March 29, 2010

10 Days

It's been 10 days since I last posted here. I wish I could say I've been writing the Great American Novel, but that's pretty far from the truth. I haven't written a thing anywhere, not even in my journal, since my last post here. I have so much to say and yet I have no idea how to put it into words.

Let me start by saying that I still wonder why I'm keeping this blog going. I think I'm starting to really let go of my love affair with the online world. Neither Facebook nor Twitter thrill me anymore. I barely read blogs anymore. I'm starting to feel very disconnected from everything, and with my decade-long internet obsession, I'm not convinced that this is a bad thing.

I want something real. I'm tired of these elusive strings of code that bind me to others. I'm tired of status updates and blog traffic and talk of how many followers one has or doesn't have. I used to love the fact that blogs were the thing to do, but now it all feels so fake to me. It doesn't feel genuine anymore.

I'm sure all of this has a whole lot to do with the depression I've got going on. Of course I am questioning everything in my life and wondering why I do what I do. I think about my purpose in life and wonder if things (such as blogging) serve that purpose. Of course, all this would be much clearer to me if I understood what my purpose was in the first place.

More than anything, I am torn about how much detail to go into regarding my emotional landscape. Things are tough. I have good times and bad, but the bad times can be really scary. I am still doing the therapy thing, and I feel disconnected from that as well. I talk to my therapist, lay out all my history for her, but I'm skimming the surface. It all just feels too deep, too overwhelming, too dark to even begin to pull apart and examine. I am terrified that I won't make it through this with my sanity and my family intact.

I think back to my Great Depression a decade ago and I remember the only things that really helped were making positive life changes and letting time do the rest. Roy and I have been talking about moving to a new house, which appeals to me more and more, especially since we have newish neighbors who we don't really care for. We've talked about selling everything and buying an RV and driving across the country. We're not in the best position to do something like that, so instead we made a short list of lifestyle changes we'd like to make. And I'm doing everything right. I try to eat well, get some exercise, hang out with my friends, have time to myself, etc.

And yet the depression, it just hangs on and on and on. I miss my family terribly, I often think of my dad's deteriorating condition, I halfheartedly take pictures and read and do other things I enjoy. I'm just not right. I feel so wrong. And I want so badly to believe that everything is going to be okay.

March 19, 2010

Sadness will set me free.

I'm a person who has high expectations for herself. I'm driven. I'm motivated. I'm passionate. I believe that life should be lived, not wished away.

Depression has stripped away all of that. The high expectations are still there, naturally, because there's all the self-blame for being depressed in the first place. But I've put everything aside in favor of just surviving. All my dreams and goals have been put on hold as I row my way through this river of darkness.

My computer desktop is a mess of folders full of pictures that need to be sorted and edited. I come across interesting articles and bookmark them for later instead of reading them right then. My thesis materials sit, gathering dust. The laundry remains unfolded. I don't have much energy to comment on blogs. I don't even really have much to say on Facebook or Twitter.

And I don't care. Because getting through this moment, with myself and my family intact, is all that matters.

I feel free. My psyche is chained up tight, but yet. That freedom. To just exist, to not expect greatness, to let my son watch Ugly Betty with me, to give him a bottle instead of solid food sometimes, to go out for lunch everyday, to spend hours in bed, to spend an entire day with my hair unbrushed, to clean when I feel like it and let the dishes pile up when I don't.

I sound completely self-indulgent, and I don't care. What is depression if not the complete turning inward of a person? I can't care too much about the rest of the world right now. I need to take care of me and mine.

Someday the pain will lessen, and my psyche will be set free. For now, I'm counting on the sadness to bring me to my knees, so I can admit that it's okay to be ordinary.

(Thanks for all the love you've shown me through this, everyone. I'm not really all that good at responding to comments. But I read and appreciate every one. Your words have helped me so much.)

March 18, 2010

I haven't felt like writing.

Those old emo ups and downs are kicking my ass, folks. I haven't known what to say here. Or anywhere, really. I've just been kind of quiet.

I went to therapy today. We talked about how high my anxiety has been since Charlie was born and how I feel like an inadequate mother (well, an inadequate human being, really), and the session ended with her telling me that I need to learn how to be kinder to myself. It was a total duh moment, because DUH! My whole life I have been so hard on myself, and I'm not sure where this tendency comes from, but seriously, getting past the DUH! of it all, I've had enough.

I can't keep living this way. It is seriously exhausting being me. Something needs to change.

Or else I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe they'll haul me off to the mental ward, I don't know. This is insane. I'm so tired of being so hard on myself, for expecting perfection from myself, for apologizing for myself, and on and on the list goes. I just need to find a balance. I just need to not be such a bitch to myself. I just need to recognize that all the allowances granted to others are acceptable for me, too. I just need to learn how to be. In peace and quiet.

I have been so tired lately. During Charlie's naps, I crawl in bed and I don't get up until he wakes up. Sometimes I fall asleep myself. Sometimes I just lie there with my eyes closed. Either way, I'm learning how to rest amongst all this darkness. I'm learning how to be, without that hateful inner voice telling me I should be doing dishes or laundry or writing my thesis or editing photos. I'm tired of the shoulds. I should be this, I should have accomplished that, I should be stronger, I should be better. Fuck the shoulds. The shoulds are killing me.

And yet there's that deep part of me that will remain beholden to the shoulds. Too much of her, and I end up just like this. Face down in a puddle of my own darkness. I don't know how to change that deep part of me. I don't even feel like I have the energy to try.

A week ago, I opened the door to let in the light. Life felt promising, like sunshine. I felt like I was making my way through the worst of it.

But these tears tell another story. The worst is either here right now, or it hasn't shown its face yet. Whatever the case, I feel like I'm drowning in my own desperation.

March 14, 2010

more than just a little chuckle

Roy and I went out today to celebrate the anniversary of our first date, so Charlie's Aunt Mandy and Uncle Paul came over to hang out with him. Apparently, hilarity ensued.

Happy Daylight Savings! (Just kidding! It's totally fucked with Charlie's sleep schedule.)

Five years ago...

...I went out on a date with a very cute blue-eyed boy. We chatted (awkwardly at first) over coffee, ate Mexican food for dinner, and then hit up a local pub, where we played pool and I got drunk on two apple martinis. Despite the fact that I accidentally sent a cue ball flying across the room, that sweet blue-eyed boy kissed me (which led to many more kisses that night). And then he actually called me the next day. And the day after. And the day after. And the day after that...

It's been five years since that night. I'm writing this post in the darkness of our bedroom, while that lovely blue-eyed boy is snoring loudly with his arm thrown around my waist. Our baby sleeps peacefully in the next room. Elsewhere in our little house, our three cats are throwing one of their crazy night raves. Dirty dishes are piled up in the sink. Leftover unsold wares from our yard sale yesterday are strewn about the living room. Bills are unpaid, laundry is unfolded, and we haven't mopped or vacuumed in who knows how long. Our life is terribly imperfect, oftentimes reverting to complete chaos.

In the midst of it all, I snuggle into him and just breathe. He is my peaceful place, my quiet warrior, my soul reflected back to me.

Happy five years, my love.

March 11, 2010

Me, Today

Last night was the third night in a row that Charlie slept the entire night.


Too bad I've been trained to wake up throughout the night.

I'm hoping this resolves itself soon.

This morning after breakfast Charlie was fascinated by the dust floating through the air.

He kept grabbing for it.

It was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

He was very "helpful" as I packaged up books to ship out.

We often use the baby monitor to distract him.

And I hope you noticed that we got a baby jail all set up!

This kid's going to start crawling any old day now.

He likes to rock back and forth on his hands and knees.

Apparently Roy did the same thing as a baby.

During Charlie's morning nap, I found out that Hunter died on Monday.

Sigh. Tears. And WHY?

Too many babies dying.

There's just something so wrong about that.

(Rest in peace, Hunter.)

(So much love going out to his family.)

Today was a therapy day.

As I sat on the couch talking, I kept wondering why I was there.

I mean, I sound so normal, so put together.

And things really have improved.

My therapist picked up on that and said that she'd see me a couple more times.

I just wonder if this stretch of things going well will end up completely falling apart.

That's been the trend.

But maybe this time will be different.

A friend of the family had surgery today to remove a mass on her ovary.

I thought of her all day.

Finally I got the news that it wasn't cancer. So relieved.

Today was also Sheila's due date.

As her birth photographer, I am very invested in when she goes into labor.

I'm sure she's very uncomfortable, but I'd like for her baby to stay put until after Tuesday.

I have a full, fun weekend planned.

And on Tuesday I need to take Chuckles to the doctor.


All in all, it was a great day.

I feel level.

More level than I've felt in awhile.

I'm not sure why I feel okay again.

But I'm not going to question it too much.

I'm just going to enjoy it.

And open the door to let in the light.

March 9, 2010

Got me on my knees, Layla...

I first heard about sweet little Layla Grace's losing battle against neuroblastoma about a month ago. I read her story while eating potato leek soup in bed, and I couldn't stop crying. I told myself that I could not get involved with yet another tragedy that ultimately had nothing to do with me.

Except Layla, the little girl who I never had the pleasure of meeting, has everything to do with me. With everyone. She's a reminder of how fragile we are but how strong we can be. And no matter how much I wanted to bury my head in the sand and pretend like there wasn't a little girl out there named Layla Grace, I couldn't. She suffered so much. Entirely too much for a two-year-old.

But now, less than a year after her diagnosis, she is pain-free and at peace. Playing with the angels, as her Twitter update read. I'm not a religious person by any means, but for Layla's sake, I do believe in angels. And maybe even Heaven.

Rest in peace, sweet girl. Lots of love going out to Layla's family.

March 8, 2010

Nine Months

Dear Charlie,

Today you are nine months old.

There's so much I want to say in this month's letter, but sometimes words truly fail me. I don't know what to say in regards to all that's been going on.

So I'll just say this.

I am not at my best these days. Haven't been for quite some time now.

But I'm working on it. Like everyone else in this world, I'm not perfect. I so badly wanted to be my best for you, kiddo, and the sad fact is, I've fallen way short of being the mother I wanted to be.

But I am your mother. And you are my son. And nothing, nothing, will ever stop me from loving you.

And that? That, my love, is everything.



March 7, 2010

All Things Noteworthy (February Edition)

So we're already seven days into March, and I'm just now getting around to finishing up this post. Forgive me, won't you? I've been exhausted.

February began on a very promising note, and all signs were pointing to having a great month. However, it seems that a major theme for February was "things fall apart." That's exactly what happened: no matter what I was able to accomplish, a breakdown was quick to follow.

Here are the highs and lows of February:

1) I took a lot of walks up the mountain near my house. Great cardio! Great views!

2) Insomnia pretty much kicked my butt the entire month. I have nothing else to say about this, as we all know what misery sleep deprivation is.

3) I did a lot of writing. I had this all worked into my daily routine during the first part of the month, but then sleep began to be more important. I've still been writing here and there, though.

4) My friend Kim gave birth to identical twin girls Lily and Sophia on Groundhog Day. Love the A and B on their hats!

(I hope you don't mind that I stole your pic, Kim!)

5) I made new friends and enjoyed my old ones. I managed to meet up with three people that I've known online for awhile. It's always interesting to see how online personalities translate into real life.

6) I tried out a cloth pad. In my growing effort to lead a green lifestyle, I decided to try an alternative to regular tampons and pads. Party in my Pants offers a free cloth panty liner to anyone who is curious about trying out cloth pads - you only pay shipping. I suppose, to most people, this sounds completely disgusting, but not much grosses me out anymore. And actually, it's not disgusting. And it's good for the planet! And these pads are cute. See?

6) I got a new phone. This was hugely exciting to me, as I'd been using my RAZR for several years and was sorely in need of an upgrade. I was planning on holding onto my RAZR for a little while longer, but I accidentally stepped on it one morning and shattered the glass on the outside. Oh darn.

7) We spent a perfect Valentine weekend in San Diego.

8) I discovered awesome new music, particularly the Antlers and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I'd love to discover great music every month. So far, so good.

9) I came to the realization that I've got some kind of depression going on. The good news is I'm working my way through it.

10) I photographed a surprise birthday party with a 70s theme. It was a whole lot of fun. I didn't really know anyone except for Erika, the gal who asked me to shoot the party, but I still busted a move or seven on the dance floor. All the decorations and favors were true 70s stuff, and a lot of the guests came dressed in their 70s best as well.

Parties are super duper fun to photograph. Especially when you get to be a part of the party instead of just blending into the background. This crowd was good at making me feel like part of the group. I loved it!

11) We met up with some friends at the Birch Aquarium. My camera battery was on its last leg, thanks to the party from the night before (see above), but it lasted the whole time, thankfully. It's a small aquarium, but there's some seriously cool stuff there.

(PS - I love photographing jellyfish! I love the blur in this photo.)

12) After a lot of confusion, it was confirmed that my dad does not have a brain aneurysm, but that he does have a carotid aneurysm. Obviously, to make a mistake like that means that his doctors don't communicate well at all. And despite my best emotional efforts, I didn't call my dad at all during February. Admitting that makes me feel horrible, but there's a part of me that just feels freaking fragile right now. I will try to do better this month.

13) I won a giveaway and got this book as my prize. Thank you, Jessica!

14) Roy and I began yet another purge of our wordly possessions, this time focusing on mostly books. We are slowly making plans for our future, and none of them include having a shitload of belongings. It's so hard to get rid of books, because there are some that I love so much. But I know that if I want to read them again, I can go to the library or something. In the meantime, we're keeping our favorites, those that haven't been read yet, and those that are good for reference.

15) My awesome son started doing a bunch of new things: cutting his first two teeth, army crawling, getting up on his hands and knees, learning to feed himself, waving and giving high-fives, and trying tons of new foods. There is nothing in the world like watching your child grow. It is the most amazing thing ever - nothing compares to that.

(Check out his two bottom teeth!)

16) Since I'm scheduled to photograph my friend's birth sometime this month, I met her at her birth center and got a tour of the place. What an amazing place! I am so excited to be a part of her birth experience and to document it for her. I can't wait to see what birth is like outside of a hospital.

17) All my diet and exercise improvements kind of went down the toilet as the month progressed. I began eating like crap and drinking Dr. Pepper again. (Sigh.) But I am working on making better choices again, and that's all I can do.

18) Charlie had his first park playdate with his little buddy Nikko. And oh em gee, he reached a whole new level of adorable when we put him in a swing for the first time.

It doesn't matter how depressed I get: I love being a mom. It makes up for all the crap. Totally.

March 4, 2010

Me, Today

A good day.

I spent a lot of time soaking in Charlie's perfection.

We hung out with Becki and Luke.

And I made granola.

And some kick ass potato soup.

You can tell how I'm doing by how much time I spend in the kitchen.

A lot = I feel fucking fantastic! I love cooking! I love eating healthy food!

Hardly any at all = The world is ending. Can you go to the store and buy me some candy?

Speaking of the world ending, my mom sent me a text message today.

Her first one ever.

She signed it "Love, mom."

I told her she didn't need to sign her texts.

But I secretly love that she did that.

I think I'll save that text for as long as I can.

Because it really made me smile.

(I'm enjoying doing this self-portrait project, even though I am so obviously a novice at it. These are the worst ones yet! No amount of editing could save them - they are just that bad. So let this be a lesson to you: don't make the mistake of thinking that you can just shoot haphazardly and then fix it in Photoshop later. Best to get it right the first time around. I'm still figuring out how to master the self-portrait. How do you get it right when you can't see what you're photographing through the viewfinder? I think it's going to take a lot of practice. But you know what? It's a lot of fun.)

March 3, 2010

Hold on to the center.

Yesterday I went to the doctor and saw the nurse practitioner since my doctor is out of town. This picture was hanging in the room.


A few tears later, I was on the phone with a local psychiatric office making an appointment to see one of their psychiatrists. The appointment was today. I was a little nervous, because I was afraid they'd just throw a prescription at me and send me on my way. Luckily, I got an MFT, who sat and talked with me for an hour. We made our game plan and we're going to stick with just therapy for now, and if I absolutely need meds, then I'll get them. I like this approach. I'm very much a holistic and homeopathic person, so going for anti-depressants is a little scary. I'm not completely opposed to them, but for now I want to see what just therapy will do. (Just yesterday, though, I was ready, willing, and able to accept meds. Funny what a little soul-searching will do.)

In the meantime, I'm taking care of me and Chuckles and my cute little family. And I'm not doing much else. I figure everything else can wait while I reread my favorite poetry books, drink green smoothies, write in my journal, take Chuckles to the park, and lounge around in bed. Depression is debilitating, that's for sure, but it's also oddly liberating. All the extraneous stuff is stripped away in favor of what must be done.

The title of this post comes from the Tao Te Ching, which is probably the closest thing to a Bible for me. I was reading it today in the waiting room and noticed "Hold on to the center" most of all. So I figure that's what I'm going to do. Hold onto the center. Wherever it is.

March 1, 2010

In like a lion...

This is my formal request to March to be nice to me. Or else I might get all evil and stuff.

*shakes fist at March*

Today was totally awesome until the end of the day when I collapsed into snivels and sobs on the way home from the park. Why that happened, I have no idea, or actually, wait, I do. And that's why I'm going to see the doctor tomorrow, to confirm what I know is true, because once I get the confirmation, then we can start to fight this thing.

I know that I am depressed.

Not like OMGImissedtheNordstromsaleIamsodepressed depressed. No, this is the real deal. And it sucks. It sucks so bad.

I have a feeling that my blog's going to be kind of one-note for awhile as I muck my way through this. Or maybe no-note if I should decide to keep the inevitable meltdowns and breakdowns to myself. This depression stuff's not pretty. So if you want to read about unicorns, you should probably stop reading my blog.

(I really want this shirt, though.)

That picture's a pretty accurate representation of how I feel every day. Just willing myself to get out of bed to do it all over again. The ceiling is so interesting, and I'd much rather stare at it than think about how much things suck right now.

Sleeping forever sounds pretty good, too.

Not to worry, my friends. I am nowhere near tossing myself off a cliff, nor would I ever put Charlie's life in danger. I am just deeply, darkly, disturbingly drained.

However, I also know I'm on the road to healing. Depression is a complete emotional parasite, but hope is everything. And thankfully I've got tons of that.