WATCH THIS SPACE!

I am crawling out the abyss of depression and I am going to be writing here again, but I have no idea when or about what. Just putting you on notice. I’m still out here, skulking about, endless conundrums on my mind, trying to nail down some clarity. During a recent panic attack in my therapist’s office, while I was crying hard and she was coaching me to breathe and think of a peaceful happy place, I protested, “I can’t, I can’t.” But I took a deep, cleansing breath and exhaled and imagined….the color turquoise… the color I have always associated with clarity, and then turquoise waters on white sandy beaches, and I began to calm down. It’s obvious, I thought, I only need to go to the Carribean. Then she told me to go to my happy place and my mind immediately switched gears and put me in a beautiful castle in the north of Britain: Hogwarts. I breathed a few deeper breaths and felt the panic recede. If reality was unbearable, there was always the world of Harry Potter and his friends Ron and Hermione. Especially, Hermione, whom I identified with strongly.  Maybe I need a vacation in the Carribean…or Hawaii…(yes, please). Maybe I need to reread the Harry Potter books. Not just watch the movies or listen to the audiobooks. ACTUALLY READ THE BOOKS. I don’t like the narrator’s voice on the audiobooks. If only Alan Rickman had read them! *sigh*

Anyway, it was clear that I had finally hit bottom and needed to find my way back up and out. I had stopped listening to the news. I didn’t care about Trump or anything that was going on. (I know, shocking!!!!). I got sick of Facebook and started purging friends in alphabetical order causing a slight panic among people who don’t even know me. I would post my “memories”, posts from other years, but I hardly looked at my friends’ posts anymore. I deactivated my Facebook and left it completely for 5 days and loved it, but it called me back. There is a love/hate relationship there. But I just stopped thinking creatively. I had abandoned all writing projects. (Simple rule of writing: Writers WRITE.) I watched the same movies over and over, listened to the same books over and over, too lazy to sit up and read from my Kindle or a REAL BOOK. I listened to the same music over and over…..Prince, mostly,(still haven’t accepted he’s gone) and John Mayer. Thankfully, Mayer introduced some new music that I have been positively giddy over. Just the change I needed. His music is always right on time.

So there I was, feeling “meh”. I changed my profile pic on Facebook to Grumpy Cat and made grumpy statements. People were amused. I was deadly serious. And then a friend posted a video that was an incredibly lame attempt at humor at the expense of anyone intelligent enough not to buy into stereotypes. It was a black man, a “gangsta” (their word, not mine) who promised to explain George Orwell’s 1984 from his point of view. So I pressed play, expecting mild humor and was overcome with a horrendous white man’s caricature of a black man, a completely, racist, stereotypical portrayal of this “gangsta” who used language I have never heard come from the mouth of any black person I have ever met, and I know a few. It was shameful. I was embarrassed for the man portraying the “gangsta”, and felt he ought to be ashamed of himself and embarrassed, too, but I supposed they paid him the right price. This video filled me with so full of negative emotion that I really thought for a few minutes I might be having a heart attack, but I recognized it as panic brought on by pure provoked anger. Racism is a trigger for me, for many reasons I won’t go into here. It should trigger anger in everyone, maybe not to my degree. I decided to get some feedback. I shared the post on my Facebook page with the explanation of how racist I found it and how angry it made me and waited for my friends to respond. One hour went by, two hours went by. No response. No likes, no comments. This made me angrier. In my anger-addled mind, I reasoned that probably a  lot of people on my friend list thought this video was funny and didn’t care that it was racist and were too afraid to say so to me. And this made me angrier. And the anger and panic built. I was talking to two different friends by text and they were both trying to talk me through it, begging me to breathe. It just MAGICALLY happened that I was on my way to a therapist appointment that very morning and was about at the boiling point when she called me into her office. So I got in there and finally let go and I told her about the email, and I suddenly realized how really unimportant it really was in the great scheme of things. Yes, racism is important, but it’s vast problem that is not going to be overcome by me throwing a tantrum over a video. And then I remembered, and I told her, “This is not what I wanted to talk to you about.” And I calmed down a little and told her what I had planned to talk to her about, which was some things my mother had said about me to a good friend of mine. Terrible, hurtful, damaging things. As my mother has been the main subject of my therapy for many years, it wasn’t too surprising. But when I looked the therapist in the eye and told her my mother said that I hadn’t turned out the way she wanted, she inhaled sharply and startled a little and for a moment I thought she might cry herself. But she didn’t. I did. HARD. I cried and cried.  I curled into myself in the chair and rocked myself crying and gasping for breath and confessing random worries and secret hurts. “I’m never going to have a baby. My cat is getting old. I can’t deal with losing her. She’s like my baby. ” And on and on, every doubt and fear and insecurity, until I was completely spent. I got my cry out, and cleaned up my face and answered the therapist’s questions. She’s fairly new. I’ve only seen her a few times so she is getting caught up on my history. I explained to her how my mother had emotionally abused me my entire life. That she loved me, but she loved me too much. She was clingy. Nobody loved me more than she did, but she couldn’t stop criticizing me. She made me dependent on her and then when I became independent she flipped the tables and became dependent on me. When my therapist asked, without a trace of irony, “So would you say she used guilt…” I just burst out laughing in her perplexed face. I laughed and slapped her on the arm and kept laughing, nearly hysterical. “Oh, sister!” I said as I wiped the tears from my eyes again. “Does she use guilt??? Yes, ma’am, she does!” And I was laughing again, and she finally laughed with me. And I thanked her. I had needed that laugh!

I told the therapist the other things my friend had reported: my mother’s derogatory comments on my weight and not working. ( I am on disability. She was on disability, too, before she retired. I guess she forgot about that.) I told her my friend said if she had known I would be so upset that she wouldn’t have told me about it, I said that I thanked her. “I felt that she gave me a gift,” I said. “Now, someone else has seen and knows and it’s not just me, it’s HER. I feel validated.”  I told her I didn’t care about the fat remarks and the other stuff, but the part about me not turning out like she wanted was too much. When my friend told me about that, something in me just broke, and I thought, “I don’t love her anymore.” Now anyone who knows me knows what a source of anguish this is for me. Because I have always loved my mother so much, and I strongly believe in God’s command to honor your mother and father. How can you honor them if you don’t love them? I told the therapist that the ones who came before her had advised me to cut her off completely. Maybe that is the healthiest thing to do psychologically. But I have to think spiritually. She is my mother. Can I really cut her off completely? I have compromised. I limit my time with her. When the phone rings and I see it’s her and I don’t feel strong enough, I don’t answer. I wait until I do feel strong and then I return her call. It takes strength and energy to endure a phone call with her. Because she talks A LOT. If I want to get my word in, I have to be determined. And if I want to disagree with something she says, I have to be ready to stand my ground. And I have to do my duty as a daughter and check to see if she is really ok and safe, which is hard to untangle from all of her physical complaints and comments about the house falling down around her. She is a hoarder. My brother and I would like to help her but she refuses to let us. I have to resign myself to just sitting and listening to her prattle on about nothing. Why? Because she’s lonely, and she’s my mother, and who else is going to do it? Yes, Ms. Therapist Lady, she does use guilt, whether she intends to or not. My dad reminds me that my mother is living the life she created, and I know that’s true. What happened between them was over 30 years ago. Yes, he left her for another woman. I’m not defending that. But she has had ample time to get herself together and create a new life, whether that involved getting remarried or not. That is her choice. It is plenty of time for her to forgive if not forget. But my mother does not believe in forgiveness, at least not for people who sin against her. She is still bitter and derisive when she speaks of my father, never caring that it hurts me because he is STILL MY FATHER. Recently, I apologized to my father for believing all her hatefulness about him over the years, that poisoned my relationship with him. It’s a little late in the game, but I think he accepts it. We have a healthy relationship now.

So this is where I am. Still a little girl trying to win her mother’s approval, almost knowing before I start that I will fail. My question for you, dear reader, is this: What do you want to read about? What do you want to hear about from me? Do you want to go with me on the journey to explore the depths of motherhood?  Both the struggle to become a mother myself and the drama of the relationship with the one that I have? My ongoing struggles with depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety? Do you want me to write about politics? The Resistance against the EVIL TRUMP and other stories of the day, or human interest stories from around the world? Focus on incidences of injustice and inhumanity and racism? Maybe a little of everything? Or something yet unnamed? For the first time, I am blatantly asking for a response to a blog. PLEASE COMMENT HERE OR EMAIL ME AT heathersavann@gmail.com   Tell me what you want to read. What do you want to see here? What do you want from me??? I’m gonna try to give it to you, you wankers!!!!! LOVE AND PEACE TO YOU ALL!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ 

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2017: To Blog Or Not To Blog?

WELL. Here I am, finally, some two months or so since my last blog entry. For the handful of you who actually follow me, I sincerely apologize. To say I hit a “rough patch” would be putting it mildly. Sometime in early November, I sort of had a “come apart”. The fact that my hero, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by some 3 million votes but lost the election to TRUMP is not a coincidence. Combine that with the anxiety I felt trying to write a novel in  30 days for the National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo) and I just sort of fell to pieces. No novel was forthcoming. No writing of any kind was forthcoming, not even in my personal journals. I just froze up. I was dead inside. All because of an election, you say? Well, yeah, kinda. It was the most important election of my lifetime, I believe, and it was a disaster. In 10 days, a lying, racist, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, narcissistic , moronic  blowhard will be sworn in as President, despite proof of Russian hacking in the election, despite, Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote (because even though we complain about the electoral college every election year, we never do anything about it!). 2016 was a rough year. It had it’s bright moments. We should all count our blessings, of course, But it was a long, arduous election cycle, and the celebrity death count was unprecedented. People die all the time, of course, famous and not, but there seemed to be an unusual amount of big names on the In Memoriam lists for 2016. I won’t run through them all, but the most traumatic for me were Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Prince, Harper Lee, and Carrie Fisher, though I admired many of the others.

Alan Rickman: a gentleman in real life and often onscreen, though he will probably be remembered for his starring role as the cold, brooding Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies. That gorgeous bass voice will forever haunt me. I have a recording of Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native narrated by him, and I treasure it and listen to it when I have trouble sleeping.

Glenn Frey, founding member of the Eagles, one of the all-time greatest rock bands. Lead singer of so many classics of my youth, like “Take it Easy”, “Heartbreak Tonight” and so many others. I regret I never saw the band perform live.

PRINCE….What can one even say about this genius? He was just the best. He wrote his own music, his own lyrics. He could play every instrument. People tried to compare him with Michael Jackson. I’m sorry, but NO. Just NO. His was my coming-of-age music. I had put him away for awhile but since he died I’ve been listening to him every day. I just can’t say goodbye.

Harper Lee. Her death wasn’t such a shock. She lived a good long life. She wrote one of my favorite books, one of the greatest books in all of literature, To Kill a Mockingbird. It was adapted into a wonderful film and she rested on those laurels for many years and no one thought she would ever write another book. But about a year before she died, a second book was released, possibly against her wishes. Her state of mind was unknown. I read Go Set a Watchman and wish I hadn’t. It had some of the same characters as her first book but they were too different. I don’t believe she really wanted that book published. I believe someone took advantage of her to make money. A sad situation. But that can never erase the wonderful legacy of To Kill a Mockingbird.

And dear Carrie Fisher. I identified with her so much. She was open about her struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction. It’s easy for me to talk about being bipolar because I’m not trying to maintain a career. But she was in Hollywood, an actor and also a writer. She was very brave. And had such a wicked sense of humor. She and her mother were so close, it reminded me of my relationship with my mother. When her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, died within a few days of Carrie, I thought, “She just couldn’t make it without Carrie, ” and I could imagine my mother doing the same. Or me, if my mother died. So close we don’t know where each of us begins and the other ends.

So this is what all has been on my mind during the time I haven’t been writing. Death and disaster. I want to be optimistic for 2017, but it’s hard. The question I have now is: To blog or not to blog? If so, why? What is my purpose for keeping this blog going? I don’t have a huge readership. I can barely get my friends and family interested, and often not even them. I think I started just to be writing SOMETHING. Well, now I am writing something. I have a memoir project I’m working on and I’m outlining a novel, both potentially paying projects. No one is going to pay me to write this blog. This is sheer vanity work. This is just  getting my name out there (I guess. Is it really?). It’s a place for me to blow off steam. That was especially useful during the election year. It’s my place to share my opinion. Bur really,  who cares about my opinion? Not that many people, really. So I don’t know how much time I will be spending here, honestly. I’m committed to resisting the Trump regime so I may write about that. But I mostly intend to work on other writing projects, so if I’m in here, that means I’m procrastinating. I thought this would be a good forum to talk about bipolar disorder and maybe help others who suffer mental illness but I’m not convinced I’ve done any good. I think I may have just spilled my deep, dark secrets in vain and now everyone knows I’m crazy and thinks I’m a narcissist who can’t stop talking about herself.

Maybe I’m just in a mood. I don’t know. I had a medication increase recently and it should start helping soon, I hope. The fact that I’m even at my desk, on the computer, typing a blog is an improvement. Maybe I’ll come around and think of some brilliant new blog topics to dazzle you all with. Who knows.

A Voice for Teresa

Last night’s post on Facebook at bedtime:Today was a strange, wonderful, sad, spiritual, happy, unsettling kind of day. I am going to bed now to ponder these things and try to find peace through sleep. If you love someone, tell them. If someone you know is hurting, talk to them. Don’t wait. Peace and Love to all of you. 💜

What happened to make me sign off with such an enigmatic goodnight? Well, as usual, I started my day on Facebook. (Yes, I’m an addict. No, I don’t want to stop.) I have been steadily adding friends over the past few weeks, mostly Hillary Clinton supporters.  A few days ago, I was scrolling through confirming friend requests, when I got to one, Beverly Canady Fields. A message popped up informing me that I could not add her because she had reached her limit of 5000 friends. Impressive, I thought. I looked at her profile. She described herself as “true blue liberal democrat, feminist, spiritual humanist, social justice warrior with a California <3”. I needed to know this person. So I sent her a private message: “Hey! I can’t add you as a friend because you’ve reached your limit of 5000! Why don’t you kick a few people out and get back to me? Thanks!”  I didn’t really expect to hear back from her, but yesterday, I got a message from her that said, “Try now.” So I did, and I was accepted as her friend. Yay! Thanks, I wrote back to her. I invited her to read my blog and gave her the link. She wrote back a little while later and said I was a “queen”, how much she loved my blog and she was putting the link on her page! WOW! Thanks! I said. I was blown away. I’m not used to so much praise and attention so I was eating it up. We chatted for a bit and I told her I was in Alabama and she asked me if I knew a Teresa from Crane Hill. I didn’t, but I was familiar with Crane Hill, as it was the home of my former step-mother. I figured we probably knew some of the same people. Beverly encouraged me to look Teresa up and add her as a friend. She said we would have a lot in common politically and would have lots to talk about. So I looked her up as we were chatting and I found her with no trouble. But something was wrong. At the top of her profile page, it said, Remembering Teresa _______. I read a few comments and it became evident that Teresa had passed away in July. Without really thinking about what I was doing, I told Beverly this, and kept reading. Then it became evident that Teresa had committed suicide and I relayed this to Beverly also. Beverly was shocked, of course, and, said she needed to get some air and would be back. A chill settled over me. I got goosebumps all over that wouldn’t go away. Why did I tell her that? I shouldn’t have told her something like that about a friend over the internet, me, a virtual stranger. I should’ve just sent her the link to the page and let her read it for herself. And yet, that seemed like a cold way to handle it. How would I want to be informed? Beverly came back and I apologized, but she said it was ok, and we talked for a while, and I counseled her a bit, the best I could, saying all I could think of to comfort her, everything I knew from my own knowledge of being depressed and suicidal. Beverly said Teresa had shown no signs of being depressed and I explained to her that some people hold it all in and show nothing til the end, that it’s an illness and there is nothing she nor anyone else could have done. If someone is not showing signs or making it obvious they are in pain, what can you do? That’s the whole reason I write my blog about my experience with bipolar and depression. I am one of the ones who doesn’t keep it all in. I let it all out, make it all public, even though it is humiliating and embarrassing at times, because I want to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and make it OK to talk about it. I want people who are hurting to feel comfortable talking out loud about being depressed, about having thoughts of harming themselves or killing themselves without being labeled as crazy. I want it to be OK to talk about going to to see a psychiatrist or a therapist or  taking medication without people making fun of them or treating it like it’s a joke. For the record, if I joke about my meds or my shrink, that’s OK. You’re  not allowed! That’s how it works in the world of mental health humor. Only the afflicted can laugh at themselves. And if I laugh, then you can laugh with me. Only then. Got it? Good! 🙂

Later Beverly found out a little more, that Teresa had been in a lot of pain, whether mental or physical we’re not sure, and had gotten in her car and shot herself. I told Beverly that for Teresa to do such a thing, she had to be in a lot of pain, and that she was no longer suffering and that I really believe that. I grew up being taught differently. I grew up being taught that if you commit suicide you go straight to hell. But now I’ve been through depression and suicidal ideation and I know that I have already been to hell in my mind and I don’t want to go back. I believe people like Teresa who suffer so cruelly are at peace now. That is not to say that suicide is the answer. Suicide is NEVER the answer. Teresa’s life is over now. She has left behind many who love and miss her and she will never see another sunrise or sunset or see those she loved or do any of the things that brought her joy. She’ll never see our first woman President elected, and I know she would miss that. It’s normal to feel sad, and even angry with someone who commits suicide. It’s a natural reaction. Why? Always the question, why? Why couldn’t you hold on? But you don’t know unless you’ve been in that moment yourself how painful it is. So we must learn to understand and forgive those who just couldn’t hang on any longer, and let them go to rest in peace. Remember, it’s an illness. It’s not a character flaw. It’s a hormone imbalance in the brain. It’s not just personal weakness. That person didn’t just die to get back at you or to leave you alone or anything else. He or she was sick. That’s the bottom line. Forgive them, and let them go. Let them rest in peace. Focus on the living. Focus on the ones that are still here, and still hurting. Be more aware of those around you. Don’t assume everyone is OK because they say they are. Observe them. Look for signs. Are they sleeping too much? Not sleeping at all? Number one  symptom of depression is change in sleeping habits. Have they lost interest in activities? Do they seem obviously sad or depressed, or is it more subtle? Dark, flat moods. No sense of humor anymore. Do they talk about death or seem fascinated by it? Their own or others? That’s a big red flag. Do they talk about harming themselves or others? Are they angry a lot? Anger turned inwards equals depression.

I am still unnerved by what happened yesterday….making friends with Beverly, being “introduced” to Teresa, and discovering the loss of Teresa. I don’t want to get all spooky  and weird, but I don’t feel it was a coincidence. I feel something spiritual took place. I don’t know what you all believe in, but I believe in God, and I think He used me, and I am grateful for being used, but it is rather unsettling. Beverly said she would like to post the link to my blog on her daughter’s Tumblr which has 40,000 followers. I was stunned, and grateful. Surely this is the hand of God. I look at Teresa’s profile and I don’t want to obsess over it too much, but I know her photo will stay in my mind forever. She’s outside by the pool with a visor and sunglasses on. You can’t really read her eyes but she is smiling, a funny little smile that makes you wonder what she was thinking. I wish I knew. We had 12 mutual friends. She lived pretty close to me. But I never got to know her until I randomly befriended Beverly. I look at some of her memes under her photos. Funny stuff. She and I would have gotten along well. I can almost imagine her voice as I read some of her old posts. I am almost grieving for a complete stranger. I wish I could speak for her. What would I say if I could? I would tell her daughter and other loved ones, I love you so, so much, and this was nobody’s fault. I just couldn’t take the pain anymore. I am so sorry. Please forgive me. Don’t forget about me. I feel that’s what she would say. I can almost hear her saying it. God bless you, Teresa. Rest in peace, sweet lady. May God bless your daughter and all those who loved you and give them comfort and peace and surround them with love and carry them through this difficult time. May they be blessed with a thousand happy memories of you in brighter times. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

 

Aging Gracelessly

Facebook post from yesterday: 

Well, I’ve had a lovely birthday….kind of blown away by all the birthday wishes here on Facebook. Had a delicious breakfast from Cracker Barrel brought to me by my sweet husband, Steve, Then we went to the movies for the first time since our first date and saw Bad Moms (totally raunchy but hilarious….I needed a good laugh!) and now we’re winding down the day with some chocolate birthday cake from Publix. Big piece of cake, tall glass of ice cold milk. It doesn’t get any better than that. By the way, this is an important birthday for me. This year I start counting backwards. I have some lost time to make up for from the last several years. So, without giving my exact age, I can tell you by the time I turn 50, I will be turning 40…again. 🙂 It’s like…magic….

Yes, I decided “growing old gracefully” is for the birds. I plan to be dragged into old age kicking and screaming. So as of yesterday, I am growing younger by the day, until…until I change my mind and decide it’s time to be old. I’m simply not ready yet. I don’t feel XX years old and therefore I am not going to be. Over the last several years, I have suffered a major breakdown and lost a job that was precious to me and spent the better part of a few years almost entirely in bed. So I feel I have to make up for lost time. Some tell me that’s impossible or unnecessary. “You’re only as old as you feel”. Fine. I find that I do not feel as old as my driver’s license claims I am, so I refuse to be it. Looking in the mirror, I find that I am no longer passing for a twentysomething,  but my true age is still hazy. At least one friend my age has sworn not to tell if I don’t, so that’s something. It’s no big thing. I’m not going to cringe and cry if someone finds me out. The truth is, I never thought I would live this long, suffering from depression and being often suicidaI. It’s kind of a miracle really, to find myself here….at my age…whatever it may be.

I know I can’t avoid aging. Every single day there’s another reminder of that. But I can fight it for a while. I don’t have to give in so easily. I don’t have to do like some people and wake up one day and decide to be old and just give up. And if I live to be 102, I don’t ever plan to GROW UP. I plan to be childlike until my dying day. As innocent as possible in this screwed up world, pure and simple. Not childISH. That’s a different thing. Not immature and bratty. Despite my leaning toward realist/pessimist views I want to remain open to things that are new and different and good and positive. Peace and love and kindness and all that hippie stuff. To quote my favorite actor, the late Alan Rickman, “When I am 80 years old and sitting in my rocking chair, I will still be reading  Harry Potter. And my family will say to me, ‘After all this time?’ and I will say ‘Always.'” Yes, I will be reading Harry Potter and other children’s books the rest of my life. And coloring in coloring books, and playing with animals, and children when I get a chance. Anything to “rage against the dying of the light”. I will not “go gentle into that good night.”

And I challenge the older people in my life not to give in so easily, no matter what the calendar says, no matter what the doctor says. What does your heart say? Do you still have the heart of a young man in a wizened body? A mind full of wisdom, even though you can’t remember where you left your phone? You still have lots of living to do, lots to offer the younger ones. Hang on, as long as you can. You are so loved, and your life matters.

 

Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas, 19141953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.