Spongy and tough

Does it stand to reason that between the rock and the hard spot would be spongy or tough? Before I tell you about this quirky place with loved ones—one with Asperger’s Syndrome and the other with BPD—and what they continue to teach me, I guess I should ‘fess up that I suffer from bouts of depression that they have to put up with.

If depression could ever be something described as active—given that inaction seems like its most apparent characteristic– it is most keenly so during the winter months, the darkness seeming to invade everything, especially my mind. If I don’t get in exercise, I don’t sleep enough and I eat poorly (too much starch and not enough veggies), my depression settles over me like a wet, heavy wool blanket, threatening to trap me. Somewhere between a woeful mourning dove crying out in pain and a raging cat waiting to scratch out someone’s eyes, either insisting that everyone hug me or take two steps backward, you’ll not find me in a good place. In short, the days I don’t take care of myself are days when I’m likely to be cranky and unhappy. Are you like that, too? Surely I am not alone.

How embarrassing it is to admit to you that I didn’t learn self-care until so many years after others seem to do (what can I say? my self driven type A personality left little room for such reflection), well past my teenage daughter’s two month hospital stay and my mom death a year later. Between my mom’s deteriorating health and my daughter’s continuing struggle to regain her health, my health had been put on the back burner. Grief, sheer exhaustion and the diagnosis of two autoimmune diseases –likely triggered by exhaustion– forced me to move my own needs to center stage. Menopause was the frosting on that goofy confection.

The negative consequence of stress and genetics have to be fought off daily with the triple dose of good health: sleep, healthy eating and exercise are my most effective weapons. Practicing, with emphasis on “practice”, mindfulness is critical if I don’t want to have a daily monologue of self criticism.

To cut through the committee that reminds me of my failures, I cope by writing. A good day is one that includes the written word flowing from a clear mind. These are tricks I tell myself; sometimes they don’t work. Why this–this effort to have a life lived away from desperation–must be a constant struggle is my constant companion. I think about others who search for answers to life. The questions ride along with the melancholia that strikes at odd times.

When I feel like quitting, somehow those I love remind me why I push onward. And so I do.

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