Tag Archive: Depression

Day’s work

Sometimes

the hardest thing,

the only thing,

I can accomplish

in a day

is breathing

in and out

in spite of

the crushing

lack of will,

in spite of

the voices

(no, not real voices)

telling me

in whispers

that everyone

really will be

better off

when I’m

gone.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255 – please.

Soooo… hi.

Hey there… I can’t believe it’s been SIX months… How have you been?

Yeah, me too. It’s okay, I understand, we can just sit and not talk for a bit if you like.

Here, check out these sweet puppies while we sit here.

Oscar and Oliver

We’re fostering these two little bottle-fed Dachshunds, orphaned at birth. They’re not yet 4 weeks old. We’re tired, but that’s okay, we were tired anyway. They’re doing great. We’re all coping the best we can, you know? For us, helping the puppies is also helping ourselves.

Oh hey, I have some good, rather astonishing news. My daughter came back into my life after nearly four years. She’s 16 now. She was 12 when, well, when I lost her. It’s been… amazing getting to know her again. I hold back though of course, we both do. Self-protection is a healthy thing, and we’re trying to work forward slowly. I took her to the Women’s March with my step-daughter. Life-changing, really.

What a year, huh? You never know what’s going to happen next.

I think though, it’s really important that we remember some things we do know. There is hope. This world is full of good deeds and redemption and puppies and people who will literally give you the shirt off their back should you need a shirt on yours. Kindness is still a thing, maybe THE THING. We still have each other, well many of us do I guess. I had to burn some bridges, maybe you did too. I miss the easier times when I could just pretend everyone thought the same way about human rights that I do. I wish I could unsee the hateful things I’ve seen, and pretend when I see these people that I never saw those things they wrote.

I think respect is hard for people, I don’t know why really. There isn’t really a benefit of doubt anymore. No benefit at all. So much certainty, so much disrespect. In November a friend posted something like, hey empaths, shields UP! It was wonderful and needed advice. But I don’t have shields figured out yet. I can’t understand how people can’t understand what other people go through. I can’t grip it in my loose and wandering brain. But still, there are moments when you just have to draw a line. And so I drew lines. But I’ll never be the cool one walking away from the explosion without looking back. I’ll always look back. Mindfulness is a practice, and I’m solidly out of practice.

Still, I wish these people who I called friend well, in spite of all the declarations I read about how we’re enemies now. I’m nobody’s enemy, I just can’t take the hate. It vibrates at a painful frequency, I think many of us can feel it now in the air. Or, well, at least on Twitter and Facebook. It smells bad, and it stains our fingers and tongues. I want no part of it. No, I’m not naive, it’s just a choice I get to make every moment of every day. And every moment that I’m capable, I choose kindness and love. That’s exhausting sometimes to be honest. It’s hard to stay in your own movie when the horror films start rolling.

And so yes, puppies help. So does laughing, and thankfully we can always find humor these days. Maybe it’s dark humor, but hey I’ve always liked that anyway. Also, fresh air is good, and feeding the birds, and taking walks out in nature, batteries not included. And moving your body. I forget to do that when I’m glued to the couch, poring over things I simply can’t control. Getting off the couch at all is getting something done some days, and don’t let anyone tell you different. In fact, making it to the couch counts too. Breathing, that’s the place to start. In and out. Repeat with me, there’s more good than bad. We just notice the bad because it’s loud and smelly. We aren’t helpless, but I think we have to help more when we can. Even if it’s just holding the door for someone, or smiling at a beleaguered customer service worker.

Okay, so yeah, this was a nice visit, but I’m a bit tired now. I think I could use a nap or a shower.

It was good to catch up. Let’s try to do it more often, shall we? We really do need each other in these times. I’ll be thinking of you. Look me up, I’ll be here when I can.

Dear America

Sad Statue of LibertyDear America,

These are strange times. As anyone who’s read this blog before probably knows, I’ve battled depression a time or two in my life. Enough to recognize the signs, and America, it’s time to tell you that you are showing all the signs. Don’t panic though, that’s the last thing you need. It will be okay. Try to remember from all the times before that depression tells you lies.

I think the best thing to do is take a little time off from reading the news, watching the news, talking about the news, and I mean, it should be obvious, but do NOT read the comments sections of political posts on social media! Turn it all off for a while and let things go.

Maybe instead, you could take a walk outside, pet a dog, talk to the birds, enjoy one of your amazing national parks, or possibly just take a long long nap. Let yourself realize it’s okay to feel this way, but also try to remember it won’t always be like this. There will be better days again, and the world will keep on turning.

I want you to know, America, that you are so very loved. And you are enough, just as you are right now. I know everyone wants to fight about that, and we can always make improvements obviously. But please just try to remember you are enough right now, and that life is a journey. I believe in you, and I care. We will get through this together, and we will be stronger for it. We know this isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last, so conserve your energy and take it easy, and just breathe.

With much love from your adoring friend, and a big fan,

Liesl

We are not better off without you

eye and clouds fractal

One of Michelle’s many amazing profile pics

For Michelle, and the others we’ve lost

I’ve been there, standing, breathing in that one terrible thought that really, everyone would be better off if I just left this planet. It wasn’t at all a selfish thought about a selfish act. Yes, I wanted the pain to stop, but I did believe they’d be better off without me. All of them.

Early this week, a friend took her own life. She had a lot of things that might have brought her there, to that place on the edge. She had chronic pain and other things going on that were hard to overcome. But she was always the one asking me on Messenger how I was, asking if I needed help, making sure I was okay. She reached out more than I did, because I’m afraid to let anyone in, and because she was just that kind of person. I kept her, like I keep everyone, at arms length. And so we weren’t close, in spite of her trying, but we were connected, and she recognized the kindred there. And so did I. She was a writer, and she loved art, fractals, weird and amazing stuff. She loved dogs. We talked about bands, and cancer, and surgery, and husbands who are bass players. But we didn’t talk enough. I’m left now, hating on myself for the distance I kept, wishing I’d been there for her, like all of her friends are. We’re all wishing we’d done something. Anything.

We are not better off. We are grieving, and lost. We’re trying to find our way now, you can see it on her Facebook page, where hundreds of people are posting messages and memories*. You can see it in the blank looks we get on our faces, glazed eyes in the middle of a workday, or in the shower, or just driving when some particular song comes on. Nobody is better off. This sucks, it SUCKS. Hard.

We are NOT better off.

I promise you, nobody will be better off without you, even if you feel hated or abandoned. It’s a LIE that sometimes people tell themselves when desperation hits. I know how it sounds whispered like a cool dark cloud in your head, almost a relief. I know the lie, and how sometimes you can believe it. I don’t know if my friend told herself that lie. I can’t speak for her, and neither can she anymore. But I promise you, hundreds of people are hurting, and nobody is better off.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Available 24 hours everyday
1-800-273-8255

* My note to Michelle:

I missed it, the chance to reach out, to tell you how great you are, to say another thank you, to ask you how you’re doing. I thought I’d have time to get to know you better, and I missed it. The last time you wrote, just a month ago, I answered with a quick cool, thanks. I didn’t ask you how you were doing, I’m sure I was in a rush. And I missed it. And now I miss you, and your quirky but disarming sideways smile and soft hair, and the tiny little check-ins you did with me on messenger, which I totally took for granted, just like the art and the weird things, and the beautiful things, and the funny t-shirts, and hanging by the fire pit and all of the other things. I’m glad I got to know you. You made the world better, lady.

If your cup is full

Ripple in still water, when there is no pebble tossed, nor wind to blow.

Long ago, I went to Dead shows with the man who became my first husband, and danced. Always, I hoped to hear this song. It makes me happy, in that connected to music kind of way. I’m not sure if it’s a deep song, or the total opposite. It’s just Jerry, you know? I miss that dude as if we were really friends. I guess that’s what music does, and writing, and art. We want to make it all complicated, but what it comes down to is connection. It’s a hug across time and space, an extension of a hand for a friendly shake, or a smack on the back of the head. It’s a reminder that as alone as I sometimes pretend to be, I’m not. There are others.

I forget. I fall into the deep holes and think I’m the only one who ever had to climb my way back out. I sometimes want to paint the story of me on my face, so people can see, and know what I’ve been through. But there’s not enough paint, and that’s okay, because it’s not like I’d be the only one with face paint, we’d all be covered, and maybe that’s what tattoos are for. Maybe that’s the point, telling our stories on our bodies, in our music, words, anything, everything. Life is stories, and mine aren’t more special than yours. They also aren’t less special. That’s what art is, stories that remind us we’re connected.

I’ve wondered since I was just small why it is that most people can’t see that we’re all the same inside. Ask a shark who’s bitten us, we’re the same inside! This crazy existence connects us, and we’re born knowing that, getting it on some basic level, and then we spend most of our lives convincing ourselves that we were mistaken. And the world, the human world, just gets more and more whacked out every day with all these people trying so hard to forget that we are all alike inside. It’s so off-kilter now I don’t know how it stays in orbit.

People tell me to lighten up sometimes, when I tell them something isn’t funny when it’s not. Like rape jokes, race jokes, hate jokes, mean jokes, and stuff that separates, stuff that makes someone else smaller. And I tried for a long time, because like Amy in Gone Girl, I wanted to be Cool Girl. It meant so much to me to be Cool Girl, I was willing to step into someone else’s outline and try not to push it out of shape. It took a long time to see that it was a chalk outline, and I was dying inside. So I want you to know I’m not cool, and I’m okay with that. Those jokes suck, they’re a way to tell yourself that you’re better than, above it all. And you’re just not. Even if you own a thousand hotels, you’re not. You’re just one of us, living on this crazy spinning marble that somehow keeps making trips around this wild, hot, fierce star without burning up. And ever since I was little, I’ve known on the most basic level that we are so lucky to be here. Even at my lowest, I’m grateful for the trips around the sun.

I’m grateful, also, for the connections. The musicians and writers and poets and painters and thinkers are part of all of us. I wish I could live long enough to hear it all, see it all, read it all, write it all, and to just watch things unfold. So two lines from Ripple for you:

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again.

(full lyrics)

I wish you full cups of life, say a toast to all your neighbors on this planet, and suck that stuff down.

Kind of like family

file00058283027I was talking about depression recently and I realized some things. Like this whole thing about forgiving myself is great and all, but I still haven’t forgiven, or even tried to forgive, the depression itself. I think in metaphors and similes a lot, and it came to me that it’s like family. Even when you don’t see it for a long time, or you’re just dreading one of its all-too long visits, it’s still a part of your world. You can disown it, but that doesn’t change the connection. It won’t set you free.

So while I’ve been saying all the right things about learning to let it flow through you and accept yourself, I’ve also kept a war mentality about it. Like an “it’s either me or you” kind of thing. But the thing is, depression is part of me, part of my cells. It’s in my DNA, and to hate it with passion is wasting perfectly amazing passion that I could put somewhere else. Hating depression won’t make it leave me alone, won’t clear a path to eternal joy. And eternal joy is best left to the afterlife anyway, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Me, I’m aiming for peace, as much as I can make, here and now. So I’ve done the work, learned to respect my own boundaries, learned to nurture myself like a friend or mother. Okay, at least some of the time! But I’ve tried to ignore the part of me that is depression, because it’s not a friendly house-guest, and I’d oust it if I could. Cure it like cancer, and save us all. Ah, but I can’t. So I won’t.

So here we are, connected, wary, trying to learn to get by in life without falling too far off the ledge. And I do know that as good as things are right now, my odds of never seeing its face again are pretty damn low. So maybe if I can accept this thing, this dark, ugly, black-hole-peace-swallowing thing, maybe I won’t feel like a total loser when it comes to raid my fridge and take over my home. Maybe I can try to remember that the visit will end. It is what it is, after all. Like any wild thing, or that one relative of yours who just doesn’t have any empathy and doesn’t know when to leave. I can’t tame it, or teach it. All I can do is learn to accept it for what it is, and hope that by doing so the next visit will be easier, and shorter.

Hopefully, it will be a good long while before I get to find out how that goes.

Weights and measures

[part of a five-day art challenge in February]

Too tall
Too fat
Too smart
Too bold

Too full of life
To fit inside
A manufactured mold

Too much
Too lost
Too scared
Too sad

Too flawed inside
To measure up
To all the dreams I had

~ Liesl Dineen 2015

Excavation

7163057

I once left reason and myself
Far behind me in a better place
I traveled gently underground
Where there was no light to cast a shadow
And no window into otherness
And the walls around me became my comfort
While I tried to be a beacon, and a window
I missed shadows, and I missed otherness
But I was not a beacon
I was just in the dark alone
Until, And then, Suddenly, years later
The walls cracked
The shadows blossomed
The windows opened
And I walked, far less gently
Back into the light, and into reason
And myself

~Liesl Dineen 2014

November Poem-a-Day: Day 23

For today’s prompt, write an alone poem. Some people covet “alone time.” Others prefer not to be left alone. Many like a certain balance. But this doesn’t have to just be about people. Maybe a forest wishes to be left alone, or there is a product left alone on a store shelf (how the children’s story “Corduroy” begins).


 

Unread

I’m composed of hieroglyphs
Whorled answers on the page
Chaotic run-on paragraphs
Humility and rage

And though I frequently proclaim
That I’m contented on my own
You know that story’s counterfeit
I’m desperate to be known

In my darkest hours I’ve begged
In my theatre of the absurd
Could you please stop interrupting?
Give me the gift of being heard

I told you once a thousand times
About this aching need
What good is being an open book
If you refuse to read?

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

November Poem-a-Day: Day 14

Prompt: For today’s prompt, write a follow poem. In middle school, I remember running for student council and my campaign manager said something to the effect of, “Vote for Robby, because he’s a follower, not a leader.” First thing, yes, they called me Robby in middle school. Second thing, yes, I did not get elected. Third thing, yes, this story is completely personal and pointless. Don’t follow my example.


Follower

You’re leading again
He whispers
Trying to wrangle
Wild clumsy me
While I watch,
Anticipating every step
Wrong.

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

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