Saturday, April 1, 2017

Happy National Poetry Month!

I admit that it's probably not the smartest thing for a depressed and overworked person to decide to take on an intense challenge like NaPoWriMo.  Partly, that's my ornery nature that leads me to not be the sad kind of depression, but to have agitated depression, which I've been meaning to write a post about but have been grading instead. So here's the short version, which is probably a blessing: although I am sometimes just lethargic and/or sad or have no feeling at all, most of the time I am irritable, agitated, or just plain pissed off, sometimes actually screaming.  (I know, people who know me in real life are thinking -- well, how can we tell the difference between this and the way she is normally?  Yes, yes.  It turns out, it's an illness, not just general bitchiness.)  Basically, it's like this.  Those of you who know about how bad perimenopausal PMS is, where it turns into PMDD and you're sure every single thing in your life is veined with irremediable wrongness and rottedness to it -- from your marriage to your job to your child -- your fault, of course.  Everything is deeply deeply wrong.  I call these black moods (though I realize that sucks from a racial point of view and have been trying to come up with some better descriptor).  That's what agitated depression feels like all the time until you realize that you're the problem and then when you feel full of badness and craziness all all uncontrolled and loose inside you all at the same time, that's when you want most to cry and go to bed.

And instead of me being alternately bitchy and helpless, I am taking sertraline, which also might be giving me delusions of grandeur about how much energy I should have or maybe one day will have.  I definitely feel more productive and analytical, which is why I should focus on NaPoWriMo, because it's more difficult to get more creative and, if I am taking prescription drugs, I should at least get good things out of it like creativity.  Partly, though, this is from the example of JaneB over at Now, what was I doing? who has done NaNoWriMo so many times!  I don't know how she does it!  But I'm going to try to figure that out this month.  Anyway,  I figure if I end up writing a "poem" half the time I intend to and then half of those end up worth looking at again, then that's a ton of work, actually most of what I'd intended to do in a year.  I'll just start and see what happens. 

But now I am letting blogging get in the way of getting me to write a "poem" which I need to do before I get onto my syllabi for the next quarter.  Need to hop to!

And no, I won't be posting my "poems."  Just no. 

You're welcome.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Depression is. . .

being so stressed that your muscles all hurt when touched, and your shoulder are so tense they ache from nothing at all.

knowing that you're off-kilter and so you decide it's worth it to take extra time to carefully lay everything out, each class's folder and today's handouts and the reading in careful piles you can just pick up and take.  When you get to class, you realize the pile you picked up is the wrong one. 

even after the time you really did leave the burner on, though it didn't hurt anything, and you've tried to be super-careful most nights when you cook, you sit down and he says "the burner is on" and gets up to turn it off.  There's no question.  You did it again.

forgetting that you're preheating the oven to heat up a burrito and walking into the kitchen authentically surprised to see the burrito waiting there twice in ten minutes.

working plenty of hours this week (42 hours though I didn't factor in every email) but still insanely behind because you work.so.goddamn.slowly.  And I can't push myself very hard either because just going forward at all is such a struggle and clearly I can blow a gasket because I am so close to gasket-blowing every time some jerk does something foolish on the highway so I just try to keep as even keeled as possible and ask others to step in where they can.  Poor Husband.

hating being sick. Hating being a burden and a source of worry.  Don't worry.  Don't hate me because I'm going a little crazy now.  I'm sorry. Every meeting I go to, every class I teach I just want to say look, I am so sorry.  You totally deserve better than this, but this is all I've got.  I know it's shite but I really am doing the very best that I can. I don't even want to talk about how I feel about my parenting just now.  Right now Spirited! is being parented by Yoda.  He's gone ape over Star Wars.

walking from your office through the hallway to the classroom realizing you could cry right now, you could just burst into tears right at this minute but you're not going to and you're just going to pull yourself together and take a deep breath and go teach your class.

choosing to treat yourself carefully so you don't get so flaming pissed that you're screaming your head off in your car or having a panic attack while driving in the snow.

Friday, March 10, 2017

I'm Depressed. How Are You?

So Bardiac has a post up just now about seeing a student in office hours who is missing a lot of class because of anxiety and depression.  And I found myself having a lot to say in the comment I was going to leave because -- get this -- I just today went to my doctor to get meds because I'm having a major depressive episode.  I found myself writing a comment that was really all about trying to explain what it feels like to have a major depressive episode to someone who either hasn't had one or has had one but copes well enough through it to not be a menace to herself or others.  (I say that Bardiac may be a coper because she spoke of how for so many people "just getting up and dragging themselves through the day is how they get by a lot of the time."  That is how depression feels, so I'm thinking she just was able to slug through it in ways that some of us may not be able to.  I don't know.)  Anyway, it became clear I have something to say on this subject.

Though I've felt low for a long time, until this point I wanted to avoid covering up my unhappiness with meds and tried to address it naturally through supplements and herbs. (Also perimenopause is kicking my ass, especially how it has amped up my PMS to the point I really do actually hate everything for a few days and am sure that every single thing in my life is poisoned.) That I went to go get anti-depressants is a measure of how bad things are just now.  Part of why I chose to take meds this time is desperation -- I can't do anything about the things making me unhappy if I have no energy and motivation to do anything but be pissy about my unhappy lot.  (Quite literally, I don't have the energy to catch up on my grading or to apply to job postings I've found that sound like much better jobs than my own.  Help!) Also to control the damage -- I'm so low now I can't quite keep myself from letting it leak out, either in grumpy comments (you should see me cuss out every other driver on the highway), or cursing, even in front of my child, or snapping at people, especially my child.  So while I do on a regular basis drag myself out of bed and through my day, I'm doing it incredibly poorly now and with such bad grace. A huge part of my ability to drag myself through my day at all has to do with habit and responsibility and maturity -- absolutely zero of it has to do with how I feel or my energy level.  I have a kid and a breadwinner responsibility; that, my coffee, and more supplements than you would believe get me out of bed in the morning.  That's powerful force to counter the heavy weight around my ankle that is depression.  But if I only had myself to care for, as I did when I started this blog, I'd probably be in bed all the time.  I've certainly documented in times past the struggles I have to get myself to do things on my own.

Because of the times that I really struggle to cope, I empathize with students who suffer from anxiety and depression.  I get it. 

Sorry to be Debbie Downer.  That's what I'm really good at, these days.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ten Years Later

This blog's ten-year anniversary came and went in December, not that I've been blogging for that long -- there are several years I didn't write a thing here.  I certainly remembered and thought of the anniversary last month, but December is a really busy time with the holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries all crowded up against each other.  So the blog, as usual, gets short shrift.

But I wanted to note something here just for the record.  Ten years ago, I started this blog when I went to the Big Academic Conference for interviews for the first time.   I couldn't see into the future and imagine where I'd be in ten years but I was interviewing for jobs.  Where am I?  I'm tenured, overworked, out of place.  I'm married with a son.  It feels funny to have worked so hard in grad school and now I wonder whether the academy is the best place for me, though I honestly can't think of a better place.  What's going on with me now besides moving my projects forward at the snail's pace that is my wont is that I've taken up a hobby, purely and totally for enjoyment.  No little voice in the back of my head saying maybe I could make extra money at this or change jobs or whatever.  I've finally, in my forties, learned the value of something that is 100% a hobby (unlike crochet, where you get something at the end of it and so can call it useful).  And that seems important, not just in terms of my own life, but also that in terms of what becomes important to a person who is post-tenure.  You know what's important?  Joy.  Delight.  Happy times.  (Not working all the time.)

I want to go dancing.  (Some things don't change.)