Tag Archives: depression

Gathering Eden

Kyrie Yeshua,

We have no memory of happier times
except the mimeographed black and white
irrelevant and unlived kind

No touchstone of bliss to serve as reference
For reconstruction and renovation

Instead we forage through the present pieces of ordinary lives
gathering Eden from the disparate strands presumed to be
echos of the first thing, the better thing, the joyful thing

And perhaps the joy itself is provenance enough
to prove that such things were present there
And have floated down the Tigris to us here.

Goodbye, 2006. Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out.

We should have known the kind of year it would be when we rang it in by going to bed at 9:30. Ash was sick with the flu and had to work on New Year’s Day (a Sunday), so the partying was left to the youngsters. We never felt so uncool. (And whether we admit it or not, cool still has some currency around here, so it was kind of depressing.)

Two-Thousand and Six has been The Year of Growing Pains. Granted, there have been some bright spots. We wrote and published a book (out next month), which is pretty incredible, considering neither one of us have graduated from college and we’ve started talking in chatspeak. (At first it was just to be funny, and now we’re just lazy. STFU!) Our housechurch kicks ass…learning to be church rather than do church has been a difficult and rewarding journey. I got a new job in the company I’ve worked at for almost 3 years, and finally realize that people who say “I love my job!” aren’t just being polite. We got a dog. Stephen King came out with his best book since The Stand. The Democrats won back Congress (but we’ll see if they make any good use of it).

On the flip side, though…I started back to school in the summer to finish the degree I don’t have, and dropped out due to a pesky little emotional breakdown. Money’s been tight. Having a dog and no yard has been a bit trickier than we imagined. Ash’s work situation has had some pretty serious hills and valleys (and the valleys have been deeper than the hills have been high). The world got even funkier than it was in 2005. James Brown died. One of the top-charting songs of the year was a catchy, horrifying little ditty called “Smack That.” (Me: “Did he just say ’till you get sore’???” Ash: “Yep.”)

All in all, I’m not sorry to see 2006 head on out. Buh-bye. Here’s to 2007: The Year of Painless Maturity.

Happy New Year, my friends. May you be richly blessed.

Work and Mental Health

As I mentioned a few days ago, I went back to work this week after having been on disability for 3 months. I was apprehensive about going back, mainly because the last month or so before I decided to take the extended time off, work made me a nervous wreck. The sound of my alarm going off in the morning was the secret code to my Anxiety Meter to hit the red, and every new manuscript I opened to edit at my desk was an invitation to tears.

I half-expected to feel that same high level of distress upon my return, and only hoped that I might now be more emotionally able to deal. It’s a wonderful surprise to realize that work was only uber-punishing because I was mental, and now that I’m only half as crazy I was then, work can be and is quite pleasant.

It’s also a little weird. I mean, I knew 3 months ago that I was jacked up. But I don’t think I had a clear picture of exactly how jacked up until I got to work on Tuesday, expecting to have a nervous breakdown and instead thinking “Huh. What was it about this place that made me want to kill myself with a red pen to the jugular? ‘Cause this doesn’t seem too bad.”

Distorted perception is one of the wackiest parts of being depressed. I genuinely thought my job was the worst thing since the Israelites made mud bricks without straw, but the truth is, I get to sit around and play with words all day…possibly the best job ever. I felt victimized when I was actually blessed.

Distorted perception. Wacky.

Pick a direction, any direction.

I’ve been struggling the last couple of years to figure out what I want to do with my life. I realize that most people deal with this in college, or wait until they’re 45 and switch careers and/or buy a yellow sports car…so I guess that makes me a late bloomer suffering from early-onset mid-life crisis.

I didn’t graduate from college. It’s hard to regret this sometimes, since I think I spent my college years doing important growing up on the inside (rendering me incapable of going to class, obviously). Other times (such as now, in the middle of a pretty debilitating depression), I wallow in recrimination, whipping myself — mostly metaphorically — for the time and money I wasted on figuring out that I’m not a tortured artist or God’s gift to biblical studies or The Best Singer Ever, but instead just me: sorta smart, okay-looking, sometimes funny, likes music and Anne Lamott and Jesus and ponies and Buffy. (And Ash…which, granted, took a lot of time and energy and tears and tequila to figure out.) I beat myself up for not having been a better multi-tasker. Coudn’t I have gone on a journey of self-discovery and inner growth while simultaneously showing up for class? A lot of people do it, so I guess that makes me A Bad Person. And Evil. (That’s when I pull out the cat o’ nine and the hair shirt.)

After a good session of self-flaggelation, I try to remind myself that I’ve progressed somewhat since then. At that time, I was paralyzed with indecision because I didn’t want to narrow down my options. (This is an issue for people who are good — but not great — at a few things and don’t want to give anything up to become great at just one of those things.) I know now that I want to write, but my current paralysis stems from not knowing quite how to go about this pursuit…other than obvious, which is to sit in front of the computer and hug myself and rock like a large autistic child until I can string words together into a coherent sentence. I’m terrified of making the wrong choice: Should I go to school for an English degree? Should I quit my job and go freelance as a writer/editor? Should I rent a cabin in Montana for six months and finish my Great American Novel? Should I continue on in my job/life and hope that a bigger opportunity falls in my lap? Should I try quaaludes?

I think you can see my pentlemma. (See how there are five options, and how pente is the Greek word for five? This is why I should be a writer.)

I’m not good at making Ultimate Decisions. This is somewhat a function of my personality, but I know that at some point every person has to choose something, or they writhe on the bed hugging a pillow and moaning in a weird Grudge-like monotone because they’re so overwhelmed by the myriad of choices that their brains take a cigarette break and may or may not come back to work and they never, ever do anything they wanted to do because they’re too busy writhing on the bed moaning in a weird Grudge-like monotone. (I’m just guessing here.)

All this to say: How do people make these kinds of decisions? Seriously, I have nothing but the utmost respect for people who can choose one option over another. How do you do it? It’s not necessarily the fact that you can choose something, it’s that you can not choose a whole bunch of other things in favor of that something. It’s amazing! Tell me your secret. I don’t think I can move forward in any direction until I’ve figured this out.

And also: Does anyone else have this problem, or am I the only crazy person?