Archives for posts with tag: depression

Saturday night, for the first time, I experimented with a formal ritual to mark the Winter Solstice. While I’d thought about this concept before, I’d never actually done anything with it. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is almost certainly the fact that my depression had been growing worse over the last several years and that made it very difficult to do any of the follow-through necessary to implement any of the ideas I had over that time. Another one is that I had trouble finding a published ritual I felt comfortable with, as they mostly tended to be Wiccan or otherwise heavily deity-centered, and that was something I was trying to move away from. I wanted to celebrate the natural process of the turning of the seasons, not the theoretical influence of some supposed god/dess.

Actually, after my initial drift toward paganism, I skated past seeking anything spiritually fulfilling for a time. I have a strong feeling this was tied to the increasing depression, since on starting the first of the medications, one of the things to come back was the feeling of… of coming home that I felt when reading publications and meditations by Pagans. The fact that, while I didn’t notice any particular loss of emotion per se, I also stopped seeking anything that was any kind of fulfilling in any area was also sort of a tip-off that, you know, brain chemistry might be involved somehow.

So as depth started to come back into my life again, the idea of formally marking for myself the solstices, the equinoctes, the full moons became important again. For a number of reasons (are you surprised?), but in large part simply to remind myself that there is more to my world than roads and buildings and fluorescent lighting, that my trees and flowers are more than just pretty wallpaper, and that if I want to have even half a chance at growing a decent garden, I’ve damn well got to start paying attention to weather cycles and growing times and planting schedules. 😛

My favourite “religious” reading lately has been druidry. This rather surprised me, since I’ve always been fairly traditionalist and snarky towards a tradition based on a concept (druids) that we really have almost no historical record of. But I purchased a copy of the Druidry Handbook by John Michael Greer, Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America. (Online reading inspiring this purchase includes the Allergic Pagan, Humanistic Paganism, and Natural Pantheist blogs. Yes, the phrase “Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America would have sent me into fits ten years ago on multiple levels.)

And I’ve loved it. I skipped right to the middle, “The Earth Path”, nature awareness, focus, study. And said, “Wait, so you’re offering a semi-structured way to self-study ecology with focus on my own locality, in combination with allowing for spiritual expression in connection with that study? Sign me up, please!” What I quite like about the AODA versus other Druid orgs out there (Ár nDraíocht Féin, Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, etc.) is that they don’t particularly care whether you worship Lugh, Odin, Amon-Ra, Jesus, or Terry Pratchett. Not that the other groups have a rigid orthodoxy or anything like that, far from it, but there is much more of a focus on worship than I feel from the AODA.

So I’ve found a place I feel comfortable in, and more motivation to be active. But still, I haven’t quite found any sort of ritual I really feel drawn to, though I’d have been willing to settle for “not feeling silly about”. Enter the Solitary Druid Fellowship.

The Solitary Druid Fellowship seeks to provide a new way of engaging with solitude. Those who join us in a liturgical practice are, in effect, experiencing congregation in solitude. We are entering into the silence with the awareness that others in different physical locations join us in a similar, sometimes identical practice. Each of us brings our own sensibilities and style to our worship, but by joining one another in shared practice we experience a new sense of belonging and community.

(from the SDF website)

Though I haven’t felt particularly drawn to ADF, I have been following the blog of an ADF member for a few months, Bishop in the Grove, by a man who takes openness and honesty on the internet to new levels in my experience. Not in the TMI sense, which you can find anywhere, because even those who overshare still often do so in strictly controlled ways, or else simply don’t care about the impact that their words might have or that others’ words might have on them. No, reading Teo’s words you get a sense of unshielded-ness, that here is someone who is sharing who they are without fear and is genuinely interested in learning who you are, as well. It can spark some pretty powerful feeling. And Teo is the one who conceived and founded the SDF, and wrote its first liturgy, for the Winter Solstice. So I thought, OK, I’ll give it a try.

And I gave it a try. I couldn’t perform the rite on the 21st, because we were travelling from PA to NY then and there was no time. So it had to wait until Saturday. Saturday, there was crazy Long Island Sound wind all day. Like trees whipping back and forth, constant “ooooOOOOOooooOOOOOO!” background noise wind all day long. I seriously considered an indoor liturgy, but I couldn’t find anywhere in the house where I wouldn’t be disturbed and/or make other people uncomfortable, and I tested it and found that if I was wrapped up and stayed on the porch I was actually pretty sheltered from the wind so I went outside after all. This turned out to be the right choice.

I made some changes to the liturgy as written; I knew I wouldn’t be the only one. I changed the references to the ADF’s three “Kindred” to “the Universe”, using a number of synonyms as well, just so I wouldn’t feel a complete twit saying “the Universe” over and over. There was an Offerings section, in three segments to honor the three Kindred types. The language was terrific, taking beautiful advantage of repetition, and I really loved it but in the end I just couldn’t do it. It’s just too awkward to envision making a physical offering to nothing at all (from my perspective). This may be something that I can find an analogue for in the future, as I move along my path, but for now I just condensed it to a short dedication.

The other thing I did was to eliminate the divination section. I don’t have any problem with divination as a concept, since I actually think there could be value in using the random fall of dice or cards or stones to potentially open your mind to new options you might not have thought of otherwise. But since it’s not something I regularly do, I hadn’t really thought of anything and so my answer to “using the divinatory form of your choosing” was just sort of, “Uh….” So I skipped that.

I also didn’t actually have any sort of Sacred Fire. The Sacred Lighter was out of Sacred Lighter Fluid, and anyway the wind was too strong to keep a flame going long enough to light even a candle. Probably for the best; I’d planned a personal ritual involving fire and if I’d actually managed to start it I probably stood a good chance of lighting the Christmas tree on the deck on fire, given the wind. So my light was all from the window behind me and the stars out front.

“I am one and we are many. Fellowship, in solitude.” Those are the opening lines of the liturgy, and speaking them and reflecting on them did relieve some tension for me. “In my mind and in my body, I hold space in solitude/For all of those who walk alone. May they be with me in this rite.” Specifically, the knowledge that there were others out there doing the same thing, and that this liturgy was specifically designed for us to work alone with the knowledge of others were similarly working alone, removed the fear that I would start out on this ritual and stop embarrassed halfway through, feeling like a complete moron, which was always a pretty big barrier between me and any sort of ritual work in the past.

It was a pleasant experience, overall. I did laugh at the part about “this season of stillness” since there wasn’t a whole lot of stillness going on around me. Lots and lots of winter cold, but I had my mittens and coat and scarf and hat and really didn’t notice it much. I didn’t try to do a dramatic reading, just tried to read it as naturally and thoughtfully as I could, looking to see what interpretations came to mind during the actual reading. It felt… good. I find as I’m working on this post that I really am looking forward to the next one.

While I stayed seated close to the house for most of the rite, at the end I went out to the yard to make physical contact with the earth. After that it just felt right to stay standing for the closing passage, another affirmation of the one and the many. And there at the edge of the porch I could of course see much more of the open sky, and found myself looking right at Orion spread huge across the southern sky. And that is the strangely peaceful image that comes to mind when I think about the overall experience: Orion, hanging just above the wildly waving treeline, as we moved towards shorter nights and longer days and Christmas celebrations.

…Next year, my brother and I will get to do our Yule dinner, though.

I read this post on Love, Joy, Feminism earlier, and went away thinking,

See, THIS is why I like Libby Anne’s blog. [I’ve been saying that to myself a lot lately!] What she said about religion at the end there is pretty much what I think about it. And that’s why I don’t like atheists like, oh, JT Eberhard [remembering a post of his I read recently about Chris Stedman’s ‘Faitheist’ book].

And then I stopped, and blinked, and thought about what I’d just thought. I flash-remembered some words from Dan Fincke around the time of his shift from Freethoughtblogs to Patheos, about disagreeing with a whole laundry list of his fellow FtBloggers on some things, but still liking and respecting them and working with them.

Wait, wait, wait. Why – wait. I DISAGREE with JT on the value (or lack of value) of religion. That… doesn’t mean… I have to say I don’t LIKE him…. I don’t even KNOW him. I might like him if I did. Even if we disagreed! That’s a thing… that you can do? Whoa. You CAN.

So I came back out here and started to write a comment on Libby Anne’s blog, then quickly realised it was going to get wordy so I changed it to a post here. This paragraph only has one sentence in it that bears on the topic. Somewhere, all my English teachers are crying.

This seems like it shouldn’t be a revolutionary concept, I know. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t for me, at least a few years ago. I distinctly remember reading this and finding it very powerful. I even started feeling more charitable towards my political opposites, more willing to look at where they were coming from. I remember liking it, that feeling of being willing to get along with everyone (or at least everyone who was willing to get along back).

And then, the 2008 election happened. And all the conservatives, at least all the ones whose voices I heard, went completely batshit. And suddenly I was no longer willing to hear where they were coming from. First just the hardliners, then quickly the moderates as well, and those who looked like they were thinking about being moderates, etc., etc. My facebook block list has grown amazingly fast over the past year. And probably the depression was also feeding into this (irritability is also one of the symptoms, kids). Patience basically went out the window. And it wasn’t particularly pleasant, no; it’s tiring to maintain that level of irritation all the time. But I didn’t seem to have a lot of control over it. I’m out of practice at the whole “agreeing to disagree” thing. So yes, this really does feel like a new concept.

It’s also not one that I’m willing to necessarily extend across the board. Unless it’s somebody I already have reason to be invested in, I will probably continue to block friends of facebook friends based on frequent sexist, racist, classist, or homophobic statements (frequency requirement to be determined by me and my hormones). I don’t see any value in agreeing to disagree on “should my friend’s mom and her wife be treated as less-human-than-thou”. They should not be. While there may be hurt occurring on both sides of that argument, real, actual people are hurt through no fault of their own when discrimination is practiced. When discrimination is prohibited, the only hurt that occurs is self-inflicted hurt, by people who are affronted by the very existence of homosexuals on themselves. Ok, I’m going to end this paragraph before I start writing another, completely different blog post.

Back to JT. Right now, I honestly can’t put my finger on what it is about his writing that occasionally makes me go “graah, forget you and all of your works!!” and click away. It’s not the anger at religion, because a lot of other people I read (Libby Anne, Dan Fincke, PZ Myers, Greta Christina) have the same anger and I don’t feel the same irritation with them. I think maybe it’s because JT’s take, to me, comes across as “There is no value in religion, and no value in religious people until they stop being religious because until they do that, they are deliberately contributing to all that is wrong with humanity.” OK, I guess I can put my finger on it.

Thing is, I don’t believe that he means to harm anybody with this. It is, in fact, because he wants to prevent harm to people that he broadcasts this message as stridently as he does. Now, one could argue that someone who truly believes that being gay is harmful is acting in the same way, but I don’t think it’s quite true. For one thing, I admit that it’s hard to find somebody who could be actually harmed by what JT says except in the sense of feeling offended, which in large part is something you are doing to yourself. For another, I think if he did encounter, say, a recovering addict holding onto their Higher Power as the main anchor keeping them sober, I don’t think JT would get in their face about how they need to drop that. On the other hand, many Christians have no problem telling gays to their faces, “God loves you, but he also commands you to be somebody else.”

Besides, I’m still working on this concept. Cut me a little slack. Perhaps one day I’ll have figured out all the nuances and details of how we should decide who we accept and who we agree to disagree with and who we choose not to interact with. I doubt it though. I’m pretty sure that’s one of those lines that we all just have to learn to decide for ourselves. For now, I’m just trying to push it back so it doesn’t make a neat outline directly around my own feet.

I spent a lot of time today wondering why I’m doing this, going through treatment for the depression and all. Yeah, I’ve seen some improvement, in the past. The first two times on new medications I did actually get a boost for a while. Even made it through a family reunion without stressing out – even went in the ocean, swimming in the ocean, and had fun doing it for the first time in I don’t know how many years.

But after a few weeks, the boost stops… and dosage changes make no difference. Before this new one, I was pretty well back at ground zero, BUT back at ground zero and at the same time desperately trying to convince myself I wasn’t. I had this thing going where I noticed I had stopped doing things that I’d started doing earlier that had made me go, “Hey, look what I’m doing! Wow, medicine works after all!” except that I couldn’t take the fact that I’d now stopped again as evidence the medicine was no longer working, because the fact that I noticed and knew I wasn’t doing those things anymore meant it didn’t count, because if I just tried a little harder maybe that would have made things work? (I’m pretty sure that’s not a normal train of thought. Haven’t checked with anyone though, so I’m not positive.)

I kept trying to analyze the prior few weeks, looking for evidence that the medication was actually working and maybe I just hadn’t noticed.

(Yes, I have been told that this logic is in fact evidence that the medication was not working at all. What can I say? It made sense in my head.)

So then this new medication, which apparently comes with anxiety as a side effect in the first week or two, and also combined with PMS hormones was not a joy. All the medications so far have done this; the week before was pretty much back to square one after starting a new med. Except with the SSRIs (new one is an SNRI), the effect was less pronounced… didn’t even recognise what was happening until after it was over. This one, I recognized in-process, at least, after writing an incoherent angry blogpost while at the same time foaming at the mouth about how stupid the new Doctor Who is and how they have made Daleks and cybermen completely and totally ineffective at being convincing threats through sheer overuse (none of which is what I actually said, but it’s what I meant. What I said was the useless sort of ranting you do when you can’t be bothered to think straight and try to have a rational conversation and you just assume that people will be able to read your mind and sort out your actual thoughts).

But yeah, the last week got bad. It’s been better, since starting the new dose, but in this case better just means “normal” bad. Hence, the question. Is it worth it? So far all I’ve been able to do long term is make myself feel worse. I’ve pretty much stopped believing that anything is actually going to help; two things that seemed like they were going to help and then let me down is enough. Ok, I suppose part of me still believes because I’m still doing what the doctor said. But it’s more a sort of “Ok, I’m going to do this, but if it works I am going to be totally shocked” than a “hey, yeah, I can see how that will help; let’s go for it!”

I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel. There’s no train  (since the oncoming train gag was the first stupid cliché I thought of) but that’s because there’s no tracks. There’s not anything, really, it’s just tunnel that goes on forever.

Cartoons next time, if I get a chance to draw tomorrow. May not; DH injured his shoulder and he’s pretty much out of commission as far as handling puppies and small boys goes, so I was on full Mommy duty tonight and probably will be tomorrow, too. That’s ok, me and the small boy are going to make candy together. I have turtle molds, and I bought mint chocolate chips. Found my druidry book last night, too.

I picked 25 minutes because I’m pretty darn tired, but I want to write something, and twenty five minutes from now seems like a good time to go to bed. I actually have a post or two in mind, and one draft actually started, but they’re all on topics I’d like to be able to devote some actual brain power to. So, not working on them now.

I worked on soccer ball pjs for the little guy today. Finished the pants a few days ago, because he needs pj pants that aren’t too small, and since I had the shirt cut out and pinned I figured I may as well finish it before cutting the pieces for the next pair of pants. That’s part of why I feel so tired now; the sewing machine always makes my eyes tired. It’s great, all my hobbies involve close eye-work and make me sleepy. Except running, that’s more distance, but I haven’t been running in months. THE POINT IS, though, that I DID work on pjs tonight. All I have to do is hem the bottom and attach the collar and it’ll be done. So, you know, that’s good.

I have three projects that are supposed to be gifts, that therefore have deadlines. One is for my son, that I had originally hoped to have done for his first birthday. Have now missed first and second. The next is for nephew number two, which was originally supposed to be done for his first birthday, then Christmas, then second birthday, and at this rate we’re going to miss Christmas again. The third is for nephew number three, and I had hoped to have it done for his first birthday but considering that’s only about a month after Christmas and I haven’t even started… yeah. I’m feeling real good about my ability to get things done.

Which is, of course, all part of the depression. Finding out the depression had not, in fact, gone away in high school like I thought it had really does explain quite a lot about me over the last eighteen years or so. I wish I could go back in time and say “Take the damn medication already; NOT even considering the option was a bad move.” I probably wouldn’t listen to me though. I have issues with listening to people who tell me what to do. ‘M sleepy.

You know what else is good? Listening to what the doctors and the labels say when they tell you how to take your medication. If they say “don’t just stop taking this; bad things could happen,” they probably mean it. I stopped taking my new med for a few days, because the first week of being on it combined with PMS really freaked me the fuck out. (That church service I mentioned in my last post? I ended up leaving, spontaneously and quickly. First just the service, but then the whole thing. Left my music up in the choir loft and everything.)

So Monday I didn’t take the medication, and I DID say that to the psychiatrist’s office when I called to make an emergency appointment for the next day. Since they didn’t say “Hey, take it again tomorrow,” I didn’t. Because it was freaking me the fuck out, and I didn’t like it and didn’t want to take it. I was pretty well a wreck on Tuesday. And I was lightheaded all day. Still was yesterday morning when I woke up. Took the new med – actually the old med, but a higher dose, because of course when a new medication combines with your hormones the logical thing to do is figure you’re not getting enough crazy and you should add some more. I know, I know, shh, calm down. I’m trusting the doctor on this and this is what she said to do. When I first went in, I may or may not have actually said the words “I will take whatever you tell me to until this goes away,” but I did my very best to convey that concept because I am bloody sick of feeling useless all the time.

Anyway, the point of that was to say that in less than an hour after taking the medication again, the lightheadedness stopped. Moral: If the label says “Don’t just stop taking this out of nowhere, idiot,” then, well, don’t just stop taking it out of nowhere, idiot. Even if you’ve only been on it nine days. I’m very tired. I still have four minutes left but I may not use them. I’m just… I’m tired, I want to go to bed. Or at least sit down in bed and read for a little bit. Like, five minutes, maybe. I wish I could find my druidry book. I can’t remember the last place I saw it.

I’m sitting in the front row of the brass choir at Emmaus Moravian Church right now. I’m trying to understand the arcane combination of keystrokes one must use to be able to type a blogpost via phone, I’m trying to understand why my autocorrect has suddenly apparently forgotten everything it’s learned about my writing patterns, and I’m trying to analyze my current feelings.

The sun is coming in the windows on one side of the sanctuary. It’s warm, just enough that a layered t-shirt makes the weather feel like early spring rather than late fall. It feels familiar. I feel somewhat like how I would at Christ Church, growing up, years ago. But it’s a slippery feeling.

I can’t quite pinpoint what it reminds me of, or why or how. I don’t know if it’s a good feeling or a bad. I don’t know how I feel about not knowing that, or how I want it to resolve. It’s familiar, I can almost touch it, but I can’t and I can’t even bring it closer.

I’ll be honest: it’s freaking me out a little.

I don’t know if this quite solid resurgence of ineffable yet intensely familiar feeling means that the fog is lifting, or if I’m going even more haywire.

I know two things. One is that I should probably find a good therapist who I should probably see with my husband. And the second is that I should probably call the psychiatrist tomorrow to discuss this new medication even though it’s only been a week so far.

Update: Heh, after I posted this, WordPress gave me a quote that said “Be obscure clearly. -E.B. White”. Appropriate, no?  So physically I’m not feeling any better today (am in fact staying home and working on ISO stuff via logmein, and heading to the doctor in a few hours). Mentally, much more stable. Perfect storm of not so much events as conditions, last night, and I got to one of those points where I just needed to scrape my brain out. Haven’t done that in a long, long time. It was much needed. And it wasn’t like I was doing anything else, except foaming about Doctor Who. So: don’t worry, I haven’t cracked up or anything; I just needed to spew. And I did! Oh good, my kettle’s ready. Oh btw, I really do hate our bathroom, for pretty much the reasons I describe below. 😛

————Original, somewhat scary, post below—————

I’m tired of being sick. I’m tired of being depressed. I’ve had a drawing in my head for *counts* four days now. No, five. Five days. I think about it in the car, on the way to work, on the way home. I’m home now. I’m sick. I’m thinking of this thing and there’s nothing I want to do on the internet and I want to watch Ghostbusters but I can’t because Netflix is only good for TV shows. It is pretty good for TV shows, for us, because we don’t care about things most people care about, so it has a lot of shows we want to watch, but all the same it’s not so good for movies and that gets really frustrating. So I don’t have anything to do right now

instead of working on that drawing i’m sitting here typing this. I’m correcting typos, but only spelling and punctuation related ones. Capital letters don’t count, apparently. I’m sitting here typing this instead of working on drawing anything; my sketchbook is only over in the other room. I think. It may have moved during a cleaning binge, but i’m pretty sure i know where most of them are. Rich even went out to get his bike from the shed today and i asked him to get some of my… uh, drawing supplies, and he did though i didn’t see where he put them i meant to ask him about that. and i’m not moving from the couch.

 

 

i’m pretty much just sitting here. got my head down on my arm now; i am bloody tired after all. should just go to bed, but like the last three nights, my thoughts there have been “I’m sick, I need sleep, I should go to bed” and then “NO SCREW THAT i want to do something else but i don’t know what so i’ll just sit here until i don’t think of something.” I’m typing this bit with my eyes closed now, so there may be more typos. I’m not mucking with the backspace key with my eyes shut, even though I just did twice.

I need a shower too but i don’t want one, i hate showers. they’re a waste of important time that could be spent doing something more important, like nothing maybe. i have to go all the way in the bathroom and heat the water and find clean clothes and sweep the floor because the goddamn cat can’t keep his cat litter in the box and even after i sweep he insists on knocking it all over the floor again right away so i basically hate the bathroom, but we don’t really have any other option for where to keep the litterbox in a small house. shut up.

 

 

 

i’ll give you stream of goddamn consciuosness.

 

maybe this is one of those things where i shouldn’t hit publish but i kind of want to see what happens if i do.

 

draft saved, my ass. saving fucking draft. wordpress.

 

 

I WANT TO GET OUT

OF M Y GODDAMN HEAD ALREADY

 

SHUT UP

I’M TALKING TO YOU NOT THE VOICES IN MY HEAD THE ONLY ONE IN HERE IS MINE AND IT AGREES WITH ME. BECAUSE IT FUCKING IS ME.

 

i don’t want to take a shower.