I developed my depression coping skills over the course of a couple of decades. Once I rejoined the land of the living after that first major collapse, I wanted desperately to keep it from happening again. I've had some pretty rough patches, but I eventually learned to recognized the initial signs of impending trouble. I won't bore you with the details of it all, but suffice it to say that part of my way of dealing with it is to distract myself. This is a valid tactic, and works quite well until I take it too far and it slips into avoidance and denial. I tend to get to a point where I refuse to even allow myself to grieve. It's a lot of internal issues that I have, but basically I avoid the pain so much and for so long that it eventually becomes unavoidable. The solution is to let myself feel it. Seems simple, but no one wants to feel grief. No one wants to relieve the worst moments of their life. I know it sounds melodramatic, but for someone with major clinical depression, opening those windows to the past feels more like opening the floodgates at Hoover Dam while you're standing below them.
I wish I knew how to explain what clinical depression is like. The medical explanation is a chemical imbalance. But that doesn't even come close to touching on the reality of it. My brain just works differently than a normal person's. It isn't selfishness or a pity party, it is an intrinsic part of how my mind works. Kinda like being a pessimist and seeing the glass as always half empty. (Except, I'm not really a pessimist. If anything, I tend to be a little too optimistic.) Honestly, I've sometimes wondered if it might be more like possession. It's like there's this little voice in my head that does its best to turn every situation, every word or action by other people, into something dark and hurtful. It wants me to see the worst, to imagine the worst, to feel pain and sorrow and fear in every moment. The times it has overtaken me are the absolute worst times in my life. The medication does make a difference, which is a big indication to me that they might just be right about that whole chemical imbalance thing. I'm far less inclined to even hear that annoying little voice with the medication. It still rears it's ugly head occasionally, though, and the past few days have been harder than usual. The biggest reason for this is that yesterday, December 6, was my mother's birthday. She would have been 72 if she were still alive. Happy Birthday, Mama.
Wow, just saying it makes my throat close up and tears come to my eyes. I adored my mother. I never had any urge to rebel against her. I loved being with her. I loved talking to her. I was 17 when she got sick and died from pneumonia. She collapsed on Saturday morning and died on Tuesday night. My husband was there at the time, thank God, because I don't know how I would have gotten through it if he hadn't been. (This was in Mississippi, where I'm from. Hubby - before he was Hubby - had come down for a visit that weekend.) My sisters both lived far away, Debi here in Indiana and Connie in Texas. Without going into the ugly details, they both arrived before she died and I pretty much shut down the moment my uncle got to the hospital and took over making all the decisions. Mark had to tell me that the hospital was paging me when my sister called me back because I couldn't hear it. The shock had already started to take over. I remember her getting there, but oddly, I can't remember our sister Connie arriving. I just realized that. Anyway, it was a nightmare and it still haunts me to this day.
So I've been fighting the grief for the past few days. Feeling it pull at me and drag me down so that I'm quite to the point of not even wanting to speak. (gasp! to those of you who know me. LOL) And I feel antsy and anxious, plus have trouble sleeping irregardless of how tired I am. I've been avoiding it and that hasn't worked, so I'm going to embrace it. At least I'm going to try. And I'm going to do it by taking a trip down memory lane. Starting with some pics of my mom.
|Taken at Shiloh National Park, just over a year before she died.|
|I had no hair but Mama was determined to get it to curl and check out that beehive!|
|I don't know were we were going. Looks like a Christmas thing, but I can't remember.|
|Mark took this after a Music Mania performance. It was a big production our music department put on every year in the town's theater, known as the Colosseum. We were in the park, I think.|
|One of my favorite pics. Mark took this on that same trip that we went to Shiloh. Wasn't my mama beautiful!|
|I absolutely adore this pic of my mom. She looks so sassy!|
|My sister Connie and Mom.|
|Another shot of Connie and Mom. I don't know what's so funny, but there was always a lot of laughter when we all got together.|
I took this one of mom while my sister, Debi, was frosting her hair. That's my nephew, Dale, keeping mom from covering up her face.
Man, do I miss Mama, especially now. I wish she could be here to do all the things a mama does, but I know she's in a better place. Doesn't make me miss her any less, though.
There are countless other pictures I could post. Vacations and Christmases, everyday shots of us just being a family. And Mama is the core of all of them. On a handful of occasions, she was the one behind the camera, but she was ALWAYS there, always the heart of our family.
I miss you, Mama, so very, very much.