So I found a ptsd sufferers support forum. Want to know what they recommend? That I get more obsessive about house cleaning. Yes!
I feel weird and bad about my depression. It feels quite shameful to be this depressed. I am one of the most fortunate people to ever live, how fucking dare I get depressed. When friends in the mental health field start openly worry I feel quite bad. I shouldn’t be worrying people. It’s not very kind. I’m fairly sure I will manage to avoid killing myself for another fifteen years at minimum. Even though I’m depressed. It feels more polite to just shut up about how I am feeling. If I don’t think I am actually likely to do something suicidal I should shut up about feeling like I want to. It’s a “cry for help” and that’s lame. It’s not actually. I don’t expect any one to do anything. I don’t expect anything to change because I am talking about how I feel. I don’t think I do it because I want help. Well, I do.
When I explained to my friend K how I was feeling she said, “How about if I take the girls for Saturday. You have enough on your plate.” I don’t particularly feel like I want people freaking out and panicking over the idea that I might kill myself presently (really I’ve been suicidal for decades there is no sense in getting extra nervous about it now) but it feels nice that people think, “Gosh you feel stress. Here is a bit less stress.” It feels like a gift.
I feel less helpless today. I don’t feel like an animal caught in a steel trap today. I think my body is too exhausted to manufacture those chemicals. I’m pretty fucking tired. And when I was exhausted and past capacity yesterday I didn’t have to also dig deep and find a way to kindly and gently meet the needs of my children. I got to be a selfish bitch just kind of wandering through the world.
Holy shit it feels good. I’ve been doing more of it just lately. Consciously putting myself in the mindset where “I am just a person existing and I only have to care for myself.” It’s weird. Do you know what I do when I only have myself to care for? I clean the house. OF COURSE I WOULD.
It honestly felt good that I got to greet Noah and the girls in a house that was clean and ready for anything. I could react to any request without having to do a bunch of prerequisite steps. That is what drives me crazy. “No, we can’t bake because I have to do dishes and clean off the counters and go to the store first.” Those beginning steps are doozies. If you don’t have anywhere to work you can’t work. If you don’t have ingredients it’s a non-starter. I’m having a hard time with adjusting to what “prepared to work” really means.
Abrupt topic shift: I’ve been told that I should be mad at Noah. Which feels pretty funny given how much time people spend telling me I shouldn’t be an angry person. The thing is: getting angry with Noah serves none of my goals.
I am absolutely willing and able to see that Noah goes above and beyond for me. No one is perfect. Somehow I feel like we fit together so well because no one else understands our shortcomings and properly appreciates us. Noah told me he was over committed. Noah told me that he can’t keep up what we are doing. I have to believe him when he says that. Immediately. Instantly. With love and support. I can’t get mad at him for telling me in a small little boy voice that he can’t do everything he would dearly love to be able to do. When he takes his courage in his hands and tells me that he is going to fail me… he already feels bad. He doesn’t need more shit from me.
Noah works like a demon for me. For us. For our family. When he hits a wall that is because he is cruising along at 80 trying to be everything and do everything for me.
Noah has a full time job that requires more than 40 hours a week and between 5 and 10 hours in commute. Then he has this book he is writing (I’m mildly shocked and appalled by how much money that has earned so quickly) and he is an adjunct professor for CMU on the side. And he does a lot of solo kid care (around 20 hours a week). And he wakes up every day and makes breakfast. He does a fair number of dishes. When I am fussy and whiny and the house is a big mess he cleans up. He comes home from work and makes dinner several nights a week.
When Noah comes to me and tells me in a very sad, very small voice that he can’t keep up what he is doing… I can’t come down on him. I can’t get mad at him. He is working at an unsustainable pace. I know that. When he falters it is normal and natural–not shameful.
It’s still very disappointing. And it’s hard that I have these expectations in my head he can’t meet. It’s not really his fault that he is so busy working on my other expectations that he doesn’t have the time or energy to get through all of my expectations. I have a lot of them. I need to be responsible for most of them. He truly can’t bear any more weight.
I feel lucky. When I met Noah he was kind of a slacker. Not really, but he wasn’t exactly motivated. He worked because he liked what he was doing but he wasn’t goal oriented. In the almost eight years I have known him he has changed. It’s hard for me to reconcile the boy he was with the man he is. I need to not act like he is a boy anymore. He truly isn’t.
When my man runs as hard and as long as he can to take care of me it isn’t right for me to sneer and call him a boy who isn’t living up to expectations. Near as I can tell that won’t lead to a happy marriage. I would honestly really like to have a happy marriage.
But I still have these expectations. And sometimes I am disappointed. Right now I feel like I should think of some more creative solutions beyond “be mad at Noah” to solve this problem. I don’t feel like that would actually help.
I can be honest and say that I try to avoid getting mad at Noah. I will pay a very high cost to avoid being mad at Noah. It is far easier and more comfortable to be mad at me for wanting too much. That’s an old reason to despise myself. My mom spent two decades telling me that I want too much. I’m selfish. I’m self-absorbed. I’m too needy. No one will ever give a shit about me. I know. It’s a lot easier being mad at me than him. It’s comfortable and familiar.
I use Noah up. I wear him out. I wring him dry. I feel like it is my fault he has nothing left by my birthday. Maybe if I wasn’t so fucking needy the other 364 days he might have some “want to” left by my birthday. I doubt I am going to be less needy any year soon. Actually, I think I will. I am far less needy than I was two years ago. I’m going to need less support from Noah fairly soon, actually. Shanna already does for herself. Calli is trying.
Sometimes it feels like running is a lot easier than standing still. I ran 23 miles yesterday (I actually ran for a surprising amount of it) and that was easier to do than filling the hours until Noah and the kids came home. I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I sat down for a bit and I ate and I smoked and then I cleaned. I spent hours cleaning. I don’t feel like I am capable of sitting down much any more. No matter how tired I am. I have to keep moving. Keep doing. I’m not sure why I have ever thought of myself as a low energy person. That was part of my story “I have to have my kids early because I’m a low energy person and it will be much harder when I’m older.” On crack.
Yesterday morning when I was about to head out the door (I was quite decadent and lazy and I didn’t leave the house till 6:30 because I didn’t feel like running in the pitch black) both little girls woke up just as I was leaving. Calli hugged me and kissed me several times and said, “Bye mama. Mama happy.” That’s her way of saying, “Goodbye and have fun.” Shanna said, “Do you have any food with you? It’s going to be a very long run today and you can’t get through a run like that without food. Have you packed food yet?” Yes I packed food, thank you for checking on me. I really appreciate it. I started crying. I told her that I appreciate her thinking about the needs of my body. Sometimes I’m bad at that and I’m glad she cares.
Ironically, I gave my huge bag of trail mix to a homeless guy. I stopped and took the pot edibles out first because I’m not that nice. But he was there. And he had a dog. And he looked so much like Stephan that my heart broke. When I see homeless guys who look like him I feel my heart jump into my throat. (He just looked like a homeless guy in the making. I think he’s gotten a hair cut since then.)
As a result when I was ~4 miles from home I stopped at KFC. I think that I could have gotten home noticeably faster if I hadn’t stopped and bought a mashed potato bowl on the way. Mmmmm. There is something about walking and eating at the same time that I like. I always have. From when I was a little kid walking and eating at the same time feels like a decadent treat. It feels like proof that I am more highly evolved and AWESOME than other species. Squirrels can’t do what I can do with food while moving with the same kind of speed and agility. Maybe monkeys but I’m pretty sure they don’t.
For some reason just knowing how many processes are going on at once in my body excites me. I am breathing. My blood is flowing. I am walking quickly so many muscle groups are responding quickly. I am eating. I am coordinating my hands and my mouth. My stomach is working. My throat is working. AND WHILE I’M AT IT MOTHER FUCKER I WILL SING. I’m not sure why I like it so much but I do. It’s this weird feeling of satisfaction. I am one of the most complex organisms ever. THAT IS SO FUCKING COOL. Let’s feel a little gratitude we weren’t brought into this life as an amoeba, ok? This is better.
It’s hard to feel like a depressed loser when you are sauntering up your street telling every neighbor, “I haven’t finished mapping it yet but I’m quite certain I covered twenty two miles today!” I feel a lot of pride. It’s weird feeling how the pride lives in my chest with the shame. It’s like they are next door neighbors in a condo complex. They take turns who is leaning over the back fence shouting.
Yesterday I talked to one of the neighbors for a while. Little M who isn’t allowed to come over anymore was apparently throwing rocks and dirt at her house. She told me she was thinking about calling the police over the vandalism. She threatened M to her face. Apparently M broke down sobbing hysterically and begged to not be sent away. I had a long talk with her about how she needs to never threaten that kid again because she has a hard enough life and for an adult to keep picking on her is cruel and unacceptable. Every fucking five year old throws rocks and dirt. It’s not vandalism. It is being a kid. Give her a fucking break. The neighbor seemed very inclined to listen to me once I started talking about the abusive alcoholic father. I think she will be nicer to M. I’m not saying let the kid get away with shit–but you don’t need to call the cops.
When did we become a society that wants to call the police because a five year old throws dirt? I feel so sad. I feel like there is no way for people to grow up and try things and see what happens in the world.
The other day Shanna got her hands on the last rogue bag of cookies and brought it into her room. I yelled at her, of course, because crumbs in your room attract ants ohmyfreakinggoodness how many times do I have to say this? When I finished dealing with the cookies I came back into her room and sat next to her. I said, “I have been so busy yelling at you for making messes lately that I haven’t stopped to say that it is really cool how much you have grown. You are very good at taking care of yourself. You are very good at figuring out what you need and how to get it. Most of the time you make very good choices both for your body and for being polite to me. Thank you. I do see it. I appreciate you a lot. I think it is wonderful watching you grow up. You surprise me every day by learning new things and I’m so glad I get to watch you.” She told me, “Thank you for noticing. I’ll learn about the crumbs one of these days.” I laughed and hugged her. I told her I believe so.
It feels like depression is this binary switch in my brain. It goes on and off many times a day. There are many things that bring me joy and when I feel those things I am distracted and the depression switch goes off for a bit. But I can’t do this on purpose. I’m not a rat and it isn’t a food pellet button. I can’t just decide to keep myself distracted. I can’t decide to feel joy. It just happens. Often in connection with my kids.
I feel like the most prideful person on earth when I look at my children. I feel like I will explode with good feelings when I look at them. How did something so wonderful come out of me? I am so grateful that I get to know them. Even though they make my life harder (and holy shit they do) I wouldn’t have it any other way. Without them I don’t have this joy on tap.
So I spend my days walking between depression and shame and anxiety and anger and joy. I can’t just sit down and decide how many minutes of a given day will be spent on which emotion. I can stack the deck in my favor. There are stress relieving choices I can make. But the stress relieving choices are unfortunately often choices that lessen my joy. It’s a weird balancing act. Less bad might mean less good too. More good might well mean a lot more bad.
Today I feel quite confident “not today”. Today is a day of rest. I will spend today with Noah and the kids. Noah will rub my feet because he is nice. We will cuddle and read together. I will get to touch Noah. This morning I am typing from bed instead of the garage because I haven’t been touching Noah much lately and I feel this aching emptiness without him. I like keeping my foot on him. He’s there. He’s real. He’s mine. I’m not alone. No matter how I feel, no matter how I think–he is here. I can touch him.
Noah has spent years trying to get me to understand that I shouldn’t have put up with things from Tom that I did. It wasn’t a “good” relationship it was just a lot better than what I had previously known. I don’t know if I put up with things from Noah that I shouldn’t. I know that, unlike Tom, Noah is working on things that benefit both of us. Noah is very serious about everything he has being for me. It’s a weird feeling. Someone wants me to have as much as can be given to me. I feel constantly unworthy.
I have been diagnosable as “mentally ill” for a long time. It’s not Noah’s fault. I don’t really want to come down on him for the results.