Monday, September 22, 2014

Who I Am

This is how I am- I get a text from my husband while I'm on my walk. It says, "Are you at home or still walking?"
I text him back, "Walking." Then a few minutes later I text again, "Do you need to talk to me?"
He doesn't answer.
Now I KNOW that Monday mornings are insane for him at work. I don't know about the government stats but his business has taken a definite upswing lately and it feels as if the economy is slowly healing. So he's been crazy busy at work. It's a one-man operation and he is the man. And so, the fact that he doesn't answer me right away really isn't surprising and shouldn't be disturbing. BUT, my mind, well.
I can't help going every place I can go which is scary and negative. Things he may need to discuss with me range from his health to the possibility that he's met some Georgia woman who loves to hunt and so he is leaving me.
I have to forcibly prevent myself from texting "Are you okay?" which is probably what half of my texts to him say.
I get home, I take off my headphones, my hat, I get a glass of water, I call him.
It's about a business thing. A possible renter for our little plaza. It is not life or death, it is not even really that big a deal. It's a decision that needs to be made. It will not make or break us.
I am so fucking relieved I can't even say. And once again, I chastise myself for being insane. For always going straight to the sky-is-falling scenario.
This is why I hate the phone. It rings. I think, "Oh, someone is in the hospital. Someone has been in a wreck. Someone is in jail. Someone is dying."
Every. Single. Time.

And every time that fear rises up in me, even after I realize it was all (once again!) for naught, I am left with a residue of it. Of anxiety. (It could have been bad. It could have been.)

I know I am not the only one.

The medication I'm on makes it bearable. I don't know what I'd do without my walks in the fields and in the woods, without my chickens, my dirt to dig in, these trees to shelter me, to give me perspective, without my husband, my children.

This is how I am.
I see from doing some reading that the fall equinox can be a trigger for certain people who are inclined towards bipolar disease, towards depression. I take some comfort in that.

Here's another thing- I HATE the term "mental illness."
If so many of us suffer from these things, how can it be an illness? Why isn't it just perceived as something which is fairly normal, albeit something which addressing, which does not need to be ignored? They always bring up the whole "well, diabetics need insulin and people with mental illness need treatment" metaphor.
Yes. Of course. Like that.
I don't know what I'm talking about. Diabetes is an illness. I suppose depression/anxiety/bi-polor are too. I just despise always thinking of myself as "ill." This is just the way my brain works. I wish it didn't. But am I ill? Because I don't like crowds, I don't see the point of random shopping and socializing? Because things are difficult for me which probably should not be?
An illness suggests that there may be a "cure."
Oh, there are a million cures.
Medication of course. And exercise and proper diet and therapy (all sorts of therapies ranging from the proper ingestion of certain psycho-active mushrooms to talk therapy to hypnosis to, oh fuck, I don't even know) and practicing gratitude and giving it all to god and just FUCKING GETTING OVER IT, ASSHOLE!

"I choose happiness!" say one million and ten goddam internet memes, all with golden sunsets or fields of flowers or the sun sparkling on a peaceful body of water.
Which implies that those of us who are depressed or, yes, I suppose what we might call mentally ill, CHOOSE NOT TO BE HAPPY!

Those things make me want to vomit.

It's almost (not quite) like, if you're gay, being told you have a choice not to be.
Oh, how I wish I could just choose happiness. Not that I think that any human being is happy all of the time nor should we. That's not realistic. That's not life.

But when the darkness comes, when the panic rises, wouldn't it be wonderful, wouldn't it be fantastic, would it be the very best thing of all to just...choose...happiness?

What simplistic bullshit claptrap.

I am aware that I can choose to try, every day, doing every thing that helps to keep me moving, to keep me from falling way down to that place from which there feels no escape. And trust me- I do those things.

So do you.

My chickens are so beautiful today in this cool light. A while ago, Elvis stood next to the red blooms of the firespike and the hurricane lilies, his red comb looking like another sort of bloom. It was as if he was asking me to come and take his portrait. "I'm ready for my close-up, Chicken Mama," he seemed to be saying.
The fields are full of beautiful fall blooms. I think about that- how spring blooms are one thing but oh, how glorious the fall flowers are. I would like to think that's a metaphor for human life. For my life being far past the time of spring bloom.

The sky is that blue which only comes this time of year. So blue it puts all the other blues to shame and makes them jealous. The trees rise up into the blue sky, anchored as they are by their invisible roots, deep, deep into the earth. I notice this, it bring tears to my eyes.

Maurice walks through the backyard, strolling from shade to puddles of light. She is orange, she is golden.

I notice all of these things and so much more.

I do not think I am ill. I think I am this way. I think if I could choose happiness, I would.
I cannot but I can choose to pay attention, to accept that this is who I am.

And today it is not so bad at all.


  1. The thing I love most about reading here is that you're not afraid to be yourself your naked self your true self. I've been thinking about this all morning why I read what I read.

  2. I love you, Mary Moon. I just do.

  3. When my son was going to fsu the phone used to send me straight to panic. I changed the ringtone to something soothing, it helped a little, just a tiny bit. I believe there is something to this time of year, I always thought it was just that I knew summer was almost over and winter was coming. Gail

  4. I have an occasional, mostly anonymous commenter on my blog who almost always chastises me to just BE HAPPY, and it always irritates the crap out of me. If it were a choice, we'd all choose it. Sometimes, though, it does feel like a failing, like I'm just not strong enough to climb out of the hole. Which of course isn't true.

    I'm so glad you're out there, and writing. So, so glad.

  5. Thank you, Mary Moon, for this post. It touched something almost hidden inside me somewhere.

    Happiness is a tough nut and sometimes it comes in disguises so intricate that we don't see it. For a long time I thought and felt that having a chronic illness automatically means chronic unhappiness. How on earth could a sick person ever be happy again and so on.
    Of course it's all BS but some days . . .

  6. Dear Ms Moon, your ability to put into cohesive sentences your experiences and ideas is magnificent! I do relate to some of it, and I am thinking that yes it is normal to have abnormalities in our mental health, kind of like I believe we all fall somewhere on the spectrum of autism, It's so obvious to me ...Ah yes, did that sound pretentious? Cause I didn't mean it to! Have you been to Jes's blog, the militant baker? She is one hot comet of change, in fat acceptance, but also very much mental health issues, and I just love her...much as I love you, thank goodness for you, and her..and so so many is Jes's blog if you want to check t out:

  7. Its just the way we're made. Thank you for writing, expressing what I can't. Just about every post you post I can relate to, the anxiety and sometimes depression as if I were writing it myself. Its a daily struggle. Sending hugs...XO Sue...

  8. Know thyself is not just a platitude. Knowing who you are and accepting that is key I think, not for happiness which is a fleeting emotion, but for contentment. I am not plagued by worry or anxiety. Don't know why but I do think that the definition of 'normal' has been slowly narrowing for years and I think that is wrong. Pretty soon there won't be a single person alive who is normal and/or healthy.

  9. I went to the doctor today. He took my blood pressure and then asked me why it was high. He waited for an answer. I didn't have one. If he'd asked why I wore blue today, THAT I could've answered.

    Sometimes when my phone rings, I panic because I think, momentarily, that it's the hospital calling about Nicole. And then, just as quickly, I'm flooded with relief when I realize that's impossible.

    Happy autumnal equinox (my favorite time of year). ~nancy

  10. When I was pregnant, the midwife took my blood pressure and worried about pre eclampsia. On the next baby, the independent midwife took my blood pressure again and again til it was good, recognising that having your blood pressure taken can stress you out...

    I suppose it wouldn't be a great idea to leave the phone at home, in case of accident - but you could turn it off while you walk?

  11. I HATE all that meme shit too. Hate it. This is why we are soulmates.

  12. Radish King- You know. More than I. You do. I love you, woman.

    White Miller- Brother. When you leave a comment, it makes my heart so happy. Thank you.

    heartinhand- And I love you, in this way we know each other. I do. You sassy, profane, loving woman.

    Gail- Oh, when we have children and they begin to step out from the nest, no phone call can be taken with a light heart. And perhaps it is NOT just our knowledge that winter is coming. There may be more to it than that.

    Ramona- Ugh. Fuck those people. If THEY can choose to just be happy then they have no idea what it feels like to be us. Or else they are completely self-deluded, completely-in-denial fucking idiots.
    Bless their hearts.

    Sabine- One day is so different from another, isn't it? And often, for no reason. There is such a difference between situational depression and the other kind. I don't have any idea how I would feel if I had your life. I do know that one of my best friends was never less-depressed than after she had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. It was like the shoe which she had always feared would fall, did. And she faced the rest of her life with such humor and courage that I will never forget it.

    Big Mamabird- I will DEFINITELY check her out. Thank you.

    Susan Johnson- I know without a doubt that we are legion. I write for so many. I am not alone. Neither are you.

    Ellen Abbott- You are right. Probably no one is normal, whatever that means. We want to put everyone into slots, round pegs into round holes and that is just not the way it is. You, as an artist, know this to your bones.

    Nancy- What did he want you to say? That you ate heavily salted popcorn last night? That being in a doctor's office stresses you the fuck OUT? Jesus. He's the doctor.
    You know- I totally and completely understand your panic when the phone rings. If anyone in this world has PTSD (oh yes- let us diagnose another human being) it would be you.
    I miss you. Are you okay?

    Jo- Oh, it's not just when I'm walking you know. And I love having the camera on the phone to take pictures of things that I see sometimes. But that's a good suggestion.

    SJ- Those things are an insult to our intelligence, our very humanity. Yes. We are soul mates.

  13. As I read I was thinking just what you wrote at the end. You are not ill, you are YOU.

    Your metaphor about spring and fall blooms slayed me. Completely slayed me. I'm speechless - that is how much that touched me. thank you.

  14. Well, the world is full of people who fail to understand any degree of complexity. So I'm not surprised all those "I choose to be happy" Internet memes exist, even though they're silly bullshit. I think it's more like choosing to move forward, which we all do every day, with all our flaws intact!

  15. That anxiety. Last night my son was out and I thought he had taken his bike. It was quite dark out and he had said he would be home before dinner. Around 8:30 I was looking out the window thinking that at any time I was going to get a phone call telling me he was hit by a car and did I want to donate his organs. That is fucked up.

    Choosing happiness. I wish it were that simple. It takes all my energy just to get up in the morning and do what needs to be done. For me, it is "I choose to get up in the morning, hold down a job, be a mother and a wife and make sure I pay my bills and get groceries". After that, I am done.

  16. I'm such a contrarian that when people tell me to do something or even suggest that I do something, I want to do the very opposite. That includes when people tell me what I'm LIKE, too. I love how you know yourself so well and are ever moving toward accepting yourself. I know you don't feel like you're "there," yet, but I feel like you are -- there. The place where we should all be. Thank you for this post.

  17. I am feeling much the same way these days and this post helped, both to know that there's someone else out there feeling the same way and also to put it into my head that maybe it has to do with the seasons changing. Something to consider.


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