Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Striking a Blow to Depression

Recently I discovered what other people were born knowing. The joy of waking, of getting out of bed, of laughing, or being together, of speaking without fear or anxiety. Of deciding firmly and strongly and not looking back.

Two months ago, I wandered into my doctor’s office. I knew I was hurting. I’d been hurting for some time. I’ve been treated for depression on and off for most of my life. I’m okay with that. I accept that taking pills is part of my reality. This is fine with me. I realize that if I were diabetic or had heart disease I would take the same steps.

So, I walk into my doctor’s office and I want to try something new. I have my little speech prepared. I’m ready, because I don’t want to cry. I simply want to ask for what I need and get the hell out of there.

He asks me a simple question. It’s always the simple questions that unravel us. “How’re you doing?” But he doesn’t just ask. He’s not just making conversation. He looks at my face, into my eyes. He knows why I’m there and he waits patiently for an answer. He watches my face contort as I try to control the coming tears. I am powerless. I begin to weep, unabashedly, uncontrollably.

“I feel like crap.” I confess. He listens. He nods. I pour it out. All the symptoms, all the hurt, all the torment. And in the confession comes a release. There is constantly a tight, grey fist curled around my heart, at the very center of my person. I can feel it squeezing me, bruising me, crushing the good to a pulp. What’s left is fear and anger and insecurity. It oozes out between the stone fingers and pours into my life, into the lives of the people I love.

But in the confession, I conquer just a little bit of that fist. I shove back against the constant arm wrestling happening inside me. I tell that fist I don’t want to live like this. Without sleep. Without joy. Without love. There has to be another way.

My doctor is amazing. He spent an hour with me that day. We talked through the many answers, including ones that are not strictly medical, but spiritual, physical and relational. Those are the ones I control. The chemical stuff? Yeah, I got nothing on that.

So he prescribes a new medicine. I’m skeptical but relieved. At least I’m doing something. Moving. Trying. Talking.

Two weeks go by. I start waking at 5 or 6 am. Not tired. Not anxious. Not worried about jobs or kids or the organization of the day, or whether the spoons are put away in the right places. I wake up feeling rested. I think, “Okay. That’s...weird.”

Then, I start wanting to run. WANTING to run. Again weird. And the more I want to run, the more I run, and the more I run the better I feel. And the better I feel the more I want to be with my kids and talk to them and hear them and love them and be their mom. And the more I respond to them the more they respond to me. This is quite lovely.

Other delights happen, too. I asked my husband, “Is this how you feel all the time?” I’m shocked. Amazed. Humbled, thankful and overjoyed. I have never, in my life, felt as good as I feel now.

I keep trying to put my finger on it. I feel like if I can’t explain it it will change, or worse, stop. Or if I don’t put words to it those closest to me don’t know exactly how much better I feel. And I want them to know. I want them see who I am. That tight fist clamping my chest was actually just one part of the crushing pain I lived with. A hard shell surrounded me, feeding me lies about my worth, coaxing insecurity and embarrassment into my heart, like a plume of foul fragrance. Leading me to think I had to fit into a certain ideal in order to be of value. That shell got shot to pieces. I feel, if not invincible, then definitely like I could kick some ass.

I’m not saying I’m cured or healed or perfect. I’m saying there are always options and choices and another avenue to try. I’m saying if you’re hurting tell someone, tell me, tell your mom, tell anyone. That dark grasp can crumble.

Friday, June 11, 2010


My sister and I shared a room most of our teen years. We had a Cold War kind of relationship. Each day we danced through a series of minor concessions and major conflicts, poorly hiding them under a seemingly placid surface of standoff. Our mutually agreed upon peace went unspoken; for myriad reasons, it was essential we endure our hellish prison of room-sharing to keep our parents happy. We erected quite literally a wall in the center of our room by placing our dressers back to back, clearly demarcating HERS and MINE. Even the one closet was separated permanently; those foolish enough to try to alter this arrangement did so at their own risk. This was serious.

I was reminded of one of our most memorable arguments today. In our early teens, I used a yellow highlighter to stain the perfectly white teeth of Tom Selleck in all his Magnum P.I. glory. I hit her where it hurt, right in her favorite poster. She walked into the room as I walked out, a smug, self-righteous smile flickering on my young face. I was a few steps down the hall before I heard the gasping and stammering.

Retaliation was in order. Moments later, our room took on an eerie silence, her mental wheels locked in overdrive searching for the perfect revenge. She found it. She emptied the entire contents of my beautiful bottle of Bonne Belle perfume onto my bed, soaking the quilt, sheet and mattress. Now I liked the smell of that pink liquid when it was dabbed on my wrists. In full potency that stuff could down an elephant.

Happily the Cold War is over for my sister and me. Somewhere along my freshman year of college the thaw began and now we talk nearly every day. She's one of my best friends. I am thankful for our tenuous beginnings and our fierce love.

To the point: my daughters' own little mini Cold War reminded me of that today. We decided to take an after dinner boat ride. Elder brings two towels, both for herself. Younger decides she wants a towel as soon as we leave the dock. Elder doesn't want to share because if she wanted one she should have thought to bring one. Younger makes frustrated noises. This mildly annoying bickering goes on until it's about to come to blows. We stop the boat, separated the perpetrators, talk to each one; if you are a parent, you know the drill.

Eventually the two reunite in the bow of the boat, each one sprawled on one of the two towels. Their heads bowed close to each other, they laugh and sing and tease and tell jokes. I can see their faces in profile as their words tumble over each others. I shake my head and wonder why we couldn't have skipped that little drama. But I also smile.

I have hope for my girls that they will enjoy what I share with my own sister. Not because it's a given, because it so isn't. I have this hope because they have fierce love, fierce hearts and fierce thoughts. I know they'll fight again, probably before I finish writing this. And I know it will be loud and hard and it will hurt to grow up.

I also know that they are secure, strong and content with who they are as people, these two oil and vinegar girls. For now I will happily take the short clips of beautiful peace and wait in hope to see how they grow together and apart over the next years.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fluff Friday

I made a blanket for my daughter to use at her sister's soccer games. She hates grass and hates wet and hates soccer. So I thought making her a water and grass resistant blanket would alleviate some of the discomforts she finds in the great outdoors.

I used tablecloth vinyl because it's pliable and also the design was pretty. A black and white damask. Lovely. On the other side, I used pink fleece. I bound the edges with black quilt binding, which I suck at applying but whatever.

Trial, and error, revealed that this blanket, while super cute, does not do well in the wash. Still. It folds well and keeps most of the yuck off. I've sold a few and had good reviews.

A customer wondered if she could get a larger blanket, 68x82", and instead of fleece she wanted a plain cotton, in a masculine color. Working together over email, we designed the above blanket. I like it way way more than the fleece version.

I used tablecloth vinyl again, but this time brown with blue dots. I had to seam 2 pieces together to get the width she wanted. Hancock Fabric sells 100% cotton sheeting which is the perfect width at 120" for this project. Placing the two fabrics back to back and using the cotton as binding, I seamed the edges using a basic zig zag stitch.

My customer plans to have her kids decorate the plain side and present it to their dad for Father's Day. I think that's sweet.