Singing the Blues

I don’t often remember my dreams. Not too long ago I read something to the effect that you have to wake up at the right point in the sleep cycle in order to remember what you dreamed, so I must usually wake up too soon or too late or something. However, the other night I had a terrible dream. The details are really fuzzy, but for some reason we had to give Dexter up, or he got hit by a car or something equally heartbreaking. For some reason beyond our control, he was no longer the coolest, furriest member of our household (then it would be a tie, haha). I woke up feeling soooo saaaaad. Like, could have cried a little bit if I wanted to. I realized that I hadn’t felt that sad in quite a long time, for a reason encountered either in real life or in a dream.

After the miscarriage in 2006, I was depressed. Seemed like a reasonable reaction to me. I remember remarking to a good friend that I didn’t feel like doing anything at all other than laying on the couch with my head in Mike’s lap and staring at the television, occasionally sitting up to consume either chocolate or other junk food or alcohol. I figured it was okay to do that for a while rather than try to keep up a facade of denial, but I ended up staying in that frame of mind for way longer than necessary, probably at least a year, maybe two. I was semi-functional, going to work and doing whatever else I absolutely had to do, but not much else. At first, the sadness and anxiety were near crippling. I remember one chilly day when we still lived in Springfield, Mike had gone to run errands or hang out with a buddy or something, and I just couldn’t be in that house by myself anymore. So I went for a walk, pacing as though something or someone was chasing me. I couldn’t get away from it. I just wanted the panicky feeling to stop. There was nothing to panic about, yet I felt like my heart was trying to escape from my chest and I could throw up if I only concentrated on the physical sensations rather than the emotions and irrational thoughts for too long.

Eventually feeling like that daily subsided into total numbness. Funny things didn’t make me laugh. Something hilarious would maybe get me to crack a lopsided smirk. Sad things couldn’t make me cry, even though I’d always been one to have watery eyes at a sweet song or a cheesy commercial. I’d cry only in frustration, either at my job (though only once actually at work – how embarrassing) or how hopeless everything seemed to me. From all the pregnancy/baby loss and infertility blogs I’ve read, I had put myself in a somewhat rare situation. We hadn’t really been trying to begin with, and there was no point in trying again anytime soon because we were just shy of broke and I was obviously in too poor a mental state to even consider such a thing. It’s not that I wanted to try again soon, just that having no idea at all how many months or years I would be limited to remembering that experience as my first and last…it killed me. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. Even that is a poor metaphor. I couldn’t even orient myself well enough to realize that I was in a tunnel, that theoretically the tunnel must have an opening at the end into which light had to shine eventually, whether or not I could see or even imagine that light right then.

Even when we bought our first house, I knew I was not summoning the proper amount of enthusiasm. I had tried a few natural-ish type remedies, taking fish oil capsules at night and some basic self-care and pampering. I started getting a facial once a month for a while. My skin was showing every stress and worry; the acne was out of control. As if I needed one more reason to not want to look at myself in the mirror. But I never went so far as to see a doctor and ask for anti-depressants. My OB/GYN had offered it on one follow-up visit in which I was visibly upset. They had put me in the same exam room in which I’d had the pointless ultrasound, and sitting there staring at the same herpes poster tossed me over the edge. She’d brought her newborn into the outer-office and I could hear him or her crying….so was I.

Ironically, I now have a filled but unused prescription for Wellbutrin/Zyban, just waiting for me to set a quit date. It expires next month, so I need to hop-to, but I am confused as to how taking an anti-depressant when I’m actually pretty freaking happy is going to work. I have no idea if I’m anywhere near bipolar, and it’s certainly nothing to hope for, but I do think I had a couple of mania-ish episodes intermixed in those years as well. Nothing too productive, like cleaning all night instead of sleeping, and nothing too dangerous like compulsive shopping, but a couple of times I did latch onto some rather grandiose ideas and have a hard time letting go or admitting how grandiose and improbable the imagined scenarios were.

Ahem. I’m realizing that conclusions are definitely a weakness for me when it comes to writing. I’m not depressed anymore, and I’m really happy about that. I’m lucky that I came out of it without medication and without permanent damage to my relationships and friendships. I hope that if it ever visits me again I won’t be too proud to ask for help. Having read accounts by Heather at dooce and by Schmutzie and many others who have struggled and who are still struggling, I’m so grateful that other writers are brave enough to put it all out there, because a support system, even an online one, is undeniably important to realizing that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve purposely not linked back to old entries that I wrote during that time period, as I don’t even want to reread them myself, let alone encourage anyone else to do so. If I did, I think I’d be really tempted to delete an awful lot of stuff that I wrote, and I don’t want to do that. This here narrative? It’s still being written.


15 thoughts on “Singing the Blues

  1. Bazarov says:

    Looks like I submitted the wrong one to FiveStarFriday. I can’t say I can relate, but as far as the dreams go, some of them can mind fuck a day or week. Weird. Usually, though, when I have a real sad one, or scary one, waking up is so invigorating and reassuring, because it’s then that you realize it was just a dream, and in your case, you can hug the doggie until it’s squirmin to get away. Staying on the topic of dreams, because that’s all I can relate to, the ones I find most disturbing are the ones I can’t remember but notice the effect of. It’s as if I wake up while I was having a conversation with myself, but the waking/conscious part of me isn’t cool enough to hear it, and the other parts of my mind zip their lips when they see me wake up. It’s at times like those that I truly question my sanity.

  2. There’s always next week! I’m up for submitting your Prologue, too, but if you’d rather wait on a pithier part that’s cool, too.Wow, I think you’re way more in-tune with your sub/unconscious mind than I’d ever even want to be. The only dreams I usually remember are anxiety dreams….seriously, at what point will I stop dreaming about cheerleading tryouts? IT’S OVER WITH, BRAIN, LET IT GO ALREADY! Hahaa.

  3. Bazarov says:

    HA! Cheerleading try out anxiety dreams? What were the fears there? Rippin a fart during a routine? Clothing malfunction? Slipping? I actually remember some dreams from when I was five or six rather fondly…I know I’ve gone over this before, but why do the nightmares return as soon as you fall back asleep but the succubi numbering nine never do, never do?

  4. suntzusays says:

    I probably remember at least one dream per morning. I think I sleep too lightly, or whatever it is that causes this. And they are not usually pleasant. I also don’t bother recording or recalling them for the benefit of others. They’re often too close to reality but make not enough sense to bother. They almost never bother me emotionally as much as they might or should, no matter how “terrifying” the imagery or how depressing the subject. And they’re very, very, very rarely “good”. I can however relate to Baz’s sense of affectation, but I can usually place some of the sensation directly if not the details that caused it (my memory is just too good not to recall at least the gist I received from a dream if not the events). Occasionally I have some sense of a flash of clarity on some esoteric topic as a result as well. As far as depression, I have bipolar running in my family. That tends to take a cocktail of drugs to control, if at all. Or one can fuel creative writing spells and troughs with it. I don’t personally have such a problem with it that it provides enough motivation to actually do things, but it does occasionally seem like an impediment toward doing things. If it’s there in my case (I don’t bother going to doctors and don’t care if I have a medical psychological condition or not). I can definitely relate to the feeling of being detached from everything, if not the immediate cause. I go most days without feeling much of anything, certainly not with any acute sense of emotion. I used to be much more demonstrative emotionally, particularly as it regards anger, possibly laughter as well. I also wasn’t as secretive or isolated with my opinions and likes as I have managed to be now (or rather, I guess I actually possessed likes and strong opinions as opposed to now). This had all sorts of unusual social implications at the time, simply because I was sort of a social misfit and couldn’t figure out what I was “supposed” to behave like and settled on chaotic genius lazy psycho outcast, or some such collection of words. I guess one could call the present status an improvement.

  5. Regarding the cheerleading tryouts, I don’t think it was as much anxiety over doing something embarrassing as much as mourning the friendships I forfeited when I quit that Mean-Girls scene. Seems to recur when I’m anxious about losing something, anything else. I used to have one recurring dream when I was a kid…so hard to describe, but it was somehow like a choice I had to make between these two wildly different environs. One was outdoors, sweet-smelling air, green grass, blue sky, pretty flowers, etc. versus this loud, dark and creepy, indoor industrial scene. There were no people in either place; I don’t know if I was actually in either place in the dream, even, or if I was somehow observing from a third location? Supremely weird, but I’d have it almost every time I napped. Still gives me the willies.

  6. I’ve often thought of trying to put a notebook on the nightstand and do the dream-journaling thing, or even try to catch those brilliant thoughts that you have right before you fall out. At least you still have stuff to say, suntzu. That was the thing that I hated most about being depressed. I had nothing to say to anyone about anything…I just totally didn’t care, it didn’t seem worth the effort to formulate an opinion on anything. Maybe it was the election that finally snapped me out of it! Sarah Palin did me some good after all, haha!

  7. JB says:

    just to clarify on the cheerleading comment.. not all of us were part of that mean girl scene.. tho i do remember a select few…again another good blog.. been depressed, did the anti depressant thing.. turns out it was mostly the company i was keeping.. stupid emotionally damaging people..

  8. You’re totally right – only maybe a third were really Mean Girls, and I was definitely part of the problem at some times. Live and learn!

  9. And where were my manners yesterday – thank you for reading and commenting! Yeah, emotionally damaging people are stupid, and unfortunately a dime a dozen ;-).

  10. I thought your conclusion was perfect.

  11. LoLa says:

    I’m with Amelia. BTW, I quit last year after many attempts, many different ways…I finally went on yoga retreat…yoga twice a day, to start the day and then again late in he afternoon or early evening. So that was last June…still quit and don’t want one, but I like the snacks. I will have to tackle that next.

  12. I just took a freebie yoga class a couple weeks ago! It was excellent…I need to save up some cigarette money to pay for the classes that aren’t free! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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