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Foggy, Foggy Days and Nights

Over the last couple of years, a  writer I love and admire, Alyssa Day, has opened up about her struggle with depression. Her courage  inspired me to open up about the impact depression has had in my life.

foggy

photo via WANA commons Flickr

I first recognized depression when I was a pre-teen.  I  didn’t understand what it was really, nor do I know if I was depressed prior to this but didn’t recognize the signs.  For the most part,  I battled depression alone. I tried sometimes to talk to my mom, but the language really wasn’t there to clearly communicate what was happening to me. So, I mostly struggled alone with this big, ugly cloud that surrounded me. I flirted with suicidal thoughts, and I believe the only reason I never made a serious attempt was that I’d fought so hard to live. Trust me, it’s a very odd feeling to fight to keep your body chugging along while wondering if living really is worth hanging on to. I learned to look at the little things, the beauty of my mom’s roses, the breath-taking colors of a sunrise or sunset, the sound of all kinds of music. Hanging onto bits of happiness kept me from succumbing to the seductive pull of despair.

That was the beginning of the basis for the rest of my life. Clear summer days of beauty, dark foggy nights of never-ending dread.  Major happiness : like the joy of holding my daughters, from their laughter, watching them grow into beautiful young women. And happiness that came out of nowhere: a beautiful day, the soft sound of rain, a stranger’s smile. Life would seem to be going well. But it was never long before the fog descended again. It was confusing and terrifying, but the only way to get to the good stuff was to hang on through the bad.

A few years back, things got really bad and I was forced to get help. This wasn’t the first time I’d sought help, but it was the time I discovered the perfect therapist. Her straightforward approach was exactly what a straightforward person like me needed. Eventually the addition of medication helped me get through the last of the fog. For a while all was well.

Then we moved to Florida to be near three of our grandchildren.

Moving is stressful at the best of times. For a person with chronic health issues moving can be the equivalent of leaping mountains. Things went wrong, of course. We were robbed by the couple who “helped” us move. We had to replace pots and pans and silverware. They took an old computer—and the irreplaceable photos still on the hard drive. They stole a Bible. We sent them home (not realizing everything that was missing) with the guy whining that we weren’t paying them enough.

All my friends and my family (except for my daughter, son-in-law, and their three kids) were back in Tennessee. I’d lived within 50 miles of my birthplace my entire life. Moving was traumatic. Being stolen from was traumatic. I slid back under that foggy cloud of agony that I’d struggled so hard to get out from under.

Thankfully things weren’t as bad as they seemed. I fell in love with Florida. I love the sun, the warmth, the new friends I’ve made here. And I discovered new ways to cope. Living with depression is a daily struggle, but it can be done. If you feel you might be depressed, please get help. Depression is an illness. It’s not the same as feeling down when things don’t go right. And if you feel life isn’t worth living—call somebody NOW. Live can be great. Honest.

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Great Expectations

As many of you probably know, my husband, and I moved to Florida just under a month ago. While any move is stressful, this one was especially so. We were both born and raised in East Tennessee, and we were leaving everything we knew. Not that I don’t love Florida, it’s an amazing place to live and I’m happy to be here. The move, however was Murphy’s Law in action—whatever could go wrong probably did. Right up to the climatic arrival at our new home and the realization a lot of our things had been stolen during the move.

That was difficult enough, but when I realized I had to face some hard truths about myself, it was a humbling, and terrifying, moment. The three big truths I had to face were: 1) I push too hard. I have physical and emotional limits that I ignore on a regular basis. I feel I have to do whatever needs to be done, no matter how hard, or whether I will be hurt in the doing. Which leads to: 2) It is almost impossible for me to ask for help. It would have been in my best interest to ask for help at several points during the moving process, but I didn’t. Even after we got here, it was incredibly hard to ask my daughter (who lives in Florida) to take me to the emergency room. I spent three days there due to screwed up electrolytes, exhaustion, and stress. I’m better now, but still facing the issue of needing help.  3) I don’t allow even those closest to me to really see the difficulties I face on a daily basis. I don’t want to be seen as “lesser than” other people. I just want to fit in  and be like everybody else. Which, of course, sets me up to overdo and get overwhelmed. I definitely have some things to work on.

Why am I sharing this? Because I know there are others out there like me. People with physical, emotional, or mental issues who spend their lives trying to pretend that they are just like everybody else, that they can do or handle anything anybody else can. Learn from me, don’t push too hard. Too hard and things can collapse around you. You won’t be able to pretend then.

 

Take  care!

Cheryel

Lessons Learned Looking for a New Life

 

Sorry I haven’t posted the last few days. My husband and I have been in Florida. No, not a vacation, unfortunately. This was a serious search for a new place to live near Jacksonville, where our youngest daughter and family are now living. I learned a few things from this trip, and I thought I’d share.

  • It’s amazing how many apartment complexes require you to be 62 or older. Not there yet, even if  I feel like it sometimes.
  • Many places only allow one dog and we have two. They’re Dachshunds, and together they’re the size of a regular dog, but nobody would budge.
  • The only apartments available are on the second floor.

On the other hand:

  • Most complexes have exercise rooms
  • They people are nice
  • They don’t close the swimming pools in the winter

As for the area in general:

  • Jacksonville is much easier to navigate than Atlanta
  • Most places are easier to navigate than Atlanta
  • The traffic lights on San Jose are the longest in the country, if not the world
  • There are ponds everywhere, and I always wonder what lurks in the things
  • Out in the country, it’s DARK at night
  • Every road in the area has at least 2 names

It’s going to be hard leaving the state I grew up in a lived all my life, but I’m rapidly falling in love with Florida. Would you expect any less of a romance writer?

Take care!

Cheryel