-the-tree gardens in order to have less weedy grass to mow.photo(16)  I started by digging a v-shaped trench around the tree.  My research tells me this is a Victorian edge.  I didn’t want a brick or stone edging because it makes using the weed eater a bit fussy.  I thought the digging would be the hardest part, but abundant rain had saturated the ground and digging was a breeze.

The next step was to cover inside the circle with newspapers.  The newspaper kills weeds and unwanted grass in the finished product.  Then I spread four (or so) inches of soil on top of the newspapers.  Next came a nice thick layer of mulch on top of the dirt. Viola. The garden is ready for some shade-loving plants.photo(20)

I took this photo shortly after I planted.  We’ve had a great deal of rain and sunshine since then, so I’m able to see growth almost every day.  Only two more trees to go.  My neighbors are waiting patiently.  I’m still a little surprised (and proud) that I was able to do this by myself.  Gave me a nice sense of accomplishment.

Pretending to be normal.

201200003769_003The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well. ~ Alfred Adler

Definition of normal:  not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle; conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern; free from mental disorder — Merriam-Webster

I stashed this picture and the beginnings of a post in my files a long time ago, knowing that one day I wanted to write about it, but having no idea what I wanted to say.  It seemed important to me at the time.  Also, I love the cheerful, happy women in Suzy Toronto’s work.

At the time, I think I was exhausted by trying to be normal.  At the same time I wondered, “Why would I want to be normal?  I want to be more than normal.  I want to sparkle. I want to shine.  I want to leave my mark!”  The sad truth is I couldn’t get to normal, so how was I ever going to sparkle, let alone shine?  What on earth was wrong with me?

I have mentioned before that my family is rife with alcoholics/drug addicts.  I don’t remember having talked about the other family scourge–depression and/or anxiety.  I think that if I made a list of relatives who suffer from depression, it would be longer than the list of those who do not.  Most of my life I would have put my name on the those-who-do-not list.  Even after having taken an anti-depressant (SSRI) to help me through my divorce, I still would have considered myself a non-depressed person.  I have, in the past two or three years, admitted that I sometimes have bouts of depression.  But did I consider myself a depressed person?  Never!

This last bout of functioning-well-below-normal depression has changed my mind.  “And why is that?” you might ask.  I’m still trying to figure out the answer.  This time it went on and on for a very long time–close to a year, I think.  I was anxious.  I was worried.  I was tired.  I was so very, very sad.  I was short-tempered, impatient, critical.  The biggest clue of all was, I think, that I started to have numerous physical symptoms.  Test after medical test turned up nothing.  I started to realize that the chest pain I went to the emergency room for was probably an anxiety or panic attack.  The digestive symptoms I was having may have been due to what was eating me rather than what I was or was not eating.

I have spent a lifetime resisting the depressed label.  There are a couple of reasons for my attitude toward this particular illness: 1) I don’t like to admit to being less than healthy (as in it seems like a weakness to me), and 2) there is too much stigma still attached to any type of mental illness.  Number two is changing slowly but there’s much educating to be done before it becomes just another illness.

I believe that my reasons for thinking the way I did probably come from my attitudes toward my parents as I reached adulthood.  I saw my mother as weak because she played the poor-pitiful-me role her entire life.  I needed her to pull herself up and take control of the family.  I realize now that she couldn’t.  I saw my father as the drunk who didn’t provide well for his family.  I know now that he suffered from depression, too, and was likely drinking because of the anxiety and depression.  His drinking then exacerbated the problem.  I now believe that both parents did the best they could under very trying circumstances.

I’m happy to report that I no longer have to pretend to be normal.  I feel normal.  I’m not sure I’m shining just yet, but I’m beginning to notice a few sparks on a fairly regular basis.  I’m planning to sparkle soon.  About two months ago, after taking a long, but gentle look, at myself, and recognizing that I have spent most of my adult life depressed and anxious, I decided to be kind to me and I put myself back on antidepressant medication.  One month ago I told my doctor what I had done.  She asked many, many questions about how I had been and how I was on medication.  She agreed with me.  I did the right thing.

photo(9)Disclaimer:  I am not suggesting that anyone reading this post should do what I did.  If you think you are depressed, please see an appropriate professional.

Summertime blues.

“…and there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.”  ~ Eddie Cochran, 1938-1960

Back in 1959, young Eddie Cochran wrote and recorded “Summertime Blues.”  It has since been recorded by many other artists, including Roger Daltrey and The Who.  It continues to entertain me whenever I chance to hear it.  I included the link so that you might enjoy it, too, if you choose.  Music, as I have said before, soothes my soul and brings me great joy.

I have mentioned in previous posts that I have bouts of depression.  Some of the worst times come in the summer.  I am at my core an outdoor “girl.”  When we have days, sometimes even weeks on end, of ninety-five plus temperatures, it starts to wear on me.  Walking in the mall isn’t my idea of satisfying exercise.  Walking outside is out of the question–even dangerous.  Stubborn soul that I am, I try hard to outwit my depression and negative thoughts.  Tonight I’m looking back on my last twenty-four hours and remembering the things/people/events that brought a spot of happiness into my world.  For example, red flowers in a summer bouquet as seen in the photo above.  I bought these for myself at my local grocery.

Stella and her mom spent the night with me last night.  This is her Bananagrams message on our Winnie the Pooh rug in her favorite room.  You can see Pooh’s feet, lower right.  We rocked and I sang the songs I used to sing to her mom when she was little.  S sings with me on You Are My Sunshine.  We read books, ate chocolate cake, watched a bit of Sponge Bob Square Pants (a very funny show for adults), and lots of other fun stuff.  No time for depression with S around.  She’s a joyful little girl.

This is Stella’s t-shirt for the day.  She didn’t want to pose long enough for me to snap a picture but she finally relented so I would “just get it done” and leave her alone.  I’m proud of her parents for teaching this message to their children and for promoting it in the community via t-shirts and attitudes.  Title IX lives! and I’m glad for that.  In fact I can gratefully add that all three of my daughters encourage and support this message.  Thank you, Daughters, for your open minds and progressive thinking.

High on my list of hot-weather activities is visiting my nearest book shop, so I don’t need to tell you that I was delighted when Daughter #1 (numbers established by birth order) texted and asked if I wanted to meet her there.  Of course I did.  It’s a large store and it’s wonderfully cool.  I often spend a couple of hours browsing, and I admit it, I buy far too often for one who has an electronic reader.  It helps that there’s a Starbucks there.  This time of year it’s the coffee frappuccino that calls my name.  Yum!

I keep telling myself that I must start to spend more time at the nearest public library so I won’t buy books.  It would be just as cool.  Of course they don’t have a Starbucks and the library is farther away.  One of these days.  Maybe.  I’m considering it.  Really!

Do your best.  Give.  Eat good food and share.  Celebrate tradition.  Cherish family.  Look back.  Look ahead.  LIVE NOW.  Play games.  Dream.  Accept change.  ~~  These are the messages on a lovely, handcrafted Lazy Susan which sits on my kitchen table.  Today, I’m happy to say, I did most of these things.    It was a good day.