Winter Seeds

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

Let the ashes fly

The week before my former wedding anniversary, and I find myself carrying my wedding rings around in my pocket for days. This wasn’t my intention–the intention was to finally look into selling them at the jewelry store a couple blocks from my apartment–but every time I’ve gone there, there’s been a reason why it didn’t work out. First day I didn’t make it back into town in time before it closed. The next day the owner was unexpectedly out of town on business and his very kind, very elderly mother was watching over the shop counter but couldn’t complete the appraisal. On the third they were randomly closed. I know myself better than to leave them at my apartment or in the car, because that is where they will inevitably stay for several more weeks or months, so I’ve kept them in a plastic baggie in my purse or jacket pocket in the hopes the next pass by the store will result in this bittersweet errand’s completion. Continue reading

When people change, they gain a piece/peace but they lose one, too.

There’s something comforting about going on a first date and discovering that both you and the other person mutually aren’t feeling it. The feeling of relief is instant–You can drink your drink as fast as you want to, order a second without guilt, smile only when you actually mean it. Best of all, you can have a pretty honest conversation about the various disappointments and dissatisfactions that come from dating in your 30s/40s (because even though you’re currently sitting across from Another Disappointment, at least you know they’re Normal Enough to Commiserate With). Mix in some friendly one-upmanship regarding each person’s personal “bests” from their collection of stories and characters gathered in random diners and dive bars, and you leave feeling equal parts comforted and depressed.

The Things We Are Usually Hesitant to Admit, now being talked about, Out in The Open, because There Is Absolutely Nothing To Lose. Continue reading

The Roads That Guide Us Home.

I made the observation a few months back that certain driving routes capture very specific timeframes of my life–these back roads, main drags, and exit numbers (make your Jersey jokes now) have the ability to launch full-blown nostalgia for me the same way an old beloved song or familiar smell can.

These past couple weeks have found me traveling several old roads, both figuratively and literally. Continue reading

Just Breathe.

One of the biggest things I learned from yoga was the importance of breathing. I remember sitting in my first couple of classes, thinking how stupid it was that we were reviewing how to properly breathe. I’ve gotten this far in life, I thought, how much more do I need to learn about this? But it wasn’t until I stopped and started paying attention to my breath did I realize how often I would hold my breath when I was feeling stressed or panicked. I would get so consumed in a fear or worry or thought that I unknowingly held my breath, as if I felt so paralyzed by whatever it was my mind was racing over, that I neglected my normal functioning.

It’s sadly been a while since I’ve hit the yoga mat, but the importance of checking in with my breath has stayed with me. Whenever I am getting stressed or feeling overwhelmed, I stop, and make sure to inhale deep and slow, and exhale long and with intention. And as silly as it first felt to do this, I’ve now come to rely on it to help keep me in check. Continue reading

The Heart of the Fire

I have this friend, Graham, whom I met in college and who I keep up with mainly through social media exploits. Graham is some kind of a wonderful mix of Oscar Wilde, Truman Capote, and a German film star from the 30s. He introduced me to ammonia cokes and the beauty of Victrola recordings; he helped rekindle my love for black and white photography, and, by example, he has given me a nostalgic appreciation of eras long ago passed.
As if all that wasn’t enough, he also has a lovely way of capturing life’s bittersweet bits in a way that really resound with me (unbeknownst to him, I’ve been writing a blog post based on the concept behind his former blog’s name, Displaced Heimat., for about 3 years now…).

Yesterday was no different, when he alerted me to this quote, unprovoked, without really know how much this truly resonates with me right now:

 

“Above all, in my anger, I was sad. Isn’t that always the way, that at the heart of the fire is a frozen kernel of sorrow that the fire is trying–valiantly, fruitlessly–to eradicate.”
–Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs

Continue reading

nowhere to go but up.

The past month has been a trying one–one filled with a lot of transitions and change; a lot of heartache, of reflecting on the past, and thinking about the future. About a week ago, I stood bawling in my living room, while my dad did his best to comfort me,”Don’t worry–it’ll get better from here.”

“Yeah? How can you be so sure?” I challenged.

“Because this is rock bottom, kid.” Continue reading

Don’t worry if it’s a cold night, because we all go up in flames

Rome was beautiful, but the week of blue skies and breezy days has made coming back to the cold, grey landscape even more challenging. Knowing that this will be the last major trip for some time is also a bit of a bummer, but I’ve definitely had a good run the past few months.

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Admittedly, it’s a bit frustrating how quickly reality set back in. It almost feels like I never went away at all. I blame a lot of this on the weather, and the strange isolation that cold seems to bring, especially when you’re forced indoors. I’m seeing how it’s taking its toll on just about everyone I know. We’re all stumbling around like pale, restless zombies, waiting impatiently for spring to finally arrive. Hell, at this point, I think everyone would be OK if we catapulted right into summer. (I’ve recently been fantasizing about sunburn…)

Until then, I’m still plugging along… been trying to focus on some art projects and writing. What better way to combat the blues then by channeling them in creative ways, amiright?

How are you managing to get through this last miserable stretch of winter?

 

One of “those” days…

Today is one of those days where the urge of missing my mother came very unexpectedly. It’s been a rather blergh day–everything outside is wearing its finest muted browns, greens, and greys–and internally I’ve been feeling a little stressed and restless. I’ve been working from home today, which is definitely a plus, but a lonely one. There’s been a lot to do, so I’ve pretty much been parked in front of the computer nonstop today, plugging along, trying to get to the next deadline…

When all of a sudden, the overwhelming feeling that my mom would be home soon took over–as if I was transported to 15 years ago when she was still working. I was a latchkey kid and so I generally had a golden hour or 2 to myself before mom got home. Depending on my age and the day, that hour leading up to her arrival even brought great dread or joy–usually punctuated by the ever-burning question of what would be for dinner. Continue reading

Calgon, Take Me Away.

At this point, I thought that I choked her. That she was gone enough, what’s left of her in my memory could just be gone, too. It had been so long since something affected me–I’ve even grown immune to the smell of her perfume.

But it was a cleaning spray that did it this time–one of Mrs. Meyer’s summer scents, Blue Bell. I’ve used it before and had a slight disdain for it, thinking I just didn’t like the fragrance. It wasn’t until tonight it finally hit me.

That was the scent of her bath oil–I can’t remember now if it was Avon brand or Skin so Soft. I only remember it was in a plastic bottle the color of the bathroom tile and she kept it under the sink. Continue reading