Category Archives: Depression

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?

Summertime butch blues

I.  Hate.  Summer.

I’m not really sure if this is true or not.

But once school starts wrapping up with class trips and end of the year ceremonies, I start getting a funny feeling in my stomach.

At first, I’m certain that it’s food poisoning.  Or appendicitis.  Or consumption.

I've fainted and I can't get up.

I’ve fainted and I can’t get up.

I quickly write up a food diary, jump up and down on my right leg and then my left just to be sure, and read several Victorian novels in which fainting spells are prominently featured.

I eliminate food poisoning, appendicitis, consumption.

And then I realize that it’s June.

There are a few things that I like about summer: Farm stands.  BLTs made with the season’s first local tomatoes.  Ice cream cones.  Sno cones.  The All-Star Game.  The church carnival down the street.

xx

This Grinch doesn’t dig the summer.

But what I detest, said the Grinch in her Grinchy-Grinch voice, is the fact that my schedule gets turned upside down.

For nine months out of twelve, everyone leaves in the morning and comes home later in the day.  But for those other three months, the young ones just stay.  They sit in their PJs.  They play on their games.  They want food for lunch.  They want to be entertained.

At least they are older and can fend for themselves.  But when you are rigid like this butch and thrive on routine, any little abnormality feels like it’s times three.

And don’t get me started about the beach and the pool.  They don’t make swim clothes for this old butch fool.

Girl suits are too girly.  And boy suits don’t cover up enough.

One day, I’ll deal with my body dysphoria but right now it all feels like too much.

* * *

What about you? Do you like summer? What are your favorite summer things?

A few of my favorite things

Your favorite butch blogger has been a bit down these past few weeks.  My last post ended on a high — me and W reconnecting on a weekend away — that I haven’t been able to recapture.  Maybe that’s part of the problem.  When the top of your head scrapes the bottom of the clouds for a few days, it’s a short, hard fall back to reality.

Plus, this weather isn’t helping things.  Has it ever been so damn cold in March?  And one of our cats died recently, and that’s been weighing heavy on my heart.  I’ve been struggling with my writing.  It took me weeks to write the shortest chapter of my work in progress.  Did I mention that my son is 14 and acting like a 14-year-old?

To cheer myself up, I thought I’d make a list of a few of my favorite things these days:

Sweet.

Sweet.

* My new Timex Weekender watch with the changeable straps.  So cool and retro looking.  I treated myself to one  for my birthday.  This butch likes to be fresh and color coordinated.  What do you think Dapper Butch?

* The French film, Blue Is the Warmest Color.  Because when else can you watch a lesbian movie with lots of sex and feel so cultured because it had subtitles?

* Apple TV.  I don’t really know how to use it, but I know that it will allow us to watch Orange Is the New Black.

* Coca-Cola.  Everything is better with Coke.

We

We would have such fun, me and you.

* Is anyone else obsessed with Girls?  HBO’s Girls.  Not those girls, you guys.  Ok, those girls, too.

* Lena Dunham, I want to be your best friend.

* Ivan Coyote, you inspire me.  I want to be you when I grow up.

* I  just discovered Lorrie Moore, a funny, brilliant writer.  I want to read everything she’s ever written, including Bark, her new collection of short stories.

* The brand new flannel sheets on the bed I share with W.  Bonus: They were $7.49 on clearance at Target.

* My writers’ group.  Weird that a motley group of off-kilter writers keeps me grounded.

* W.  Not anything she says or does.  But because she’s there, whether I’m in a good mood or bad, happy or sad.

* * *

What about you?  What makes you smile these days?