Today seems to be one of those days where if I see a particularly sentimental diaper commercial, I’m going to burst into tears.
Every morning after dropping Kellen off at preschool, I turn my radio on and listen to NPR. It’s the five minutes of news I get each day. Most of the time, I try to avoid the news. I know that makes me a bad citizen, but it does wonders for my sanity.
Today, on StoryCorps, a mother and daughter recounted the day Gabby Giffords and eighteen others were shot, leaving six dead and thirteen wounded.
The mother, Mary Reed, describes covering her daughter with her body to shield her from gunfire. Mary stared the assailant down as he shot her first in the arm, and then in the back. Mere moments before, the daughter had been standing in line, presumably to speak with Giffords, filling out college applications on a clipboard she had brought from home.
I heard this story and tears began to flow down my face as I remained sitting in my car parked in my garage.
Determined to change my mood, I headed into my bedroom to put on my running clothes. A jog and some good tunes would surely set my mind straight.
I looked at a stack of items on my nightstand, and noticed a piece of colored cardboard. Not recognizing it, my hands moved to examine and investigate. I flipped the cardboard open to reveal a photo of my grandmother, a slip of paper with Chris’s handwriting, and some stickers I found in his belongings.
No, the melancholy mood was not going to be dissuaded with a simple jog and a set of headphones.
I find it peculiar that I recognize his handwriting. I don’t know if I could identify my husband’s handwriting, but Chris and my mother- their penmanship is as burned in my memory as any words they have ever said. He, like me, would write creative notes on scraps of paper and in notebooks- snippets he did not trust himself to remember but that were integral to his process. We are both list makers. God, as I just typed that I wept fresh tears realizing I was writing in the present tense. He no longer makes lists. Fuck.
I note his words “manufactured melancholy.” I am on Day 8 of sober January. Last January, I vowed to not drink the entire month. I thought it was a worthwhile experience, so I decided to repeat the endeavor this year.
For the most part, I have found not drinking easier this time around- or so I thought. I would love to enjoy a beer after a run or in the evening as I cook dinner, but I don’t find it difficult to keep my vow. So far, it has just been a matter of not giving myself an option to bend.
At lunch this weekend, I admitted to my girlfriends that until this month, I have not had a natural night of sleep since Chris’s passing. I’ve drank or taking Ambien or some other pill every evening, just wanting to pass out- to not deal any more than I was having to. Sometimes thinking hurts, and its not just because I’m a blond. Ba-dum-bump.
Natural sleep has been amazing. The dreams! I have always been a vivid dreamer, but I didn’t realize how much coping I had been denying myself by chemically banishing my dreams. My mind whirls every night with the freedom.
During the hubbub of the holidays, I forgot to have my antidepressant prescription filled. After a few days, the error became deliberate. What if I entered into 2016 chemical free? What if, at least for January, I allowed myself to feel whatever I am going to feel and just deal with it?
Yes, I question the responsibility of this move. I am an advocate of medication to treat depression, often saying things like “if you had high blood pressure, you would take the medication prescribed by your doctor assist you. Taking an antidepressant in no different.”
But there have been times, years, when I didn’t take antidepressants. What if it is time to let my body regulate and find its own rhythms and methods for coping?
My feeling about this move was not entirely confident, but positive- until this morning. Is this overwhelming surge of emotion the process of grief or an indicator that I am taking on too much too soon? I don’t know. I just know that I miss him. I love this guy who kept stickers on his shelf and wrote lyric ideas on scraps of paper. I don’t know if all the booze, drugs, and dreams in the world can end that feeling.
Ok, now, back to the run and the tunes. It may not be a cure-all, but it can’t hurt.