I finally completed that puzzle last night. I know it took me forever but the truth is- I didn't want to finish it. I was enjoying too much. At the very end, I slowed down my work on it considerably, very much like slowly savoring the last chapters of a book that has had you in its enchantment and which you are loathe to leave. Because doing jigsaws is a relatively new activity for me, I have had to learn a lot and the main thing I've learned is that there is no enjoyment for me in doing a puzzle that I don't have a certain affinity for. It's like reading a book that you have no real interest in but do simply to pass the time and say that you have done it. And it turns out that I love busy, cheerful scenes with vibrant colors.
And now I feel bereft. A little bit, at least.
Hasn't been a good day, y'all. It's like yesterday's gloom was, unbeknownst to me, a slide into a very dark place.
It happens. And hopefully, there will be a way out quickly. I hope that as much or more for my husband than I do for myself because I am nothing but dark presence when this happens.
I remember my mother's depressions. In those days, there was no real knowledge of the disease nor was it at all probable that anyone would be properly diagnosed and of course there were no antidepressants.
There were the Mother's Little Helpers- amphetamines and drugs like Valium but the overwhelming view of any sort of mental illness was that if you kept going and kept your mind off it, you could simply overcome it.
Sometimes that works. Depression is a disease of remission and exacerbation and thankfully, people can recover from it without medication. Unless they can't. I guess that situation is what people used to call a "nervous breakdown". If your depression got so serious that you were incapable of getting out of bed and going about your day or taking care of your family or going to work or showering or eating or...
My mother's depression was profound. Strangely, one of my brothers absolutely denies this. A different brother, more like me in many ways, remembers it all too clearly, as do I. And depression can be genetic, of course, which would help explain where mine comes from and which makes me wonder where my mother's came from. Did her mother suffer from it? My granny was very deaf and as such, she did not do a lot of interacting with people. Some, for sure. She and Granddaddy had friends they went out to eat with, got together to play Scrabble or Canasta with. But I cannot honestly say that I have any clue at all as to the state of her emotional health. She spoke very lovingly about her family of birth. She was the youngest of twelve children and I think they had a lot of good times. But I know that my grandfather was not the easiest person to live with and in his work, when she was raising three children, he was very often away. That could not have been easy. Did she go through periods of time when she did not think she could get out of bed?
The only thing I do know is how much my mother's depression affected me. Mother had many, many difficulties and heartbreaks and sometimes something would happen that would send her down to the deepest places. When she was at work (she taught school) she could mask what she was going through to a degree. But when she was at home with just my brother and me, it was a different story and she scared me and made me feel completely helpless and yet still somehow responsible for her pain. I was probably seven or so when all of this began. I can remember thinking quite clearly that if I did EVERYTHING right, and was the most helpful person I could possibly be, she would get better. She would be happy again. In short, if I were perfect.
And no seven-year old girl is perfect. Not in this world.
When I'm in a gray place myself, I think about these things and I have compassion for my mother but I feel as if she could have done a little better at trying to shield me and my brother from her pain. Having your mother lock herself in her room and scream that she was going to kill herself is pretty traumatic for a child. Not having anyone to go to to try and get help or not even knowing that it was possible to get help was devastating. Somehow I knew that she would have been so incredibly angry if I had talked to anyone about these things and at that age, I was already quite aware that my job was to protect her and not the other way around.
And this behavior mode became more in play when my stepfather began sexually abusing me. There was no one to go to for help, especially not my mother. I honestly wonder what she would have done if I had but I did not have the words for what was happening although I knew it was so wrong as to quite possibly destroy the misfit family she had created when she married him.
And that I could never do.
Whether depression is genetic or not (and we can be sure it is), there are situations in life that can definitely exacerbate it. Sometimes we can understand those situations and sometimes we can't. They just seem to arise but my thought is that deep inside of us, we do know but that we have tried so diligently all of our lives to keep them in the deepest, darkest parts of our souls that we have hidden them even from ourselves. And sometimes, with years of hindsight, we can see them clearly. Therapy helps. It can save us. So can medication. But there is no magic wand.
Not yet. Maybe someday.
I took a walk today because you're supposed to. I went to town to do my shopping because I had to. I took my medications as I always do. I am being gentle with myself. I am remembering that tomorrow is the twenty-ninth anniversary (I think) of the death of my friend Sue and for whatever reason, that particular anniversary always hits me hard.
Well. Onward. Tomorrow may well be a much better day and I will smile again.
One thing did make me smile today. I was pushing my shopping cart from the store to my car when I smelled the funkiest, skunkiest weed smoke I may ever have smelled in my life. I looked to see where this smoke was coming from to see a very fine looking man with long dreads, dressed so very sharply, walking to the store. He had just gotten out of his truck which had an open window.