A friend of mine recently posted on social media about chronic fatigue and the shame she felt for no longer being able to do all the things she used to. How she no longer had the energy to feel ashamed and wanted it out in the open.
As I currently reside in that box too, it stirred me why we feel any and all mental states that aren’t outright happy as potentially shameful and perceived as a personal failures.
It brought back to mind an article I read some time ago about another even more stigmatised state of mind: depression. I started writing a response but ran out of energy…
Clinical depression is a change in brain chemistry.
Why we are told to be ashamed of this malfunctioning I don’t know. We’re not besieged by shame if we need to see a dentist, break a bone, or become iron-deficient? I know I have friends who would no longer be here were it not for chemical intervention in the form of antidepressants, and yet it is hush hush.
For the record I’ve been on half a dozen different antidepressants in the quest to reign in the migraines. They never did anything for me (except the one that turned me into a numb and uninspired zombie) so I assumed I couldn’t be depressed.
My English GP asked at the time if I was depressed and I said no… Fed up, angry, and frustrated, yes, and who wouldn’t become depressed when besieged by frequent migraines?
The only reason you are reading this is because in my perpetual hunt for something to lessen the migraines I tried something that put the depression on pause for me. Best sideffect ever I’m sure you agree! (It also greatly lessened the blinding waking headaches I’d been suffering, and allows me to get some sleep.)
Enter reading a timely article by Raimond E. Feist (from 2016, you can read it here: https://www.facebook.com/refeist/posts/10154669328183056 , I cannot recommend it enough) gave me the biggest lightbulb moment. A few days later I started reading it out loud to my husband but I only got about half way before I was sobbing.
THIS was the part that got to me:
“I remember a time when I came downstairs and realized I had left something upstairs and needed to go back upstairs and get it. Imagine standing there for a moment, overwhelmed by a feeling of helplessness, just incapable of climbing back up those stairs to fetch something forgotten, and almost being reduced to tears by the need to run back up and get what you’d left there. It is an existential moment of conflict those who’ve not experienced depression can not imagine. “You just pop back up the stairs and get what you forgotten. What’s the big deal?” The big deal for me was that was when I realized how sick I was and decided I needed to get help. My marriage was on the rocks, my wife hardly could speak to me, and my kids couldn’t figure out what was wrong with daddy, but it was my need to climb back up one flight of stairs to retrieve something and my momentary inability to force myself to do it that made me understand I was mentally ill, that I was in constant pain and needed to change things.”
That was me, minus the wife and kids. You see, if you’ve never know differently you start to believe that this is what everyone deals with and therefore I must be weak and lazy who can’t. Cue beat yourself up for it.
I‘d said “no” when my GP asked, because I didn’t know. I’d said no because I can’t remember life ever being any different. If you’ve always been depressed – how would you know?
I found out accidentally because my perpetual hunt for a way to lessen the migraines had led me to try yet one more thing, and that incidentally offered a window into a world without the veil of depression.
The pause on depression was a revelation. Instead of a daily inner perpetual battle not to cry 50 times a day, while at the same time being too exhausted to do so. Knowing if I do, a migraine will sure follow and I’ll be too whacked to do anything.
I never suspected anger was part of clinical depression – until it wasn’t there. Just gone. Maybe that’s why in my heart I never considered myself an angry person.
I have no problem with a bit of healthy anger. Anger is my ally, it can help lift heavy boxes, it is always fighting my corner, putting me first – even when I don’t.
Frustrated could be my middle name, where my mind works so fast and on so many tracks at once not even I can keep up, let alone get it out in a coherent form.
Like so many I was high functioning. My perfectionism and self discipline beat me with a stick and would not allow for less.
You Push Push Push yourself, until the day you no longer can, and then you still don’t let up berating yourself about it. You’re not trying hard enough! Are you going to allow yourself to be a failure? Others can do it so you just pull yourself together and f’kin get up and do it you fat lazy … and on it goes. You’re not “happy” “enough”, not grateful enough, not [fill in the blank] enough.
Then came the proverbial straw. It sneaked in the back door. Last summer I contracted something and the lingering exhaustion that followed never left. The inflammation in joints and what not I’ve had for years got worse. The migraines became chronic (the definition of chronic being ‘more days with than without’).
I gave up trying to keep up the apperance any longer when chronic fatigue set in, on top of the almost ever present physical pain. I gave in to the brain-fog. (Undiagnosed I will add, as this is Mexico and here it does not exist.)
This winter I’ve croched a storm, something I hadn’t done in decades. It’s been the only thing I could do with the fatigue, something that offered a tiny outlet of creativity – which is what I run on- and makes me feel I’m still if only remotely human.
Most of us still live in a world where listening to the body isn always practical or possible. Or we listen and ignore the signals because we don’t have time to slow down or don’t know what to do. I find myself trying to bargain with mine too, much good that it does, hoping it will hold together for an other hour, til I got this or that done. -I only have today to do this damn it, can you just f-kin keep it together and fall apart later, wait until I get back home please? I don’t have time for another migraine right now damn it….
Migraine (and other chronic pain dis-eases) is a robber no security system knows how to keep OUT. Chronic pain drains what little energy there is left. Inflamation drains too, and noone seems to have any idea why it won’t budge.
With chronic migraine you’re forever exhausted because if you’re not wiped out recovering, you’re almost certainly in what is called the prodrone, the build-up phase. Wooly headed, confused, foggy. Have you ever sat down in the supermarket isle and cried because you don’t know what to put in your trolly? Don’t know how to get back home because you can’t think straight and your body is just pain, lead, and jelly, all at the same time? How often have you sat where you are, to tired to even cry because you don’t have the energy to move and desperately need the toilet? Not that often I hope.
Then the supermarket stopped selling it here.
My world fell apart.
For TWO MONTHS I’d had a glimpse into a world I never knew existed. Of course I had suspected others did not feel like whole world was somehow conspiring against them. Before I suspected I was just weak or lazy. After all, that’s what I’d been told countless times before I understood my HSP temperament.
“It feels like hell. Clinical depression isn’t “I’m depressed,” as in “I have the blues,” or “I’m sad today.” Sadness is indeed one of the symptoms, but it is not simple sadness. Constant fear and anger are there as well, no matter how deeply hidden.”
“It’s a very difficult thing to share with someone who hasn’t been through it, because it’s a peculiar type of pain. It is mental pain, but it hurts just as much as any physical pain, but it never stops.”
As I ran out of tablets everything came rushing back. Once more the smallest thing and every task and chore felt like climbing mount Everest again, or like a personal insult. I was back fighting the urge to succumb to “wanting” to sink down against the nearest wall and rock catatonically; or beg to go to sleep and not wake up ever until the world has somehow righted itself again….
The nebulous fears were back, the ones that every day threatens to engulf and swallow me whole like mental quicksand. Suffocation by exhaustion.
My days are punctuated by a soundtrack of wailing sirens from emergency vehicles, and the almost daily news of shootings near and far.
Most days I wanted to scream. Scream at other people’s simple joys, because I’m jeallous; why don’t I attract something in my daily life that makes me feel glad to be alive? I feel nothing.
I wanted to scream at the never ending parties and repetitive music played by neighbours day in day out. It’s not that loud but it does not have to be if it feels relentless. With the hypersensitivity that accompanies depression, fatigue and migraines it becomes unbareable, like being poked repetedly with a stick or kept awake for weeks on end. It goes from being an irritant to something more akin to mental torture.
Depression robs you of joy. I don’t feel excitement; the best I can manage is is relief. Respite from the onslaught. There may be the odd day or hour here and there of contentment if you’re really lucky.
I feel love when the cats rub against my legs or flop on my feet, or jump up on my lap, I do. When I find an unexpected note from my hubby.
I feel grateful for cooler days and north winds and for the ac in the bedroom.
I remember reading somewhere that depression is anger turned inwards. That would explain a lot. Justified or not, whatever the reason. Feelings of helplessness turn to anger, and then because we are taught that’s socially unacceptable, gets turned on the self instead.
I strongly suspect chronic fatigue is part of that setup too.
Besides my indigo anger, frustration with being so damned observant and impotent to do something about it, from back to all that happened during the school years and even before. Being an adult trapped in a childs body. Unheard, unlistened to.
A friend brought me back some from abroad.
I can breath again. There is a glimmer of hope once more. Life is looking possible again, perhaps it might be worth sticking it out for a bit longer, one never knows, something nice could come my way. There might be a reason for living floating around somewhere even if I haven’t yet pinpointed it.
I’ll leave you with a final quote, suggesting what you can do to help someone dealing with what we call a chronic condition.
“So what do you do? You listen. You ask non-accusatory questions and listen. You engage and you listen some more. You don’t judge; just listen By the very act of being there, you start to change the dynamic. You can’t fix that person, you can’t chid or bully them into feeling better, or joke them into it, or anything else, but listen. And in that listening, maybe something will occur and maybe the person you’re listening to will hear something they are saying and realize they need to make a change, and then something good will happen.”
Two good easy to read articles about depression:
Long rambling heartfelt post because one thing leads to another. Peace.
Take the us of a, founded by europeans fleeing persecution, starvation, overpopulating etc, who helped themselves to what wasn’t theirs with violence, forcing their ways and views on locals the world over, sure have a short memory concerning their own roots.
Every day I am astounded how intolerant and racist the world has become. Some would argue it’s always been this way and that may be true but now it is openly flaunted, along with a lack of compassion that leaves me lost for words.
Look at our history how we have treated each other throughout history and our planet! If I was an alien considering contact I’d stay well clear of this place. We’re intolerant where it does not matter (race, skin colour, gender issues, religion), and instead of where it should matter (profit before health and people; violations of beings rights).
ENOUGH DAMN IT! Find that common sense and compassion within, Start NOW and accept nothing less. Vote with your feet. If you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to others. If you enjoy seeing others suffer and take pleasure in upsetting others – do me a favor and remove yourself from my friends list on social media. You see if you don’t care I don’t care – I’m fine with being hated for who I am rather than tolerated for what you think I am. I’m not light and fluffy and if you can’t hack all of me…
I’m tired of poison in the food chain – who the f*ck thought putting [fill in the blank] into something made for consumption was a good idea? I’m tired of those in female bodies being treated like objects and second class citizens, having laws and their bodies imposed upon. No more men making laws about female bodies.
Tired of little boys being told not to cry and man up. Tired of parents who perpetuate this pink for girls and blue for boys. (As if your genitals determine who you are), “boys will be boys” and “good girls…” teach compassion and consideration all round (and I won’t add a please). We talk about teen pregnancies (because that’s what religion have done for aeons, probably originally with good intent but it’s been lost along the way) and shame girls instead of the men who impregnate them.
I’m tired of people’s idea that skin colour somehow has anything at all to do with your value as a human being. It does not compute darn it! My heart breaks for friends living in fear for their lives, their jobs, their homes because they love a person of the same sex. Love is love damn it, we all want it, we all need it, and it is sacred so TREASURE IT where and however you find it!
If those who should be working for us are not doing their job but only lining their pockets GET RID OF THEM. There are plenty of responsible and moral folks out there who’d do a better job for a lot less. Public servants are just that, meant to serve the public. You are not their toys and provider of a cushty life. They are CIVIL SERVANTS working FOR YOU – hold them to it.
Don’t hold people to different standards. If you’d be fired for it…don’t stand by and see another promoted for disagreeable actions. That’s not plucky and resourceful – it’s courting trouble.
And while I’m at it implement universal health care, and change the school curriculum’s to fit a new world by teaching students to think instead of just memorize, being compassionate instead of grab and bully, and whatever other life skills they may not have had the chance to learn elsewhere etc. To be builders of a new world and not just same sized bricks for someone else’s.
Put an end to the throwaway society and that includes people, use up and replace is not ok. Stop dumping garbage and toxins at sea, telling us lies about what is good for us and what is not. Scrap the ridiculous laws surrounding the growing of industrial hemp (which helps the planet) and the medicinal plant cannabis. Put some reigns on consumerism, learn to repair instead of throwaway, just because you can buy cheaper what is made in a sweatshop somewhere out of sight doesn’t make it right. Remember how workers have striked, been killed or died for the right to decent working conditions and wages? EVERYONE deserves that, even the people you can not see. Think quality not quantity.
Stop creating conditions that turns people into refugees fleeing for their lives. Nobody wants to flee – most of us want pretty similar same things in life, even tho they come in a myriad of ways and shapes. And THAT’S OK. ABUSE IS NOT. People kill and are killed because their concept of God differs from each other, because of who they choose to love.
There are plenty of alternatives to crude oil so START IMPLEMENTING THEM!
There are inventions for recycling plastic into oil (Japan), asphalt (UK), and a teenager came up with a way to hoover up the great garbage patch. What are we waiting for??
Who the hell thought fracking was a good idea??? Put that money to good use building solar farms creating shade in the heat, cover roofs with it, use wind power where it suits, make oil and plastic out of renewable sources like plants, and LOOK AFTER THE BEES – if the bees disappear we’re screwed, we need them just like we need clean air and water to live.
Think further than your nose and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. Be the best you you can be.
Follow the money – and let’s drain it to where it can nourish the planet and not just a few hoarders.
I’m out of coffee, in need of sustenance but I might add something more later, who knows.
I’m considering taking a look at Seeds of Soultraction and I’m scared. It is the sequel to Andino Andina and number two in Seeds to the wind and I absolutely loved writing it, cranking out thousands of words a day and enjoying every minute. My whole life I’ve detested mornings, yet during that time I had no problems getting up and eager to get sufficiently caffeinated to start my writing day. At the end of each day I was still so fired up I couldn’t sleep. I was happy and inspired doing what I love.
Until one evening…which was meant to be just a quick run to the supermarket for a couple of things we needed. Lights left on, food ready awaiting our return to have dinner. Only it didn’t work out that way.
It was 8 months until I could sit up in reasonable comfort, months of painkillers etc that left me mentally on par with vegetables, and over a year before I could put away the crutches. In addition I’ll probably need a splint for the rest of my life.
The manuscript is where I last saved it on the laptop and a thumb-drive and I’m terrified it won’t be as inspirited as I remember.
Or that I will be accused of cultural appropriation, when in my heart it is a love letter to a people that have fascinated me since my very first encounter, long before I was in double digits or had started school. All without being able to find the thread that connects us, in this world or the next.
So much has happened since 2015, I will have to go back and read up on other goings on come to light…because time has ticked away.
It saddens and worries me because it was meant to be the ‘mystical Seeds book of love’ and now there are all these other developments to take into consideration as well.That said, it is long overdue such despicable treatment and practices of indigenous people are being brought out in the open and dealt with, thanks to such dealings and conduct no longer being tolerated from a higher perspective. Maybe it will add depth as opposed to just making it darker?
Regardless, in the microcosm of things I still have my personal conundrum of going back and reading and rewriting/finishing the manuscript. Perhaps I could look at it as going from the first throws of falling in love with my story, the flush of infatuation, now to be followed by the entering of reality and seeing things as they really are when every day life kicks in. It could go either way… perhaps it has already past it’s best before date – or it will ripen and deepen into true love and something rather magical. I don’t know. I hope so.
Sitting on the roof and I’m so homesick. Thankfully it’s a very rare occurrence and when it hits it is usually on an evening like this. It’s balmy with the merest hint of a breeze after a hot day, and the crickets are grinding away.
The kind that on the Isle of Wight are precious and rare, to be treasured and made the most of.
When you don’t want to cook, but meet up with good friends at the Crab n lobster for dinner with a glass of wine or a beer or two.
Precious friends, where the atmosphere is relaxed, you know each other so well there’s no pretense to keep up. Where you can be your self unabashedly, and both silence and interesting depth is equally comfortable.
Watching the sea side by side with no need for words as evening turns into night, and dew gathers on the grass and garden furniture. Pulling my legs up and hugging my knees, not quite ready to go back home just yet. Boats and container ships winking pinpricks in the distance, competing with the stars above.
Precious moments to treasure forever more.
Here , in the minutes its taken me to write this and
for a single sad tear to glide down my cheek
Darkness has fallen too.
Tonight the stars are out in an inky sky.
In contrast with home, here after a blistering hot day
nightfall does not bring much relief
only the suffocating humidity of tropical summer.
Here there’s no slow drive to a favorite pub with the windows down, and there are no friends to hang out with. Only food to be prepared and cooked as my stomach not so subtly reminded me.
Beam me up, please.
-Morning Beautiful! Congratulations on being on this planet for half a century. Here’s a coffee – just the way you like it – and a gluten free croissant, good quality imported butter on the side, French Brie and avocado.
-Now, how’s that body of yours doing? Need a bit of tune up or adjustments?
-There you go! General tone up, slender legs and arms, flat belly, firm boobs. New spine and neck, new ligaments and tendons where missing. No more migraines or insomnia. No more allergies or food intolerances. Done.
-Wow! My word! (flexing an unrecognisable ankle).
-Now, what would you like to do today? Anything!
-Eh, can I have endless inspiration to write, please? And better grammar…
-Consider it done. Let’s throw in a five book contract, an editor, and an agent who loves your work at the same time. What else? This is your day, no time to be bashful. Go for it!
(insert Gulp and nervous laughter)
-Can you arrange for a granny annex for us and work for hubby that he enjoys in BC? Beam us, the cat, and our stuff there?
-Would you like to dress and shower first?
-I think so. Probably best. And feed the cats.
-There you are then! Rent’s paid for a year to get you started. Ready?
-Ready as I’ll ever be.
-Done! Here we are! Want us to unpack?
-Holy carp! Please, since you seem so good at it.
-Ok. What’s next?
-Can I have a little tea party with my celestial mates in the garden this evening?
-Of course. Can’t see why not. Sushi? Strawberries and coconut cream?
-Perfect! Look forward to it. A new journal and fountain pen? A writing desk and bookcase?
-Have a look around, I think you’ll find them in the study.
– There is a study?
-Indeed. There’s also a new queen memory foam mattress in the bedroom, and a set of bedding to fit too. It must be comfortable coz your husband seem to have fallen asleep on it already, and the cat’s are playing chase in the kitchen. As well as your own books we added a few we thought you’ll enjoy. Anything else?
-A few local friends would be wonderful.
-They’ll text you tomorrow. Here’s your keys.
-Oh, for the house?
-For the house and the car in the driveway. Though you might need one. It’s insured and taxed. Happy birthday love! There’s one downtown, in Field street.
-An excellent tattooist. For that cattoo you’ve been wanting to get. And you have an appointment with the P’s at 3pm tomorrow. Enjoy!
I am speechless. I don’t know what to say. I really don’t. Flabbergasted.
-Don’t go! I haven’t even begun to thank you yet! I don’t even know your name…
The mosquitoes pull me out of my reverie.
I love our roof, but damn, I wish this had been real.
I haven’t posted anything on this blog in what feels like forever. Occasionally I have ideas; after all I’m a writer and that’s what I do. Or I do write something, but by the time I get around to typing it up, I have sort of moved on….?
I have however written quite a lot. I intend to look through it and see if anything still feels relevant enough to share. This is from today, sparked by a video-clip someone shared.
I should be happy
and all the other shoulds in life
is what’s actually ruining lives
The constant pressure to ‘be happy’
or at least put on a happy face
to be acceptable.
We could learn from our ancestors
their stern faces in early photographs
there is nothing wrong with not putting a happy sticker on.
It comes with immense pressure
and invisible fingers pointing out not happy.
Not being happy
as a person
and at life.
Denying what we feel is perpetuating it
allowing to feel can be the first step towards
When it comes to depression
‘fake it till you make it’
really is the worst piece of ‘advice’ and
one of the cliches I hate indiscriminately
with a passion that’s completely disproportionate tells me
it’s the worst thing I could do to a best friend
-and thereby also to myself.
We were given a range of emotions
all as valid as the others.
The stigma surrounding depression and other related states of being
prevents us from being able to be open about it
prevents us from seeking and receiving help.
Nobody wants that label,
and yet it is part of who we are
every last one of us.
Sometimes it takes chemicals to redress the balance
Other times all it takes is to be heard
really listened to.
Think about that all you habitual chatters
who can’t get enough of hearing your own babbling voices.
When was the last time you said
no really, how are you? and meant it.
Allowed the other person to reply with something aside from
But don’t push.
They may not want to.
They may not want to be seen as
a undesirable state however temporary.
They may not want you to know
or want any unsolicited advice,
or allow them selves to be that vulnerable
in a world so inclined to judge
anyone who isn’t happy
May be judging themselves
just like I judge me.
I should be happy
I should be grateful
I have no reason to -fill in the blank
Hot on the heels of should is guilt
I’m not grateful enough
I’m a bad ungrateful person
I’m not enough.
I haven’t tried hard enough
because if I had
I’d have got this
and I’m not so I clearly have not
must try harder.
And like a punctured balloon
or every spoon
drains out of my being
faster than physics would say is possible
but it is
because it’s letting me know
I’m on the wrong track.
Not that I know what do do with it
in that moment
or the next one
or the next day
the next week
The feeling of letting myself down
judging myself by the lack of outward signs of success
is my hamster wheel.
I know what I want and
I haven’t got a f-kin clue how to get there from here.
I refuse to accept maybe I never will
refuse to lower my standards for myself
setting myself up for more failure
Not allowing myself to recharge and regroup
sufficiently fortified with rest and care
because I’m not worth that
because I have not tried hard enough…
No rest for the one who has nothing to show for it
who has not accomplished enough
for their own liking.
I know what I want damn it
And I plain refuse to kill myself trying to prove just one thing.
To give up my entire existence for one goal
when I want realize so many more.
Even I recognize the madness in that.
Still I refuse to give up trying
because then I’d be lazy too
another unforgivable trait in my programming.
Sorry for taking your time
I have to go now
and pursue that holy grail once more
the one of joy and happiness.
It’s what I say
when I don’t want you to see how much I am really hurting
being a failure in my own eyes
for what I thought was a given
what I clearly can’t have.
Not in this life, buddy.
Get over it.
Take one for the team, loser.
Who the hell would want you as a friend?
But I really am sorry for wasting your time.
I love you.
If you remember nothing else
And never tell anyone to ‘smile!”
or ‘fake it till you make it’.
Or I will make it a point to haunt you when I’m gone.
You will not like it.
Because it’s my birthday this weekend YOU get the presents! All weekend my book The Spirit of Flying is $0.99 as an ebook on Amazon. And as Amazon have not found a way to pay me it’s going to charity, to The Cats House on the Kings. Here’s the link for the USA but it’s available on ALL their sites.
If you like it please leave an honest review.
And if you are on facebook head over to my writers page and check that too:
Red is doing very well, he’s got his appetite back (and then some!) but he is still very skinny. I guess putting some meat back on the bones needs to happen slowly rather than fat.
He’s such a writer’s cat: he sleeps when I work and only ever interrupts if I’m late with their dinner.
Being greeted with his sweet little face (and Milou and Tabita) in the morning reminds me that every day together is a bonus, a gift of allowing us to love them.