5 Years!!!

a day with depression turned 5 years old on Tuesday!

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com! You registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago. Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

I’ll admit I haven’t gone back to look through my 5 years of blogging, and I’ve been posting a lot less regularly as of late, but this blog has been a real help for me. I’m glad I have a space to share experiences that people don’t always talk about (though it’s getting better), that can be rather isolating. I’m grateful for the community I found on WordPress, particularly other mental health bloggers. I miss Blog for Mental Health, maybe we can pick that up again.

In the time since starting this blog I have …

  • had the pleasure of “parenting” 3 pairs of rats
  • learned a great deal about intersectional feminism
  • socially transitioned from the gender I was assigned at birth to nonbinary / enby
  • gotten married
  • become a zillion times more confident and assertive
  • healed a great deal
  • come to accept that mental health “recovery” is a never-ending, nonlinear process
  • made some absolutely amazing friends
  • become engaged in activism and politics
  • learned so much
  • learned that I have so much more to learn
  • figured out what meds work for me – including that I don’t need the clonazepam
  • developed kickass coping skills for anxiety and depression

There’s been a lot of drama in the Green Party as of late, throughout the US and unfortunately also in my state. It breaks my heart, really, because we have much much more important things to focus on. I’ve been feeling incredibly overwhelmed and not focusing on what I need to do to live a fulfilling life.

(Ironically – or perhaps not – the latest drama in my state party is uncannily similar to what happened to someone else back in March:

it has to do with people he loved betraying him, and feeling powerless to change what’s going on in an organization he’s supposed to be a leader of. An organization he led very well, and changed for the better, but that’s not what some of its most powerful leaders – his former and my current friends – are focusing on.

(These same people – my “friends” – are now verbally wrecking the latest person they’ve forced to leave: Ron.)

So, I’ve decided to end my involvement in my state party. I will probably continue to help organize locally, and engage in nonpartisan activism, but I need to take a step back from this stuff and pick up the life I’ve put on hold for a year and a half. I’m grateful for the actual friendships I’ve made, my relationship with Ron, the experiences I’ve had, everything I’ve learned, the skills I’ve developed, all of it.

Now it’s time to start a new chapter.

New Theme

Since I’ve come back to blogging, I’ve felt like the “Dusk to Dawn” theme no longer feels right. It’s … well … too dark. I’m pleased to say that darkness no longer dominates my daily experience. I feel hopeful, connected, like I’m doing something meaningful with my life and my efforts are appreciated …

Most of the time.

Lately I’ve been feeling really down. It’s hard to focus on anything useful, so I’ve started playing The Sims 3 again, after several months of barely touching video games. Yesterday I went to an event intending to represent an organization I’m a leader in … but I feel like the only useful thing I did was provide some moral support to one of the speakers. I couldn’t sleep last night because I kept thinking about everything I did “wrong.”

I’m gonna blame it on my friend moving. It turns out I was right about why, except that it’s really only focused on one particular person, and they were both responsible for what happened. The last time I saw my friend in person – possibly ever – he asked me to give and say some things to her. It seemed innocuous, but when I found out the context, I was horrified; if I’d followed through with his request, I could’ve seriously hurt someone who’s already hurting, and possibly destroyed any chance I’d have of forming a friendship with her. (Right now I’d say we’re “friendly acquaintances.”)

I’m furious, and I feel betrayed – even violated. I trusted this person, confided in him, went out of my way to be supportive and comforting toward him, gave him the benefit of the doubt when others turned their backs on him. He tried to draw me into a conflict that is none of my business, and he tried to use me to lash out at someone – without my knowledge or consent. And I feel like all the pieces of the puzzle were there, scattered about through various conversations we had over the course of a month, usually after he’d had a few beers. But I didn’t see the connections until after he’d gone …

Codependency. People suck me into their problems, I take on their feelings and perspectives, and I’m always walking a fine line to remain myself through all of it. I … I fell off the line this time, but I managed to grab onto it.

I hate to say it, but I’m glad my “friend” moved. I need my space from him. I hope he heals from this. And if we ever meet again … well, hopefully he’ll be in a better place, less destructive to everything and everyone around him. And I’ll have my guard up emotionally.

I guess I always need to keep my guard up emotionally. How exhausting!

So now I have a new, lighter theme. It’s serene, neutral, a blank canvas. And I love the header image of the shoreline – that was one of the default options, actually. Emotions, moods, ebb and flow like the tide. Seemingly peaceful waves can have a powerful undertow. We may heal, we may grow, we may live fulfilling lives, but the depression is always there, under the surface. I’m learning to ride the waves.

Re: How to Clear One’s Mind

I would like to let all the lovely web bots and lonely souls who post spam comments to my blog know that, even if I don’t allow the comments to become visible to the public, I do read every one of them. I’m very touched by the high esteem in which you hold my writing, though you might want to try and make it seem a bit more like you actually read the blog post on which you are commenting. Today I received a particularly interesting comment that I would actually like to respond to:

First of all I would like to say wonderful blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior
to writing. I have had a hard time clearing my mind
in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first
10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost just trying to
figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints? Thanks!

This comment happened to be in response to my recent post, PANIC!!!, in which I hope I conveyed a sense of, well, panic in the tone of my writing. In the case of that particular post – as well as most of the ones about my actual life experiences, dilemmas, and emotions – writing the post was my process of centering myself and clearing my mind.

I often begin my posts with a strong sense of what I want to express in writing, but no idea what words I’ll use or where the post might go. I pretty much just start typing. I like to write because it forces the thoughts to “get in line;” only one can come out at a time and first they have to form themselves into remotely-coherent English sentences. Writing is the process through which I get the jumbled mess of nebulous thoughts and conflicting emotions out into a form where I can literally look at them. It’s like looking in the mirror, except that instead of freaking out over a new zit I can enable my rational mind to process all the important information my emotional self is trying but failing to communicate to it.

I read and re-read each post several times during the process of writing. I edit as I read – I catch and have the opportunity to fix typos and grammatical errors that way. I also take the opportunity to re-word sentences so they will be easier to read and understand, and so they can more accurately convey whatever I’m trying to express through them.

The reading and re-reading of the post as I’m writing also serves to center my thoughts – again, as I’m writing. It’s part anxiety management, part a reminder of what I’ve written so far and where I’m going, part how I make sure that the post is coherent. I’ve re-read this post several times, now, so I know that it’s been about my writing process and not about, say, cheese. I also have a strong sense of the tone I’ve been using, so I can continue to use it for the remainder of the post.

My experience of written language is almost identical to my experience of spoken language, the only real difference being that with written language I have to see the words with my eyes before I get to “hear” them in my head. Similarly, while I am writing, I hear the words in my head instead of with my ears and move my fingers instead of my mouth to share them with the world. The biggest difference between spoken and written language is that it’s easier to remember what I wrote – I can read it! – and I have a chance to edit it before anyone else gets to read it. Once the spoken words are said they’ve been said, they can’t be taken back, and we might disagree on what they were.

I believe that the way I experience written language gives me a significant advantage when it comes to reading – and especially writing. Both processes come very naturally to me; sometimes they are actually easier than spoken conversation! (If nothing else, interruptions are less likely to mean I never get to make my real point.)

That said, I do also find it helpful to read the post aloud. Reading a post aloud helps make its content feel more real to me and to center my thoughts around the topic. I also find I can express my emotions better through the inflection of my voice. Sometimes I even become more aware of my emotions when I hear myself: “Wow, I sound really angry! I must be angry! Who knew?”

The process is a bit different if I’m writing on a more academic subject, whether for school or in a post like The Complexities of Language, Gender, and Identity. Then I need to do research – to learn what others have written about the topic, organize all the different ideas, think critically, and respond to them.

I tend to organize my own thoughts through – not prior to – writing. That said, it helps to start with a clearer sense of what points I want to make, what information backs them up, and where I got that information. I like to start papers – such as the one I’m procrastinating by writing this post instead – by creating the Works Cited / References page. That makes it easier to keep track of what sources I’m using and to cite them in the actual paper because I already have a handy list, complete with the authors’ last names. Sometimes I’ll make an outline, even if it’s just a basic list of topics to cover. In the case of “Complexities” (link above), I actually wrote a first draft. If an assignment for school requires a clear thesis, I might wait to write it and/or the introductory paragraph until after I’ve used the process of writing the rest of the paper to fully organize my thoughts.

Finally, popcorn works wonders. Settle in with a nice large bag – or three! – and start munching. Just try not to get too much grease (or crumbs) on the keyboard.