A passing storm of murk

A long lapse from blogging.  I just didn’t have it in me these last weeks, but the clouds seem to be lifting a bit the last few days.

Depression drains color and liveliness from the world.  For some, it is incapacitating; for others like me, the normal activities of life become overwhelming or pointless.  Some days, brushing my teeth is as forbidding as ending nuclear war. Calling a friend, cooking a good meal, reading the newspaper, posting–all are too much trouble.  So I watch TV reruns on Netflix, eat sugary food, put on weight, weep for no reason, resist all help, indulge weakness and disability. A zombie life, stumbling across the earth without purpose or direction.

The trigger this time seems to have been the long months of increasing pain and disability, a slide into hopelessness. Pain restricts activity, inactivity increases pain, and so the downward cycle continues, until distraction and impulse gratification are all that remain.

I don’t want to be that person.  I think at last I’m ready to fight for something better, to live life while I still have it.  But it’s shaken me, this episode, I didn’t expect it, I must do what I can to prevent future drifts into bleakness.  There must be daily disciplines I can learn that help keep depression at bay, as I’ve learned them to protect sobriety. Though I have not been suicidal, a passage from the chapter on suicide in Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon echoes a recovery mantra, that sometimes, telling yourself you can drink tomorrow–knowing you have that choice–is all that gets you through today:

Knowing that if I get through this minute I could always kill myself in the next one makes it possible to get through this minute without being truly overwhelmed.  Suicidality may be a symptom of depression; it is also a mitigating factor.  The thought of suicide makes it possible to get through depression. I expect that I’ll go on living as long as I can give or receive anything better than pain, but I do not promise that I will never kill myself. Nothing horrifies me more than the thought that I might at some stage lose the capacity for suicide.

When I was young, I used to have prolonged periods of low mood, but I didn’t have a name for them, they just arrived, as arbitrary as the weather. “A storm of murk,” William Styron calls them. “Soon evident are the slowed-down responses, near paralysis, psychic energy throttled back close to zero. Ultimately, the body is affected, and feels sapped, drained.”

It helps to name it, just as it helped to name my alcoholism, that recognition that I’m not alone, others have found their way through this, help is out there.  Naming, learning the language, finding the words…healing.

Writing is a fine therapy for people who are perpetually scared of nameless threats…         –-William Styron

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9 Responses to A passing storm of murk

  1. mishedup says:

    I am happy you posted, I was going to ask where you were. Not as happy about the reason why you haven’t been posting.
    I love that suicide/drinking mantra…I would temper it tho, to we always have a choice if we have tools to deal with it.
    I completely agree with you….i hope i am never in a position where I CANNOT kill myself, and all my advance directives are in place, as tools, in case that were ever to happen. To stave off that beast is therapy and exercise and eating right and SSRI’s and any other number of tools we go to to keep us here and content and alive.
    To stave off my other beast, my wanting a drink, there is one day at a time, my recovery meetings, sober blogs, friends who are also in recovery…steps to take to work through the issues that make me want to drink.

    And there is always tomorrow, in both the hope-less and hope-full sense. We can drink or kill ourselves, we can stay sober and meet a lovely friend for lunch.

    So glad to see you here; you were definitely missed.
    I he it gets better, way, way better.


  2. hi, i was going to send you a note as well to check in.
    a good friend of mine from college owns a farm. they raise pasture-raised pork and each week she sends out a newsletter complete with a section called: What’s up on the farm? I love her writing, wit, knowledge etc. I look forward to the newsletter every week. I’ve attached last week’s ‘what’s up on the farm’ below. i thought you might enjoy reading one.

    What’s up on the Farm?
    Last week I rambled on forever so this week I’m going to try to give you a break from having to read a lengthy diatribe. Several of you responded to my goings-on about needing a co-op (or something similar) here in the Charlotte area to complement farmers markets. Farmers gave me resounding “Amen!”s, some customers said, “hmmm”, with my hope that their entrepreneurial wheels are turning.

    The change to cooler weather effects all living things. On our place, we see the following responses: chickens hunker down and lay fewer eggs. Pigs eat more and cuddle closer to sleep. Sheep get more demanding about feed and seem to be drinking more water (still trying to figure that one out). The cats are finding new places to nap and are becoming more social with us 2-leggers. The dogs come to the door more often. The woodpile has returned to the front porch as the woodstove resumes its duty of heating the house. We humans are putting on an additional layer, and I probably won’t be seen again without a knit cap until March. I enjoy fall and its crispness. The smell of woodsmoke and leaves and the brisk air are a welcome change. I also haul out the slowcooker and make great meals with our pork and all the great stuff at the farmers markets these days: potatoes, sweet potatoes,mushrooms, root veg, greens, onions, garlic.

    Farmer tip #29: when you set your basket down that has those precious 8 winter-lain eggs in it, be sure it is not in a place where your egg-lovin’ dog can get them, or you won’t have enough for your breakfast in the morning. And don’t tell the hens because they’ll really be mad at you for your negligence. Sheesh. How could you? And they worked so hard….

  3. Lisa Neumann says:

    Seems you have been on many minds these past weeks. I am a bit later in commenting, but please know you’re not alone. We are built for connection.
    Glad you connected. It hopefully will get your spirits up to know how much you are loved.

  4. I’ve been behind, too, due to these damned holidays! ;) Glad to hear you’re pushing through. Sometimes it helps me to step WAY back and realize, I’ve achieved a lot by just staying alive today. LOL It sounds a bit melodramatic, but it’s totally true. All you have to do it be breathe; that is more than enough. I totally get the physical inactivity-pain loop, and it is frustrating and maddening. Patience and maybe…new/increased pain medication, stretching, swimming? I’ve tried it all for my sciatica, and swimming helps. Swimming makes me feel better, active, even if I’m just floating. Nothing has to be achieved or accomplished; I just have to get into the pool or body of water. Once I’m in, I start to feel better all over. Maybe that could help?

    Big hugs from over here. You are definitely not alone, missed, and loved. (Btw, my mantra when it comes to thinking about suicide is: what if it’s worse on the other side?) xx

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