Sunday, August 1, 2021

Get Up and Go: Part 4

 Thanks to my mom and my kids (and that damn bumper sticker) I did reach out.  

I did ask for help. 

I do want to do the things that I used to do that brought me joy and made me feel like I was a valuable part of a community.

Last night I had a dream that I had to  write an important speech for a big audience but I couldn't actually write anything because all I had was a fat paintbrush and a cup of water.  

No pen. No ink. No paint. No paper. No canvas. No laptop. 

I tried writing with water on the wall but the words evaporated before they could make sense. 

The worst part of the dream was that I knew what I needed to write  -- words of encouragement,  something that would shine a little light into the fog.  

When I woke up this morning I shook that nightmare off and knew it was time to stop the silence, stop the quiet, and start to get up and go again. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression,  I hope this small story gives you the push you might have been waiting for to get help. 


Get Up and Go: Part 3

 When my mom told me everyone was worried about me I cried with both surprise and shock and (out of practice and habit) immediately denied everything. 

I'm fine. I'm happy. I'm really peaceful. Everything is good.

She squeezed my hands between hers as a I stared at the pictures on her wall. There's me at Disney World in 1976, there's me with Abuela, there's me at a booksigning for Marvin's Book. I hardly know the person smiling back at me, so I stare at the lovely plant sprawling ambitiously out of its basket.

Unconvinced by my feeble response she starts to list every person in my family who has faced depression and gotten help for it.  

She tells me life doesn't have to be as hard as it's been. I shake my head. I can't imagine things being easier, I can't even see that path from where I am.  I cry harder. I don't want to be here, I don't want to hear this, I don't want any of this to be true but denying it won't make it go away.  

Before she lets me leave the sofa she makes me promise I will reach out to my therapist and my doctor and get help.  

Then she lets me go, and a cloud of sadness follows me to the car.  After about an hour  into our drive home I finally tell the kids what my mom said and they go "hooray."  The next morning I make the calls, and am met with a flood of support.

(continued)

Get Up and Go: Part 2

If you were to ask me how I've been this year, I would say GREAT. 

I would probably say that I have been seeking peace, finding quiet, and looking for balance.  

All of that is true, but it isn't a complete answer.  

Little by little -- then all at once -- I stopped doing the things that I normally do. The things I do that bring my joy and connection and service.

 I stopped bringing dinners to Veterans Village. 

 I stopped running. 

I stopped writing. 

I stopped painting. 

 I stopped researching in digital archives and instead watched all 6 seasons of Downton Abby in a week, the followed it up with a binge of 5 seasons of Working Moms.  Same with Schitt's Creek, the Morning Show, Ted Lasso, Kim's Convenience and WandaVision. 

I sat on my deck for hours and fed bluejays peanuts while building a strong relationship with a particularly bold cardinal that would come look in the window and wave around for me if I hadn't gone outside to bring their food yet. 

On the inside I was having a blast, on the outside I probably came across as aloof, withdrawn, impossible to get a hold of. 

I  did what I wanted and needed to do to get on with life -- cleaned out my closet, redid my room and emptied most of the garage.  Besides that I couldn't make myself do the small things that shouldn't be a big deal.  Returning  phone calls, running errands, planning anything for the future just seemed too hard, too steep to face. So instead of pushing myself I just sat quietly until quiet became my new norm.  

The best way to describe my motivation is with a  bumper sticker I saw on an old truck in the 1970s warning drivers behind it "My get up and go got up and went." 

(continued)

Get up and Go: Part 1

I'm never quite sure where to start a story -- the middle? the end? --- so I'll start it on the sofa of my mom's office which was once my childhood bedroom.

Out of an abundance of caution we stayed apart for 18 months, then cautiously came together after we were vaccinated.  The first time we saw each other was in May, the second time was the last week of July.  After days of cloud watching, snorkeling, reading and other quiet pursuits, I was ready to pack my kids up and drive back to Tallahassee.

I thought my mom was about to hug me goodbye but no, she told the kids and my dad that she needed to talk to me and brought me to her room and closed the door.

My stomach sank. I braced myself for what was coming.  The bad news, the other shoe to drop, something so horrible that it couldn't be discussed before now and so awful it couldn't wait until we talked on the phone after I got home.

She pulls my hands between hers and tells me that yesterday was so wonderful that she would be ok if it were her last day.  I start crying. I know something bad is coming, here it is, here it comes.

She tells me that my kids love each other very much and are delightful. I cry harder. She pull my chin up because I can't even look at her since I know the worst news is about to come, something unimaginably bad.  I want to run away but I'm cornered and held down by her love and concern.

Then she says it.

The kids are worried about you. I'm worried about you. You need to get help.

(continued)