Just Breathe…

I don’t know why I get depressed. Or at least, I don’t always know why I get depressed.

Sometimes it’s a reaction to something – like right now, I’ve recently been made redundant and it’s left me feeling very vulnerable and a bit lost, so perhaps it’s not too surprising I’m struggling a bit emotionally at the moment, up and down in mood, frustrated and fearful and tearful at the drop of a hat.

But at other times there’s no real rhyme nor reason to it, yet I start to feel the familiar tensions and anxieties that are the precursor to a full-blown depressive episode and so I try harder to force my everyday life activities to over-ride that restless black void hovering so close on the periphery of my vision.

Sometimes that avoidance strategy works, my mood starts to lift before I descend into the darkness and all is well, but at other times I realise with sadness I’m already there, being sucked down silently into the welcoming blackness in a well-oiled elevator with no emergency stop button.

Once I’m at the bottom, I stop fighting it and just throw in the towel. The panic subsides, a lost cause in a chasm of despair. Like being sucked into emotional quicksand I just keep emotionally still, force myself to relax as best I can, let it all flow under me and over me and all around me and envelop me.

I am surrounded in thick black fog and yet I can still breathe, so I just do that – I breathe. I keep calm and hold my heart safe and instinctively feel my way through, going about the barest minimum of everyday activities of life as best I can, until eventually the darkness recedes and the light returns and I find myself free again, until the next time…

JusJoJan/ SOCS: Throw in the Towel

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Reflection and Contemplation

This week’s Weekly Prompt asks if we find the stretch between New Year’s Day and Easter boring?

In general, even though I don’t personally like to participate in the harried extremes of it all I still find the social and cultural norms of the expected frenzied lead-up to Christmas and New Year far too chaotic and stressful for my liking, and usually I’m just quietly relieved when it all calms down again and life can return to normal. So as a rule I don’t find this time of year boring at all, instead I find it peaceful, something to look forward to. For me there’s always something comforting in being able to take our foot off the gas en masse and just idle along from one cultural calendar hot-spot to another.

In particular, though, I was made redundant from my part time retail job on 6th Jan this year, so rather than have everything return to normal I’m currently dealing with the imposed-upon change of being a full-time housewife again for a while. It may be a bit early in the year to think about spring-cleaning but for now I’m really enjoying clearing out cupboards and sorting out the cumulative detritus built up from last year. We also have some (more) major DIY projects to undertake in the house this year, so I’m getting into the swing of things with preparation and planning for that.

I’m making a point of being creative too – our new crochet blanket is coming along nicely. It’s probably going to be finished too late for making the most of it over this winter, but it will be perfectly in place in readiness for the next. It’s nice to be able to sit quietly on the sofa, warm under the weight of the blanket being made, without feeling guilty about the time spent ‘doing nothing’. I truly enjoy spending time at home, and I’ve been cooking some of the more time-consuming dishes it can be difficult to fit around working patterns, which is lovely to be able to do.

So all in all I don’t ever find this time of year boring – I find it a time of reflection, of contemplation, of emotional feeling and healing. A time to catch my breath, to hunker down and hide from the world legitimately, balancing out the busyness of the end of the last year, building up and banking my store of smiles for social interactions that will inevitably be spent during the following seasons’ outgoings… nope, definitely not boring at all 🙂

Stuff I Worry About

Today’s inbuilt WordPress Daily Prompt asks ‘What could you do less of?’

Ah, good question… The immediate answer for me is probably ‘Worry…’ because I have to admit I’m a bit of a worry-addict…

There is a part of me that tries not to worry so much. I try to logicalise and rationalise everything and remind myself that as so much of what happens in life is totally out of my control anyway, then why worry about it? The past cannot be changed, the future hasn’t happened yet, the present moment is all we have. We are where we are, what will be, will be… We have to do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are.

But there is another part of me that constantly contradicts that wisdom, the illogical, irrational part of me that fights against such zen-like flat calm. Surely if I just tried harder I could do better, make things better, feel less nothing-y? So I worry about feeling not good enough, and about feeling guilty for being not good enough, and I worry about whining about it and feeling pathetic and weak and nothing-y.

I worry about getting old and infirm, I worry about getting to the end of my life and regretting not having done the stuff I want to do while I still can. Not flights of fancy stuff, real possible stuff that is realistically within my grasp if I only find the courage to reach out and grab it. But I still worry too much about being judged and found lacking, and I worry that worry stops me from getting on with it all before it’s too late…

So I suppose I worry most about tying myself up in knots so tight I can’t get myself out of a worry-straight-jacket of my own creation, bound up in an emotional shroud of fear that pins me down so effectively I spend the last couple of decades of my life in a self-imposed mummified decay, watching the rest of the world go by without me… 😦

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: ‘dict’

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Question

Weekly Prompt: Flight

Boundaries

I have boundary issues, in that I find I’m not very good at setting normal interpersonal boundaries between myself and others.

I do understand how it’s supposed to work, and I do understand how and why I have these issues, but what’s not so clear to me is how to fix it fully, once and for all. I do my best, but what tends to happen is that when things get too much for me and I feel totally overwhelmed I find I put up solidly serious emotional barriers and simply withdraw from people, which sadly can feel a bit like rejection to those I love…

I’m hopeful I’ll eventually find a way to fix this issue so that I have a more positive sense of self with normal boundaries between myself and others, even if I do have to go back to therapy to find a solution… 🙂

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Boundary

Oblivion…

I hold tight on this flawed fairground ride
In a maelstrom-bound fast-rising tide
Fear just won’t go away
Gains more power each day
Keeps me taut as a wire inside

How much pressure-warped time must elapse
Before internal tension just snaps
Things spin out of control
Panic drowns out my soul
And my hold on life starts to collapse

Without warning I feel myself fall
Lose my balance with sickening pall
Like some nightmarish dream
Things are not what they seem
My reality nothing at all…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Warning

Word of the Day: Elapse

Why?

Why am I struggling so much with getting to grips with painting right now?

Partly because my head says ‘paint what you see’ and my heart says ‘paint what you feel’ but so far together they give me such conflicting messages I don’t quite know which way to turn. So I try to paint what I see – simplified, of course – and then add some feeling to it afterwards, which doesn’t always work out the way I want it. Or I paint what I feel and then try to make it look more realistic afterwards, which also doesn’t quite work it the way I want it? And as a result both options often end up looking over-painted, sitting heavy and dull on the paper, neither quite one thing nor the other…

Why can’t I just learn to get the balance right in a way that both looks OK, but also feels OK to me?

Why don’t I just keep on trying, and see what creates itself out of my confusion?

Yeah, I guess that’s what I’ll do… I’ll just keep on trying 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Why

Mixed Metaphors and Muddling Through

I’ve been having a bit of a post-menopausal crisis of identity lately in that I feel I’m no longer completely who I was, but find I’m not yet quite fully formed into who I will be, either. I’m lost in limbo, held hesitant in a strange transitional place, a liminal space on the threshold between yesterday’s me and tomorrow’s me, waiting for the way out to become clear so I can move forward with confidence once more.

It feels as if the worn fabric of my old life has been torn, leaving precariously frayed edges and a yawning gap of vulnerability and weakness that initially left me holding my breath for fear of causing further damage. My first thought was to try to mend the rupture immediately, stitch it up tight, put a patch over it to provide reinforcement, remain in denial of my long-lost youth. But then with the tension already released I started to wonder what bits and pieces might be hidden away deep down and sheer curiosity caused me to forego my fears and rummage about a bit beneath the surface.

Inside myself I found not only all those parts of me I ever was, but also multiple bulky boxes of Wishful-Thinkings and Maybe-One-Days, Roads-Not-Taken and Ideal-Imaginings, never unpacked and simply kept stored away for potential future use. And at 58 years old I realised that the contents of many of these unopened boxes were no longer dormant dreams to be taken out and aired at some point, but over the years had somehow become stagnant in stifled obsolescence. They were filled with myriad Things I Will Never Do and People I Will Never Be, some by choice and some by circumstance.

And I also realised that it was long past time to let many of these musty old boxes go. I need to lay them to rest peacefully and deliberately so the ghostly disappointments of so many discarded dreams do not haunt my identity into my future. Because thankfully I have found no real major regrets in there – it seems the things I wanted to do most in life I have actually done. I may not always have succeeded in all things I have attempted, but I have tried and sometimes failed or have changed my mind about them, and having had that experience is enough for me.

Life is always about prioritising, making choices between one thing and another, adapting and assimilating and becoming anew, time after time. In the past I may have dreamed that one day I would write a book, but I know now I never will because I simply don’t want it enough. In the same vein I will never have a proper career, because having a family first mattered more to me and I preferred to work around their needs. I have to accept that I never will grow up to be tall and slim, the lithe leggy athletic blonde of my youthful dreams because my genes have determined otherwise and I simple cannot be what I am not so why upset myself wishing for the physically impossible?

Better by far to make the most of what I have rather than yearn for an imagined ideal that I can never attain. I am a middle-aged post-menopausal grandmother with ongoing health problems and at times a heavy heart. Depression and anxiety have always played a huge part in my life to date and with the best will in the world they will not be going anywhere soon, so inevitably all of those weighed-down dusty boxes of hopes and dreams belonging to someone more emotionally robust who has not experienced a lifetime of mental health issues also need to be placed gently but firmly in the growing pile marked ‘Leave Behind’.

I feel like I have enough experiential emotional baggage to carry around with me without bulking it out with all these outdated optional extras whose statute of limitations has effectively long run out. I feel like in order to know myself into the future I first need to be sure who I am not, who I will never be, draw a clear line in the sand and step beyond all those potential dead ends that belong firmly in the past. I know I will find a way through this and feel whole once more, but right now I’m not quite there yet.

And I know in my heart of hearts that however lost and confused I may feel right now, as I start on my later-life journey towards becoming an old woman I’ll also be moving more freely towards becoming a new woman, too…

Beginnings and Endings

Life’s equation for change to begin
Something else must end, yang to its yin
Forfeit sadness and pain
For the joy of new gain
Hope the journey flows easy within
When such change is a choice, we embrace
New beginnings slide sweetly in place
We move on, feel no lack,
Look ahead, don’t look back
Feel the flush of new warmth on our face
But when changes are foisted in fear
We resist and we struggle, unclear
Focus hard on what’s lost
What has gone, what it cost
Feel the old life we know disappear
Such refusal is futile at source
Because change is a fixed constant force
Just accept and adapt
Release grief tightly wrapped
Let new ribbons of life run their course…

Weekly Prompt: Beginning