Anne Notations

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Last night’s lamentation

The past several years of finance-related stress, and the major changes in our family life this spring, seem to have caught up with me. My face looks melted and old, the eyelids droopy. I spend my weekends in a state of torpor, sleeping until ungodly hours (10:30, 11:45), eating “bad” foods until I'm stuffed, inert; watching TV or hanging out on the Internet for hours. At night I am too agitated to sleep. My mind races as I lie in bed and attempt to get comfortable. Whether I'm alone, or Michael is sleeping beside me – it makes no difference; the insomnia is persistent.

Here is what I wrote last evening while waiting for Michael and Melinda to get home from Providence. I was as depressed as I can recall in recent months, briefly in tears.

My soul is hollow. My heart despairs. My life – so enviable – feels empty, wanting.

I crave connection with the divine, but I shy from church, from sustained prayer. I sense that each of us is alone in the universe, trapped in a tangle of neurons inside a bony skull. I am frightened. How lonely life is!

I have children; my children are not me. I have a husband; he is not me. I have friends, but I have not had or made time for them in my life.

I loathe my physical self; I am shamed and burdened by my fat, my age, my ugliness. I objectively dislike and disappoint myself. I am poisoned by selfishness and self-centeredness. I wish to cease being lazy, duplicitous, cynical, suspicious, and shallow.

Fatigue at times overwhelms me; it did so today. I can’t exert myself. I sate myself with too much unhealthy food and then neglect my family. Tonight I let Kevin down: I had said I would make his favorite pasta with sautéed garlic shrimp, but I had no energy or desire to do it. Michael is getting take-out food, and I am near tears because I failed. I wanted to this for Kevin, and I could not.

Could not. Would not? I’m afraid to answer that.

How discouraged and angry I feel!

God, I am helpless and humble before you. Give me the will and strength to assess my desires, passions, weaknesses, and whatever integrity I may possess so that I may take steps toward becoming whole. I wish to be loving, selfless. To eschew gluttony and sloth. To find my way to you through your son, who feels distant and unknowable.

Help me to have energy and motivation. Help me to hope.


I need to take some vacation time and unwind. What I'd love is to get away to a spa for a week and begin purifying my body, detoxing from sugar and fat, and strengthening my muscles so that I can bear the weight of exercise on my arthritic joints. That's way too expensive, though.

Also I would love to make a spiritual retreat at one of the numerous monasteries and retreat houses around New England. Right now I can't leave the kids at home alone, even though this option is quite affordable. Michael hasn't earned vacation time yet at his new job, so I'm on duty here at home.

Nevertheless. I am attempting to take baby steps in ways that are do-able: a purifying liquid fast for a few days, an eating and exercise plan, earlier bedtimes on weeknights, to-do lists both at home and at work to help me stick to schedules and cross off jobs as I complete them.

Please send me some good thoughts or prayers, whatever comes naturally to you. I am resolving to do my best. Yes, I need to be tolerant and kind with myself, but I also need to achieve some modest goals relating to my mental and physical health.

16 Comments:

  • Give yourself a break. That is what we as women too often do not do. We have given everything to our families for so long, there often is nothing left for us. So you didn't fix Kevin his pasta - that drove you to near tears???. Get over it. Teach him to cook. He will be a better man and partner for it. Stop being so hard on yourself. I am anonymous to you now, but in time will reveal myself and you will learn what a real problem is. What surely is not of any moment is not cooking pasta.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jun 20, 03:41:00 PM EDT  

  • Dear Anonymous: Oh, please. The post was not about pasta. The pasta incident was simply an emotional last straw.

    People with depression and anxiety often can't just "get over it." I'm sorry for your "real problem," but don't ever compare woes and dismiss anyone else's as trivial.

    Perhaps I need to make my blog private. It's always a risk to put oneself out there ... and not Anonymously.

    By Blogger Anne D., at Sat Jun 20, 07:40:00 PM EDT  

  • Baby steps Anne.
    we are both overwhelmed and set unrealistic goals. Together we can acknowledge that this is our illness and try to accept that we need time to adjust to changed circumstances.
    I am standing beside you.
    Meryl xxx

    By Blogger Meryl, at Sat Jun 20, 09:16:00 PM EDT  

  • Circumstances in our life do change - for the better or for the worse. I think it's important to accept them first before we can move ourselves forward. I can easily write this but I am still stuck back in 2006...
    Your life is going through a major change and you are strong.
    It can't be easy being the one at home handling life situations for yourself and your children. You are a terrific mother and always put your children first. Once in a while it's okay and necessary to put yourself first.
    Maybe today is the right day "to start over", see life in a different light, and move forward...
    smiles,
    Elise

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 21, 09:05:00 AM EDT  

  • Anne: First anonymous here. Please understand, I know that one cannot get over depression easily. But you must, at the very least, dare yourself to be happy. In the last year or so, Michael has found a job in his field, and with your help, can make it work. Kevin has started to turn the corner on his issues, because you helped to make that happen. Melissa has blossomed into a young woman, happy at college, because you were able to provide the support and to let go.
    Why do you now make YOURSELF the problem? Try to look at the good you have done and dare yourself to be happy. That is essential to overcoming depression. Tough talk, but with affection.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 21, 02:13:00 PM EDT  

  • Dear Anonymous,

    I think part of my hostile reaction was this part of your reply: "...in time will reveal myself and you will learn what a real problem is."

    It sounded like a threat and also a put-down. Like either "You haven't seen ANYTHING yet; worse is yet to come," or "My problems are real and yours are not."

    I do take responsibility for my happiness, and I acknowledge all the good things that have happened. (I don't always blog about the more worrisome ones because of my children's privacy.) I am always impatient for everything to be better NOW; that's a failing of mine, but part of my anxiety disorder is that I feel I cannot stand uncertainty/discomfort. Obviously I CAN, but in the vortex of bad anxiety/depression, I forget that.

    I'm a lot better today, although I slept until nearly 11 again.

    By Blogger Anne D., at Sun Jun 21, 02:27:00 PM EDT  

  • Thank you, Meryl. Fellow traveler. <3

    By Blogger Anne D., at Sun Jun 21, 02:28:00 PM EDT  

  • I'm so sorry you are feeling this way. I've been there, more than once, and I know how those feeling become debilitating and suffocating. I'm sending you good thoughts and hoping your baby steps will help you feel better both physically and emotionally.

    By Blogger Bean, at Sun Jun 21, 08:17:00 PM EDT  

  • You know you've always got my good vibes, hun. *big hugs*

    You're recognizing what you don't like and you're changing it, so you're already way ahead of a lot of people in this world.

    By Blogger BrideOfPorkins, at Sun Jun 21, 10:39:00 PM EDT  

  • Wow. That was courageous to share on a public blog. I sigh. I pray. I feel the pain and relate. It is what it is. You have some good ides of what to do. And whether you do the retreats and cleansings etc. and think you are and will be good in theeyes of G-d.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Mon Jun 22, 01:09:00 AM EDT  

  • Hello Anne --

    Holding you in the Light from down here in NC.

    With love,

    Phil

    By Blogger Marsosudiro, at Tue Jun 23, 07:48:00 AM EDT  

  • Thank you, from my heart, to each and every commenter on this post.

    By Blogger Anne D., at Tue Jun 23, 09:51:00 AM EDT  

  • Sounds from the above posts that, as the song goes "It's getting better all the time."

    (I see my comment was sloppy - here's the cleaned up version of the messy part.

    And whether you do the retreats and cleansings,etc or not - I think you are and will be good in the eyes of G-d.)

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Tue Jun 23, 10:21:00 AM EDT  

  • Hi Anne, I am sorry to read this, and with circumstances being so different for each person, it's hard to know what in particular to say. Things WILL get better though. They won't always *stay* better, but it won't always be this bad either. To the spirituality aspect: Do you know what a dark night of the soul is? Maybe you can find a copy of the book, Dark Night of the Soul, by St. John of the Cross. Many saints go through dark nights as they progress in their spirituality. It's a growing pain period. They are consumed by dark thoughts and doubts. The big lesson from it all is to come through your dark period using the virtue of *obedience* to God when it's your faith in Him that's being challenged in some way. It's the time for obedience to come to the forefront. And when one virtue is practiced, the others fall into place. I'm not sure whether it applies to you, but I thought I'd mention the book for you to check out. Sending prayers your way. P.S. Is it possible to obtain a spiritual advisor where you live? I don't mean to diminish the medical aspect of depression at all; I have great respect for the biological component. I just wonder whether a boost to spirituality might boost the rest of you, so to speak.

    By Blogger Karen, at Tue Jun 23, 09:50:00 PM EDT  

  • Oh Anne, how I wish I had read this on the day it was posted. I've been away from the computer a lot lately and haven't kept up.

    I wish you could see yourself the way I see you--wonderful, caring, generous, beautiful inside and out. I have always admired you because you are everything I would like to be.

    I know how bad depression can get and I hope this bout passes very soon. Just please remember that you are perfect just the way you are, not when you lose the weight or eat right or any of the other myriad requirements you impose upon yourself.

    Sending you many hugs and much love,
    Dawn

    By Anonymous Dawn Walker, at Thu Jun 25, 07:24:00 PM EDT  

  • [hops on Soapbox]

    Anne, set aside some time every day and get out there and get some daily exercise, even if it's just a 30-minute walk.

    The hardest part isn't even the exercise, it's overcoming the inertia (bodies at rest ...).

    YOU CAN DO IT!

    Exercise helps the mind and body. And it'll help you get off the junk food, too.

    Fitness is achievable!

    Good luck.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 28, 11:53:00 PM EDT  

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