Monday, January 05, 2015

My Chicken or Egg Life

Well, hello there! Welcome to 2015, everyone. I guess we're living in the future now. Forgive me for jumping right in, but after a 16 month blog break there seemed like no better way to begin again other than to, you know...Begin. Again.

I was tired. Tired of talking about myself, mostly. Tired of going around in circles in my life and not getting anywhere. Most of this came from the fact that, during the late summer and early fall of 2013, when I last wrote on this blog, I was trying REALLY HARD to figure myself out. I'd been physically sick for years and spent the end of 2013 going to a slew of doctors who found nothing wrong with me. I'd struggled with various levels of depression for even longer, and was seeing a regular therapist, a psychiatrist and a sex therapist at the same time.

It was too much. Too much me. Too much of my problems going around in my head all the live long day and night. The kicker? All that talking and commiserating and worrying and taking anti-depressants and spending money I didn't really have to try to get help...But nothing changed. I didn't feel significantly better. Sure, I'd stopped crying so much, but I did not feel hopeful or have any renewed interest in life. So, I stopped.

Stopped taking the meds. Stopped writing about myself all the time. Stopped going to all the therapists and stopped making appointments for any new doctors to poke around my troubled tummy. All my issues have stuck with me for the past 16 months, but I just needed a break from trying SO hard to figure myself out.

-Why do I lack drive?
-Why am I afraid of everything?
-Why am I so awkward socially?
-Why can't I lose weight and keep it off?
-Why do so many things bore me so quickly?
-Why can't I be more like Beyonce?

The list of personal quandaries feels endless. From the time I was in college the answer felt sort of simple: Um, you're depressed, you dummy! Stop being depressed and you'll finally be normal! Lord knows I tried, for decades, to shut the depression down with medication and therapy and blogging and gratitude lists and an embarrassingly long reading list of self-help books. It would ebb and flow; lessen and increase. But never go away. Never ever go ALL THE WAY AWAY.

For the most part I spent my non-blogging, no-longer-in-therapy time as I had before: doing the bare minimum to survive and get through my days without bursting into tears. Going through the motions, not really enjoying life or being a participant in life or getting much out of it at all.

Then November 2014 came around. It was just two weeks after my cousin died suddenly in his sleep from a heart attack. He was 40, born in April 1974, and I was about to be 40 in just three weeks. Not that I didn't know I could die at any minute, I did and always had known that, since I was never one of those daring, thrill-seeking youngsters. But now, after losing my cousin, it was a super real possibility. What if I actually didn't have tomorrow to get off my ass and get something, anything, accomplished?

The first thing I did was something I'd been saying I was going to do for a few years but never did: I signed up for NANOWRIMO 2014. And, I finished. I wrote a 51,716 word novel. That has now tied with traveling alone to three film festivals in three cities I'd never been in before as my most cherished accomplishment.

After coming down off the high of reaching a personal goal, I spent my holidays doing a lot of thinking, and something occurred to me. Maybe the depression wasn't causing my lack of drive. Maybe my lack of drive and reluctance to step out of my comfort zone, no matter how uncomfortable it had become, was keeping me depressed. And, just like the chicken or egg scenario we're all familiar with, my depression and fear fed each other in an endless cycle that felt impossible to break down. I was 40. I'd spent roughly 20 years of my precious life mired in the fear of the new to the point that I'd made myself a tad bit OCD and agoraphobic.

I'd tried talking my depression away and medicating it away, but the only thing I hadn't tried for any significant length of time was simply doing the things I'd always wanted to do even if I was scared.

So, that's what I'm doing now. I wrote a book that I'll be re-reading and editing starting this week. For the past month I've been walking four miles on most days, even when it bores me and my hips hurt. I'm breaking down my wants and needs into small actions and fucking getting them done.

I'm going to stop giving up on myself, because I'm the only damn person who can make the next 40+ years mean anything.

How are you making your life more meaningful in 2015?


Laura Zera said...

Oh Adrienne, your words just got me, and I totally get you!

Chicken and egg -- I really think there's a component of that. I live deep deep deep inside my head, and my last year -- and 2015 -- is all about getting out of my head and taking action. Just hitting the Send button. Or making the phone call. Or signing up for the thing I want to do but am afraid of signing up for.

As my wise coach tells me, action creates results, and results make you feel good. Another important one for us fledgling action-takers: yes lives in the land of no. So keep looking through the nos until you find your yes.

With love and best wishes for a great year,

Susan Cooper said...

Boy howdy can I relate. I have tendency to over do it when it get that feeling. Then I feel like a failure when I can't get it all done... sigh. Even so I applaud you for finding your way.

Citygirl said...

Laura: I've completely noticed how much better I feel when I get something important done. My goal now is to always let the knowledge that that feeling is coming outweigh whatever fear I'm in the middle of.

Susan: I know that feeling so well. I've got a lot of catching up to do in the get-it-done department, but I'm hoping I'll be able to slowly integrate more action into my daily life, and then things won't build up to the point where I'm feeling overwhelmed because I didn't get through everything in a day or two.

Kire Sdyor said...

Adrienne, I completely get it. I have struggled with depression my whole life and only now realize it is because I can't be more like Beyonce. Keep writing, keep laughing, keep going.

Ken Dowell said...

This is a really interesting post to read. It kind of shows how things can kind of snowball and get worse. Glad to see this story end on an optimistic note and I wish you the best in overcoming your depression.

JeriWB said...

Isn't it amazing how doing things tends to get us out of funks? That's not to say I don't give over to the dark side more often than I'd like. It's great to see you've made that connection. Action in life helps your head obsess with itself less. Oh how I wish I could be a shiny object person with the attention span of a gnat, but nope, we are the ones who spend too much time inside our heads which is a blessing and a curse.

jacquie said...

Applause! It's a dark tunnel...the chicken and egg thing can be a horrendous head game, so I couldn't be more thrilled that you are seeing some light! Hang in there!YOU are your best advocate...and it sounds like you are doing great! Again... applause!

Phoenicia Oyeniyi said...

Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us.

It sounds as though you have truly battled with depression. It will not defeat you. Putting your thoughts on paper helps - perhaps you can keep a journal.

William Rusho said...

I dealt with someone who suffered from depression, and it was hard for me to understand them. I think it is hard for anyone who does not suffer from it to understand. Depression is not a simple thing to explain. I thank you for sharing this with everyone.

Jason Butler said...

Someone in my family has depression. Honestly I think your post will help them. Your sentence where you said your lack of drive and reluctance to step out of your comfort zone was keeping you depressed struck a nerve. I think getting out of ones comfort zone helps us grow.


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