Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shorter of Breath and One Day Closer to Death

Okay, I mentioned that I would talk a little about my depression over the past year. It is mainly to apologize to everyone I know or have had contact with over this time because I was completely falling apart at the seams and unfortunately is was not the best time to have me as a friend. I didn't even know how bad things were on a day to day basis. I would get a suicidal thought here and there, but a lot of life was in flux and it never seemed to be seriously serious. I mean, I really wasn't ready to admit that I was a middle class white American housewife cliche. In fact I didn't even realize how long I'd been depressed until our little book club read Cutting for Stone. Thankfully, I didn't read it time for our discussion because it so effected me it would have seemed impossible to discuss it, even with the incredible women in the book club. I had a total "aha" moment about my feelings of being abandoned emotionally by my father, but I still couldn't bring myself out of the cavern of darkness. It made me more upset since I have a pretty good life. I didn't deserve to be depressed. I mean look at all the suffering in the world and how very privileged and lucky I am - have always been. I hated myself for being so selfish as to not appreciate everything and everyone I had in my life which led to more pain and guilt and depression. I think you can kind of see the cycle here.

On top of my still feeling the hole my mother left in my life when she died nine years ago and my perception of being unloved by my aging father, I had tons of guilt. Guilt really has no positive effect and should be completely abandoned, in my opinion, but old habits die hard. My grandfather (my mother father) outlived two wives, two brothers, his parents, his daughter, and countless friends and family members. He came to my house a couple weeks before his death and he was not happy. He said he was ready to die and that getting old was not all it was cracked up to be. He was in his 90's. In some ways talking to him, before I rushed to his unconscious side as he was dying a few days later, made it easier. I felt like he was ready to go, but later it just made me sad. I mean I hope I am ready to go when it is my time, but I feel like his last couple years were not happy and that makes me feel like I should have done more. My mother said while she was dying in the hospital from undiscovered cancer that growing old was not all it was cracked up to be. I will always feel like I should have done more for her. She was completely giving and loving up to the very end and I had a two year old, my first child, so taking care of my mom and Parker at the same time was a nightmare. I would be so much better at it now, but the days spent in the hospital room trying to keep Parker occupied and be there for my mom were not my best.

My mom was 57, eight years older than my husband is now. Just as bad as me turning 40, is my husband turning 50 next year. It doesn't seem possible. It just snuck up on me. 50 doesn't seem old, not really, but both our mothers died in their 50's. It seems like just yesterday my husband was 32 and he was teaching me to rock climb at Seneca Rocks and where the best vegan food could be found in DC. Where does the time go?

Aging is a two-edged sword. I'm not ready for the alternative, but I don't have a lot of role models for aging happily. I do feel better now. It was almost immediate...the day I turned 40 it was like a weight had been lifted. I was 40 now, nothing could be done, I survived, and now it was time to go on. Not just go on, but now I could do anything I wanted to do. Not that I had a whole hell of a lot of limitation the day prior mind you, but for some reason the thing I had been dreading for a year had actually been a freeing experience. I have a husband who adores me and finds me amazingly attractive - and lets me know on a more than daily basis - even when I spend end of autumn with uncombed hair and living in men's organic cotton long johns resenting the times I have to put on jeans to leave the house. Now to be fair to my husband, I don't think he's noticed that the long underwear is men's and they are not his. They were given to us unopened by a friend who thought they might fit Rob and I was desperately cold one day (have I mentioned we don't turn our heat on until my birthday each year and once we do it gets to be a balmy 60 degrees in the house). I have also mentioned that I'm tipping the scales at 20 lbs past my "cruising" weight* so my normal long underwear while not so distractingly loose in the groin area is also so tight as to be uncomfortable in other areas. Forty, for those of you not there yet, is all about comfort. I think I could get used to that part.

I am married to a lovely man who is really the best friend I've ever had - another cliche, but completely true - and have three children who force me to grow even when I don't want to and teach me more about myself and the world than I ever learned before they were born. My life really rocks.

I treated myself to reading both Seriously...I'm Kidding and Bossypants** in the last 48 hours which has affirmed my comfort with 40 even more. Nothing like putting aside all the intense reading about political and social issues around the world (I picked up Raising Elijah at the same time, but I made myself read the lighter stuff first) for some Ellen and Tina. Just what I needed. Perhaps laughter is the best medicine.

So, dear friends/family and readers I have never met, I have had my year of wallowing in depression. I survived it and I know not everyone does. It is serious and so many people suffer silently. This is another reason I wanted to mention it because it is not a personality defect, it doesn't mean I am weak, it isn't caused by what I do or don't eat or my lifestyle, and it can effect anyone no matter how many blessings they have in their life. Thankfully, all along I knew in the back of my head somewhere that I would not feel this way forever and I think that is what kept me going. I couldn't will myself out, I tried. Thanks to everyone for being so patient with me over the past year. I hope if any of you are suffering that you know I am here if you ever want to talk. I hope you all feel loved and supported, but I also know that sometimes that isn't enough. It will get better.

*This is the weight I end up at when I'm living my normal semi-active life and eating as much of anything and everything I want. The working out like I should and not going back to seconds and thirds is even lighter. My current weight is actually more than I weighed the day before I gave birth to Parker. I don't mind where I am now, but my problem knee feels better at my cruising weight and I definitely feel better when I'm exercising more and doing yoga regularly.

**My four year old saw the cover of Bossypants this morning and said, "Hey, that's Liz Lemon!" Yes, she may have seen a couple episodes of 30 Rock with us on Netflix. I figure most of the inappropriate stuff goes way over her head, but we try to watch it while she's asleep now. It might be ironic that 30 Rock is one of the things that got me through this last year. I have grown to love Alec Baldwin not just for being a vegetarian actor with unapologetic liberal views, but for an actor who is so incredibly awesome he doesn't mind poking fun at himself. I put him on my short list of actors who would be completely wonderful to have as an older brother...William Shatner is another one - also veg and so cool he doesn't have to take himself seriously.


the sandwich life said...

I love you Linda! I'm so glad you're feeling better. And I'm always around if you aren't.... It can be insidious....

VeganLinda said...

Oh Cynthia, thanks! I pretty much retreated from all friendships this year and I hope to not make that mistake again.

Laura said...

I also wanted to say thank you for writing this post; I value your openness here and throughout your blog. I recently discovered your blog and am already a big fan!

VeganLinda said...


Thanks! I appreciate everyone who takes the time to stop by and read it.