Kokoro Is Blue


Fumbling

The past few weeks have left me in a state of fumbling. I’m allowed to live at a building not my own out of kindness, as I have nowhere else to go. Said building recently had the gas shut off. It will have been off for over a week through no fault of my own. There was money, just no payments were made. Things timed poorly, I suppose. Accidents happen after all. This combined with continual working on my divorce have been extremely stressful, and the evil demon that always lurks in my medicated mind has been slowly clawing its way back to the surface.

Because the gas can only be turned on one day this week, it inconveniently is the day my therapist appointment was. This is another huge source of stress, as the therapist is often, literally, the only person I see for weeks at a time. He doesn’t have any appointments this week, which isn’t his fault. He’s a busy guy. And hey, it’s my problem. It’s frustrating, though, unspeakably so. I’ve been, to be honest, fumbling much of the past month.

My birthday in May was sort of alarming and unexpected. It dredges up unimaginable sorrows that are hard to express. I remember five wasted years, the past five, in which I slowly was letting myself drown in depression. I’m scared, because I feel that familiar trace returning. I feel the fingers of sorrow and aching mental pain daring to return.

What to do, what to do? The alternative is unquestionably a Bad Thing, so Dear Reader, know that I am tightening the belt and stepping forward, as the Japanese expression goes. Right now, tonight, a part of me wants nothing more than to give up, to shrink into the inconsolable mingling of darkly ecstatic pain and self-abuse that depression can be. If it gets worse, I won’t hesitate for a moment to go to the hospital. My life means too much to me to gamble it away, even when the waters that normally float me home are threatening to drown far more than my spirits.

If nothing else, the peonies are starting to bloom – ironically, a symbol of the Japanese samurai reminding me of my little joys, such as they are, and I want to be here to see them at least. So, for tonight, happy thoughts are in order, with a phone kept nearby, and a friend’s stories to keep my attention focused.

There are many people all over the world that live one day to the next, barely surviving. Sometimes that’s all I can do. One step forward is still forward. Even if I must sit tonight and rest lest my progress is prematurely halted, I force myself to walk once more. As long as I keep moving ahead, it doesn’t matter how slowly, it doesn’t matter the bleak and bleary nights such as this…I know in my heart this storm shall pass. Now it’s merely a matter of reminding the creature lurking in the shadows of this as it tries to kidnap my thoughts.


Mental Health Crisis – Rosalynn Carter

Here’s an interesting interview from Time. Rosalynn Carter, first lady and mental health proponent, answers some questions.

I do think the big two reasons so many people avoid treatment are shame and financial. Shame, from the reactions of others and stigma being mentally ill generates, and financial because, well, it’s really expensive. Drugs alone can run hundreds of dollars a month. Mine run about $100 – and that’s with very good insurance. That’s a huge chunk of change if you are living hand to mouth every month.

There seems to be a self-stigma, as well. It’s all in our minds, right? I do believe that to a large extent happiness is a choice – which may be an odd opinion for someone whose illness is the opposite. The fact remains that a large portion of most people’s emotions are under their control…to some degree. Sadly, it’s not true for everyone, and assumptions of folks at large can be as damaging as any self-inflicted suicidal thoughts.

Awareness is good. Mental health is a complicated thing to say the least, made more so by societal standards, self-perception, and the medical and insurance machines. All this red tape and outside pressure mean just one thing, at least for me: self-awareness and self-mindfulness is all the more precious to strive for.


Amused

It says something that when, in no particular order, the first three Google ads a website shows me are:

1) Ice cream trucks for sale.

2) Daily Chicago coupons.

3) New York Psychotherapist.


Dying By Inches

People often focus on suicide where depression is concerned, zoning in on that one final act that hurts both the living and the deceased in an unforgivably permanent way. To have depression is to continually die. You lose yourself inch by inch. It is a slow death. By the time you find yourself in the head-space where your own pain is so overwhelming, so numbing. . .there is only one thing left that will alleviate it: to die.

It’s hard to explain being suicidal to someone who has never experienced it. To live that way is to spend every moment of your life in stressful agony. If you’ve ever had your life in danger, ever lived with death and torment haunting you, being suicide-prone is not much different. The stress often doesn’t get discussed. It’s overbearing, life-consuming, almost unrecoverable from without help. Stress leads to pain, pain leads to self-hate, self-hate leads to stress. This becomes the quickly unbearable rhythm that sings one to endless sleep.

Long before you first whisper to yourself, “I want to die,” you have been perishing by inches. You retreat from friends, cancel visits, cancel phone calls, avoid people, act sullen and/or ill-tempered. You create the self-fulfilling prophecy, as people begin to avoid you. Isolation then comes from without and within, both self-inflicted, and both reinforcing and expanding on the horrible whispers of your mind.

I have lost so many friends at this point, it’s, pardon the pun, depressing. I’m still responsible for that, as I often repeat here. It still is a pretty low feeling. It’s hard to move past our past.

Next week I turn thirty-three, and I am no longer married. I have no career or family to show for the past ten or so years, most squandered to illness. It’s very tempting to quit. This is the precise time that I choose to do the opposite. I must go on. Some days it’s because I want to, some days it’s because I need to, and other days it’s because there is simply no other choice. To not walk forward is to die.

And so, I walk forward. If you’ve been in my shoes, you understand. If you haven’t, then I am very grateful for you, more than words can express.

I’m not depressed about my birthday which surprises me. I’m hopeful for the future. My one request from any who read this is that if you haven’t seen someone in a while, if you haven’t talked to someone who means the world to you lately – don’t hesitate to do so. Every gift is precious…and you shouldn’t wait to be depressed to relish this small and simple gestures that really make a whole world of difference.

Happiness is a choice, not a right, and not a privilege. We have to fight with ourselves, and with others, to achieve it. Don’t settle for anything less today! As spring turns into summer, live the fullest you can, even if that means inch by inch.


It Goes On

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  — Robert Frost

I’ve struggled fairly badly the past week.  The binge eating has returned.  I’m slowly coming to cope with the fact I have an addiction to fight with, and it hasn’t been easy.  No one wants to be an addict.  Before there was food, it was alcohol.  I’ve just replaced one with another.  High volumes of food I’m not supposed to eat make the depression and anxiety worse.  It becomes a ranting and raging cycle I get caught up in.  I see it for what it is.  Despite that, it’s easy for me to get caught up in.  Just one more day of binging, I tell myself, and am knee-deep in chocolate and pizza, and thirty or fourty thousand calories later I hate myself and want to die.

Times like this, I try to pick myself up as soon as I realize it.  Life goes on even in the face of our foibles and reticence.  Today I woke up, ignored the desire for crap and pushed forward to work towards something else.  It’s going to be a long week of doctors and visitors relating to my room mate.  I can’t always control my anxiety. I can’t always control my sadness.  I just have to remember to keep walking, one step at a time.  It sucks and it is harrowing, and I’m not sure right now if I’ll be successful.

So, here’s my list of what I must do this week:

  • Up at six every morning.
  • Healthy food every day.
  • No take out.
  • Every time I want to get take out, I’ll deposit the money into savings instead.
  • No candy.
  • No soda, even diet.
  • Write everything down.
  • If mood wavers and thoughts are suicidal, immediately call the doctor.

This makes me feel like a child who doesn’t know better.  I generally have enormous willpower.  Just sometimes I am aghast at how quickly the addictions and bad habits kick in and hold me prisoner.  It happens.  It’s life.  I must do my best to focus on the positive.

Some days I can only do one thing at a time, living minute to minute, hour to hour.  It’s going to be one of those weeks.  I won’t let it break me.


Waiting

I hate waiting.  It galls me.  I seem to spend most of my life in a state of transition with no closure.  Today is especially bad in some respects.  Crippling anxiety is no fun, and I seem to be drowning in it today.

I’m paralyzed and can’t make a phone call I need to.  I have to go get groceries at one of the busiest times of the day.  I have to keep pulling it together…keep pulling it together.  There’s an old Japanese proverb that goes something like, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”  I’m just so damned tired of falling.

I know I’m on the edge of an attack.  It just means I need to push myself more.  So today I’ll push, and hopefully not have a panic attack or become suicidal.  I feel like I’m skirting the edge of the Dark Place, so I’ll throw myself into the middle of my life and push past it.

Some days I can’t thrive – it’s all I can do to just barely live.  Time to turn waiting into movement.  It’s hard to remind myself that I can’t control the things outside of my head, but I can focus on what I can change.  So, we’ll give that a whirl, today.


Running Circles

Have you ever felt like you’re going nowhere?

That’s the story of my life.  I decided that this was pretty much BS and began to write my own script.  It’s tooth and nail the whole way, though.  All the ground I gain is hard fought and won, and some days I fall further behind than I was.  Progress for me is sometimes simply nothing more than not dying.  I don’t take what I can get any longer – I don’t settle for that.  I will always work towards what I desire.

Right now, I’m relearning how to walk.  It’s mind numbingly difficult to walk for ten minutes without being in pain.  It’s mind numbingly difficult to go outside.  Combining the two has been a recipe for panic attack and joint agony, but I press forward regardless.  You see, Dear Reader, in order for Miss Kokoro to get healthy, she has to attend physical therapy as well as that of the mental sort.  One of the sad aftermaths depression leaves in its wake, is that physical health is in decline.  In my case, I gained a massive amount of weight and have lots of skeletal and muscular issues to wade through.

It’s been difficult to handle.  Both the mind and the body trouble are mind numbingly difficult to deal with on their own.  Some days I take ten steps forward and three back.  Still, that’s progress!  Unfortunately on other days, it’s the reverse proportion, and I find myself further back than when I started.

This is part of the appeal Zen has for me.  Life for me has to always be in the moment.  I could crucify myself worrying about the future or brooding about the past.  For me, there must always be only the present, and I must do my utmost in that moment of moments.  At least, I try to remember this.

I still run in circles.  Little by little though, I break free. Running in circles is not fun, but it’s a necessary part of getting better, I think.  It’s learning to see the circles for what they are, and knowing when you can appreciate where you’ve been that forward movement starts to be made.


Defining Depression

Defining depression for Miss Kokoro involving Bauhaus, time, and random Japanese words.


Beginning

Where to start?  At the beginning, I suppose.  My name is Kokoro, and this blog is about me and my journey in living with depression.  We’ll try to stick with just the facts, and as little hubris as possible.  Of course my name isn’t really Kokoro.  It’s a concept and idea in Japanese that I find suitable.  It doesn’t translate well to english; a good approximation I suppose is “heart” or “spirit”.  It is basically the essence of personhood – what makes each of us human.  Thus, my decision in using it as my nom de plume, such as it is.

It’s not easy to write this.  Most things that are worthwhile to do aren’t, I’ve come to find.  At any rate, welcome to my journey.