I was driving to work today and a song popped into my head, “I’m about to come alive” by Train (see the lyrics and a link to the video at bottom). It’s message boils down to this, ‘I know it’s been hard lately but don’t give up on me’. This was on my mind because of the depression that I’d been suffering lately. If you’ve been reading my personal blog posts lately, you’ve probably noticed my moods have been pretty dark. Well the good news is I’ve turned the corner. I was finally able to get the right prescription and after only two days I am feeling so much better now. I might even try working out tonight after dinner.
Unfortunately, there are consequences to spending a month in a mental abyss. See the people around me had to put up with it and it stressed them out. It also meant that they felt they couldn’t rely on me. This is understandable and I get it. However, there is something that everyone should know about dealing with depressed but functioning people like myself*–they don’t need to be coddled or saved. They need to hear about other people’s problems because it gets them out of their own head and helps them stop wallowing. It reminds them that life is still going on around them and that means there is hope. It hammers home the fact that no one gets through life without baggage so they know the universe isn’t picking on them. And it helps them to remember that there are others who suffer far worse than they do and that engenders gratitude. So staying busy and “other focused” is important to getting through the rough patches for someone like me.
Here’s an example of how that has helped me. BC (Before children and marriage) I was pretty withdrawn from the world. All I did was work, workout, sleep, read, and write crappy poetry. And it was the absolute worst thing for me. But one thing that saved me was that I had someone who did depend on me–my dog. Now if you’re not an animal lover that will probably sound incredibly stupid to you. But think about it. Dogs are wholly dependent upon us for pretty much everything. If we don’t come home, they will go hungry, not to mention be terribly lonely (and they will go potty on your nice clean carpet). My dog, Maggie, was a chocolate lab mix with a medium length coat, which was a beautiful red color. And she was weird. She didn’t like other people, only me. She was my shadow and went everywhere I went.
Her devotion was legendary. One time I was hiking up near Prescott, AZ on Granite Mountain and she was with me. Near the peak it breaks up into these large 10 ft high boulders that sit close together, so close that you can use their proximity to shimmy your way up them. In any case, I wanted to get to the very top and assumed that Maggie couldn’t and shouldn’t follow me. I told her to sit at the base of the boulders and wait. She did as she was told but she wasn’t happy about it, whining and complaining**. I made it to the top of the first and largest boulder which was at least 15 feet high. I turned around and I found that Maggie had managed to follow me part of the way by mimicking my climbing technique. That is, she wedged herself between the smaller boulder on the right and the large boulder and shimmied up to the top of the smaller boulder. She then proceeded to try to claw her way up the rest of the larger boulder. I had to reach down and pull her up the final couple of feet. She started tail wagging like crazy. Then she planted her butt down, tongue hanging out in a doggie smile as if to say, “I’m right here next to you and I’m not going to stay behind.” I was astounded and it made me happy that I could help her. It made me happy that she was so smart, so tough and so devoted. She was clearly risking her neck but she was damned if I was going to go up to the top without her. Now that my friends is love (and maybe a bit co-dependent too LOL).
Maggie was not only devoted to me, she was strange. She feared loud noises and thunder invariably forced her under my bed (which was an antique and very, very low to the ground). She didn’t like meeting people and children, well they were little devils who only existed to torture her. So, yeah, she was weird….kind of like me, come to think of it. Anyway, I knew that if I didn’t or couldn’t take care of Maggie she would end up in the pound and with her weirdness she might never be adopted. That would eventually lead her to be euthanized. She needed me–specifically me (at least that’s what I told myself). And it was that thought that kept me going and kept me alive. It is the same but even deeper with my kids. They need me and that dependence is a daily reminder that I can’t just check out, I can’t completely shut down and if I do withdraw, they are the first ones to suffer.
Now, I’m in a relationship and it affects him too. I made a mistake with him that I haven’t with the kids or Maggie. I assumed he didn’t need me because he rarely shared with me the difficult stuff in his life. It also made me think he didn’t love me. To love is to be able to confide. What I didn’t know was that he thought he COULDN’T confide in me because I was already so burdened. Couldn’t and can’t aren’t the same things at all. And I feel badly because it isn’t and wasn’t true. As I stated above, I need people to need me. I am happier when I can help others–it’s a fundamental part of my personality. I am happiest when I have others with me that I can help over or through obstacles. I am happiest when I have others clawing their way to the summit right next to me. He didn’t know that about me yet. We’ve discussed it and I hope he does understand that now. Unfortunately, the damage may be done and it will be a hard, hard lesson if the relationship doesn’t survive. And in such a case I will be kicking myself for a long time afterward.
All I know to do is to keep on loving him and my kids and keep on striving to be a better friend and mother by reaching out more and trying to thinking of others more. I’ll keep trying to summit that mountain, because that’s what I do. Except in future, I have to remember there are others climbing right beside me that might need a hand too.
I can hear you downstairs crying on the phone
Telling someone that I’m here but you still feel all alone
Maybe we were too young
Goodbye, I’ve gotta go
I can hear the baby waking up
Got to get back to the life I know
I should have never believed him
Maybe I should just leave him
Maybe I’m not but you’re all I got left to believe in
Don’t give up on me
I’m about to come alive
And I know that it’s been hard
And it’s been a long time coming
Don’t give up on me
I’m about to come alive
No one thought I was good enough for you
Except for you
Don’t let them be right
After all that we’ve been through
Cause somewhere over that rainbow
There’s a place for me
A place with you
In every frame upon our wall
Lies a face that’s seen it all
Through ups and downs and then more downs
We helped each other off of the ground
No one knows what we’ve been through
Making it ain’t making it without you
*I don’t think this applies to people who need to be hospitalized and/or are just functioning on the most basic levels like eating and sleeping but nothing else
**I wasn’t worried she would leave because I had trained her myself and she was pretty obedient and very, very smart. She even responded to hand signals. I can thank Bobbi, my former step-Mom and one of my best friends today, for those dog training skills. She used to raise and train Golden Retrievers for show about 30 years ago.