Black clouding with style

And so here I am… again. Back where I started. Sitting on the floor. Exhausted for no reason. Tears brewing. Eyes closing.

I felt so great last week. Now, I feel depressed. Nothing. Sad. Black. Cloud. Symptoms of depression that are straight from a 90’s movie, with an introspective and depressed teenage Claire Danes playing me.

Last week I was raw juicing. I was yoga-ing. I was parenting. I was doing it. I was living! I was smiling. Laughing. Washing my hair. Putting on makeup.  And now…. I don’t feel like it. I don’t feel like any of it.

Now I’m black-clouding. There is no reason, I just can’t seem to get at the joy under this big pile of nothingness. At least I remember it’s there. for now.

I read somewhere that people with Bipolar, can have symptom remission for years at a time.  Maybe this is an urban myth. I had a fleeting thought that maybe the feeling of last week could hold for the next 20 years. Then, when I’m 50 and lose my mind again then, my kids will be older and I’ll have had 20 great years and I can call it a wrap.  But no. This is not how it will be.

Maybe this is what my remission looks like? This sorta up and sorta down.

I had a great week or two where I felt mostly strong and capable and happy. And then I just wake up one morning and my head feels heavier and I’m confused and suddenly the lights are too bright and the kids voices are too loud and I never want to open my eyes again. Only I do… I’m sure this will pass. It just feels so horrible. Forcing a smile is too much effort. Knowing what I’m missing makes the pain all the more profound.

Do the meds work? Does the yoga and juicing even matter? Would it make any difference if I stayed up late, smoked pot and drank alcohol? I think it would. I think it matters.

I think that if despite all the good work that I’m doing to try to stay stable, I’m this unstable, I would probably be really really unstable without it. Without all my hard work, I would not have had two great weeks. I probably wouldn’t even have two good days. The medication that I take is called an anti-psychotic for a reason. It keeps me from being psychotic. And for that, my kids are grateful.

So, I’m happy. I’m depressed today. But I’m happy.

painting on carved wood of a woman on a swing with two smaller versions of herself in the background.
This beautiful art is by Peter Schacht.

She is not me

“Dear Diary, Have you ever had a day when you feel like you were never born? Well that’s sort of what I felt like.” -This is an excerpt from a diary I kept when I was 8 years old. (8 years old!)

My daughter is almost 6 years old. That’s dangerously close to 8 years old. …but she is not me.

I remember when she was 3 days old, I left her in the living room with my mother because I was forced to take a nap in my bedroom. I remember lying there alone and wondering if I still existed or if maybe I was my baby daughter now.  That little baby who I put on my bare chest the moment she came out of my body- so that she wouldn’t feel lost. That little baby who I was scared to take out of my sling, to let out of my sight – lest she feel abandoned. I was so scared that if I was not touching her, we would both cease to exist. I actually convinced myself that she could somehow hear my heartbeat through the walls. It was the only way for me to tolerate being in the other room. If I had to pinpoint when I should have noticed that something was ‘off’, I think it was this moment, when she was 3 days old. (I didn’t get help for another 11 months…)

I still struggle with feeling like my daughter and I are somehow telepathically connected. Last night I was reminded that my daughter has her own secrets, her own internal life that she keeps to herself, as she should.

Last night I realized that she has been asking me to tuck her in with her blanket over her nose and not calling me in after I say goodnight – because she is secretly sucking her thumb. *shocking*. Not really shocking. It actually makes lots of sense. She is almost 6 years old. Of course she is an individual with her own internal private world.  But feeling so tied to my daughter, it’s hard to understand that her secret world could be anything other than one of confusion, fear and pain.

The fears I had when I was her age are not her fears. I know that this is true. This must be true. The family I lived in, the world I knew, it is not her world. I have worked too hard to make sure that life is different for her. But then, I see that her fears include one of my daily deepest fears. The fear of “getting caught”. She probably doesn’t feel it as strongly as I did- I felt it every moment of every day. Maybe she isn’t even afraid, she was just being clever. I really don’t know.

I say my daughter.  She is not me and she is not mine, she is her own. She needs to continue to separate from me and I need to enable her do that. My role is to keep my arms open to catch her when she needs it and let her take reasonable and safe risks as she explores the world for herself.

6 years old. 6 years old is time for more independent activities, more space for herself, more unsupervised playtime. It’s time for summer camp.

But I fear. I fear that if I am not watching, if the teenage camp counselors are not paying attention, she may cease to exist. I have to clarify this. The fear is not only that she will die, it’s that she will cease to exist. I will drop her off one morning and when I come to pick her up the counselors will say “Soni? Soni who?” and that will be that. I will have to go home without her and try to understand that she was never real.

This is my own annihilation anxiety. I am projecting it onto her and I need to stop. It comes from a very real place where I used to live and feel that I would randomly become invisible. This is not my daughter’s world and it is no longer my world either.

I am not her. She is not me.

photo from my diary