My mom was a very crafty person and loved to crochet. When she first was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she crocheted all the time, a way to help keep her brain active. As time progressed and the disease began to take hold, it became more difficult to complete the more intricate designs of the squares she created in the months and weeks before. Soon enough, she moved on to making tightly constructed circles. Eventually, she just held the empty needles in her hand, roughly simulating the act of creating.
This is going to be a harder blog to write.
So, I suffer from depression. This is not a new thing, if I’m being honest. It’s probably something I’ve always felt in some capacity–touched by this feeling of Knowing and Understanding from a young age. I was always called an “old soul,” never exactly felt right in my childhood body. I say I’ve “suffered” from it, but I don’t know if that’s really the right word, the accurate one. It’s always been there in some capacity, sometimes more quietly, like the hum of appliances in the background, and sometimes I feel it as though it were another person I was accommodating in my mind. Not always an easy friend to have, but one who I understood, and who understood me.
Depression runs in my family, more openly discussed regarding my mother’s side, but something that I can feel on my father’s side, too. It’s hard to compare the two families equally, being that I don’t really know my mom’s side as well (although fortunately, things like social media have helped bridge that gap in some ways), but I certainly understand the way it operates on my dad’s side more. I think it is something that defines us, that makes me understand them better, and certain family members even more. There is a strength in us, but a vulnerability too that makes us feel the world a little differently. Maybe everyone has this, maybe everyone feels this way about their family, but I guess because we share blood and bones and DNA, I feel it more acutely.
My depression is manageable most of the times until it’s not, usually offset by some major stress/significant change, or often it’s seasonal, especially in the winter.
Winter is a season I both love and dread for this. I’ve come to understand that I operate differently during the winter, that my thoughts are different. It’s a time of reflection, of darkness, of self-evaluation and contemplation. There is some hibernation that comes with this territory, some isolation. And to me, that’s okay, because sometimes I need that time away from people, inside myself to really think about the things I’m feeling, to really absorb all the people and life that is happening around me and at me.
But there’s usually a point during the winter, towards the middle or the end, where it becomes a little too consuming. Where the time spent out of the sunshine and limited indoors is a bit too much and the company inside my head is not the most pleasant. It becomes much more difficult to do things, like get out of bed in the morning, or to keep myself from crawling back in it the minute I get home, warm, safe, alone. Continue reading
Sometimes Christmas is about the happiness and joy of the holiday, about the time spent with family and basking in the warmth of that love. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s about accepting the sadness that the holidays can bring, the darkness of the winter, the long nights that give you no choice but to think and reflect, and sometimes, grieve.
I guess this Christmas has been more of the latter for me, one where I’ve just been working through my own shit, trying to understand this next chapter of my life, trying to process who I am, where I am, and what exactly I want to be doing next. This isn’t a bad thing–in fact, I almost look forward to winter for this very reason: a chance to really dig in on this heavier kind of thinking. But it certainly can come with its challenges, especially when trying to keep things merry and bright. Continue reading
I know for me, the feeling of loss comes and goes. As most people know, my mom was diagnosed with early onset-Alz when I was 22 years old. For the past 11 years I’ve watched my mother decline and have found myself ebbing and flowing in the various stages of grief over it. This is a topic that really fascinates me, and understanding that these different stages exist really do help me feel OK with whichever of the emotions I’m feeling at the moment.
Right now I’m definitely feel bummed about my mom in a way I honestly haven’t felt for a long time. I guess after her illness because more of a constant reality and then the norm, it was easy to just accept what was happening, especially because I really haven’t had much of a choice. But for whatever reason I’ve just been struck with such a strong sense of how things used to be, and what it was like when my mom used to care for me instead of the other way around. I always knew I still missed her, it’s a thing you just feel all the time, but suddenly I started to experience a sense of grief like I haven’t in a long, long time. Continue reading
It’s funny how this blog ends up working for me, how it becomes this dumping ground for my various existential crises, fears, and ramblings. I remember one friend commenting on how strange it is to know me in person and then to read the things I write because it almost seems like 2 different people–that IRL I’m silly and seemingly carefree and goofy, but then she’d read my blog and be like, Whoa, Deep. Life. Shit.
I was reminded of this tendency again after my Iceland trip, when a few different friends who regularly keep up with the blog (thank you for that, by the way) commented on how it seemed my trip was a bit of a bust, and how they figured I probably would not be heading back to Iceland anytime soon. At first I was surprised by their conclusions, but when I went back and looked at my blog, and the bits of my trip I did talk about, I realized it’d be impossible for them to surmise anything but that. Continue reading
The stages of Alzheimer’s are so difficult and complex to try to explain to someone. I know hearing someone say “you just wouldn’t understand” almost sounds aloof, but it’s not even like that. It’s more just like–where do you begin? It would be like trying to explain something like city trash pick up to someone–it’s shit that’s so commonplace background noise that you don’t even know how to dissect it from what the rest of “normal” life is supposed to look like.
I never really know what to say when people ask about my mom. I don’t know how much detail is fair to give, or really necessary. It’s a kind gesture on their behalf to acknowledge that they care and recognize this thing happening in your life, but it also makes you feel like you’re always exposed and vulnerable to this fact, especially on the days you’re feeling particularly exposed and vulnerable about it.
It’s funny because I always think that I’ve gotten over it to a certain point–that this shit has been reality so long that there’s no reverting to complete sadness about it anymore because how can you legit cry over something that you’ve been carrying around that long? But then something happens–I smell her perfume while I’m out running errands, or for a brief second, some brain glitch makes me think that she’s just at work or reminds me of what it felt like to sit in the passenger seat while she drove to the mall. Suddenly I actually remember that these things were once real and happened. I used to have a mother. She used to know who I was.
These moments are easily the hardest to deal with because for a second there is so much happiness and hope and then suddenly everything snaps back into place, like some shitty reality rubber band, and it’s back to remembering that point and time is Over. Continue reading
So, I was helping my mom get ready for bed when she reached for my phone. Being that she has a habit of picking up things and wandering with them, I say, “No–don’t touch that. That’s mine.”
“Oh, it’s yours?” she says.
“Yes.” I reply.
I’ve been posting a lot recently about my recent frustrations and navigations through life lessons learned, but I feel it fair to report that the past couple of weeks have also had their strange silver linings. Continue reading