Just a few words to tell you that I feel almost normal again. Thanks for you concern and comments. I had wanted to write something longer and more profound, but the day turned out completely different from what I planned. Instead of writing and making music, I spent the morning running errands with my husband and then eating Chinese food. And then he made me happy by saying, “You know, I never told you, but though I criticize you all the time, I love you just the way you are. Even your faults.” Wow.
(Just when you think you don’t know when to blog again, a student calls in sick. I hope she’ll be well soon, but this was my present for today.)
Still feeling a little low. Though I haven’t written here, I still have time to think. And I don’t like the phrase “I don’t have time”, because it isn’t true. I did lots of things during the past days, but I didn’t sit down and wrote anything. Maybe that’s my punishment. I had a writer’s meeting on Thursday and everybody went, “Oh, I just don’t know what to write about on my blog.” and I bragged, “Oh, having ideas is never the problem for me. Following them through is.” So for anybody interested in a topic, the topics I have waiting in line are: handicapped, sleep, transitions, life coaching, self-sacrificing mothers. Feel free to write about them if they appeal to you.
But for now I’ll write about the thing that is occupying me the most and that is depression. Maybe that is a “social justice” topic. It surely should be. (And I don’t really know where the line between personal and social is. They blur into another anyway.) I’m hesitating, because I don’t feel qualified to write about depression. But I don’t find another word to describe the mood I am in. It is like the problem I had when I found out I had an eating disorder. I watched TV and there were a couple of overeaters describing their eating patterns. They described my eating patterns exactly. Only I didn’t weigh 300 pounds. To this day most people who have known me for a long time think that I am a hypochondriac when I label myself as a former emotional overeater.
So I have light bipolar extra-light. Whatever. Currently there is a part of me that has gone numb, wants to go numb, a part that is constantly sitting in a corner wrapping her arms around herself. It feels like I’m wading through mud and rolling a boulder uphill all day long while having a vortex in my stomach. I’m tempted to feed the vortex food, chocolate in particular. And numb it with staring into the computer or TV. My energy is very low, I haven’t been sleeping well, I have been eating more than usual, especially more candy, I’m cranky and when my husband points out something to me that I forgot – and that happens a lot these days – I burst into tears.
And then there’s the other part of me, the aware and mindful part, that’s quite happy. The new conscious part of me that loves the sunshine and goes on exercising and doing housework, the part of me that goes out with friends and makes jokes and cares about herself and others. This is weird. I keep thinking that if only can immerse myself in that happy feeling the heavy rock in my stomach will melt. As it will, as it always does. It’s not that I’m depressed all the time.
When I still lived alone I treated this mood as if I were sick. I went to bed and didn’t get up for days. I went out only to get more potato chips, jelly beans, liquorice and chocolate. I’d sleep long enough to make me feel even weaker. I’d withdraw completely. Now I live with my family and this is no longer possible. I’m very happy about this, because not doing anything makes me feel even worse. I feel better, when I get out of the house and walk through the woods. When I eat real food my mood lifts a little.
In a comment to my last post Esereth wrote that there are deep reasons for depression and that I can kill it when I find out what’s causing it. So far I only have been able to find triggers: visiting my parents, not sleeping enough, not making enough music, staying indoors too much, listening to daily talk about the end of the world (okay, that was exaggerated). And who knows, maybe there is a part in me that loves this mood. I suspect this is the counterpart to the part that wants to have a highly streamlined, efficient, goal-oriented life. The hyper-organizer in me. And of course I haven’t played enough. There is the voice in me that once was my mother’s voice (and occasionally still is in real life) that says, “Who do you think you are?” There is the fact that there is winter and light is sparse. There is the fact that I am exhausted and overwhelmed. And there is the fact that I have been in manic overdrive mode for weeks without realizing it. That’s usually the main factor.
So, if there is a reason it may be the one that this lifetime around it is my turn to learn how to be persistent. I am not good at this. I’d like to live life in bursts and crashes. Work like crazy for a couple of weeks and then retreat to bed and do nothing for a couple of weeks. Either be the center of the party, shining, laughing, dancing, singing and telling funny stories or to stay at home and be alone. I could do that. I have done it often enough. The only catch is that it makes me neither happy nor content. So I’ll have to learn the “boring” path. The one where every day is the same as the last one. Where you work constantly without burning out.
I have a friend who told me that she feels slightly bipolar too. I asked her, “And what do you do about it?” She said that she just tries to enjoy that manic streaks and to treat herself as well as she can, when she’s depressed. I can’t accept that for my life. For one, real bipolar disorder is dangerous when not treated. The depression gets deeper and longer, and there are people turning suicidal. I don’t think that my mood swings qualify for a real disorder. I’m sure, if I’d go to a doctor with this, he’d laugh out loud. (And I have done the tests in my bipolar disorder books, thank you.)
But then there isn’t only healthy and sick. There are shades of grey in between. My first step now is to acknowledge that this is something I can’t control. No power of will can make me feel happy. If I ignore it, it comes back and hits me over the head. While at the same time I think that we can choose our emotions, I’m not yet able to do it constantly. And I think the main problem for me is to avoid overdrive mode. So my problem boils down to: How do you know whether you’re slightly manic or just extremely busy? And if I suspect that I’m in overdrive does that mean I cancel everything? Like my son’s kindergarten Christmas party? The trip to my parents that was higly anticipated by them and my son? Christmas? NaNoWriMo? And I can’t turn to my husband to help me, because he is showing symptoms of exhaustion too.
Thanks for listening to me. I’ll go to bed on time today. I promise.
Technorati Tags: depression
First of all, today is the day of the very first “just post” awards.
I had planned to write a beautiful post about handicapped people, but then life got in the way and you’ll have to wait for that one. Since the “just post”-award is still very young, there hasn’t been that much participation yet, but we’ll just promote it in the months to come. Oh, and this award was the result of the big fat social wedding of Jen and Mad. Since I’m really pressed for time today (and since I’ve really been wanting to do this for quite a time), I consider myself tagged with the “5 things you don’t know about me”-meme by Mir. (And when I say that you don’t know these things I’m thinking of people only knowing me through the blog, not of people like my sister, though she reads this too.)
- I didn’t drink a single drop of alcohol until I was 19 years old. I even refused to sip on something for social reasons. To this day my mother still is shocked, when she sees me drinking a beer. As Mir told about herself, I also was the designated driver for years, and was proud of my high morale standard. I felt very superior to people behaving like a typical drunk. I have to say, though, that even when drunk I never behave like a typical drunk. Like my husband, I only react by first being a little bit louder, then a blurring of speech, and then becoming a little more quiet.
- I smoked my very first cigarette when I was eight years old. Me and a couple of friends tried smoking behind a group of bushes in the woods. We felt really grown up and cool. Growing up in a smokers’ household, I neither had to cough or got sick. I held and lit the cigarette like I had done this my whole life. When later I tried to get more cigarettes by stealing a pack or two from my parents, I was found out. Thus ended my career as a smoker. I tried again four years later, but decided not to smoke. I never regretted it.
- Every man I ever had sex with was a musician. At first I had a pattern of percussionist, bass player, percussionist, bass player, but then I wandered and dated a pianist and later a clarinet player. Also, I never know how you count it, when you’re having an affair with two men at once. (I had an “open relationship” with the first bass player. Well, I can say this does not work for me.) The last one was also a bass player whom I then married. End of dating history so far, but, I’m grateful to say, not of sex.
- You know that when I studied music education my main instrument was – as it still is – voice, but what you don’t know is that my second instrument used to be drums. (Now you know how I met the percussionists.) People who haven’t seen me since that days still think of me as the drummer, but I haven’t touched drums since the end of our Brazilian band seven years ago. (Anyone interested in buying my congas?)
- As I’m writing this, I’m depressed again. Not as in “not-functioning and nearly suicidal”-depressed, but as in “feeling as if there were a vortex inside of me sucking away most of my energy”-depressed. Since wondering if I maybe am slightly bipolar, I haven’t had another “episode”. Only things like PMS. Before Christmas my husband said he thought I might be in a “manic” state. Of course I wasn’t, I only had a lot to do. Um. And I didn’t feel like I was soaring high. I didn’t take on lots of new projects. Mild overdrive due to circumstances. But since we returned from my parents I have been glued to the computer, checking e-mail about every other second, reading blogs and waiting for the evening which I spent in front of TV. Then going to bed too late, of course. And repeat. With the firm intention to do better the next day. And repeat. After four days of this, it dawned on me that this was not normal. I was feeling depressed. On Sunday I thought I had come out of it. Only to realize today that I’m still in it. The problem is, in a way, that I don’t have times anymore where I declare myself sick despite a lack of symptoms and then spend days in bed. I’m no longer living alone, I have work to do, I have family. And I know that I don’t feel better, when I’m staying in bed. So I get up, I make breakfast, I do minimal household chores, I talk to my family, I even am happy at times, but there’s a part inside of me that has gone numb and wishes to stay that way. I know that eventually I will come out of it and that exercise, enough sleep, real food, cuddling and walks in the woods help. But I don’t know what’s happening. There are triggers, but there are no deep reasons. Weird.
So this is the reason, why I haven’t posted, why I’m sounding a little off.
So this month I’ll have to rely on others to change the world for the better. Please go and look at the just post awards. (And don’t worry about me, please.)
I got fabulous Christmas presents this year, but I didn’t get a single book. And that got me thinking. I already knew that I had been reading less books in the past year, because I have started watching DVDs every night. In case you’re curious, I got a pen from my parents (it pays to tell people exactly what you want), the DVD of “Mirrormask” a film David McKean and Neil Gaiman made together, which my sister picked from my Amazon wishlist, and my husband surprised me with – DVDs.
I knew that he had picked a present for me way earlier than usual, because he told me not to check his e-mail, Amazon account or bank account. He then added, “I was able to buy more of them that I thought.” More of what? I concluded that he had either bought me more Buffy-DVDs or sets of oracle cards which are on my wishlist too. Imagine my delight and surprise when I opened the package to find season 1 and 2 of “Deep Space Nine”. Yes, I am into Star Trek too and my husband and I agree on “Deep Space Nine” being the best of all the series. (I know that we might be the only two people in the world to hold this opinion.)
Back to the books. I sat there on Christmas Eve and looked at my wonderful presents and got confused. No book! Well, I thought, I’m just not a book person anymore, I have started to become somebody who watches films. Back home I realized that there still are quite a few books around. There’s a pile on my desk, there are bookshelves aplenty, maybe there was something I had overlooked. So I decided to look into my book database to see how many books I had bought or been given in 2006. Yes, I have so many books that I need to file them on my computer so I won’t buy doubles or never find them again. Okay, are you ready? I got 21 new books in 2006.
Then I thought, “What about ebooks?” That was a little harder to find out, since I don’t record them in my database (which is a little weird, come to think of it, as if they didn’t count.), but finally I got the number down, I acquired 9 ebooks in 2006.
So, how many of those books have I read? I read 11 ebooks in 2006, because I had bought some more at the end of 2005. I read 16 of the real books I have gotten in 2006, I started reading 5 or 6 more. The reason that I thought I no longer am a book person is that most of these books are non-fiction. I read two books on finances, one on abundance, three books by life-coach Cheryl Richardson, one organizational book, two about improving your relationship (“Getting the love you want”, which is excellent and one other that I don’t remember given to me by a friend that wasn’t telling me anything new.), a fitness book about T-Tapp, three books about songwriting (the third is a book of exercises that I only have begun), two books on bipolar disorder, and a parenting book (only one?) “Playful Parenting” that I highly recommend. Oh, and I re-read at least partially “Writing down the bones” and “Creativity rules!” in preparation of NaNoWriMo. Phew. I spare you the titles and details of all these books. Now to the fiction, because that’s what really counts:
I have loved the Goldy Bear mysteries for a long time, but I have the feeling that they get a little weaker. But then, it is hard to write a series with all strong books. I don’t think, I will re-read this.
“Strange Travelers: New Selected Stories” (Gene Wolfe)
I’m still not quite finished with these. They are marvelous, but not easy reading and it wasn’t the best choice to buy this as an ebook.
“Destroyer (Foreigner Universe)” (C. J. Cherryh)
I love every single book of the foreigner series and they keep getting better. I’m eagerly awaiting the next one coming out in paperback.
“Cat’s Eyewitness (Mrs. Murphy Mysteries (Paperback))” (Rita Mae Brown)
Okay, though I couldn’t say anything about the plot anymore. There seems to be problem with mystery series here.
“First Meetings in Ender’s Universe” (Orson Scott Card)
Good read, but I read it more for the closure of reading everything in the Ender Universe.
I decided to buy the whole Neuromancer trilogy again in English. I had only read them in German before and was annoyed with the translator’s habit of putting footnotes in to explain things like “cursor”. One has to keep in mind though that these were originally written in the 80s.
“I Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuse?” (Suzy Becker)
Here we have the biography section. I seem to be reading more and more of these lately. This one is fun and entertaining despite the heavy subject.
“Composing a Life” (Mary Catherine Bateson)
This one I ordered because Suzy Becker had mentioned it.
Well, obviously I had liked “Composing a Life”. This one is a memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. Since I once also studied anthropology, it was a must read.
I love Tad Williams not least for the fact that his books are huge tombstones. This one was a little slow to get into, but I’m already waiting for part 2.
I have read almost everything by Julia Cameron who is one of my heroes. This memoir (yes, another one) was very interesting to read and showed facets of her that one can’t see through her other books.
Terry Pratchett is the only author, apart from J.K.Rowling, whose books I allow myself to buy in hardcover because I can’t wait for them. I love, love, love his books. Especially the ones with witches in them and so, of course, I like the Tiffany Aching books too.
I know that I re-read at least the three Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett, but I may have re-read a couple of his other books too. I usually re-read the whole discworld series from time to time. When I read C.J.Cherry, I re-read a couple of foreigner books too, and I know that I re-read all of the Mrs. Pollifax novels, two other novels by Dorothy Gilman (about a psychic), and at least “Gaudy Night” by Dorothy L. Sayers. The thing that made me feel like a non-bookish person was the fact that I read less fiction than I used to and that “Until I find you” has been sitting on the shelf for half a year. I remember finding it in a real bookstore (as opposed to Amazon, where I do most of my book shopping), and anticipating reading it. Then, every time I had to pick a new book, I thought, “No, it’s to heavy, I’ll pick something else. Currently I’m reading “Running from the deity” by Alan Dean Foster. I’m not finding it that thrilling, but since it’s part of a series…
Actually I’m lying when I say, the book I’m currently reading, because the books I’m currently reading are: “Take Time for Your Life”, “Ask Your Spirit Guides”, “Head First HTML”, “Handbuch Buddhismus” (wow, one in German!), “Getting Things Done” (highly recommendable) and “History of Early Witchcraft”. Um.
So, how many books did you read last year? Anything interesting? I find it quite amusing that I only read about two books in German. No wonder I’m blogging in English. Sometimes I’m even thinking in English. What do you think, should I write about the books I read? My writing buddy Adrian does this, and I always find it intriguing to see what books the people I like hold dear.
And this time “almost” really means almost, not half. (I wrote a post about my tendency to leave things “almost finished” only to discover them to be only halfway done later.) The food I’m referring to had been prepared in advance at the end of October. In an attempt to make the holidays more enjoyable and to survive NaNoWriMo intact, I tried doing Mega Menu-Mailer for the first time. I bought one of the Mega Menu-Mailers from Leanne Ely’s website, bought tons of fresh ingredients, chopped them up and assembled everything into freezer bags. Into the freezer everything went and we ate those meals since the beginning of November. There are two more meals left in the freezer, but I feel confident they will be as good as the last 18.
Before I forget it, here are the two single most important things that I learned about the whole thing: spread everything real thin before freezing. If you make nice fat lumps of meat before you put it in the freezer you end up with frozen food that’s still not thawed after 48 hours in the fridge. There was not a single meal that wasn’t cooked partially frozen. So, hear my advice, make flat packages. The second thing, and of minor importance, is: Really measure the ingredients, don’t think, “Oh, this might be half a tablespoon of garlic, who cares.” and end up with most meals being too garlicky and several where you had to hurriedly substitute garlic powder, because you run out of the fresh one.
Before I review the meals (not in detail, no worries) I have to tell that I didn’t do anything right – as always. Everything that had to be grilled was fried. Everything that was supposed to be cooked in a crock pot was done in the pressure cooker. There are neither GladWare containers (whatever that might be) or jarred sauce Alfredo in Germany. And not realizing that there is tinned salmon even in Germany I mistakenly substituted tuna. And a word of caution: Never try to fry anything coated in honey! The honey instantly turns black and burned. Nonetheless the meat tasted good, only the sauce was, um, not fit for human consumption. And: If you decide to do the Crock Pot Pork Jambalaya in the pressure cooker, don’t, and I repeat, don’t put the orange juice mixture in. It was burned totally. The pork had a distinctly smokey taste. Good, but smokey. That time we could replace the sauce, because we had all the necessary ingredients in the house.
We haven’t eaten all of the menus yet, because we did something else in between and because since we are only 2 1/2 persons here, we usually eat two days on any of the meals. Everything tasted good to delicious, apart from that Chicken Pot Pie Lasagna. But I won’t blame Leanne for this, since I made up the aforementioned sauce Alfredo out of a wikipedia entry and had to substitute milk and butter for half of the cream because I hadn’t bought enough. Then we spiced that up with a fight during cooking, lunch served too late, and my husband refusing to eat it because of the fight and the fact that there was milk in it. (No, he isn’t Jewish, this has something to do with Italian cuisine where you never put milk in anything not sweet.) We ate that one for two days and then threw the other half out.
As I said, everything tasted just fine, but all in all it was a little too much meat for us. Especially too much pork, since we don’t like to eat pork. Also I have the dawning suspicion that I should have ordered only half the pork chops and steaks, since they were real big. One time we had the Cashew steak one day, then cut the rest of the meat up and mixed it with peppers and ate it Asian style with rice and the day after we ate it with pasta.
So, for anybody out there wanting to try it, I can recommend it, it made cooking and menu planning much easier. Oh, and the actual cooking took about half an hour per meal. That’s okay with me, and for the second day it took less, because we were only reheating. Since we still have something left, it was totally worth the effort to put it together. I think we’ll be doing it again next year, only maybe we’ll do it at the end of September then and cut up bunches of vegetables with it to make instant vegetarian meals in between. Next time I’ll definitely use my food processor. I feel very stupid for not having thought of it, but I never use it since it is enormous and only good for processing vast amounts. If you’re baking two or three cakes at a time it’s marvelous. If you bake one, the blender only scrapes at the flour. Also, next time I’ll take the time to convert all the measurements beforehand. Fluid ounces to milliliter, pounds to kilogram, and so on. And then I’ll write it on the sheet so that I’ll never have to do it again.
Now I’m back to my old method of menu-planning. On Wednesdays I sit down and try to think of five to six healthy, tasty meals which don’t take much time to prepare, and then we end up eating pasta or frozen pizza for three days of the week. I’ll miss having a whole freezer packed with things I only have to pull out. 24 hours before, which is quite a feat. You end up every meal with a discussion about what to cook the next day. (In our house everything turns into a debate.) But then you already have something ready. And if something happens and you don’t cook it the next day, no problem. Since it was frozen perfectly fresh you can cook it the next day. Especially when it’s still frozen in the middle.
I’m back. Meeting my parents has resulted in draining all thoughts out of my head as always. As a result I have a jumble of half-thoughts and half-posts in my head. So, instead of trying to write about the new things that I learned about myself and about my parents, the food, the presents and my son being sick on Christmas I’ll write about the word I chose instead of my New Year’s resolutions.
Today Christine Kane wrote about her ritual for the New Year. Instead of making resolutions she picks a word to focus on for every year. When I first read it I thought, “I could never focus on just one thing!” And that’s part of my problem. When I read her list of words though the one that spoke to me immediately was “effortlessness”. I even googled it to find the German translation: “Mühelosigkeit” And that in itself was an example for my quest for effortlessness, because usually when I need a word translated I go to that dictionary site that I haven’t even bookmarked. I have to think about its url and get it wrong every time. This time I just googled and there it was.
Since I’m coming from the land of deep protestant work ethics, it is hard for me to accept that even things that matter might come effortlessly. When I was a teenager I even said no to somebody who wanted me to sing backing vocals on his record. Just because I thought it had to be a mean joke. Because that was exactly what I wanted. Later I found out that it was a true offer. Pity.
Something in my mind still thinks that hard work and suffering is needed for everything important. I even managed to take the fun out of the things that I love most. Since I’m trying to change, and since I’m a Leo and don’t like to sweat and suffer, I have been trying to do what Sonia Choquette tells us to do; for the past months I have been asking the universe, and my spirit guides to help me. To send presents. And my life definitely has improved. My job in this is to be grateful and talk about what I received. I write down everything that has come my way in my gratitude journal.
Most things that I attempt to do still seem to be hard and strenuous. So for the next year I will focus on effortlessness. My life will be flowing in the right direction without the feeling of pushing a big stone uphill. Just wait and see. What will you be focusing on next year?
I wish you all the best. Thank you for visiting and reading. See you again next year.
Technorati Tags: self-help