Hello 41!

Believe it or not, I don’t just write this blog to prove I am a narcissistic asshole- although, I have been successful in that endeavor.  A friend once asked me why I don’t just write journal and keep it to myself.  I publicly blog because I believe in the power of words and connections.  If you are a person like me who tends to isolate in your own mind, the more connection you can feel, the better.  I blog not because I require a soapbox (ok, maybe a little of that), but because I am hoping to start conversations.

Every once in awhile, I think about stopping my public humiliation by ending this blog, and it is usually then that someone tells me how much they like it.  I am a sucker for compliments, and one is usually enough to keep me going.

Today an old friend wrote “I still read your blog even though I don’t comment.  Keep it up.”  Ok, not exactly a compliment but still a vote of confidence in my book.

Since writing a few recent “I am worthless” posts, I have been itching to write but holding off.  What is my motivation for writing? What do I want to say?

On the surface, I want to write something to redeem myself, to illustrate that I’m not a crazy, narcissistic asshole.  But as was already covered, I actually am.  Then I thought about writing the “Plan for Change,” to show I’m serious about getting over some of my issues.  While it is good for me to make a concrete list of things I want and need to do, I don’t think it makes for very interesting reading.  And it just didn’t feel right- like there was something else I wanted to say.

Then it kind of hit me this morning.  What I want to talk about is how to pull yourself out of a downward spiral.  The conversation I’m interested in having is about hitting that place of desperation, picking yourself up, and moving forward.  How do YOU do it?

As a person who has been diagnosed with chronic depression, some of what I do is practical.  I call my doctor and make an appointment.  It sounds so simple and concrete written in a sentence like that, but as anyone who has been through it knows, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.  It gets easier- the more I accept the medical aspect of things, I am more comfortable treating it as a medical problem.  For the last few weeks, I have just been feeling kind of blah- not up, not down, but also not content.  Perhaps numb?  Past experience has shown me that when this happens, I will make a crisis for myself to drum up some drama and create new emotions (hello painful rambling blogs!).  I began to wonder- is this numbness normal?  Is this how content people feel?  Are you supposed to feel “up” most days or does that mean my medication has stopped working?  I can’t answer those questions.  I need to speak to someone who can.  So appointment scheduled.  I bring this up not as an excuse but because this is a real problem, for me, for many.  If I’m going to write on this topic, that portion must be addressed.

I’ve been reading a book called “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly” by Jean-Dominique Bauby.  It is a memoir chronicling his life after having a massive stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome.  He can’t move or speak, but has full mental capacity.  Yesterday, Bauby described watching his children playing on the beach while celebrating Father’s Day with him.  He is immobile in a wheelchair, his only tool of communication is blinking his left eye, and he is watching his eight year old daughter turning cartwheels in the sand.

I have a six year old son.  What if tomorrow something happened to me?  Sometimes I need the reminder of what a gift a healthy body is.  I may not love every aspect of how I look, but I can move, I can hold my children, I can race endless laps through the house with Kellen as he reenacts Cars.  My body is not a curse.  It is beautiful and strong and dear God, I am so grateful for it.  When I get down, I need to remind myself to start each day with thanks. I have been waking up each morning and mindfully saying to whoever is out there “I am grateful for this healthy body.”

I need to take the focus off of myself and use my time better.  Which sounds kind of weird to say because I feel like I never have enough time to do all the things I want to do.  But I also know, if you just throw something in your schedule, you’ll find a way to make it work.  So I contacted the Outreach Program for Ahwatukee Seniors to see about volunteering.

https://www.valleyymca.org/community/life-education/senior-outreach-y-opas/opas-us/

This program is speaking to so much in my life right now.  Over the past few months, I have been watching my grandmother’s health go down hill.  I know she wishes she could be in her home, but her physical state makes that no longer a possibility.  I hope through this program I can meet some people who can offer perspective on appreciating what you have, while also assisting them to stay in their homes for as long as possible.  I have a tendency to hole up.  I love writing but the connection is often one-sided.  I need a stronger link to actual people, to open myself up to real experience.  It is not easy for me.  I am not great at talking to strangers.  The prospect of doing this makes me very anxious.  But life is often about being scared to do something and doing it anyway.

I have been surrounding myself in music.  My girlfriend bought me a subscription to a vinyl club for my birthday.  I think she was disappointed when I didn’t completely fall in love with the first selection.  But she gave me a greater gift of rediscovering the importance of music.  The album she gave me had a liner note to “relax and listen deeply.” I’ve been starting my day listening, really listening, to songs I love and that bring me to a state of joy.  Rhythms that can’t be denied and will me to dance.  It is hard to stick to a course of self loathing when you are shimmying through your kitchen.

Today is my forty first birthday.  My mantra for this day, hopefully this year, is to be kind to myself and to others.  I am living that this morning by engaging in things I love.  After writing, I will paint clay leaf bowls and listen to “Watermelon Man” by Herbie Hancock (thanks JB).  I will drink coffee and take a long bath.  I will make a key lime pie with my son, and see where the day takes me.  I will thank my lucky stars for having spent more than 14,000 days in this magnificent world and wish for 14,000 more.

Today, my mom posted this picture on my FB timeline.

It just makes me happy to see it.  I love this girl.  I am this girl.  Everything about her says “I like me just as I am.”  Thanks Mom!

Be kind to yourself today!

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