Tag Archives: depression

Coming out of the fog

Since finally being unemployed, a few things have cropped up, and mostly they are things in my head. I have referenced a couple of times that I’ve been dealing with major anxiety, which sort of snuck up on me and took over for no reason that made sense to my logical brain. The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a struggle; it’s been hard when it gets dark out, it’s been hard when the TV is on and when it’s off, it’s been hard when my wife kisses me or if she doesn’t kiss me.

Luckily, I have a kick-ass relationship with my awesome therapist, and she knows me well; she hooked me up with a doctor who could prescribe things that might make me feel better, and after exactly 18 days of nearly paralyzing anxiety, I am finally starting to feel clear-headed.

looking towards clearer, happier days

This is something that’s sort of tough to write about, but also really, really important to read about. I find strength every single day from reading Karen’s blog, Uncomfortably Honest and Honestly Uncomfortable: she is such a cool person and if she lived closer I would want to be friends with her, but also she deals with all this crap stuff all the time and talks about it in such a normal way.  Plus!  Heather Armstrong of Dooce routinely references the tough mental stuff she’s gone through – and all of this, I think reaches people who realize that it’s really okay to ask for help.

Again: It’s okay to ask for help.

So if posting has been a bit less entertaining than usual, it’s because real life has been a bit more challenging than usual.  But it really is getting better.  And along those lines, I want to thank Karen, for helping me realize that there is hope and that I am not the only person in the world who is dealing with this; I want to thank Ellen for sharing her experiences with anxiety, and how they’re over (i.e. There’s hope! There is an Other Side!); and I want to thank my wonderful wife.

Turtle and I have been married for four months today, and the last four months have been wonderful and challenging.  For the last 18 days, I have been needing her support more than maybe I ever have before, and you know what?  She’s there.  She’s checking in with me, checking on my meds, making sure I don’t get into bed with all my clothes still on.  She’s stretching her own limits and she is doing a damn good job.

best wife, on a better day

When we say “in sickness and in health” (which, actually, I am not sure we did say), I picture someone in a hospital bed, or vomiting over the toilet, or needing a ride to a doctor’s appointment.  I don’t picture the mental health aspect of it, but that’s it, too, you guys.  In sickness and in health is checking in, saying, “How are you feeling today?” and just asking about moods and emotions.  Funny, the things that we promise that we only learn the meaning of later.

And this, four months in.

So, to my readers: thanks for sticking it out, despite the foggy posts.  Knowing you’re out there makes it worth all the trying.

And to my wife, as I said yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that: Thank you, in all the ways.

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On not scrapping this whole thing and running away: a guest post

Well, folks, the past few days have been full of utter wedding crap. No way to say it better, excepting to maybe call it stupid f*cking bridal b*llshit. Because that’s how awesome it’s been.  These few days have made me consider scrapping the whole dress-big pretty place- good food-band thing and heading to town hall in comfortable clothes.  The thing is, though, we sent out invitations, and people want to come.  And they even drew the prettiest little pictures on the backs of their RSVP cards. So at this point, scrapping the whole thing is sort of out.


But really, hasn’t it been sort of out this whole time? I mean, the whole point is that we want our people there, that the making of our family is the coming together of two families, of two communities of friends, and – as it says on our invitation – because specific people’s love, guidance, and friendship have been important to us in our individual lives, we would like for them to join us in celebrating and affirming our life as a couple.  That’s the whole point of our wedding – not our marriage, but yes, it really is why we’re having this wedding.

All of that said, we are asking a lot from our guests, as I mentioned here.  And that brings me to the guest post of today, from Turtle best friend, who did, in fact, make me cry last night. Take it away.

When the Chips were Down, I Failed. We all did.

Hello, devoted blog readers. First off, this is not Bird. If this blog actually posts, however, it will be because Bird was kind enough to post it for me even though I made her cry last night. Yes, I made my best friend’s fiancee cry, and before you chastise, rest assured I feel awful enough all on my own. When Turtle told me she was getting married all those months ago, it was just shy of two years since my own marriage had ended—and not by my choice. I was, and still am, heartbroken. So even though I tried to put my big girl pants on and be supportive, it seems I have failed miserably.

Still, something came of all this yuckiness tonight. I realized something that I hadn’t until now, and that maybe I never would have if Bird’s tears hadn’t broken through my hard shell of cynicism and resentment. And what I realized is this: This wedding is unlike any other wedding you will ever be invited to, and that, all you fellow attendees-to-be, is not just a good thing, it’s a wonderful thing.

Yes, perhaps Bird and my BFF seem to be asking a lot, but take a step back and ask yourself when was the last time another friend or family member ever wanted you to be so involved in planning one of the most important days of their lives? For most of us, weddings are just an invitation in the mail, maybe a nice dress or a tie, an impersonal gift left on a table, and, if we’re lucky, an open bar. Heck, the last wedding I went to I didn’t even get a chance to say two words to the bride. So here are these two amazing people, loving all of us so much and so uniquely that they want to involve us in every beautiful step of the planning and celebration (not to mention the actual ceremony) and what do we do? We gripe that they’re asking too much.

Okay sure, it may seem like a few too many parties, but so what? Where’s the rule that says you can only have one? Or two? And who says it was all their idea? I’m guessing if someone had said to me, “I want to throw you a bridal shower” I would have been totally thrilled! And if my best friend wanted to throw me a bachelorette party too, well hey, bring it on! My point is, fellow gripers, that these are not two selfish people making selfish decisions. These are two of the most selfless people I have ever known doing the best they can to make all of us feel loved and appreciated in honor of their special day. Um, I don’t know about you, but I think that’s kind of awesome, and I feel like a total ass for not realizing this sooner. But hey, I’m bitter and heartbroken—what’s your excuse?

So here’s my advice, for what it’s worth: Make a damn quilt square. Bake a friggin’ pie. Color a picture or take two extra seconds to write a note on the back of your response card. And however and whenever you can, be there. That’s all they’re asking, and to me it seems like a really small price to pay for two of the most loving, give-with-all-their-hearts people I have ever met. And whom I will be proud to stand next to on that Saturday morning in September and be a part of the beginning of their future.

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Can’t Sleep, Wedding Will Eat Me

I don’t know how to turn off my brain.

Guys, I’ve never had a problem sleeping, like, ever.  If I’m at a big, loud party and it’s way past my bedtime, I am very capable of finding a corner and sleeping quite well right there. I can sleep in cars, planes, tents, and on a nice blanket tossed outside.  Or at least I have been until now.

Usually when it’s time for bed, my head hits the pillow and I’m out, and I wake up five minutes before my alarm goes off.  No problem! But the last few nights I’m tossing and turning for half an hour and then waking up half an hour before my alarm, and fine, that’s an hour less sleep, deal with it – except now I’m also waking up in the middle of the night.  And I have no idea how to make this all stop.

Last night we went to the wine store that is providing the champagne for our wedding, and she gave me a few bottles to try at home.  I decided that having a nice dinner with my family over was the perfect opportunity to try them out; Turtle wanted to wait until we had her mom here or at least one of her friends, or just have it be the two of us.

I completely fell apart.  Full-out, racking sobbing over trying bottles of champagne later.  And once I finally was able to talk, I blubbered, “I don’t want to add another thing to our to-do list!” Commence sobbing.

Yesterday someone asked me how the wedding planning is going, and isn’t it almost all done by now? Hah.  We have 36 days to go and over 60 things on our to-do list.  And I guess I know that it will all happen, all the important things will fall into place, but we are running out of time and apparently I am freaking out.  I don’t know how to stop freaking out.

Two days ago I got up at 5:30 and paid all our bills.  I feel like a crazy person.  Then I emailed everyone who had emailed me wedding related stuff – yes, I want the hair flower in these colors, please; and we’re still on for the music, right?; and when can we meet to review the ceremony? and where is our rehearsal dinner?! – and after I finished that, I felt only more panicked.

Is anyone else experiencing this?  I thought this only happened to other people, maybe people on stupid bridal television shows, maybe people who aren’t working hard enough.  But when it’s not wedding-related, I’m waking up in a panic that I forgot to do a petsitting job (this has never, ever happened) or that I messed up my work schedule.  Do I need more exercise? Do I need a lobotomy?  Should we cancel this whole wedding thing and just go to town hall? Someone, please fix me, I just can’t keep “functioning” like this for another 36 days.

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The Box

Warning: This post contains potentially-R-rated material, and refers to Sexytime.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I used to work at a rape crisis center.  I was visiting my former coworkers recently and commented on the blog the organization has started posting: occasionally it’s interesting, but often it’s long and dry and can’t keep my attention, and I’m someone who is interested in reading it.  How can you get the attention of people who aren’t interested if you can’t even get consistent readers who are?

Their response?  “Well, Bird, why don’t you write a guest post?”

That was weeks ago, and I have been turning it over in my head since then.  Man, it is hard to write an engaging post about sexual assault.  I’ve even tried scrapping the “try to be engaging/interesting” aspect of it and tried thinking of something just basic to write.  And I’m having trouble with it.

Here’s my first dilemma: Who do I write as?  I’m a certified rape crisis counselor (or I was, a year ago), and I’ve done some medical advocacy (going to the hospital with survivors of sexual assault and staying with them through the rape kit process), some education/outreach, and a whole lot of phone-answering, talking to survivors and friends and family of survivors.  Hell, I even talked to a perpetrator at least once. Um, thanks for calling.  I’m not here to ease your conscience.

Besides that, I am a survivor.  I am a friend to survivors, and I have been a partner to survivors.  Where to start, guys?  Who do I write this as?  Especially when it’s a topic that isn’t really fun to think about?  (Side note: I started reading wedding blogs during my time at the RCC.  Weddings, when you’re in pre-planning mode = wayyyy more fun to think about than sexual assault.)

Well, here’s what I think: when I applied to write for WeddingBee, the basis of my application was that WeddingBee didn’t offer what I was looking for: someone crunchy, or someone in a same-sex relationship, or someone who had absolutely NO CLUE how to use a sewing machine.  And I thought that there was a gap that I could fill – I could represent people like me who were looking for people like me.  It makes me all warm and fuzzy that I have a bit of a fan base – small but loyal and friendly.

So I guess that’s where I’ll start here.  Maybe this will be the first post of several – please, please tell me (in the comments, or here) if you’re interested in hearing more about this.  Otherwise this will probably be the only post on this topic… because again, not the easiest to write, and not the most fun topic to read about.

One big gap I saw in my experiences with sexual assault was around leading a healthy sexual life afterward.  It’s something that I heard a lot of people ask about and that no one really seemed to have an answer for.  It was something I spent a lot of time looking into, searching for books and exercises, and it was something I couldn’t really find.  I found plenty of books that said, “You have have experienced XY and Z, and you may be feeling AB and C,” and I was like, “Yes, yes, I know that already, but what do I do now?!”  And these books had nothing to say beyond “These various feelings are normal, blah blah blah.”  Thanks, but I knew that already, and that is not helpful right now.

I did end up finding a couple of books that seemed helpful: they had a few exercises in them, aimed at being intimate and feeling safe.  I love the ideas of these books and mostly having them available relieved my need to actually use them.  Here are a couple of books:

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (also comes with a workbook! Fun! Also, don’t let the “Child” part dissuade you: regardless of your age/situation, it has some good exercises & tips)

The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse

I think that sometimes after assault, or after remembering assault (many/most survivors of childhood sexual assault are really amazingly good at dissociating and blocking the memories of their assault, which they tend to remember in their 20s, as it turns out), it can be hard to be intimate with someone and feel safe or be present.  For me, a lot of that was based on expectation: does my partner expect that we’ll have sex tonight?  Does my partner think that making out mean I definitely want to spend an hour having sex?  Does my partner think a kiss on the neck means I want to make out?  There were no parameters, and it did not feel sexy to say, “Do you think my kissing you just now means I want to have sex?”

So we invented The Box.

The Box, you guys, is kind of amazing.  Here’s what we did:

First, we sat down and made a list of intimate activities that we would both enjoy.  These activities ranged from sweet to sexy, and really ran the gamut.  Some of them are: wash the other person’s hair; kiss on the mouth for five minutes – no using your hands!; kiss the other person on their back for three minutes; give the other person a back massage; receive a back massage; take a shower together; cuddle naked for 10 minutes; share the best three parts of your week.

Second, we wrote these all on pretty little cards and put them in a pretty little box.

Third, we made rules: we each took a night to pick from the box, and we alternated nights.  If you picked something you didn’t like, you could pick something else. Then you had the option of picking between the two.  If you didn’t like either of those (for example, you’re already in bed and you don’t want to get up and take a shower), then you could pick a third card, but if you picked a third card then you had to do the third card.  Obviously, if you’re doing this then you can change the rules to whatever works for you.

Fourth: just do it.  The Box gave us parameters: if we were in the mood for something more, then something more could happen.  If we were not both in the mood for something more, we knew it would end, but could also enjoy the moment.

Hooray!  Plus, if you’re totally immature like my little brother, you can giggle over “box” whenever you talk about The Box.

I’m not really sure how to end this post in any creative way.  Are there things you guys are interested in reading about?  What would you want to read about if you read a blog by a rape crisis center?

Someone whose awesome blog I read regularly inspired me to finally sit down and write this, but so did the video I’m posting below, which I saw for the first time tonight.  I was feeling very skeptical and critical as I watched it, and then at the end I got chills.  I’m interested in thinking more about it, and hearing what you think.  Please be careful with your comments – which is not to say censor yourself *at all*, but know that there are survivors of sexual assault who read this.  Thank you.

*Note: I tried to only talk about myself and my experiences here.  Please note that I did not reference Turtle – please do not make assumptions about which friends or partners I am referencing.  If you found this triggering in any way, or would like to talk to someone who is not me (though I am totally happy to talk to you!), check out your local RCC, and feel free to call their hotlines.  Really, hotline workers are awesome, smart, and listen well.  Lastly, please tell me if you want more of this info/my thoughts/etc.  Sorry for the lack of pictures… nothing quite goes.

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Rock Bottom, and Coming Up for Air

Last night I dreamt that I was terribly, horribly depressed. I couldn’t quite pick up my head, and I was so embarrassed about letting myself get to this point that I refused to go to therapy. Luckily, my fiancee, awesome even in my dreams, made me go, and in my dream I just sat there, resting my head on the arm of the couch, feeling miserable… and yet, already feeling better, because I was working on it.

This isn’t too far off from my actual experiences, and it’s something I’ve talked about a little bit before.  As Angie points out,”We’re not just people planning weddings, we have so many other things going on (from the fun stuff like derby to the not so fun stuff like the feelings).”  Because this is so true, and because it took me so long to finally find and start seeing a therapist, I want to talk about it a little bit more.

Two things happened that made me start therapy:

1. I really, really felt that I needed to see someone; and
2. Two nice, normal, sane people mentioned that they had fantastic therapists.  And they mentioned it casually, off-hand… like, of course they have therapists! Of course they are fabulous!  And I remember a little hiccup in my mind, like, “Wait, what? You can do that? How can I do that?”

I should admit that I didn’t just one day up and go because suddenly it seemed normal and I was brave.  I had been thinking for awhile that I should see someone, that things probably weren’t quite right with my brain or my hormones or my memories, and that I had things to talk about with someone who knew something.  But there was no catalyst, nothing to make it really okay (to myself) for me to go, until I was working at the rape crisis center.

Oddly enough, I started reading wedding blogs right around the time I started therapy.  What? Happy things, people! Take what you can get!

I found the person I found on a friend’s recommendation, and I liked her from the start.  We talked about the things that came up at work for a good four months before we were able to move onto other things, life things, history things.  In November, I suddenly became incredibly depressed.  It lasted for a week or two, but it seemed much longer than that.  When I think back to it, everything in my memory seems dark, everything in shadows.  I remember riding my bicycle through a busy intersection and considering turning into an oncoming car.  Not a thought that I am proud of, in retrospect, but a thought that crossed my mind and speaks to the darkness of that brief period.

And because I had been seeing my therapist for months before that, she saw it.  She saw right away that I was not myself, and she drew connections that I had been incapable of seeing, and she told me to stop the birth control I had started a month or two earlier… and within days I things were light again.

The point of that story is that I set this whole thing up for one reason and it possibly saved my life when something unrelated came up.  Seriously, kids, therapy is awesome.

Here are my big therapy points (taken only from my personal experience):

1. It can help anyone, for any reason. If your reason is that you feel sad on Mondays, go. Talk about how Mondays make you sad.  That may morph into some professional insecurities, or concerns you have about your best friend, or wondering why you always end up wearing just one sock, underwear, and a sweatshirt every morning – your therapist can help you figure these things out.  It’s like magic.  It’s like going to the gym for your brain.
2. FIND SOMEONE YOU LIKE. I liked my therapist from the first visit, even though it took me a long time to get comfortable enough to talk about a lot of things.  I have no clue what I would have done if I didn’t like her and kept going.  Along these lines:
3. If you don’t like the person you find, that doesn’t mean therapy sucks. See #2.  Keep looking.  Ask friends for recommendations; ask friends to ask their therapists for recommendations.
4. In my experience, therapy won’t give you the answers. Really, I’ve asked.  I think I said, “Okay, so that’s what’s going on.  Now fix it. That’s your job, right?”  Um, my therapist laughed at me.  And then helped me to figure out how I could best handle the situation.  It’s not about getting someone to understand you, necessarily – I think it’s about getting someone who can help you understand yourself.

Going to therapy has helped when things are horrible: it helped when I couldn’t handle another conversation about rape, it helped when I couldn’t think of a single thing in my life that seemed good, it helped when my parents separated, it helps every single time I am frustrated with Turtle.  And the thing about it is that for me, it helps even when I’m not there.  Knowing that I can go, that it is an option, makes things a little bit easier.  When things are really hard, I know there is somewhere quiet and safe where I can go and sort them out.  It also takes a bit of the weight off of Turtle, and off of me, when we fight or when one of us is having a hard time; sometimes we say, “Well, here’s what I think, but I think you should talk to [therapist] about it, too.”  We both know we have another outlet, and if things get really hard with us, we’re both willing to go see either her or my personal together and figure things out.

So there you are, a long, possibly rambly, definitely personal post on what I think of therapy.  Please tell me your thoughts, your experiences, and ask your questions – I’m so curious about what other people think of all this.  Did I just start thinking it was normal and okay because I worked with a bunch of social workers and counselors?  Does it turn out that everyone secretly goes to therapy?  Please share.

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