Category Archives: Depression

Praying to Saint Bryce

I’ve been in a funk lately.

Not the good kind of funk like Prince’s “Housequake” or Rick James’ “Superfreak.”

But the other kind.

Let me put it another way. My mood has been Orange Is the New Black, Season 5, which everyone knows is the darkest of all six seasons.

I haven’t been blogging or doing any other kind of writing. I haven’t been doing much at all, besides watching cooking shows. For some reason, I find them comforting.

IMG_3004The Phillies had their home opener yesterday.

I lit a candle like I do every year and prayed to the baseball gods.

This year, I prayed to Saint Bryce, the saint of the long ball and beautiful hair. W bought me this overpriced Bryce Harper candle the last time we were in the city.

I asked Number 3 to help power the Phillies to a winning season. And also asked for some hair-styling tips. I mean have you seen the magnificent head of hair on this guy?

It is truly glorious, said the envious butch.download

What do Bryce Harper’s hair and opening day have in common? Both are magical.

Opening day is a fresh start. With 162 games in front of you, anything is possible.

As I watched the candle burn and stared into Bryce’s intense steel blue eyes, I felt a little lighter and a little brighter.

IMG_3006P.S. I ordered these custom Nike Air Force 1s to match my baby blue Phillies cap with the heather gray brim. They are so beautiful that I cry each time I take them out of the box and hold them.

* * *

Are you a baseball fan? How did your team fare on opening day?

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Broken

My brother and I used to fight all the time when we were kids.

It was usually over something stupid like what we were going to watch on our one TV. I was a big fan of The Brady Bunch and General Hospital (this was way back in the Luke and Laura days). Or who’s turn it was to play on whatever video gaming system we had at the time. Colecovision, anyone?

Things usually turned violent. Punches were thrown. Someone was tossed into a wall.

And then it would happen.

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They looked something like this.

The peace pipes mounted on a little wooden frame over the basement door would fall and break.

They weren’t real peace pipes. At the time, our house was decorated in a style known as colonial. The peace pipes were long and white and made out of some kind of fragile ceramic material. They were arranged in an X with the heads of the pipes at opposite ends of the wooden frame.

The crash always ended the fight.

My brother would run to get the Scotch tape and superglue. I’d start putting the broken pieces back together. We worked as a team as we raced to get the pipes glued back together and back up on the wall before my mother came home.

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This show spoke the truth.

Ironically, it was like that Brady Bunch episode where the boys break Carol’s vase with a basketball. Mom always said don’t play ball in the house.

By the time we were too old to be fighting like that, the peace pipes were in sharp white shards that were held together by tape, luck and sheer will.

Another crash or two, and they would be too broken to put back together.

Luckily, we had stopped fighting by then.

These days, I’m those peace pipes. I’ve fallen too many times to count. I’m in a hundred pieces.

And I worry that the day will come when I’ll be unable to piece myself back together.

 

 

Rich

imageslp1bxi04Rich.

That’s the word that’s been in my head and in my heart for the past few weeks. Jingling around like gold coins in a drawstring pouch.

I’ve felt rich in life. Rich in love. Rich in friends. Rich in my writing life. Rich in everything I need.

I have a weekly routine and friends and my writing and enough special days and events to keep everything interesting.

It’s a rich life.

I think about love and how that makes everything richer. How things seem more special when W’s there. The way I can’t wait for her to get home at night so I can tell her about my day and experience it all over again through her eyes.

Of course, my life isn’t perfect. The house is usually a mess and the cat puked under the dining room table and shouldn’t I be due for a pay increase and when will those damn kids get jobs.

But my life is rich. It’s cheesecake and a hot fudge sundae with extra whipped cream and a $20 bill that I found in an old pair of jeans.

And then last night happens, and I am sad and hurt and broken inside. If you read this blog, you are probably feeling the same way.

imageszgi58iwpStill, I remind myself of the richness of my life. Of love and friends and the way they swirl around me like stardust.

This morning, W tells me everything will be okay and that she loves me.

A friend invites me to a drum circle. Other friends share kind words and blog posts they have found to be soothing and encouraging. A friend who runs a local LGBT group sends an e-mail about working together to protect the rights of those in our community. I will attend the steering committee meeting they are holding on Monday to find out what I can do to help.

W will be home soon. We will have dinner together and watch Luke Cage on Netflix. She’ll fall asleep first. I’ll write and read and then turn in for the night. If I can’t sleep, I’ll settle in close to W and the cats piled up at my feet.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to get out of the house and write in the little coffee shop in town. Maybe I’ll see some of my friends there. I’ll be kind to myself. I’ll be kind to others.

And when things seem hopeless or scary or pointless, I’ll take refuge in my rich life.

* * *

What makes your life rich?

It’s the little things

I’ve been in a funk lately. No reason, really. I think it’s just the way I’m built with storm clouds inside.

During this period of general moodiness, W and I have cleaned up our diet, eliminating almost all processed foods and loading up on fruits and vegetables.

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From today’s grocery shopping trip.

I’ve been experimenting with new foods — chia seeds, flax seeds, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, homemade smoothies and juices. I’ve been trying out new recipes, too. I made broccoli tots, and they were delicious. Napoleon Dynamite’s got nothing on us. I found a recipe for three-ingredient pancakes (3 eggs, 1/2 C cottage cheese, 1/2 C oatmeal) that keeps me full all morning long.

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These tots are tops.

It’s weird, this taking-care-of-me thing. I find myself slowing down and enjoying the little things: a banana with a tablespoon of almond butter, a perfect apple, a bottle of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.

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Protein-packed pancakes with banana and Trader Joe’s almond butter.

But it extends beyond food. This weekend, I bought some socks off the clearance rack, and I found myself appreciating the bargain as well as the simple pleasure that comes from owning a pair of warm, comfortable socks. I am growing basil inside the house in a small container. Every morning, I smile as I check on the new green shoots as they crack through the soil in search of sunlight.

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A pair of my new socks: awesomeness you can wear on your feet.

These little things give me the boost I need to move forward.

I had an eye exam and am waiting for new glasses.

I called the gynecologist today to schedule an overdue annual exam.

I tell myself I am worth it. Sometimes I believe this more than other times.

Scary things like doctor appointments start with a small step — a phone call.

I call and schedule and wait.

In the meantime, I savor the small things: a new notebook, a warm sweatshirt on a cold day, the comfort of a favorite flannel shirt, a hot cup of tea, a good book, a cat in my lap …

* * *

What about you? What little things bring you joy?

The starting is the hardest part

I didn’t want to get up this morning. I mean, I had gotten up yesterday morning. Two days in a row seemed like a lot. Like I would be pushing myself too hard.

From my supine position, I balled my hand into a fist and raised it in the air like the angry lesbian I can sometimes be.

Why does my life have to be so hard? I cried. Life is so unfair!

It was like I was at a Melissa Etheridge concert with my raised fist and hot words. Somebody bring me some water!  My mind’s a burnin’ hell! Except I was lying in bed in my comfiest flannel lounge pants and a thermal shirt.

And then I got a shower. And put on clothes. And grabbed a quick breakfast.

I went to my writers group.

It felt good to participate in life.

Sometimes I have to force myself to get out of bed. To go through the motions. To put one foot in front of the other. To have faith that everything is going to be ok. Today was one of those days.

My default is to stay in bed buried under the covers. It’s like a giant womb in there but much drier.

If I’m ever missing, you’ll know that’s where I am.

I had this mousepad made a week or so ago. I try to remember this right before I start writing or before I have to do something else that feels scary.

* * *

What about you? How do you get up when you’re feeling down?

Angry butch

As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to show anger. When I was angry, I was supposed to express it in some silent way far removed from my parents.  Even a raised voice was considered talking back.

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#1 in moping and sulking

I became an excellent moper and sulker.  Like Olympic gold medal moper and sulker.

I learned how to punish people with silence.

It was polite.  It didn’t violate our family’s code of conduct.  And I soon learned that it cut deeper than a string of cross words shouted in anger or a clenched fist.

It just took patience and perseverance, two of my best qualities.

When I got older, I learned that anger turned inward is depression.  That made so much sense as I have suffered from depression for most of my life.

xx

This is what I look like when I’m angry.

When I get angry these days, I don’t know what to do with this strange and foreign emotion.

Last night, I was angry.  I felt it in my body but mostly in my trembling hands.  I wanted to put my fist through a wall.  I thought about it.

I went outside and raked leaves as the sun went down.  The physical activity felt good.

I came inside and still wanted to punch something.

Instead, I used my adrenaline to bake a cake.  A tiny lemon cake with lemon frosting.

W and I split the cake before bed and rinsed it down with hot cups of tea.

I ate too much lemon cake.  I ended up with an upset stomach.

Tums

“Do you want some Tums?” W asked.

“Yeah.”

“How many?  You can have as many as four.  They’re big.”

“Two,” I said.

I chewed them.  They were sweet and chalky.

“One of them was lemon,” I said.

I think W rolled her eyes, but I couldn’t be sure because it was dark in our bedroom.

“This is probably why you shouldn’t eat lemon cake baked with anger and bitterness right before bed,” I said.

So, that’s the moral of the story, folks.  Never eat a slice of angry lemon cake before bedtime.

* * *

What about you? What do you do when you’re angry?  Do you have any tips for mitigating anger?

Fear

Like this guy.

Or like this guy.

I’ve been feeling really small these days. Not small in a good way. Like, hey, I lost 12 pounds and these cargo shorts are hanging off of me. But small in an all-balled-up way. Like a fist.

I have a slew of things I need to do. One of those things is write a presentation for a corporate event slated for early November. This company has an LGBT group, and I’ve been asked to speak about my book. I’m planning on talking about the power of story — the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we share with others.

I have it all mapped out. A notebook filled with thoughts and quotes. I don’t even need the notebook. Everything is floating around in my head.

But I’ve yet to sit down and type it all up. I was going to do it last weekend. Now, it’s on my to-do list for this weekend.

Writing it out makes it real.

It’s not that I don’t think that I can do it.

It’s that I’m scared.

Even butches get scared sometimes. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.

I’m not sure what I’m scared of.

“I need to get that Marianne Williamson quote tattooed on me,” W tells me.

She’s talking about this:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

It would be a very large tattoo.

So, I will sit and write. Write through the fear.

Riding the rollercoaster

Rainbow decalI am a moody butch.  Have been since I was a teenager holed up in my bedroom with the rainbow decals on the windows and a Joan Jett album playing on the record player.

When I was in my twenties, I was prescribed Prozac for the first time.  I spent more than a decade taking the white-and-green capsules.

Since being diagnosed with major depression, I have always been acutely aware of my mood.

I let myself have off days.  I will stay in bed watching old professional wrestling footage and seeking solace from Ben, Jerry and Little Debbie.

I try not to let one off day morph into two.  On day three, I will force myself to get up and shower and at least try to be a productive human being.

Lately, I’ve been riding a high from the book (which comes out in one two three four five six seven days not like I’m counting or anything).  So many good things have been happening.  It’s all so heady and exciting!  Like a Melissa Etheridge concert.

Problem is I can’t seem to maintain that high.

As high as I feel one day, I feel that low the next.

It’s like riding a rollercoaster.  I’m not a big fan of rollercoasters.

Stuck and unstuck

Sometimes I get stuck.  Not literally stuck like in a turnstile or a revolving door.  Help.  Stuck.  Can’t pass through.

Or actually stuck while trying on a gold glitter tube top.  (I apologize in advance for the image.)  Aaaaaaah!  Aaaaaaah!  Aaaaaaah!  Butch!  Stuck!  In!  Tube!  Top!

But stuck nonetheless.

Other people never seem to have this problem.  They seem to have it all together.

When I get stuck, I do all sorts of things except try to get myself unstuck.

Some things I might do instead of unsticking myself:

  • Work.
  • Read.
  • Nap.
  • Check my Twitter feed.  Every five minutes.
  • Cook.
  • Eat.
  • Play with cats.
  • Watch marathons of Total Divas.
  • Daydream that I am a little known Kardashian.  Butch Kardashian.

When I am stuck:

This is how I feel when I'm stuck

The only way I know how to get unstuck is to do the thing I’m stuck at.  And that’s the thing I really don’t want to do.

Things I’d rather do than do the stuck thing:

  • Eat hot sauce.
  • Work.
  • Clean.
  • Give a speech.  At a Republican convention.
  • Listen to country and western music.
  • Dance to the song It’s Raining Men.
  • Read 50 Shades of Gray for non-comedic purposes.

So, after I’ve done everything else that I can think of, I’ll do the stuck thing.

First, of course, I’ll make a horrible face and make things seem worse than they really are.  I’m a drama butch, after all.

Butch Smiley Face

Then I’ll do the stuck thing.

At first taking lots of breaks to do important things like load one glass in the dishwasher, organize paperclips and clean cat hair from out of computer keyboard.

And then going back to doing the stuck thing.

Before I know it, my hair is not on fire.  I am not shrieking.

I am just doing the unstuck thing.

I am unstuck.

xx

When all is right in my world, this is what it looks like.

* * *

What do you when you’re stuck?  How do you get unstuck?

Metamorphosis and the butch butterfly

Sometimes I think W deserves someone better than me.

Sometimes means during the past few weeks.

I have been moody.

Imagine this storm cloud in flannel

Imagine this storm cloud in flannel.

Not 24/7 moody. That would be full-blown depression. Instead, I have been like a black storm cloud in the summer heat, unpredictable and quick to rain on everyone’s parade.

“You are a lucky woman,” I tell W sometimes.

I call her by her full name when I say this. She thinks it’s cute.

I know this because she crinkles her nose.

I haven’t called her a lucky woman for awhile.

Imagine this dude in flannel.

Imagine this dude in flannel.

I wonder if I am moody because I’m a butch. A brooding butch chiseled out of stone and always over thinking things until smoke comes out my ears and my flannel is at risk of catching on fire.

As a general rule, butches are not perky or bubbly or given nicknames like Sunshine or Daisy.

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer prone to endless inner reflection.  Sylvia Plath in a pair of Dr. Marten’s boots.

It could be a combination of the two.  A butch writer.  W never had a chance.

We had a spirited discussion last weekend about the word “wife.” About how W has a desire to use the word to describe me while I would cringe inside about such a female-identified word being used in reference to me.

Later, I told W she should refer to me as her “female lover” just for the shock factor.

“I can’t win,” she says.

She’s right.

I think it’s because I still haven’t figured out who I am. It sounds silly because I am in my 40s. But I still feel like I am in a state of flux, a work in progress.

I wonder if butch is just a transition. Just another phase in my metamorphosis from tomboy to lesbian to soft butch to butch to something else.

When I used to travel to my alma mater to meet up with my college pals, I would drive for as long as I could before stopping for something to drink or to use a restroom.  I usually stopped about two-and-a-half hours into the trip at a McDonalds in Danville, a small town near the center of Pennsylvania.  I would grab two cheeseburgers and a vanilla shake and continue on, excited to see my friends and pop open a cold beer.  I wonder if butch is Danville.  A pit stop and not a destination.

Maybe I'm a butch butterfly after all.

Maybe I’m a butch butterfly after all.

Or is my metamorphosis complete?  Maybe I’m already a butterfly (a butterfly in a flannel shirt and combat boots) and just haven’t realized it yet.

* * *

What about you?  Are you a moody butch or in a relationship with one?  Are you still a work in progress or is your transformation complete?