Friend or Foe: Reacquainting with the Beast

socs-badgeThis week is the one-year anniversary of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. I’ve loved this weekly prompt, even though I haven’t participated every week. Sometimes, when nothing else can motivate me, I look forward to this prompt to break the logjam of ideas.

This week Linda writes:

As a special feature for February’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, The Bee and I have decided to collaborate! As you may know, on her site – Just Fooling Around with Bee – a month-long blog-hop is going on in recognition of Love, called “Love Is In Da Blog.” The week 4 prompt is Love in friendship.

Then she adds: Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: acquaint and/or friend.

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And now, I write:

I apologize to my male readers in advance, but when I personify something that gives me a lot of grief, I automatically make it male. So the character that I introduce in this post has had a male identity in my mind for the last 20 years. It might be time to revisit that decision, but not today.

Thirty years ago, after the birth of my third child, I realized something was wrong. I don’t know exactly when it happened that I had stopped caring about things, when I started simply going through the motions of getting through the day. But on that particular day, I looked out the window of the living room, and knew that things didn’t add up. If everyone had as lethargic as I did,  no one would be out moving around outside. Yet, when I looked out the window, people WERE moving around.

And at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with  depression. It’s possible that it was part of me before that, but we had not been formally introduced. Since that time, the depression has been a rather consistent companion. I used to believe that if I worked hard enough, I could get him to leave. I saw him as an intruder, a thief who robbed me of happiness and motivation. On quite a few occasions, I’ve convinced myself that I had successfully overcome it, and would congratulate myself on being back to “normal,” but after several times of crashing into the depths again, I knew I needed a different approach.

So after 12 years of battling him as an enemy to be defeated, I named him and accepted his commitment to our relationship. I decided to try to “make friends” with him, or at least negotiate some kind of truce so that we could co-exist. Since The Beast (as I not-so-affectionately name him) is convinced he wants to stay around, I/we established  a few ground rules for our relationship. I agreed to stop trying to evict him, and his bids for attention have become less intense–most of the time.

Interestingly, I can usually put on a good face no matter how I feel, especially if I have an obligation to meet. More often than not, people who see me (especially at work), have no idea that I’m battling The Beast. As a result, people (who do find out) are often surprised to learn I’m dealing with The Beast. For example, during my second year in Taiwan, I had a total knee replacement. When I was meeting with my orthopedic surgeon beforehand, we went over my medications, and he expressed something close to shock: “YOU are being treated for depression?” 

In my role as teacher and mentor, there are times when students are also surprised to find out that I understand depression so intimately. When students come to me with motivation problems or depressive symptoms, I am able to help them, often by simply sharing part of my own story.  They are so surprised to learn that it is something I deal with. In fact, sometimes I recognize symptoms in students before they realize that something isn’t quite right. When I’m able to ask them a few questions, and I see the recognition in their eyes, I don’t mind so much that I’ve spent the time with the Beast. Who would have thought that The Beast was serving me well in this unexpected way?

I don’t think I will ever refer to The Beast as a friend, but I no longer treat him as the enemy. I look for ways to keep most of his drama at bay, so I can still get the things done that need to be done. However, sometimes his cries for attention come at the most inopportune times. When that happens, I try to think of him as a part of me that is missing something that he needs, something that I’m forgetting to give myself. I don’t let him control my life, but I don’t try to pretend he doesn’t exist or ignore his pleas for help. I like to think that this attitude is what has made it easier to get along with The Beast. We’re both a little more understanding.

80 days until 60!

If you’d like to participate in this week’s challenge, here are the links.

http://lindaghill.com/2015/02/27/special-edition-friday-prompt-for-socs-february-2815/

https://justfoolingaroundwithbee.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/love-is-in-da-blog-february-ping-back-post-rulessuggestions-week-4/

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Time to Think about Time

Our Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “time.”

Lately, time and I have an uneasy relationship. I keep trying to plan it, manage it, rearrange the plans, and it just keeps on going, as if I don’t matter. When we are in synch, I feel productive, fulfilled, sometimes even invigorated or hopeful. But other times, I feel overwhelmed. Then I realize that it isn’t really time’s fault. It isn’t the fickle one, changing moods and priorities at every turn. Time is so consistent, annoyingly so sometimes. I want it to be a little more flexible, a little more willing to go with the flow. Enjoy the spontaneity of our relationship. But no, just the same old answer every time I ask: tick tock, tick tock, or some variation of it, with a few chimes or bird calls thrown in for good measure. How is one to maintain a good relationship with such limited conversational options?

Time knows me though. It knows that if it weren’t consistent, I’d complain about that. I’d be asking how am I supposed to get anything done when I can’t depend on you? Geez, Time, if you’re going to change the details of our relationship without giving me enough information, how can I trust you? Time just looks at me with a knowing half-smile. Damn, maybe I’m the one with the problem!

I guess, if the truth be told, I’m a little jealous of Time’s consistency. I think I’d like to be consistent–maybe not in a regimented way, but in a way that allows me to walk in better step with time. It would be nice not to be out of synch so often.

I keep trying things, dividing time into blocks, compartments that I can use to have at least small pieces of success with the way I use time. I try to play matchmaker between these time blocks and the tasks on my to-do list. Sometimes it works, but not consistently. So I try other ideas.

I know I need to get along with time, but some of my other regular companions don’t always play nice. Motivation is totally fickle, and I wish it would learn a few things from Time. But if I’m honest, the one that really messes things up pretty regular is Depression. It comes and drains all the Excitement and Vision from Motivation, snubs its nose at Time, and is totally comfortable with the misery it leave behind.

Therein lies my real problem with time, but I need to be careful not to use depression as a reason to give up on my other friends. They deserve more. Time, Motivation, Excitement, Vision, and Well-Being are the ones who make life worthwhile and who keep in touch with my human friends. Without them, Depression has a tendency to be a little possessive and get in the way of all my friendships.

Somewhere along the way, several years ago, I read something about making friends with Depression, or at least, don’t spend so much time actively resisting it. I’m not quite so sure how I feel about that, but I do know that ignoring it isn’t the way to go. Maybe Time and I will need to give a little, and at least help Depression feel a little less like an outcast. Maybe a listening ear is just is needed. It’s worth a try.

 

This post is part of SofCS: http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-august-1614/

 

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If We Were Having Coffee: The One That Almost Wasn’t

admin-ajax.phpI haven’t done one of these since the end of June. I almost called this: The July Edition, but I think I do want to get back to doing this on some kind of schedule. So with any luck, there will be one more before the month ends, but no promises. So grab your cup of coffee, tea, or whatever strikes your fancy, and let’s get started.

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If we were having coffee,I’d tell you that . . .

. . . today, we finally have our new bedroom air conditioner! It was installed early this afternoon, and it’s already heavenly. I may have to move my computer and sewing machine in there for the duration of the summer. We’ll see.

If we were having coffee,I’d tell you that . . .

. . . I’m frustrated that I haven’t been having coffee with you lately. I would tell you that I have kept hoping I would find some motivation to care about things. I want to feel excited about something. I want to have something to look forward to.  I want to CARE about something, almost anything.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that . . .

. . . my blog is about the only activity keeping me connected to people at the moment. It is the only drive I feel, writing something every day, so that I feel that I am accomplishing something in spite of myself. I still get a few other things done, but it is not the whirlwind of productivity I thought I’d be involved in at this point.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that . . .

. . . I’ve just been invited to go the Yingge Ceramic Museum tomorrow. You can read the blog post from my first trip there in early 2013. I’d rather keep to myself tomorrow, but I think getting out in the world to do something that others consider fun might be good for me. Afterwards, we’re going to a coffee shop to do some zentangling and hanging out. With any luck, there will be photos.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that . . .

. . . things will eventually work themselves out, and I’ll be back to feeling like my normal optimistic self, but for now, I’m going to ride this out and look forward to our next coffee.

Finally, if we were having coffee, I’d tell you that . . .

. . . I really appreciate your willingness to have coffee with me even when I’m not all cheery and full of good news. Your friendship means the world to me.