Life, Depression, Breakdowns, and Blogging

Life’s crazy sometimes.

Actually, life’s pretty boring if you’re an adult stuck in-between events. Like in the film Groundhog Day, each morning brings the same alarm which leads to the same breakfast cereal which leads to the same commute which leads to the same workday which leads to the same after-workday and housework. Exciting changes come in the form of bills (yay!) and the dishwasher breaking (double-yay!)

Lately, however, change has come creeping around like the green mist in Charleton Heston’s The Ten Commandments. At the advice of leaders, people have closed their doors, painted the lintels with sanitizer, and plan to stay inside till respiratory failure passes over.

I do not know how the Coronavirus news affected you, but ours was neither Groundhog Day nor The Ten Commandments. Ours was more of an accidentally-released film that started out with Alfred Hitchcock suspense, then lost all funding and turned into whatever the actors could come up with on the fly. We then got action, horror, comedy, bad stunts, feel-good moments, and even subtitles for when the grocery store workers watched their display of canned vegetables disappear for the umpteenth time.

Seemingly some of the few doing this, Kevin and I viewed the previews for this bad movie and planned accordingly. Still; when I read about this and this and this closing whilst listening to my baby’s coughing from a bad cold whilst tasting that chocolate I ate that yet again broke my diet -whilst probably experiencing postpartum hormones…

I broke.

Life was too much.

Blogging and all it entails was too much.

I wrote my last epistle, forever, and logged off. After a day of consideration, I logged on and added a note so as not to scare anyone.

A side effect of all this is a new desire for more privacy in my thoughts and feelings, so I will not go into many details besides these few. Even this much information is more than I wish to explain regarding my sudden change and my dramatic withdrawal.

My go-to in life is to numb, but I’ve taken it too far. I’m in The Matrix. Furthermore, I’m Cypher, intentionally trying to get plugged in despite tasting the freedom of The Real World. In the absence of godlike powers of Kung Fu and Jiu Jitsu, I concluded that life will always be the repetitive lines of off-green code that dictate a pre-programmed outcome that I will never change.

But; some tiny, immature, insecure person is still inside. It was she who woke, stamped her foot, and told Older Me to knock it off. Stop numbing. Stop plugging into the internet. Start living.

She knows I want to feel again; to live again.

And so, there are going to be some changes around here. I must, for my health and my life, prioritize what is real. I must connect with my family. Heck -I must connect with my bedroom wall, getting my brain to realize the wall is really there and really cold and really really real.

If you are experiencing similar numbness or disassociation, call your therapist or psychologist or whateverist. It’s not sustainable. It’s not real. It’s NOT what you want.

…and we woke to earthquakes this morning. If it gets any more funtastic around here, you may not hear from me till next year.
—————-

Since I checked out last week, here are the past two weeks. Bonus!
Wednesday, March 4: Complained about WordPress’ issues in “Dammit, WordPress!

Thursday, March 5: Throwback Thursday: “Motivation.”

Friday, March 6: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to EVERYONE!

Saturday, March 7: Announced the 62nd Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.

Sunday, March 8: Suffered a mental breakdown, and said, “Goodbye.”

Monday, March 9: An inspirational quote by Corrie Ten Boom.

March 10 – 12: Nothing.

Friday, March 13: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Ellen!

Saturday, March 14: Announced the 63rd Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is a limerick about hoarding during a catastrophe. PLEASE ENTER!

Also, I shared and featured my hope for how people are dealing with the COVID-19 scare.

Sunday, March 15: Nothing.

Monday, March 16: An inspirational quote by Terry Pratchett.

Tuesday, March 17: “Going Postal, I,” the first in a short series inspired by my postman.

Wednesday, March 18: Today.

I also posted on my motherhood site. I wrote “Super Parent or …Me?,” “Background Noises,” and “Oh, Baby.”

 

Photo Credit: GIPHY
Photo by Ekaterina Kartushina on Unsplash
Photo by Delaney Dawson on Unsplash
Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash
Photo by Roland Hechanova on Unsplash

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

A Confusing Session

“Storm windows.”

“Sorry; what?”

“That’s it. That’s what I live behind!”

Matt Burdsall, PhD, moved from his leaning-forward mirrored-glasses scrutinization into a leaning-back mirrored-glasses scrutinization.

“Your glasses made me think of it.”

Dr. Burdsall attempted to keep his expression neutral. This new patient, Holly Runner, was a curious one. First, she’d explained Social Anxiety as, “Party Aversion,” then she’d said her Passive-Aggressive mother had, “Tangled Trauma.” He’d needed his daughter to explain that Tangled was a film…

Now storm windows. *Ahem* “How so?”

“Well!” Holly sounded excited. “Whenever bad things -storms- come up, I block them! Ta-da! Storm windows!”

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Written for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt, (you guessed it) storm windows.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wil Wheaton Gets Reals About Depression

A friend shared something useful to TwoFacebook: an article in Medium written by Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek fame).

Two of my favorite passages are:

“At that moment, I realized that I had lived my life in a room that was so loud, all I could do every day was deal with how loud it was. But with the help of my wife, my doctor, and medical science, I found a doorway out of that room.”

and

“One of the many delightful things about having Depression and Anxiety is occasionally and unexpectedly feeling like the whole goddamn world is a heavy lead blanket, like that thing they put on your chest at the dentist when you get x-rays, and it’s been dropped around your entire existence without your consent.

“Physically, it weighs heavier on me in some places than it does in others. I feel it tugging at the corners of my eyes, and pressing down on the center of my chest. When it’s really bad, it can feel like one of those dreams where you try to move, but every step and every motion feels like you’re struggling to move through something heavy and viscous. Emotionally, it covers me completely, separating me from my motivation, my focus, and everything that brings me joy in my life.

“When it drops that lead apron over us, we have to remind ourselves that one of the things Depression does, to keep itself strong and in charge, is tell us lies, like: I am the worst at everything. Nobody really likes me. I don’t deserve to be happy. This will never end. And so on and so on. We can know, in our rational minds, that this is a giant bunch of bullshit (and we can look at all these times in our lives when were WERE good at a thing, when we genuinely felt happy, when we felt awful but got through it, etc.) but in the moment, it can be a serious challenge to wait for Depression to lift the roadblock that’s keeping us from moving those facts from our rational mind to our emotional selves.

“And that’s the thing about Depression: we can’t force it to go away. As I’ve said, if I could just ‘stop feeling sad’ I WOULD. (And, also, Depression isn’t just feeling sad, right? It’s a lot of things together than can manifest themselves into something that is most easily simplified into ‘I feel sad.’)”

Go and read the full article, though. It is fantastic.

I Met Depression… and I Won

From the beautiful, authentic Heather Dawn:

A few years ago I was diagnosed with depression.

There are many reasons for falling into depression: Trama. Rejection. Bullying. Death or loss. Harmful world views. Stress. A life-altering event. Hormones. Lack of nutrition or sleep… and the list goes on.

Healing for each soul is a very individual path. So as I share my story of hope, that is all I want you to take from it.

There is hope.

Today I am alive. Joyful. Healed. Whole. And maybe what healed me can help you. But maybe you need to take a different path. That’s OK too.

I’m sharing to bring hope, not to say I have the answers.

In February 2014, I had my fifth child… a son. It was very, very difficult for me to face this addition to my family. Though I loved him more than words can describe, I was exhausted with the other children…

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Depression and Donuts (and an Elephant)

This morning, I sat in my car and ate a donut. I named it my 59 cent therapy. I forgave the tax.

I’d successfully taken the children to school -half an hour after the bell, and not counting The Child Who is Sick Every Day Ending in “Y.”

They were late because I was late. I was late because I woke up at my usual 5:30 too-early-to-do-stuff-and-too-late-to-sleep, but mostly exactly-when-the-baby-is-putting-too-much-pressure-on-my-bladder. After which, of course, I saw no point or purpose to life.

Some have expressed surprise that I am so candid about Depression. Why not be candid? You talk about your job, your kids, your hobbies -basically, your life. Depression is my life. It’s the cubicle I sit at, getting very little done because the computer rarely functions and the overhead lights have needed replacing for years.

Every day I either numb from it or succumb from it.

And I talk about it. Though not in person.

“How are you today, Chelsea?”

“Fine.”

I don’t earn an income, keep up on housework, raise the children without sarcasm, return library books before they’re due, or stay on top of budgeting or meal-planning. I’m fine, while some part that cares is yelling, “Everything is wrong, wrong, wrong.”

And that is why I’m honest about Depression: because the elephant’s in the room and I still haven’t figured out why I put it there or how I can get it out.

At least not for less than 59 cents.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe not. I’m told not everyone raises elephants. In that case, what animal won’t leave you alone?

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—————-

I wrote other stuff. Here it is:
Wednesday, October 23: Wrote “Parenting: The Fine Line.”

Thursday, October 24: Did a throwback to a post I wrote on JES’ site, “The Pit of My Mind.”

Friday, October 25: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Gary!

Saturday, October 26: Announced the 49th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is something SCARY. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, October 27: Shared “To My Guilty Pleasure,” a love letter to my charbroiled combo meal.

Monday, October 28: An inspirational quote by Someone.

Tuesday, October 29: “Since the Bombs Fell: Two,” the second in my dystopian, post-nuclear series.

Wednesday, October 30: Today.

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Throwback Thursday: The Pit of My Mind

Originally posted at The Bipolar Writer Collaborative Mental Health Blog in April of 2018. If you think it’s depressive; yes, it is.

A spotlight coming from a hole in a dark underground cave in Minorca

“Chelsea? Chelsea?” I don’t look up.

Wendy the counselor waits; I assume she waits patiently. She’s going to have to wait for a while, if she thinks waiting will get a response from me. I may be as mentally distant from her, the room, and life as possible; but, I smugly acknowledge, I still have my stubbornness.

“Chelsea?” She tries again, though not pleading or cajoling. The woman is too good at her job. Her paid job. The one I’m paying her to do. “I can come in there after you, if you need me to, but I want you to find a way out on your own.”

Fat. Chance.

I’m ugly. No one actually cares about me, least of all her. I’m paying her; she’s a paid friend. She doesn’t want to to see my face; my red, splotchy, tear-stained face, with stringy, greasy hair and imperfect, crooked teeth…

“Whatever you’re telling yourself right now is not true.” I hear, from a distance. “You need to stop listening to that voice, and meet each untruth with the more positive truth.”

Whatever. I’ve heard aphorisms before. know that my “voice” is the truth: the UGLY truth, yes; but the HONEST one. No one really cares. No one really cares. No one. People standing outside my pit, calling to me, don’t really want to be there. And, they are ignorant twits.

Whenever someone leans over the edge of The Pit I wait. “You don’t actually care!” I yell, from somewhere near the bottom, out of sight of any penetrating light. Occasionally, they take the bait; they lean closer. Grabbing them like a mud-pit crocodile, I drag them down with me to their doom.

“Wha-?” They manage, before getting a faceful of mud, moss, roots, overplayed apps, and wrappers from an entire package of Fun Size Snickers.

Believe me, that size of chocolates was not as “fun” as they said.

Soon enough, I have amassed a small pile of hapless prey. Almost all of them are not strangers; they’re me: Optimistic Me, Tried That Day Me, Motivated Me, lots of Medicated Me’s, Broke the Habit Me, and even Did Something Worthwhile Me. They’re not as big or strong as Me in The Pit, of course, which is why they’re lying, broken, at the bottom.

Balancing carefully, I decide to climb atop the living pile of bodies. They moan slightly, too down-trodden and depressed to fight back.

Knowing me, I’d probably kick them if they did fight. It’s easier to kick another down than help myself up.

Slowly, precariously, my head reaches sunlight. I climb higher, ignoring the complaints below. Helpful Me, the poor sucker, proffers a handy boost with her unbroken leg. Soon I see the top of the hole; I’m looking at ground level.

“Wow,” I breathe.

A slight, sweet-tasting breeze tickles my exposed face. A completely careless birdsong whistles down from a nearby tree. I see light, clear skies, beautiful landscapes. I can almost touch rough twigs and mossy ground. Almost.

A low shot of green underbrush in a forest under a bright sun

It’s not real, someone I know, inside, tells me.

“Come out,” my counselor requests. Still waiting. Perhaps she’s eyeing Medicated Me, just beneath a dirty sneaker, when she adds, “Medication is never meant to be taken on its own. Studies are clear that any treatment must include therapy.”

The breeze tastes of rain, as well. Storms will come, maybe soon. That whistling bird is a sitting duck for a hawk or fox, singing so anything can hear it. The impending storms will mar the sky -look! See? A cloud is already blocking the sun. The twigs and moss are not actually there. I’m sure they’re just fake craft-store props.

It’s too much.

I climb or stumble or intentionally fall back to the dark comforts beneath me. We all roll or crawl or drag ourselves to muddy positions as I select the easiest numbing solution nearby.

“Don’t do this,” I think I hear, from far away. Wendysomething?

You didn’t, Depressed Me says.

“Let’s play Fallout,” Addicted to Apps Me suggests. A few others perk up a bit in agreement. I acquiesce, and we all wait for it to load. We really ought to fix the WiFi in The Pit, but Motivated Me is still recovering from a concussion.

“Can I have a Snickers?” Pig Me asks. I hand her the bag. Thank goodness for home delivery, otherwise we might starve.

 

Photo Credits:
unsplash-logoJez Timms
unsplash-logoDeva Darshan
unsplash-logoIan Chen
unsplash-logoJanus Clemmensen

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

A Tribute to Stephen Black of Fractured Faith Blog

Tonight I visit Stephen Black’s blog, Fractured Faith. As I wrote in my review of his bookThe Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square, I’ve known Mr. Black for a long time. We’re like those college students whose friends were friends, and found ourselves drawn to the same awkward punch bowl at those friends’ parties.

Stephen’s blog deals mostly with life issues and his observations and encouragements in dealing with them. He also promotes his book, has hosted some writing prompts, written rap-reminiscent poetry, and occasionally talks about marathons and running.

In tribute to an old friend, I give you my attempt to mimic a typical Stephen Black blog post:

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Has Life Ever Surprised You?

This morning en route to another working day, I was surprised to see into the back garden of a house I passed. I could see into their garden because the fence and tool shed were smashed in, done for. Debris from fence and shed, scattered tools, and the churned earth bore testament to what caused the damage, but whatever vehicle had done it was long gone.

I imagined the owners of the house coming out to the same scene as me. What if they only discovered their back part in pieces that morning? Would they feel the shock and surprise I did? How would they react to this unwelcome discovery?

Sometimes in my life I’ve felt like those owners, an unwitting party to unexpected disaster. I’ve written about some. My father’s death, for example. Failing to make the time I wished for on a run. Rejection e-mails or no response to my book queries.

At those times I did not react as would be best. I stood in shock at the damage. I turned to bad habits. I turned away from my wonderful, supportive family and toward shallow friends and the world’s attention. I gave up, and even granted power to the demons of OCD to tell me how wrong I was to try. I stood in the car tyre ruts in my back garden and despaired of any positive outcome.

But the old me is someone I don’t have to be anymore. I am not he. I can look over the scattered debris of my life and choose to act, instead. I don’t need to cry over broken wood and tools when I know I can pick up the pieces and move on.

Maybe cleanup will take time. I might need assistance from loved ones. I may need to seek professional help to repair the damage, to build a new fence and shed. It might take time or a few pints of honeycomb ice cream, but I won’t be alone to solve it.

We are masters of our lives, even when we do not feel like it. We may not be able to control whether something drives through our lives and leaves us in shock, but we can control our reactions. We can control what we do next. I know we can.

Have you ever had an unexpected event take you by surprise?

What did you do to recover and rebuild your life?

——

If you enjoyed my wee tribute, head over to Stephen’s blog and drop him a ‘Follow.’ The poor guy’s only got about 11,000 followers.

 

Photo Credit: Image by Thomas Schink from Pixabay
©2019 Chelsea Owens

“We need to acknowledge that the existential dread, the exhaustion, the tears, the sadness, the insomnia – and so many other pleasant things – are symptoms. Do all those things you enjoy, think long and hard about your life and find ways to make it better, stay in bed if you want to, take that long bath you’ve been dreaming of for months on end, pick up a hobby and everything, ease the symptoms, but along with all those things, please try to understand the underlying causes behind them.

“Are there external causes? Have you always had those symptoms? What triggers them?

“Otherwise, those thoughts will come back. They will grow stronger, and they will force you to realize there is something wrong. They will twist your mind, make you believe things which are not true, lead you to despair and sometimes, to the wrong way out.”

Kira Writes, “Existential crisis

When the Shadow of Me Returns

Last night my Other Me reappeared, the one of shadows. For, truly, that is where she always stands, lurking: the shadows of thoughts, the shadows of feelings, the shadows of anything I see or do.

It is she who colors a happy idea with doubt.

She deepens the uncertain edges of a frown in every smile.

The fear of possible failure to proposed activities? Also her.

I hadn’t seen her in a while; thought her to be gone. How little I knew. How I forgot. She does not ever go away, especially when I choose to ignore her instead of keep working to repel her. Especially, when I want her.

Last night I felt her; nearer and nearer. And, like a fool, I let her come. I asked her to grow, expand, envelop, then smother. Anything, I thought, is better than what I feel.

Because the Shadow of Me does not feel.

As I settled beneath the apathy and self-pity that I invited in, I twitched a bit in discomfort. Some part of me recognized the old, unhealthy patterns. Something deep within, in a timid voice, whispered, “I don’t think we want this.”

“Do we?”

Yet, not until this morning did I notice the source of the rain. Standing –no- languishing morosely in depthless puddles I blamed anyone but her; anyone but me for bringing her. Like a fool; I cursed the weatherman, the water, the sky, the mud. I failed to name the shadowed storm. It is Depression. And it is not what I needed.

Because, as familiar as Depression is, it is not a good solution.

As easy a solution as Depression appears, its fallout is more difficult to clean up than actual resolution.

But who wants to stand and face her troubles when Depression promises otherwise? I can tell you: not me. No, I chose fear. I chose to see My Shadow’s effects: small rocks on the trail ahead made to look like looming boulders; a few grumpy observations from my companion augmented to devastating predictions against success.

So I turned back.

Rappelled to our base camp of years ago.

And sat outside the tent, in the rain.

I’m still there, you see, but have shifted a bit. My seat felt somewhat wet so I moved to a less-muddy patch. Still depressed. It’s a new day, though; I can see the pervasive grayness is a lighter shade.

And, no, I’m not ready to climb again. ‘Tis a daunting thought.

I think I’ll start with an umbrella. From there, I just might gain the perspective I need to change into dry clothes and eat some rations. We’ll see.

Artist’s Statement ….Part Two

Most people write or draw or craft a billion things. Some of those glitter a bit. Some of them are promising enough to catch attention; make a little money or popularity.

And some of what we do is downright amazing enough that it explodes.

Such was my reaction to this work by The Pale Rook, one that I credit with planting the first seeds of confidence I needed to start showing the world my creativity as well.

Enjoy.

The Pale Rook

The Pale Rook

So remember that thing I applied for?

My application was successful.  I was selected to take part in a project at Scotland’s Craft Town,  the wonderful West Kilbride.   I’ve been a massive fan of the Craft Town since I first found out about it a few years ago, so I’m massively chuffed to be a part of it.  The project I’m involved in takes selected craft makers based in Scotland, at various stages of their careers and gives them specialist business mentoring and studio space for six months.   For the first time in over a decade I am being mentored rather than mentoring others, which has been quite a shock to the system.

The first meeting of the participants, organisers and business mentors involved an exercise where we had to think of things that limited our business or things that we were worried about and then we had to…

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