Sunday, March 30, 2014

How are you doing?


Such a simple question ...

... but I have learned to dislike it.

Why do people ask this?

Are they sincere?  Do they want to hear the absolute truth?  Or are we doomed to smile and say, "I'm fine." even though we truly are not.

I have been fortunate to have several "good days" recently ... to be in a legitimate good mood.  I am happy that my endocrinologist upped my estrogen a bit ... that we are looking to switch me from oral doses to trans-dermal patches ... and that my insurance covers that method.

But a handful of good days does not always mean everything has changed for the best.

A few steps forward in some aspects of my life does not guarantee progress in everything I deal with.

So ... how am I doing?

If you know me ... if you understand, and I say "I'm having one of my not so good days" you will know what I mean.  Likely not the exact details or issues, but you will get the gist.

By the same token, if I were to say "Better than most days" you would also understand that does not mean that everything is wonderful ... just that I am coping with things alright.

Seriously ... how am I supposed to explain what I do not completely understand myself?

"I feel out of sync" ... it's the best explanation I can give at times, but if I need to explain I don't have the words that would make sense ... and it is easier than trying to say, "Part of my brain knows I need to function ... I have work to do ... I cannot just collapse today, but the rest of my brain is barely processing what  happened an hour ago ... it doesn't want to think, or function ... it is dwelling on the likelihood that everything may mentally lock up at any given moment ... ... "

I wish out of sync was that logical and easy.

"I'm a little down" ... sad?  Yes, sometimes, but no ... no more than the drowning woman in the ocean is asking for a towel when she is flailing her arms, but it seems over dramatic to say, "I feel like I am being pressed inward by a fog so dense I can no longer see anything near me ... if anything is nearby.  The only sensation I feel is the cold, dank despair draining every ounce of energy out of me ... Staying curled up in a fetal position in bed seems like a too much effort."

Words do not do justice to this vision.

"I'm a bit on edge" ... a true statement, but not nearly the details of, "I feel like every frazzled nerve in my body is being electrocuted ... like my brain is going to implode into darkest depths of a vortex that not many even know exist ... like every ounce of energy I have left needs to be used to cope with the insane level of angst built up within my soul.  But there is no outlet, so I turn this energy on those near me ... or myself."

Some people familiar with my transition, or the much smaller number aware of my depression will point out that my body is adjusting to estrogen ... that I have had a complete makeover in my antidepressants.  These facts are true, but the issues started before estrogen and before the new medications.

I guess that's why it seems best just to not say anything ... to not try and explain.

Of course not every day is negative ... not every moment of a rough day are negative

"I'm doing alright." ... a safe answer ... a neutral answer.  It's definitely much more simple than saying, "I seem to be coping with most things today, but the tension of possibly suffering a meltdown is palpable ... I haven't gone ballistic yet ... I'm mostly numb from worsening anxiety or other issues and I really don't care what is going on ... ..."

It's strange how a casual smile can make ambiguous answer to seem positive.

"Pretty good" ... simple and straightforward.  "At this moment my mind is functioning and somewhat focused ... I don't feel like I am going to explode out of my skin ... I'm not bursting into tears for no particular reason ... I'm not feeling physically ill, whether real or psychosomatic ... ..."

So why am I rambling on about this? ... Am I dwelling on the negative? ... Do I enjoy being reminded of the negatives in my life?

Simple answer ... no.

Like I said before, life has has a uniquely timed sense of humor.  No sooner do I seem to get a little control in one area of my life when another area catches fire.

Maybe that's the joke ... I still think I have some form of control.

As with previous entries I began writing this many days ago and throw a few words on the page as I feel up to it.

Last Thursday I had my appointment with Catharine ... we've been discussing mostly work issues lately, and how the stress from work has adversely affected other aspects of my life.

Her advice ... I need to learn to compartmentalize.

This is the type of psycho-babble that usually makes my brain want to curl up into a little ball and hide in the corner ... "When you leave work you don't think about work ... when you leave home you don't think about home ..."

That is a lot like saying, "You broke your leg an hour ago, just don't think about it any more."

My thoughts, my brain doesn't work like that.  Compartmentalizing has always seemed like asking me to to scoop boiled spaghetti out of a pot with mittens and ensuring that only certain noodles end up on specific plates ... ... this ain't going to happen.

As long as I can remember I have always mangled all my worries together ... I would dread Sundays because I knew the next day was Monday and I would have to go to school and all the crap I was dealing with at that time ... I would feel very down in August because I knew September was right around the corner.  Things haven't changed ... I still worry about what hasn't happened yet.  I still let things that are beyond my control affect what I do.  I still cannot seem to separate the different components of my life.

So why even mention this?

Catharine actually said that it takes some work to achieve this ... that she had to work to achieve this.

Why hasn't anyone else admitted this?

Why do people make it sound like because they did something that it should be easy for everyone to do it?

I don't know that I'll ever be able to truly untangle the thoughts in my mind ... work from home from self from relaxation from ... ...  Perhaps in time ... maybe if I learn to use the proper tools I may get better at this.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What do I want ... ...

My Universe
a recent photo manipulation by
Something somewhat strange occurred the other night ... I found myself happy.

So some of you are likely saying, "You've been happy before ... ..."

Well, yes ... but no.

This was a different happy ... this was an at ease, giddy sort of happy ... the "I just graduated ... got married ... had a baby" or other important life event type happy.

It was an incredible realization ...

When I do not dwell on insignificant, often stupid little issues ... when I do not allow them to distract me or burden me, it is the most wonderful feeling being me.

I have felt similar to this.  A brief period in August / September ... after going full time and coming out at work ... before the worsening of my depression and other issues  ... before the happiness went away.

I didn't want to go to sleep.  I was afraid I'd lose this feeling again.

It was pouring outside when I awoke.  I was groggy ... tired ... out of sync ... but I still felt happy.  I still felt like me.  I went outside to see if one our cats wanted in ... no coat ... no shoes ... just walking around in the rain and loving it.  It was a magical ... almost childlike sensation.  I've always loved the rain; it feels cleansing and recharging.

I do know that not every day will feel this good.  It is just the nature of depression to have up days and down.  Knowing I have had two very good days in a row gives me hope that more are on the way.  I can handle a few bad days if even moderately good days balance them out.

I still have much to work on ... many issues to resolve, but I am in a better place to work on them now.

So ... what do I want ... ...

Well this list could likely take a while if I were to list everything I wanted, so I will stick to some basics:

- I want to be happy

This is not being greedy nor selfish.  In fact it is quite the opposite.  If a person is happy they have a much greater capacity to give than if they are not.

The issues that I have struggled with for years need not be the cage which holds me captive.  They may be a challenge ... even overwhelming at times, but not insurmountable.  It may take some work to get there, but it will be worth the effort.

- I want to be accepted

This is not an ego thing ... it's a human thing.

Waves splashing on the rocks
Ventura, California
I understand not everyone has the capacity to accept what they do not understand ... what they believe is wrong.

I also know that there are many, many people who are incredibly loving, accepting and supportive.  I cannot force anyone to accept me, and that is not my goal ... it is not even realistic.  I simply want to surround myself by those who love and appreciate me for me.

It far to easy for a person to change who they are and try to fit in with those near them ... it is quite different for people to be themselves and let those who are a fit for them find them.

- I want to live

This is not a desperate plea.  It is not a social or political statement.  It is a realization.

I want to be me.

I want to enjoy the time I have with the ones I love ... and not be dragged down by those who do not understand.  Life itself is a special gift if you simply open it and and see what's inside.

We don't always get the gift we want ... we don't necessarily understand why we were given what we have, but it is a gift.

If I was given a choice would I choose these same gifts?

Pretty flowers
I'm not sure.

A few years ago I would have said no, but I have met so many wonderful people on this journey ... people I otherwise never would have met ... people who have had a wonderful and positive impact on my life.  How can this be a bad thing?  How could anyone not feel happy when I have such a group of friends and family who truly support and love me ... the real me, not the me they expect.

- Do I deserve these things?

This is something I struggle with.

Not that I
believe I shouldn't want these things, but to deserve something ... to say I am worthy of, or justified in pursuing these things, that's difficult to do for some reason.

About the best I can do for now is keep my goals in sight and strive for them.  In the long run life will likely allow me to have what I truly deserve.

*** ***

As is typical, life has a sense of humor ... or is simply sadistic.  I began writing this post last Monday, but I did not post it immediately after I was done writing.

As if on some cosmic cue a series of events happened ... events that would push me to my limits even if I weren't dealing with my current issues ...

But I am dealing with them.

Near Channel Islands Monument
Ventura, Ca.
There was no single huge item ... not any one specific thing that caused me troubles, rather a bunch of tiny, stupid events hitting simultaneously and continuously over the better part of a 30 hour period that overwhelmed me.

Of course, being buried in sand can kill you just as easily as being crushed by a boulder.

It was definitely a not so friendly reminder of just how quickly I can spin out of control ... not that I needed reminding.