Friday, June 3, 2016

Depression. Also: Love.

Disclaimer: Firstly, understand that I have struggled with depression, several major times in my life, and still do from time to time. Secondly, understand that as a "sufferer" or "victim" of depression, I do not subscribe to the popular culture of depression.

I search Google with a word that terrorizes millions (approx. 15mil, according to Psychology Today), and what do I find? Headlines such as "Symptoms of Depression - Depression is not a choice" or "Major Depression" or "Learn how to cope with depression." Psychology Today says that it is "an illness that comes in many forms—from major depression and seasonal affective disorder, to dysthymia and bipolar disorder. Depression is an illness that increasingly afflicts people worldwide, interfering with concentration, motivation and many other aspects of everyday functioning. It is a complex disorder, involving many systems of the body, including the immune system, either as cause or effect. It disrupts sleep, and it interferes with appetite, in some cases causing weight loss, in others weight gain. Because of its complexity, a full understanding of depression has been elusive."

There is also some scientific evidence that links depression to certain nutritional deficiencies.

I can attest to the truth of the claim that "depression is not a choice" because there are times when I feel there should be no reason whatsoever for me to be depressed. The choice comes in when we choose how to deal with it. But more on that later.

This is an open letter to someone I care for very deeply, who has recently deemed they are suffering from depression (note that there is no official diagnosis). Know I love you very much. Know that I DO know what you are going through. I have had plenty of reasons to be depressed over my life. My parents divorced when I was thirteen (in point of fact, a counselor diagnosed me with depression and was treating me with St. John's Wort until I got sick of having to rely on the pills just to feel like a person), I got pregnant at 17, married at 18 to a man many years older than I, and divorced myself 8 years after that. That same man claimed my children from me, by simple virtue of the fact that I couldn't afford to care for them (my father and stepmother supported and assisted him, and no one assisted and supported me at the time), and now I live 645 miles away from them. So, yes, I know depression. We are old enemies.

But you should understand about enemies. Depression is an enemy, a bully, a trial, a hardship... but all these things have one very important commonality, and one very important weakness. Depression, like an enemy, or a trial, or a hardship, is nothing more than a challenge to be met. Enemies and bullies can be defeated, trials and hardships overcome.  Metal must be torn from the earth, subjected to flame and hammer, and finally quenched in oil and water, to become strong and useful, to become something more than inert material. Metal becomes a sword. In some stories, dragons must breathe fire over their eggs or they won't hatch. Heroes don't become heroes until they've walked through the fire... but they had to choose. Frodo was depressed as hell, but he carried the Ring anyway. And at the end, someone who cared for Frodo came along and helped him do what was necessary. Sam and Dean, who lost their father and family and others along the way, keep hunting and fighting regardless, and not only have each other but Castiel as well. The Doctor, over 900 years old and lost his whole planet as well as said goodbye to dozens of people he cared about (think about Rose, or Amy!), has his companions, and continues to save the universe.





You, my dear, have me. You have family and friends who love you.  But we can't help you unless you let us.

Depression has a secret weakness.

It has no real power.

All it has is a voice, that it likes to pretend is your own, telling you all the horrible things - you're worthless, incapable, pathetic, can't do anything right, what's the point of even trying - until you believe it. You either let it convince you, or you spit in its eye and keep going just to spite the bastard. As a friend once said, "drag the monsters under the bed into the light, kicking and screaming." Monsters can't live in the light. Depression will hide under your bed and sneak out when it's dark to try to drag you back down. It -will- happen. The rest of your life, probably. Be stronger than it. Get up off the couch, spit in its eye, and DO something. Some days I have to wrap myself around the pain and keep going, because otherwise I really am useless, and I refuse to be useless. I have family. I have kids who need me. I am an artist, goddammit, and I will shoot myself in the foot before I allow depression to keep me from doing and being what I need and want to be and do.

In the end, my dear, it's your choice. But you have to choose. And every day that you don't get out of bed in the morning, every day you sit on the couch wrapped in your blanket, is a day you choose to allow it to defeat you. And yes, it really is that easy. There will be days when it feels harder than you can handle, but it's a lie. You can do it. Don't listen to those idiots who tell you that you can't help it, that it's ok to sit and mope. Fuck them. Sitting and moping only makes it stronger. You're better than it and you're better than them. Just because they can't handle it, doesn't mean you have to be like them. It's not something you just hunker down and sit through until it's over... because if you do that, it will NEVER end. The only way to beat it, to stop hurting, is to get up and walk it off, get up and Be.

Believe me, I know.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

13

Despite being ignored, passed over, and generally discounted as a mother for several years now, I've thought long and hard about this day. You see, I've been cut out of my eldest two girls' lives in various ways for going on six years now, mostly due to the fact that we can barely afford to feed the youngest and ourselves, the gas money to get to the grocery store and back... much less a place to live, a place for them to live where they want to be. That is on its way to changing, but I'm sure that won't make much difference to minds that are made up. I am given no acknowledgement as their mother, whatsoever. I'm pretty sure very few people will read this, much less comment. After all, I'm just the "other" parent. They don't live with me, so I don't matter.

But I remember. I carried her, birthed her. She was two weeks late, and they had to induce labor. Emergency C-section after 14 hours of labor and anguish, blood and pain... and terror as her first cry was delayed almost a full minute. Weary pride. Fear, and love... two edges of the sharpest knife a mother will ever throw herself on. I raised her, not alone but lonely. I fought for what was best for her, and her sister... I lost, but I fought. I still fight. Very few can say the same.

Caroline turns 13 today. Her grandparents are taking her and the middle sister on a Disney cruise, and I hope it's the best time she's ever had. Her first day as a teenager, she's spending without me, without her Papa Dragon, and without her baby sister. We were not even invited to her birthday celebration.  This is a miserable, joyful day for me. It's agony. But I'm proud of her. She has blossomed and flourished in spite of those who would suppress her, In spite of being denied opportunities and support to grow and explore herself, she's found ways to be uniquely and beautifully herself. She is big-hearted, smart, creative, self-determined, struggling to overcome herself as she grows up, as she's going through changes. She is ridiculously clumsy, but she's got long, strong legs and a torso frame that shows promise of outright knockout proportions. She's a beautiful girl, who's going to be a gorgeous lady... an amazing wrapper for the wonder that she is as a person.

Artist. Writer. Reader. Photographer. Girl Scout. Sometime Tae Kwon Do practitioner. Singer. Violinist. Tomboy. Fangirl. Nerd of many colors. Budding gamer. Trekkie. Jedi-in-training. Whovian. Digidestined. Zoid Pilot. Dragon trainer. Philanthropist in the making. Budding chef & baker. Gardener. Backyard scientist. Adventurer. Big(est) sister. Wonderful daughter. Today you are celebrated, with flame and joy. Today you are lifted high. Today you pass from child to something more. Today is your birthday, and you are adored, supported, wanted, and loved.

With all our hearts
We are proud of you.
-Mama (and Papa) Dragon, and the Wyrmling.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

NaPoWriMo 2015 with Magaly Guerrero, Day 8: It Hurts, but It Doesn’t Harm

Today, Magaly says to: "weave a poem that explores the difference between hurt and harm."

For simplification's sake, she narrowed it down to the difference between physical pain and physical harm. I think I know exactly what she means...


Ouch
Leather loves the taste of sweat and skin
Whip thrills to the swift lash
Knife... well, everyone knows what Knife thirsts for.
Leather was the first; she knows the fleshlings best
She knows their play and she smiles
with an amusement bordering indulgence.
There was always joy in their noises
of mutual appreciation.
Whip came later, and got along with Leather pretty well
Knife was new, though... 
And Leather didn't know how to feel about that.
She wasn't particularly fond of the taste of blood.

"Ouch," said Knife, as something soft went past his edges.
Whip winced in sympathy; the fleshling's cries were far too loud.
Leather, restraining flesh bared for Whip and Knife, rolled her eyes.
Knife was new to the game; he didn't know what to expect.
Whip was a wimp, even though she liked to bite.
Leather knew the fleshling's cries well;
they were rather incoherent most of the time.
 The second fleshling, always unbound, always talked softly
but tonight something was wrong.
Tonight, his voice was loud.

Knife bit fleshling far too deeply, and Whip tasted the wound.
Fleshing cried out again, this time in terror.
The unbound one's eyes glittered
with an expression that Leather didn't like.
If Whip wasn't flying, she'd be covering her eyes.
Knife, again. Whip, again.
Until Leather gagged on blood
and choked on the stench of fear.
The unbound was snarling, rage and madness in its hands...
Until the only sound was the drip, drip, drip
of the blood's flow slowing
but Leather still couldn't see.

Leather felt hands; felt Knife and Whip bundled up next to her
They whispered in the dark to one another;
"What's happened?"
"I don't know!"
"Something bad," said Knife, and they all fell silent.
There was noise again, and then... dirt.
And then Leather could see, just a little.
Something orange and yellow flickered too brightly
And she knew fear.
Leather screamed as the heat began to touch her.
Whip wept and whimpered inconsolably
but neither understood
what Knife knew, all too well:
that there are some things
even Fire cannot burn away.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

NaPoWriMo with Magaly Guerrero, day 4: Feeling so Deeply it Hurts

(Yes, I skipped day 3. This is my attempt to catch up. I may yet go back to day 3. Yes, I am a time traveler. No, you may not hop a ride in my TARDIS.)

From Magaly: "On day 4 of NaPoWriMo with Magaly Guerrero 2015, I wish you to write a poem that shows how an emotion might increase physical pain, and vice versa."


Exile

Shake your head and turn away.
Close your ears to what I could not say.
Blind your eyes to what was right in front of you.
Blame me
Deride me
Pity me

Go on, it's only words
flung blindly from your hearts
oozing with ill-conceived emotions
and birthed from misbegotten loins.
Still, they slice like the knife
and burn like poison
and sear like fire.

I never lied, not once,
except to tell you I was just fine,
except when I told you
nothing was wrong.
Let's be honest now
you didn't want to hear it.
My truth
would have cut you deeper
than your words behind my back 
will ever scar my flesh
(and you should know, it will scar).

I embrace the torment
of your misunderstandings, 
flung like bullets through my unprotected Self.
I take it in and place it
alongside my own
so they won't be lonely.
I wrap myself around the pain
and keep going,
just as I've always done.
Because it's the only thing
I know how to do. 
Because it's the only thing
you've ever known how to let me do.

Until now.
I stand, I burn, I breathe
Take it in, transmute it, make it mine.
By Fire and Earth and Air
Transform woe into weal,
Forged, grounded, carried aloft.
By Sword, Stone, and Feather
I stand here as I am, to offer it up
-my own shed skin, rent asunder-
a sacrifice to show the world
(should it care to see)
that things would have been so much better
had only "I" become "we."

Friday, April 3, 2015

NaPoWriMo with Magaly Guerrero, day 3: Indulgences

From Magaly: "Craft a poem about spoiling your Self or the Self of another. Let decadence run wild."

To honor my Dragon.

Dragon's Hoard

Our hearts
flowing with love like rivers of gold
keep you close and and dear.
 
Our eyes, bright as gems,
sparkling in delight, excitement, joy
gaze upward to your face, well loved.

Our arms draped about your neck
like strings of pearls
to hold and be held.

Our minds as one
in knowing you;
with our lips we bless you
with words:
 
Guardian, Comfort, Friend
Teacher, Playmate, Protector
Father, Lover
We, your treasure hoard, name you
Ours.

Dragons' Treasure by Skye-Fyre on deviantART

NaPoWriMo with Magaly Guerrero, day 2: Creativity and Pain

"How do you use (or imagine others can use): Creativity to make Pain bearable? Today’s 'poem should explore creativity as a healing salve, as a shield, as a weapon, or as a negotiation method to use when dealing with physical and/or psychological pain.'"

I don't live with physical pain like many I know. Magaly, my Dragon, his father, my grandmother, my dad.... and others. I have had pain: migraines, birthing pains, surgery recoveries. I cannot begin to imagine the insanity of living with pains like those every day.

There are pains I know well, however; pains of the heart and mind. I'm a mother, I'm an artist, I am a woman... who was it that once said something along the lines of "women bear the pains of the world" or suchlike? Women know pain... wise women embrace it and turn it to their purpose, to make something beautiful out of something horrific. The Japanese know the concept. I'm sure you've seen this meme floating around the Internet, or one similar:


To be a woman, an artist, a mother, is to live this idea, every day. We have three daughters. The first I gave birth to at seventeen - both joyous and terrible an occasion. The second was years later, and a happier occasion, as was the third... though all three were unplanned, they were gifts. The elder two live with my ex-husband, the youngest with us. Long story short, I didn't have the money or means to make life turn out the way I wanted it to, the way I believe would be best for my children. The ex had the money to make his ideas happen instead, so here we are.

This is about that first child, and the others - they were all C-section:

Beautiful/Broken
Breathe
Drift
Pain...
fades
Don't push, not yet  
Breathe again
Smile
Don't cry 
Fear... don't fear
Don't think
Just breathe
Fourteen hours
Weakened
Broken
Knife.
Living cry
Small cry
Sweet cry
Survival
She lives
She breathes
Joy
Terror
Suckle
Cuddle
Rest
Live.