Sometimes I just feel lost…

It’s the middle of the night. Actually, for me, it’s only a couple of hours before my alarm will remind me that it’s time to get up, get dressed, and head to a job that helps pay the bills in a reasonably gracious way, but is not a place that feeds my soul. I’m grateful I have two jobs and that the other job is one I care about a good deal.

Yesterday, my son called me. We hadn’t talked in a few weeks and I was glad to hear his voice. It touches me when he reaches out. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t reach out to him more often. But our conversation was just what I needed, even though I hadn’t known what that was.

He picked up on something in my voice. When he tried to identify what it was, he said I sounded “negative.” Oddly, I hadn’t even realized I was coming across that way. I was simply focusing on him and how he was doing, with little interest in talking about me and my life. Maybe that was the tip-off.

He asked me if I felt “happy,” if my life and where I was living right now felt “stable.” (He’s already becoming a good psychologist, even though he still has two more years of undergrad work to do.) I told him “no” that I didn’t feel what I would call “happy,” but that my life felt “stable,” sort of… How “stable” can it feel when my housemate may rent the other room but I may simply be surprised one day to find a stranger moving her things in? How “stable” can it feel when the ‘housemate’ living in the converted garage never communicates, in that I never know if she’s around and may – or may not – need to use the bathroom we share? (And will share with the new roommate, when she comes.) How stable can it feel when I rarely see either housemate because one is a night owl to the point that she often doesn’t come home till a few hours after I’ve been asleep and I leave before dawn and the other has an indecipherable schedule that includes frequently staying elsewhere and communication amongst us is a foreign concept to them both?

After my son and I got off the phone, I was appreciating the opportunity to hear his voice and to connect (we talked for a full hour) and feeling grateful that he had helped me see something I hadn’t quite brought into focus: I’m depressed.

I have noticed feeling defeated, almost hopeless, on a number of occasions, but hadn’t connected the dots. It’s odd, in a way, at least to me, that depression has a way of sneaking up on me without my realizing that the negative attitudes bubbling around in my thoughts are actually an indicator that I’m moving into depression. I have always seen myself as a positive person and an optimist, so it’s hard for me to recognize, let alone accept, that I have shifted into a negative, depressed frame of mind – even though I see the clues.

Somewhere along the way, in the past two to three years, I seem to have lost my way. The passion I felt while I was in grad school, anticipating work that was meaningful, rewarding, satisfying, seems to have faded. I feel buried in a life focused – or not so focused – on survival, paying the bills and simply getting from one day to another. My energy level varies from day to day, rising most when I have projects at work that can capture my attention and keep me from thinking of how powerless I feel over my life right now. Even the longing for a loving relationship has joined the vague pile of hopes that sometimes feel unreachable.

Yet this is not where I want to be. This is not where I want to stay, in terms of my attitude, my feelings, my energy. I may not have much control over my energy, but I can make choices around my attitude.

I won’t pretend to feel “happy” or “stable” or “good” when I don’t feel that way. But it helps to recognize what’s happening. Now that I know I’ve been sliding toward depression, I can accept that and let it go. I’ve discovered that when I try to fight feeling depressed – which most often happens when I don’t yet realize that I am, indeed, depressed – it makes it worse. What works best for me is to realize I’m feeling depressed, to recognize my powerlessness over it, and to do what I can to help myself through it.

Before bed, I pulled out some of my flower remedies to get started. (Larch, for confidence; Sweet Chestnut, for optimism; and, after admitting the despair underlying the depression, Gorse.) When I woke up in the night and couldn’t get back to sleep, wondering how to find my way out of the quagmire of defeat, I pulled out a book that has never failed to help me walk through the dark periods: When the Heart Waits, by Sue Monk Kidd.

It will go in my backpack “tomorrow” (which is to say, in a couple of hours) and I will again appreciate the best part of being dependent on public transportation: the time and freedom to read as I take both bus and train to get to work. I may not be very bright and alert all day (funny how lack of sleep does that), but at least I’ll be on a good path to find my way again.

Advertisements

Day 73 – Wednesday, Feb. 22nd (73/293): Depression is inconvenient, bothersome and, well, depressing!

There’s something about the immediacy of posting directly online that I have been missing. With no internet access on my own computer and limited windows of access on my uncle’s computer, it’s become easier to write my posts in a document, then use my flash drive to post them from another computer. I started this post Monday, but just couldn’t seem to get it done…

Depression…rats! It’s back and it’s persisting, although at any given moment it lifts and I find myself out from under the mire. My depression is, fortunately, the situational kind, rather than the clinical kind. For that I’m grateful. But it is nonetheless hard to get things done – make that hard to get inspired and energized to get things done – when it’s present.

For the past few days since I learned of my aunt’s passing, I’ve occupied myself primarily with jigsaw puzzles and DVDs. Yesterday, with my (other) aunt and uncle out of town, I ended up watching several hours of one of the crime dramas I enjoy (when I’m willing to endure the violence) while I did finished my third jigsaw puzzle in almost as many days. I had hoped to pounce on my uncle’s computer while they were gone for a couple of days, but I couldn’t seem to find the inclination and energy.

What helps me most on those occasions when a confluence of circumstances bring me to a place of depression (right now, it’s my aunt’s passing, my discovering I almost zeroed out my bank account when I thought I was paying attention to it, and my housing/financial situation in general) is being able to recognize that my low energy level is depression. Naming it helps me to know how to respond to it.

Naming it also frees me to not have to pretend I feel better than I do. I don’t want to stay in the depression, but my experience has been that the more I try to fight it, the worse it gets for me. Whereas, accepting that it’s there helps me to let go and just do what I can.

The other day, I employed the Serenity Prayer, asking God to grant me the serenity to accept the depression and to do what I can. It helped. I noticed that my increased energy (which manifests both in mental and physical energy – well, not quite as much physical energy as I’d like to have… ;-)) didn’t necessarily last, but even that is okay. I’m okay with windows of inclination and willingness to do xyz.

Sometimes the world looks like this when I'm depressed... (Another pic from my InterPlay graduation.)

What I’m learning about handling the depression (probably because of this blog journey/process) is that coming out of it can happen incrementally, with ups and downs, like pretty much everything else in life. Yesterday, I just about had my post written, but it felt too long. I printed it out and that’s as far as I got. I realized I wanted to separate out two very different themes that had come up in it – depression and a response to an earlier post (Day 63), but I simply didn’t have the energy.

Now, with the nudge of my aunt and uncle returning later this afternoon, I’m a little more energized to get things done. I also remembered, while writing this, another tool that helps me through and out of depression – Gorse flower remedy. I happened upon it years ago when a friend recognized I was depressed. I didn’t even know it. In our conversation that day, I made some joke about getting business cards that said “Living Corpse” on them. Later that day, I discovered that exact phrase in the description for Gorse in Bach Flower Therapy: Theory and Practice by Mechthild Scheffer. (This is a fantastic book if you really want to learn about flower remedies.)

I had been taking a few other flower remedies, but started on the Gorse after seeing those words in the description. Within days, the depression lifted! Writing this post reminded me that I hadn’t even tried that in the past few days. I guess you know what I’m going to go get as soon as I’m done.

Meanwhile, I’m going to keep reminding myself of what it says on a little card I made up many months ago: Do what you can – and let go the rest. I started to check out blog-formatting things, like trying to find a footer where I could put something (couldn’t find anything I could edit) and decided to change the title of one of my categories (found several vulgar spam “comments” and wondered if the category title was inviting creepy types), but quickly started to feel overwhelmed.

A friend recently pointed out that when we feel confusion – to which I would add ‘feeling overwhelmed’ – it’s because we’re not ready to act. Many times I feel confused or overwhelmed by a sudden “need” to do xyz. Now I know – and will try to remember – that feeling confused or overwhelmed may simply be my mind and body’s way of telling me that now is not the time. That feeling of urgency, I’ve often heard said, is my will, not God’s. Today I’ll remember to be still and trust that the readiness will come when the time is right.

Have a blessed and wonderful day!

Day 47 – Friday, Jan. 27th (47/319): From defeat to action!

Last night I fell into the pit. I continue to be baffled at how I can feel hopeful, encouraged or even confident one minute or one day, then feel so utterly defeated the next when seemingly nothing has happened. After literally sobbing through a release of deep emotions, I was reminded of one of the things that helps me through such times. In fact, in this time of deep challenges, I have been pausing more often to think about what has helped me before and what assets I have available to me.

One of the things that helps me when I feel knocked over by circumstances or difficult emotions is the Bach flower remedies. Last night, I listened to my body-spirit’s inclination. Rather than Elm (one of my favorites – elm for feeling overwhelmed) or Rock Rose (for fear), I picked up the Sweet Chestnut and read the label to remind myself of its attributes. (Some remedies I know well; others not so much.) The label says that Sweet Chestnut is to bring peace of mind and optimism “when anguish overwhelms you” and it seems like there’s no way out. Sometimes I don’t even realize how I’m feeling until someone else articulates it for me and that was exactly what I was feeling in that moment. I went to bed soon after taking a dose and was so wiped out, my light was out less than ten minutes later.

This morning I awoke feeling a bit uncertain as to what I was feeling, which was unexpected. Often when deep emotions come up at night and I acknowledge and release them, I wake up feeling energized, more confident. That didn’t really happen this time. Instead, I woke up and continued to listen and consider what I have been noticing lately.

At the job-search workshops I’ve attended, I’ve heard over and over that we need to “sell” ourselves to potential employers because there’s so much competition. We have to impress them with why we are not just a great candidate, but really the best candidate and the right candidate for them.

To be honest, I despise having to “sell” myself to anyone. In part, because I feel tend to feel inadequate (classic ACA syndrome), but also because I am not one of those people who’s good at putting on a bright smile and pretending to be eager and confident unless that’s how I actually feel. The notion of “pretending” in order to impress a potential employer (in the sense of pretending you’re confident and capable even if you’re terribly nervous vs. lying-pretending) seems phony to me. If I can’t be honest about my skills, abilities and interest in your company, and if you aren’t impressed with the real me, then I’m clearly not the right person for you and you’re not the right employer for me. So, I’ve resisted this idea and I’ve realized just how much I thought that’s how I have to approach job hunting. Today, I decided I don’t have to pretend I’m something I’m not – on paper or in an interview. (May there soon be interviews!)

It occurred to me that I hadn’t begun doing some of the things I had recently committed to doing. In fact, I’ve been so stuck in feeling stuck that I’d forgotten to look past that to what I can do. I realized one simple thing I can do is to start asking people if they know of any jobs for which I’m qualified. I realized I need to find someone I can talk to on a regular basis about this – like a ‘coach’ or support person, someone who’s willing to encourage me on a regular basis (who doesn’t charge a fee for their services). I began affirming my willingness and openness to good things happening that are beyond my control. I began trusting God to bring me what I need. And I remembered to not try to tackle all of my problems at once.

And you know what? Things started to happen today. Small things, maybe, but significant things. A colleague at work asked me how I was and I ended up telling her how much difficulty I was having even looking for possible jobs. We ended up chatting awhile and, even though I could feel a part of me tense up at some of her ideas, there must have been something vital in my speaking of this to another person, because something shifted in me. (I love those healthy shifts!) I did more this afternoon toward opening the door to employment opportunities that I’ve done in the past several weeks. These are small steps, but worthy ones.

I am so grateful for the way this day unfolded. 🙂

Action step(s):

  • Called and left a message at a free healthcare organization to seek support for my thyroid care.
  • Called the staffing agency to get me on their radar at another nearby location.
  • Left messages for three different people to talk about chaplaincy (one of the vocations I feel drawn to consider).
  • Spent some time working on my resume and gathering missing pieces that may be required for online applications.
  • Received a return call from one of these people, enjoyed a lovely conversation, and set up a time to talk the week after next.

© 2013 LuciasJourney.com