Friday, March 23, 2007

Lost in Transition

I'll be honest with you all. I've been trying hard to write something. I wrote a funny and offensive piece about practicing Kegels with two girlfriends in a crowded bar. Then I wrote something sincere about the way we think other people see us. I may still publish them, if I can find a point to them besides an effort to display my cleverness and sincerity.

But I found during my last breakdown that the best way back to a clear mind is to call bullshit on the bullshit.

Here's the straight shit:

1. All I can think about is the stuff that I hate, the people I hate, the life I hate.
2. I haven't showered in three days.
3. I look like a haggard single mom on food stamps (bless their hearts).
4. I feel like a haggard single mom on food stamps.
5. I drink too much.
6. General restlessness threatens to swallow my soul.

Not to put too fine a point on it.

My shrink asked me if this happens every spring. I looked up last year's journal. Here's what I found:

Things I am tired of [March 18, 2006]:

*Writing bullshit that never sees the light of day
*Demanding children
*Never eating an entire meal in one sitting
*Being tired
*Being confused
*Being worn out
*Disliking myself
*Being sick
*Myself; I am desperately tired of myself and all my repetitious thoughts. I’ve thought about offing myself or becoming an alcoholic out of sheer boredom.
*Being required to care
*Being mad at my mother
*Despairing about my father
*Feeling empty, alone, and broken
*Entertaining children

Thereafter, things got much, much better. But now:

Things I am really tired of and/or scare the crap out of me [March 18, 2007]:

*Hanging out at the Science Center with kids and other tired, unwashed, rumpled, bored parents who also don't want to be there
*Answering to a child's comment or question every ten to 30 seconds
*Watching myself age rapidly
*Never sitting down for more than one minute at a time during a meal
*Never reading a book for more than ten minutes at a time
*Being interrupted constantly, no matter what I'm doing, be it reading, writing, sleeping, eating, taking a shower, going to the bathroom

So it's the usual stuff, more or less. Apparently motherhood, like depression, cannot be cured, only managed. How I've managed over the past year is I dropped a lot of useless ideas about parenting and hired a lot more childcare. What's not listed in the second excerpt is my prevailing sense of unease and boredom and loneliness. It would be there, but I got interrupted to make someone a sandwich.

(A new twist on the "things I hate" list is my terror of aging and old people. To wit: I went to a dance performance last week and was disturbed by the sea of white and grey heads all around me. All these soft-bellied old people clutching their tickets, fretting over finding the right seats, looking irritated beyond comprehension when someone needed to get past them after they'd sat down. During the performance, in the middle of one particularly quiet, erotic solo, a baldy near me turned around to hiss at the fellow behind him to stop kicking his chair. "Eh?" the fellow said. "I said, would you please stop kicking my chair!" The entire audience, probably even the dancer, heard this. Lord, smite me with a bolt of lightning if my life ever comes to this! I thought.)

So, I arrive again at the manic-depressive state of melancholia and restlessness. I shall endeavor to enjoy my mercurial mood, or at the very least, learn to ride it. Sit in the nice little yoga space I've made for myself downstairs, close my eyes, and do nothing about it. To do nothing about it is to triumph. To see this period as a shift and a transition rather than a crisis requiring divorce or grad school or some other thing that will make the feeling go away, that's the real practice. I'm lost in this mish mash. There's no other way for me to be right now.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Path of the Medicated Warrior

I waited exactly 14 days. Then, on Friday, I gobbled a 40 milligram dose of citalopram.

I realized that while it was a worthy goal not to say "fuck," or "fucking" around the children anymore, the fact that I was increasingly compelled to do so reminded me for the millionth time that depression is not a matter of self-control.

I spoke to Dr. Clark on the phone.

"How are you doing on this dosage?" she asked.

"Crying all the time, lots of outbursts, feeling like I want to rip off my own skin," I said.

"Mm-hm," she said. "Any thoughts of suicide?"

Only once, while rocking back and forth on the floor at my friend's house, with my forehead pressed to my knees, but it was nothing. "No," I said.

She prescribed Wellbutrin in addition to my regular dose of Celexa. How this is supposed to help with what the medical professionals call "sexual side-effects" is unclear to me. I think it's unclear to the medical professionals, too. But whatever. I'm game.

Maybe if I was single and 23 the decision between being semi-orgasmic or crazy wouldn't be quite the no-brainer it is now. It's fine to be nightmare in your 20's. Some fellas even dig it. But now when I go off the rails it truly dampens my husband's spirit. And damn, I've got kids to raise now. I've got important shit to do, too, like enjoy vacations in Mexico and do half-moon pose without a block and post pictures on MySpace. (Not to mention teach pregnant ladies how to relax when they feel like cows, and contribute to the good of humanity, and basically be a bright star whenever possible.) I don't have the space to wander in those woods anymore. I'm intimately familiar with them, and they never lead anywhere.

I'm back on the path of wellness.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Day 11

This, my friends, is what I've been doing a lot of lately. It's quiet, it's meditative, and it burns off my abundant aggression. I can go from utter self-loathing and fury to an open heart and humility. In one hour. Even if I don't stay in that state of grace for very long, my soul gets a taste of what this feels like. And so does my brain.
I want my brain to be ingrained with this state, the memory of it to be permanently scarred into the tissue. I need something to remember, to go back to. I reach points where it seems the only logical thing to do is run away from home or become a tremendous alcoholic. That's when it's time to go back to the mat.
My teacher said once, a long time ago, that no matter what confined state you're in, mental, emotional or physical, do what you can to sense one sliver of ease, one iota of space to move into. Feel for the merest opening. Then move into it. Then see if you can sense a little more space, a little more ease. Relax into that. And on and on.
This is what I do in my yoga practice, especially when my brain is roiling about. I honestly don't know what I'd do with myself if I didn't have my practice to come back to, to pour my zappy, disjointed, animal energy into. I can depend on my practice to deliver me, for a few minutes on the very worst day at least, from blind wildness.
At 20 mg. of citalopram, life is more vivid. I can cry again. I feel low moods and irritation more acutely. I can't really say if pleasure is more pleasurable, or if highs feel higher now. The circumstances of my life over the past couple of weeks have been such that I haven't had the chance to feel those things. But I'm crossing my fingers.
(And my knees, ankles, wrists and elbows.)