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Spring Forsakenings

Most people look forward to spring. To people with mood issues and to people who live in Anchorage, it’s just another day in Mar a Lago but without the green, the golf and, thank God, the president.

My winter was okay, plenty of cross country skiing and skating, employment, fun. When spring comes to Alaska the winter sports end and the waiting begins. Waiting for summer because spring is a mess just like my head.  This photo sums it up.life.png

This is what snow looks like after the spring plowing exposes it to the light. Layers  of  snowflakes crushed  into prickly ice mixed with months of dirt. That’s what I feel like right now. More like layers of ice cream crushed into bitterness mixed with months of black mood morsels.

Spring cheer is not based on a date or on the return of sunlight. It’s rooted in hope and opportunity.  I like to go on walks but this is what greets me.

walk

Icy hills North or South are my only alternatives. Deathtrap. Stay inside. Eat. Mope

But if I do I miss the view at the top.

street.png

Or what’s on the other side.

icey

The little birds are back despite the ice. The geese and gulls are waiting. The actually greening will occur in early May over one short week. Until then I will keep my car plugged in and trudge on.

 

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Hopeful post challenge

Only a hopeful God could create the flamingo

When I write a post about depression my entire family calls me up! That’s very bad conditioning folks. Ignore negative behaviors, reinforce pleasant ones. My sister Ruth has admonished me to write something hopeful for once. Here goes.

1.  I hope someone gives Newt Gingrich a television show where he can showcase his wild ideas about government. He can have a chorus line of beautiful blonds called the Ging-ho’s. It worked to side track Palin.

2.  I hope that given this lengthy economic downturn, communal living will once again become popular, but this time without the patchouli.

3.  I hope that expensive sports like football are replaced with cheap ones which don’t cause head injuries, like jacks and marbles.

4.  I hope that instead of passing a written test, every student should have to bake and serve a passing hot lunch in order to graduate.

5.  I hope that cursive writing doesn’t die but becomes the letter style of love and intrigue instead of the bane of third graders.

6. I hope that the world isn’t too cynical for a new dance craze that’s fun and goofy and doesn’t exist to make you lose weight or have a marketable name like Zumba.

7. I hope that the only resource to dry up in my time is rayon.

8.  I hope that I can save the Greek economy by eating more Feta cheese.

9. I hope that the nursing home I wind up in will have wheelchair races.

10. I hope that this era picks up so we don’t get known as The Age of Enfrightenment or Belttightenment but The Age of Delightenment.

Inviting solutions

My life before I committed to recovery

I have long term issues with depression. They are not disabling in that I can work, I have friends and a life but sometimes it all means nothing. This post is a warm up for mental health blog day which is coming up very soon. I have found it important to be honest about my depression and anxiety because I am at different points on the mental health spectrum throughout my life and have observed that others are as well. There is a lot of pretending going on and I suppose that is part of survival but it is not part of my recovery.

I slip and slide regularly between states of anxious tension and giving up. I have a reputation for intensity, for quick cutting remarks, a history of  hurting other children. These could be seen as maladaptive personality traits but the difference is that I did not want to be like this. I sought help because I was miserable and have found several solutions to the irritability and stuckness which has given me hope if not a cure.

1. Patience. There may not be a cure to cancer, schizophrenia or depression and indeed your life is your own to take but  there may be a good moment around the corner of existence. My life has been long, but not in terms of the length of human civilization. I can learn very little from 10 years of pain. I am not a patient person. I race my own shadow, eat Nutella out of a jar and interrupt conversations constantly. We aren’t all born to be Nelson Mandela but dealing with an illness involves choices around growing through the cracks. I don’t judge those who chose to end their lives. Resiliency, like grace, can’t be taught but it is something that appears without bidding and I don’t want to miss it.

2. Follow a program. Even though many people are not extroverts like I am, it’s unbelievably helpful to have a support group in which you can help others and others can help you. Go to meetings and keep up connections weekly if possible.When you or others get sick, this is a life insurance policy.

3. Use what you’ve got. I stare at all the blocked doors and sometimes miss the opportunities to be part of life. I have had a reputation for being negative, for being too falsely positive in reaction to that and one of disappearing into nothingness. I have challenged the internal message that I  get easily emotionally overwhelmed  by experimenting with my limits. I’ve learned that I frequently feel trapped but that doesn’t mean I never go places I have hesitations about. I try new things because I’m sure I’m going to fail and sometimes I prove myself wrong. I know it’s hard to do this when there’s not enough energy to move a pin but I have also learned that I have to weigh the benefits of staying in and going out and doing. Balance is good. Find your own.

 

 

 

 

2.

How green was my valley

May I have a little more?

Great book, great movie, Roddy McDowell was much cuter before he moved from Wales to Planet of the Apes. Sometimes I think that way about myself, moving from Massachusetts to Alaska. Massachusetts has soft grass and a historically proven commonwealth government. Alaska has dry, prickly foliage most of the time and the landscape, in its perpetual state of upheaval and development, mirrors the primeval state of the government.

This  summer has been wet, raining almost everyday. Yet we are only at twice the average amount of rain, nowhere near the monthly record of 9 inches. The Valley of the Moon is just starting to show signs of fall. A few of the less healthy birch are turning yellow. The flowers on my deck are faded out. My tomato plants have blossomed, too late to fruit, as usual. I  did find and eat about 12 ripe raspberries walking by the baseball field last night in a short break from the deluge.

Unfortunately,the green of the valley looks washed out next to the overcast sky. It reminds me why people on islands like Nantucket kill themselves in winter. Oops, that sounds a bit harsh. Let me assure you that I am currently writing this with my painfully bright seasonal affective disorder lamp on and I have no desire to off myself today unless it involves being smothered in chocolate.

It’s actually great weather for running, no sweat, and for reading but not a summer to remember for summer itself. If I want to get really positive on you, it’s great weather for complaining, for impatience and feeling like crashing in bed all day but I know I have pills for that. Am I taking the pills because I ‘m a curmudgeon? Not unless I started being a curmudgeon at four. I don’t think I really needed medication at four but maybe some understanding of how mood disorders run in families might have helped so I didn’t think I was a  shoo’in for a remake of The Bad Seed.

No more for me thanks, I'm on a diet.

Of course, the summers of my youth are bright with sun or lightening, thunder, fun, mystery. Even now, I’m the last one to avoid a walk in the rain, but my pep has washed out.  I could  never have played the enchanted innocent Huw.   Even as a child had a tendency towards the whining ape. I know my life is good but my world has changed and it’s not coming back. I’ve just got that silly broken statue on the beach to remind me of how good I had it . There’s The Pebble Mine, endless drilling propositions, the recession, health care costs which make us healthy Alaskans laugh, (in a dark way), as we await our next accident. It  keeps on raining but not enough to drown me.

Noah did something about it. I can build an ark out of blogs instead of wood. I’ve got lots of animals, some in pairs, some single that I can visit and party with. We can dance, sing and eat as much salted chocolate as we want even as we consider mental health parity and eschew kick the can for another day. As I believe I said in my last post, I don’t need more, I just need to be able to see through all the stuff back to the wonder at the glitter in the gloom, the iridescence of the oil spill.

Here’s a quote from How Green Was My Valley which seems so hopeful, (until you get to the end). It’s important to keep those good memories watered or else life is one dimensional, dry and hollow. So let it rain. I need time to recall, to reinvent my past and future as well as to eat chocolate.

It is with me now, so many years later. And it makes me think of so much that is good, that is gone.