Sunday, August 31, 2014

a post about brain-meat. Not the eating there-of, don't worry.

Have you ever wondered why I seem to post for a few months pretty regularly, then disappear for months, then kind of pop back in here and start posting again? No? Well, tough tits - I'm about to explain it anyway.

I suffer from an anxiety disorder and depression. I've struggled with them for as long as I can remember, but "officially", as in, known by my doctor, since about 2004. I have been on medications, off medications, I've done therapy, I've read self-help books, I've tried vitamins, meditation, name it, I've probably dabbled in it at some point in the hopes that it would help. And honestly, all that stuff HAS helped a little, on and off...but the one thing I've learned above all others in this process so far has been that there are no magic cure-alls, at least not for me. That sounds like such a fatalistic statement, but really it's the opposite, honestly. It's not that I don't believe there's anything out there that will help me, it's that I know myself and my condition well enough now to understand that it's never going to go away. It's like my green eyes or my brown hair. Try as I might to disguise them, they are a part of me and there's no real way to permanently change them.

My depression is cyclical. I'm not bi-polar - I don't have phases of extreme high and low. What I have are periods of feeling basically ok interspersed with periods where I have a really hard time dealing with just about everything. During those "down-swings", I tend to also get very anxious and I also have a hard time doing all the tiny normal things that healthy people do every day: stuff like cleaning my teeth and brushing my hair, for example. It's not that those things start to feel optional to me when I'm depressed, it's that they just kind of get removed from my automatic to-do list. Bigger things, like washing the dishes or doing the laundry, go from being odious little tasks that take up a little of my knitting time to gigantic tasks that I literally need to plan ahead and prepare myself for hours ahead of time..and then I'm mentally exhausted afterward. Even cooking or knitting, things I truly love to do, turn into tasks that take monumental force of personal will to accomplish, and so I pretty much just stop doing them when I'm depressed.

Depression is also a teller of lies. It convinces me that even if I COULD muster up the energy and enthusiasm to cook a really good meal, nobody wants to fucking see it or hear about it. Hell, half the time it tells me that the food isn't even good, that I've just deluded myself into thinking it is because I want it to be. All of my friends' and family's assurances to the contrary don't amount to a piss-hole in the snow (there's a classic Vermont-ism for you, by jeezum) when compared to depression's overwhelming declaration that I am, in fact, not good at anything at all, ever, to infinity and beyond. Depression weighs in with these lies about everything, not just about whether or not I should bother to blog a particularly nice roast or salad. It tells me I am stupid, that I am ugly, that I am a failure, that I am worthless and unworthy of love. Through my normal, every-day lenses, I can see that those statements all amount to a steaming hot pile of bullshit...but through the fogged-up, iced-over lenses of my depression glasses, everything looks a whole lot different and it becomes very difficult to know what to believe anymore.

My down-swings can last anywhere from a couple days to a few months. Sometimes they come on gradually, insidiously changing my brain in little ways here and there until weeks later I realize what's going on. Other times they hit me like a freight train and leave me sitting in the dark sobbing over a bag of clean laundry while my husband tries to comfort me without knowing what the hell is going on, and with me unable to articulate (thanks, baby. And sorry if I scared you). I also spend a lot of time in the kind of in-between limbo of not-full-on-depressed-but-not-really-ok. I can function pretty convincingly at this level - it's where I am today, in fact - but I still have kind of a hard time with some things, and one of those things is writing. So even if I'm over here making amazing food and taking decent pictures of it, I'm still having a hard time actually getting down into words anything about it other than, "I are am roast pork thing. Potato r gud. Blueberry pie forevar".

So that, dear readers, is why I am sometimes gone for months at a time...because sometimes I just literally do not have the spoons to even cook for myself and my husband, let alone make it pretty and then write about it. You don't have to pretend to understand or even care, I mostly just had to get this out of my brain today for me. Like I said in the beginning, I've finally accepted that there are no quick fixes for my brain-meats. Learning how to deal with this fuckery is part of my life's work, and as we all know, work isn't generally meant to be fun...otherwise it would be called fun and everyone would do it.

If you made it this far, then by god you deserve a cookie. Gluten-free, of course. ;)