light

Trigger warning: this post deals with depression and suicide. If you are sensitive to such topics, please read at your own risk.
If you or someone you know is struggling and needs help, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Depression shows no mercy and makes no distinctions in who it takes prisoner. It doesn’t care if you are a housewife, a student, or a beloved television host. For those of us who manage to escape the its dark cloak enough to see the light, we are the lucky ones.

As someone who suffered from chronic depression for years, I can attest to the intensity of the feelings of confusion, hurt, anger, and fear. The apathy. And while I was terrible at hiding it, many are not. Depression doesn’t have one face, one feeling. It encompasses such a spectrum of feelings that you can’t categorize it so easily as the trope would have you believe.

My depression is etched into my skin in pale thin scars that nobody else seems to see. My depression is etched into years of my life that I tried to escape from. Depression didn’t care who I was and suffered no fools. It doesn’t care who you are or who loves you. You are the only person who can pull out of it… and some folks cannot.

What makes me the saddest is trying to grasp how acutely someone must feel pain, the depths of their pain, if they actually take their own life. It causes something inside me to break. Thinking of the hole they leave behind, the life and the possibilities that will never have a chance to be. It’s like the weeping angels from Doctor Who which snap people out of their timeline and send them some place/ some time else, to feed off of their potential energy.

That light is now gone out.

The stigma around mental health especially in the US is completely absurd and devastating. Suicide rates have gone up something like 30% in the last 20 years. We can be the change. So let’s be a little more empathetic. Hell, let’s be a LOT more empathetic. Let’s love harder and listen more. Ask someone how they’re doing. Don’t diminish someone’s worry. When they tell you how they are, really LISTEN. Be present.

Let’s help more lights stay on.

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labels

What is it about the subjective rules that humans have about relationships? The relationship we have with oneself, food, romantic liaisons, friendships, our jobs… All of the labeling. We spend so much time labeling something so it can fit in a tiny neat little package because if it doesn’t then we can write it off and not just continue living. We assign value judgments about identity.

We worry too much about defining something and putting it into little boxes. I think it’s a defense mechanism to try and make sense of things. I mean, we’ve done it with religion, the justice system, education. And it’s not to say anything is bad or good but even think about certain words. We’ve assigned a value judgment to words that makes you wish there was another word for something when the real word is perfectly fine EXCEPT for the connotation it has (value judgment).

Instead of just taking something for what it is in that moment and being our true and most authentic selves, we take stock of what we have and if it doesn’t make 100% sense, then we write it off as flawed and unworthy of our time.

flaws

I will not play games with people in my life. There will be no manipulation. You will not wake up in five years to discover you have no idea who I am.

I am fiercely independent and when a crisis arises, I may not ask for help right away. When I ask for help, though, you will know I truly need it. I don’t take the aid of others for granted.

I will be there for the people in my life. It’s not a gimmick, a cheap parlor trick. I don’t bake people things to impress, I do it because I genuinely care. Much like cats bringing people dead birds, I will shower my friends and family with affection through food and drink and compliments. I will remember your favorite movie and your allergies.

I show up. I am present. It’s not to say that I don’t have my flaws because I am ever so flawed. My anxiety and self-image will have me questioning myself and asking for advice from you, nervously. I do this because I trust your judgment as someone I have let into my life. I don’t trust easily or often. Cynical and skeptical but hopelessly optimistic. Sarcastic and eternally romantic, in a non ironic way. I will be your cheerleader, your drill sergeant, your companion, your comedian, if you need it. I can and will wear many hats.

So no, I’m not dainty or cute, but I will be there through thick and thin. I may not know what to say and I may shut down when difficult emotions are at work. It’s been said that I can be cold, aloof, and five minutes later a bit too intense, a bit too present. It’s because I care so deeply and don’t always know what to say.

When sharing anything of consequence, it’s something I’ve probably mulled over in my head for an eternity before actually telling you. I won’t lie to you because I’m such a terrible liar that there’s no point.

These are my character flaws. That I care too much, that I don’t know what to say and say too much or too little. That I won’t run away or abandon people. There’s no manipulation.

periphery

Lately thoughts have turned to whether I set myself up for failure by not demanding more from life. By skirting by at the edge of everyone’s peripheral vision, which has been a survival technique, have I become invisible? By working hard at everything I do, giving 100% and not half-assing anything, have I set myself up to be taken for granted?

I’ve let myself be so accessible that I put too much of myself into everything that I do. I have no off switch. It’s an assumption that because I’m a hard worker, that I can be constantly passed over.

My kindness has been taken advantage of in subtle ways and my heart is open despite all of the hurts and bruises along the way.

I say no when I want to say no, and I’m not an ass-kisser, I just really like to be kind. Kindness is something that sits at the top of my values. I try to have empathy for people I don’t agree with. I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. It’s been said that when I do this, I’m being naive, but I truly believe that everyone can live up to their highest potential. I’m a perpetual optimist and so I get discouraged when my struggles are for naught.

Learning to let go and learning when to fight is… well, a journey.

plunge

When making decisions in life, what’s worse: throwing caution to the wind and diving headfirst into it, or being hesitant? And how does one find the balance between the two? The middle ground, the place we’re all supposed to strive for. Please ourselves, please others. What is the middle ground, anyway?

I’m often hesitant, but when I make a decision, I commit to it steadfastly. When I’m in, I am all in. Life occasionally decides to reroute me, but I’m fully committed to whatever I endeavor to do. The road to actually making said decisions, is an entirely different manner. I ponder, I hypothesize, I make pro-con lists, I weigh all options, all the ways I could potentially fail and probably will fail, and then, only then, will I make a decision. Most of this is done in my head over a very long period of time, so when I do make a move, it seems sudden and confusing. It’s like when you’re in school and they ask you to show your work on math homework. I was always the kid who had done all the work in my head before ever committing it to paper.

I don’t want to show my cards, show all my work on paper. It’s for me, not for others. I showed you the answer, so why do you need to see my work? This gets into such murky waters for anyone who knows me and has no idea what I’m thinking before I open my mouth and spew some bizarre theorem/idea of some variety.

Always in the shadows, furrowed brow, as I try to work up the courage to make a decision that I can stick to. Take the plunge, live your truth.

clouds

It seems as if the rain and clouds and cold bring upon melancholia for most people. This has always confused me, since I generally adore it. Seeing my breath cloud in front of me, feeling the cold bite at my cheeks and cause me to ransack my closet for wool sweaters and gloves.

Since moving to a climate where it does rain more frequently, I haven’t lost that love of the rain, except when my feet are wet or my glasses get smudged. It feels refreshing at least. Wash away the past in the most visceral way.

Granted, after a few long cold and dark months, lately I have to admit that I’ve never been so ready for the sun on my skin. Close my eyes and turn my face up to the sky. Enjoy the sun so that I can once again grow tired of it and grateful for the clouds and the rain.

callouses

 

For someone with such a high physical pain tolerance, I find myself wondering lately why my tolerance for emotional pain is incredibly low. Is it because I kept my walls up for so long and kept people at bay that I never built up the callouses needed to make my way through the murky waters of human relationships?

I’m a masochist sometimes. I push myself to the extremes with the standards I hold up for myself and generally not for others. I don’t want to have higher standards for others, since I cannot control their actions or decisions, but for me? I can damn well give 110%. This is especially true with how far I push myself physically. Run a half marathon with no training because I paid the entrance fee? Sure. Refuse to turn the air conditioning on because I think I’m being weak? Sure.

Or maybe my tolerance for emotional pain is better than I think, since I’ve allowed myself to be in terrible relationships. This tends to happen with long term situations. It’s like the temperature is turned up so gradually that I don’t know I’m on fire until my entire being is charred and blackened. I’ve let people take advantage of my cluelessness, my kindness and my naivete.

The slow burn of hoping for something to be better than it is, hoping for someone to be a better version of themselves, or thinking it’s all my fault. I throw myself headfirst at life, allowing just enough candor and honesty to let people think they know what I’m thinking or feeling. “Don’t let the walls down, don’t let them know how much they’ve broken your heart” seems to have been my mantra for so long. Push through the pain. Maybe that’s why I run, and why I push myself physically – to feel that which terrifies me, in a way that I can actually control.

Walls

Nothing makes sense lately. Did I allow myself to be led on or was it genuinely terrible timing? Does my optimism and empathy make me truly that gullible and willing to believe people?

I shouldn’t care but I do. It shouldn’t hurt this much but it does. It has me questioning why I put myself out there and be vulnerable in my life.

To have someone see you, really see you, is so rare. I thought I had my walls up, my armor up. But was it a crack or was it all am illusion?

Stupid Kate, believing things could be finally be different.

snow

Control is an illusion, yet we still think we have it, that we can grasp it. Perhaps we have control over our actions and our reactions, but not over a final outcome. You can bust your ass and be prepared and put all of the hard work and everything, but sometimes there are outside circumstances and you can’t control those. I think I wrote about this a while back– being invested in your effort but not attached to the outcome.

As I sit here and type this, snow is falling outside and I’m so excited about the potential of a real snow day (my first, in the short 31 years I’ve been alive). I can’t control the weather but I can control my reaction if we don’t get a snow day. Yes, I’m one of those weirdos who is excited about snow in an innocent childish way.

Control is fleeting, like trying to catch snow flakes on your palm only to watch them melt before your eyes. So all you can do is enjoy the experience as it happens and laugh about it when it doesn’t go the way you hope for.