Tag Archives: depression

A literal p00pshow

Walking with the twins

We spotted 4 alligators during our Sunday walk in Brazos Bend State Park with M’s family

It’s been a strange week and my rhythm is off. Work meetings prevented me from both yoga and barre class, which help me to feel less like a desk-blob. The election. Toddlers. Not sleeping well….

This morning I was changing CW’s diaper when FJ approached me:

“I wanna go on a walk.”

Well actually, first he said he wanted to go Trick or Treating, which thrilled me. He liked it this year! 2.5 marks the beginning of a fun time in our Halloween lives. Anyway, I reminded him that he needed to get dressed for school first.

The next thing I knew, there was a turd on my kitchen floor.

FJ had decided to wriggle out of his pants and diaper- but he’d pooped. And as he’d pulled the diaper down he’d rubbed it all down his legs before “dumping it” on the floor.

“Is that my poo poo on the floor?” he asked me, as he stood there covered in it.

I laughed. M thinks it’s a good sign that I didn’t lose my… shit. Honestly, I was too tired.

I’ve been waking up at about 5am and tossing and turning for a while. I want to be asleep, but I’m not. So today I’m feeling a mix of incompetent, ambivalent, and cranky about everything.

And my 40th birthday is less than a week away, but this year my strategy has been to pretend it isn’t happening, for some reason. M and I are going to California so I can give a presentation (that I haven’t written yet), and I sort of assumed a hasty getaway was all the present I could ask for. Plane tickets to Silicon Valley sure aren’t cheap!

At one point I made a list of things I wanted for my birthday. It included a massage at Dolce Vita, to get our bedroom painted (finally), and new bath towels that I’d picked out. And it included gathering with friends in some way.

Instead, I have been paralyzed on all fronts. I feel like I sit around a lot of the time, telling myself I’m about to spring into action, but instead I just pick off “quick wins” on my to-do list all day.

More soon. Earlier today, I mulled over visiting my stepsons’ mom in jail (she’s still in jail, and has been since early July), but I came to the same conclusion that I always do- it would be weird for everyone. Yeah, I know I can’t just drop that as the last sentence here and run away, but that seems to be my m.o. this week. I’ll tell you about the jail thing some other time.


My Fear is a Liar


Flying into PA. Flying back to Houston

I’m in the Charlotte airport, by myself. I seem to end up in the Charlotte airport once every few months, in the same terminal by the Starbucks. The flight next to mine is going to Munich, not Houston, and I’m considering going AWOL, jumping aboard.

In a departure from the beautiful crisp summer morning I left behind in Newark, it’s pouring here. It’s raining hard enough that it’s temporarily become the primary topic of conversation in the B terminal. Our flight has been delayed 2 hours. (*Later it was cancelled altogether.)

I didn’t think I’d be going back to Houston today.

Yesterday my anxiety disorder was winning, the trauma of the past few years had caught up with me again. I was so afraid I could only lie around and cry, and hug pillows. In those moments I admitted my darkest fears to myself and insofar as I can, to my sister and mother.

Fear looks like forever. It colors my work grey and meaningless (at a time when I have doubts about the value of most academic work). It tells me that I can never break up with anyone because I will never find another person to date. Logic says otherwise, but my life has thus far been governed and sabotaged by fear. Because I have listened to the fear above all other voices.

My sister asked me what my instincts were telling me. I think that’s the same as what my friend (and dog-sitting buddy) Sera refers to as the soul, and listening to the soul’s voice. My soul was telling me that E wasn’t really right for me, but my fear was telling me that I didn’t have the time to keep looking for someone who might fit better. I never did lose my feelings of high anxiety around E, because he was too close-lipped about himself, too concerned with his facade, too concerned with managing himself and the people in his life according to some corp-speak philosophy intended to deliver him maximum return on his investment. Perhaps needless to say, he was a salesman for a living– viewing people in utilitarian terms was his job.

When I hit my social limit, which doesn’t take long, or (that one time) objected to being abandoned (meaning he announced he “had to go”) at a party where I knew only him, he urged me to “network”, because “you never know who you’ll need, when.”

We weren’t a match.
But he was incredibly kind, and chivalrous, and called me “sweetie” and “babe”, which were firsts for me. He was ex-military, he was ripped (fit), and these were firsts for me too. I was fascinated by him.

I didn’t sleep again last night, but somewhere around 3AM, the fear ran out of materials to burn. Soul says I need to change therapists. Check! Soul says to find a good acupuncturist. Check! Soul says to focus on my work, and really examine whether I truly don’t enjoy it, or I’m currently just suffering from the malaise that comes with being in the middle of a massive project. Soul says to not actively look for a new partner. The latter is the hardest for me.

I told my sister something I deeply believe: I am happiest in a relationship. I want to feel taken care of, and like I have someone watching out for me. I pick one person at a time in the world to trust, and throw my trust into them almost entirely … and immediately. I feel like I’m drowning without that person because I don’t know how to take care of my own emotional needs. I would do anything to preserve a relationship with my chosen person, even when it proves to be a poor fit. This is why I was married for so long. Does this sound like any of you?

The fear is chemical. It is illogical. And it is wrong. It whispers to me that I’ll have regrets, that I’m doing everything wrong, that I have to hurry, that I’m not safe by myself. My fear is a liar.

I have read that distracting oneself from fear is misguided, that it means one isn’t dealing with one’s feelings. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. When the terror grips me I will continue to spiral illogically downward if i don’t intervene with aggressive distraction. Or talk it out.

I have to trust more than one person. This has been a big theme of the blog lately. I mean enough trust to text them when I am freaking out, and believe that they will tell me when it’s a bad time, and they can’t talk, trust that I will not “bother” them.

This is what I’m trying / have tried:
-A house purifying ritual from Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery
-Group Therapy
-Individual Therapy
-Reading some good books- I think when going through a crisis, books for pure pleasure are as important, if not more important, than “constructive” books
-Yoga (of course); also volunteering at the yoga studio to meet new people.
-Getting a housemate – this makes such a difference to my sanity.

Tell me, what helps you keep the fear at bay?

Why I Hate Dissertating (as it turns out)

Forgive me for not writing. I have been behaving as an adrenaline junkie and keeping myself manically busy, because when I slow down this is what happens:
1. I feel a sadness creep into my heart.
2. I begin to get really anxious
3. I start to think that anything, even oblivion would be better than this feeling, that it will never pass and nothing will ever be right again.
4. I berate myself for my incapacity to feel serene in the face of mere hours of solitude these days.

I used to love days spent alone at home writing. I used to love the quiet, the creativity of it. But then I started living alone (against my will), and it became too isolating while dealing with all the trauma of the past couple of years. I have developed this horrible routine, which I’ll sum up in another list:

1. Plan to get up at reasonable hour
2. Turn off alarm because the idea of dealing with another day is too overwhelming
3. Get up late, feeling guilty, sluggish, and a bit depressed
4. Sit down to write hours after I had planned to
5. Get seized by a wave of melancholy/anxiety that can only be thwarted by distracting myself
6. Don’t get anything done, or produce a mere paragraph of terribly written garbage
7. Settle into despair and stress

There are plenty of good things going on my life. I keep meeting wonderfully kind new people and trying all sorts of awesome new things. I am one month into a new relationship. But I don’t trust myself at all right now. I question everything I say and do around him, and am convinced he’s about to reject me and leave… I think this because I am not in a good place mental-health wise, and it must be, must be obvious. I keep getting this sense that I can tell him all of this and he won’t judge me, but I won’t because my fear that he’ll get freaked out is so much stronger. We’re generally a very good match in terms of the amount of contact/communication we need and expect, and that’s so important- but my current work-related loneliness has me in a zone that’s outside my normal level of need. It’s like… people/distraction desperation. I’m so beyond grateful when someone reaches out to me and helps alleviate the pain and loneliness that I almost cry constantly these days. Honey, if you ever read this… normal me is not this needy. Actually, normal me is even a bit too independent at times.

Something (obvious?) that occurred to me today that gets a wry smile: If you feel like you’re falling in love with someone after a month, and then the relationship falls apart, it seems a bit crazy and wrongheaded in hindsight. If it works out then it was simple romantic foresight. I dunno… so many things in new relationships are subjective, contingent on how both people feel. If the infatuation is imbalanced one person’s enthusiasm can come off as desperate, clingy, etc. It’s kind of like wanted/unwanted attention in other areas of life, y’know? Clearly I was married for too long, because I have so little tolerance for romantic uncertainty. It’s not exciting and fun for me, it’s just another way my life is a series of ???s at the moment.

I have a housemate set to move in on May 24. This can’t come soon enough- I feel like when that happens I’ll just EXHALE. I’ll be able to stop operating from a place of crazy desperation.

The Week I Cried in Yoga Twice

… or “I need to get my shit together, seriously.”

I don’t think I’m cut out for much of anything right now. I don’t feel like I’m doing a particularly good job at… my life. I can’t concentrate on my work, as I’m either too depressed or too manic for self-discipline. I don’t think much of what I’m writing is any good. I feel like I only receive the uncompetitive grants and awards (which may be as much a function of my research topic than anything, but I’m not sure). I feel like I fail at online dating so far, and I still don’t know what to do about T who is back in Japan and still lurves my messy, broken self.


I spent this week on pins and needles waiting for the guy in my last post to contact me, and here it is Friday morning and I wasted Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday staring at my phone and hoping.


So my chest aches and I feel like the most useless, unlovable, messy person in the world right now. How did I scare this one off? Am I doomed to repel anyone mentally healthy because I can’t fool people well enough that I’m in a good head space right now? I thought I was doing a pretty good job of putting on a mask.

There’s this song that has sort of become the theme of the 40-day yoga boot camp that I’m doing.  I mean, I’d heard it before I joined the yoga challenge but it’s been played several times during classes. Wednesday, in a dark, shadowy room lit faintly yellow by street lamps from the outside, I felt acutely my desperation that this guy contact me. I repeated to myself the need to “let go” and “stop struggling”, but just as quickly as I felt myself relax, the turbulent anxiety filled up my lungs again. Lying on my back, I felt my eyes well up. “I am not okay”, I had to acknowledge. I wanted to plug this guy into the hole in my life, to use him to buffer myself against my own screaming anxiety and fear. But perhaps he sensed it, or perhaps someone else came along via OkCupid and he moved on. Either way, the waiting and the hoping has turned my week into a nightmare of pillow-punching and hand wringing and kitchen-swearing and…


I just felt so stupid for how rarely I truly fall for someone like that, but for how completely it happens. The last time it happened, well… I am still not over that crush, and I think he’ll always have a part of my heart. (That was an impossible crush, and though he took my breath away every time I saw him, and still does, I can never tell him.) So, as foolish as it sounds, this week’s guy was probably #4 in my life who had this effect on me, and he has disappeared.

Lately I have had immense difficulty closing my eyes. During the twice-daily meditations, during yoga (particularly the end savasana), I stare blankly ahead at walls, ceiling beams, etc. It took me a while to notice that my eyes weren’t closed, so vacant and unseeing was this stare I’ve developed. Lately I’ve found my mind quietly whispering the chorus to the aforementioned song…. Hallelujah… Hallelujah as I stare.

The yoga instructor yesterday caught me in the twilight, lying on my back with my eyes wide open, tears trickling down my face. His eyes met mine as he stepped past. Perhaps he didn’t see.

Every time I feel different from most people lately, more special(er), smarter, etc. I am humbled. I am not better. I am not more gifted. I am a decent academic writer with some pedestrian problems and some really significant traumas. I’m taking this guy’s disappearance so hard because of how unlikely it was that I actually let someone in right now.

Just found myself listening to Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt, which is also devastating. It captures a bit of the burden I’m carrying around these days.

The people that you meet

It wasn’t a good day, so I needed yoga class all the more. I signed up for a 7:30PM class with live music, the kind of thing that my solitary self has the luxury of doing at the moment. I’ve been oddly early to everything lately- oddly, that is, for me, as I tend(ed) to be chronically late even to important appointments, and have to constantly fight my urge to putter around my home just as I’m supposed to be heading out the door. No joke, I suddenly decided it’d be a good time to organize my scarves right before a shrink appointment this week. That was the old me rearing her head… or maybe the mentally healthy me.

Anyway, I arrived at this yoga class among the first three– one of whom was a handsome, tanned, and muscled tattoo instructor from the same school who was going through his own routine as he waited for class to start. The other was a lean, lithe woman with tangled dirty blonde hair, a white tank-top that hugged her frame, and silver bracelets galore. She planted herself less than a foot from my face as I walked in.

“Hi. I need to know. What that means.” She pointed to the tattoo on my right arm.

“Oh, um, it’s a Biblical verse.”

“What does it say?” She leaned closer, peering at me intently.

There are two kinds of people who ask about my tattoos– the ones who perceptively read into my clipped answer that I’m not in the mood to explain (when I’m not), and those who will not be satisfied until they extract a full explanation from me. I won’t slow down the narrative for you by explaining which kind she was.

“Oh, um, it’s about angels. And love.”

Her eyes widened. “See. I knew that,” she said manically. “I knew that. You. Like. I totally needed to hear that right now. Like. God, or um, whomever put you in my path so I could hear the words of love on your arm right now. Y’know?”

I couldn’t stop thinking that I was having a moment of failure as a human being. What if she ended up inviting me to a bar? What if she’s a fascinating (ex-drug addict, or my radar is broken) person, and all I want is to close off into my space and ignore her, even when I’m so lonely these days that it seems the only thing I can feel or think? She and I could sit in a dusty Houston bar, painted yellow and red with rusty silver stars on the wall, drinking bottles of beer and talking about dreams.

But no, if she invited me I’d probably think for a moment about how I’d rather go to Starbucks and go home to my dogs, and end up making excuses as I so often do. I’m just not good at spontaneity. Or people.

While I was thinking all of this I was nodding along with her.

“Um, so you want to know what it says?”

“Please. I feel like YOU. Were put in my path tonight. For a reason.”

“It simply says ‘If I should speak in the tongues of man and angels but have not love, I am but a clanging gong or resounding bell,’ I recited in my usual monotone.

Her eyes widened: “Beautiful” she breathed.

I demured: “Well, it’s fairly commonly used in weddings. Not really all that creative of me, actually.”

She wasn’t listening to me. She rambled along, in the same clipped, rapid fire manner : “So it means you need to. You need to have love. Love is everything. Or nothing you say. Is important. If it doesn’t come from Love. That’s so important.”

My eyes wandered to the front of the beautiful, rounded corner room with its enormous windows overlooking the Houston skyline. I made a move to put my mat down, and in this nearly empty room, she placed hers a mere foot from mine. I closed my eyes and lay down.

This class was beautiful, the live guitar and the drums complementing the yoga done in a dimming room, the sun dropping behind the skyscrapers as we moved through poses. The instructor did have an odd habit of saying “That’s niiiiiice” repeatedly, sometimes more than once in a sentence… i.e.: “Drop into downward dog… that’s niiiice… leg up…. ‘s niiiiice.”

But she ran a good class so I decided to stop counting the nice’s and gloating about my superior crow pose, and just… relax into it.

Also, the blonde woman cornered her at the end to explain the “Real meaning of yoga”, so all is forgiven. The instructor’s probably still in that studio.

Sitting in my parked car and e-mapping my route home, I found myself looking up and over to the white van parked next to my little car. Inside sat six women in black burqas, with only their eyes peeking back at me. I suddenly felt self-conscious in my exercise tank top with my short shaved hair and tattoos. But as I glanced away and then back, I found myself smiling at the woman closest to me. And then, much to my surprise, she lifted the front of her face covering so I could see her own smile, before letting it drop again. I actually giggled out loud in my car.

I’m trying to put on a brave front in public, but I feel like crying is my full-time job these days. Crying, wondering how I’m going to get through the day, and trying frantically to argue with the negative voices in my head.

(Digression- I wondered why the dogs were so quiet… as with children (I imagine), this is rarely a good sign. I’d left the closet open and they’d found their toy box, taken one out at a time, and had assembled themselves a nice little buffet of furry toys, squeakers long since destroyed.)

He Helps Those Who Help Themselves

How do you learn to live by yourself if you’ve gotten to age 34 without doing so? I mean, I tried for the first time in Tokyo, but that went horribly and I scrambled like a frightened animal to not be alone in that apartment… keeping busy doesn’t help, because I don’t have the energy to stay in perpetual motion right now.

I cry daily.

My new therapist has me coming in fairly often so she can keep an eye on me.

I went to the maul yesterday, for some LUSH body cream (my skin is a mass of rashes and hives from stress), and as I stood in the brightly lit maul, in the Sephora, with its flashing lights and screaming noises, without the slightest urge to buy anything, I thought “I want to die.”

I thought this in a purely academic way. I didn’t mean it; death is a horrifying concept to me, THE most horrifying concept. When the topic comes up in my mind, in conversation, or in the media, I picture my littlest dog Mei clinging hysterically to a blanket to avoid being picked up at bath time. And I cling hysterically to my daily existence, as miserable as it has been this year.

If I had a family of my own, I wouldn’t be alone. If I had kids, I wouldn’t be alone. These thoughts obsess me.

The “introvert/extrovert” binary has been getting so much attention recently, as if people never used those terms before 2012… and indeed, I am an either an introvert or just massively dysfunctional. I remember at age 12 I cried to my mother over how lonely I was.

She said “Call a friend. Why don’t you call K? Or K? Or M? Or N?”

I couldn’t explain why I didn’t call them.

I’ve been lonely my entire life, it seems. I have a few things that work for me:

-family. Living in the same house as another person
-socializing with enough warning to prepare myself emotionally. I love planned events, but not in loud spaces.

The more stressed I get, the more easily overwhelmed I become. The more I retreat.

In this big house, I pace. I do a little yoga. I write 3 pages a day on paper of rambly thoughts. I catch up on American TV on Netflix (so many shows I’ve heard people talk about, that I’ve never seen). I read a book on divorce. I Line message T, who is missing me as much as I him. I try to meditate. I pace some more. I make tea and forget to drink it. I stare into the back yard. I cry some more. I study more Japanese vocabulary, because there is always more to learn.

I do indeed have PTSD …from the things that happened to me in Japan that I’m not talking about publicly.

I’m wearing a couple of stone bracelets, that T picked out for me in Yokohama’s Chinatown. Supposedly the stones help to protect the wearer’s heart, and to heal her. He bought me a bowl of crystals that the bracelets go in each night, to re-charge:

healing crystals?

I am so blessed in so many ways, right? We all say that to ourselves when things are horrible and hard. I’ve learned that so much of what I thought of as blessings are less important than the connection between me and other people. But because I am me, and so much like my father, I primarily nurtured the connection between me and one other person, made 1 person my whole support system. But now I am confiding in the person who is hurting me the most. I just wrote him:

“I am so lonely.”

He answered: “Then make some friends.”

Ugh, I am having stabbing head pains at random intervals. The last time I suffered from these was the other lowest time in my life. They force me to close my eyes, pause, and look within.

I am tired

I need to find another source of emotional support… J was it for my entire adult life, and I just feel so guilty putting the weight of everything on friends. So much so that I’d have rather quietly slipped away than reached out.

But I am feeling today and yesterday as though J is trying to force me not to rely on him, to push me far enough away that I have to turn elsewhere. I want to yell that this is not the time, that right now I need to keep myself safe. I’ve never much been able to count on my family for emotional support, and perhaps that’s my own doing. But my father has also spent most of my crisis relapsing into his alcoholism, and sending me drunken and traumatizing emails.

T does not understand mental health issues at all, but perhaps that’s simply par for the course among Japanese men (and women?) over a certain age. When I emotionally reported to him how upsetting I found these emails, and some of my past experiences with my father, he said “well surely it’s okay if he drinks a bit, right?”

I admit I snapped at T that no, no alcoholics can’t drink just a little bit, that in my house it was always nothing or far, far too much. I think T, like so many people here, has an image in mind of the benevolently goofy drunken salaryman, nodding off on the way home from another night of mandatory social drinking. (One fell on my shoulder last night.. a Monday night, for example, while I was riding home.) I get upset whenever I see one of these men, and become unable to stop the flood of speculation and projection.

When I do reach out to people, their generosity humbles me. It’s not even that people know I am hurting financially, it’s that they want to help me when I am clearly in such emotional pain. I do want to explain everything to everyone, because when I do, the justification for my breakdown becomes clear. No, it’s not just having a severe anxiety disorder and history of depression combined with moving to Japan and losing my husband of 15 years. That would be enough to tweak most people, I think? But it gets worse and worse after January… and it’s extremely painful to recall how desperately I tried to reorder my life like a frightened animal scrambling for safety. Like my dog when he panics at something, and I cannot calm him down.

My poor dogs. J hates them, and he is convinced they deliberately do things to get revenge on him. I gave up on explaining to him that dogs are not malicious. They don’t do things out of spite. They just do what they think they’re supposed to do and what they want to do (what they think they can get away with). If the dogs are using the house as a toilet, there is a reason, and it’s not because they hate him… I suppose when they’re back in my hands, even though they’re 9 years old, I am going to have to work hard with them to break this cycle*

T seems to think we’re not breaking up when I go back to the U.S. I thought that conversation was clear, and now I’m just confused. I have tried to explain my trauma, and the trauma I associate with him, and my need to be single while I nurse myself back to mental health (45 days… I didn’t think I was going to make it back to the U.S., actually… some days I still don’t). I hate wondering if it’s a linguistic, cultural, or some other kind of communication breakdown.

J wants me to talk to the priest of his church when I get back. One of the rifts between us was his conversion to Orthodox Christianity and the accompanying “convert” enthusiasm for it, in awkward contrast to my ambivalence/wishy-washy uncertainty about religion. This particular priest is indeed a very good person, but my self-hatred is bad enough without being exposed to people to whom J presented a version of events in which I cheated on him. Even if in this story he blamed himself for “driving me to it”, I am not comfortable being around people who think I would ever go outside of my marriage. The idea of a me that could cheat is an idea that horrifies me. But he doesn’t want anyone in the church, or his family to know we agreed to an open relationship, and I certainly would never interfere. I love him more than anyone in the world, and I do want him to be happy even if it my heart aches knowing that my in-laws, who I thought of as my own parents, believe I responded to J and my problems by having an affair. I can’t talk to them, probably ever again, as a result.

So yeah, I need to find my own therapist.

Feh, I am too tired to continue writing now

*If I even can; I thought I was good with dogs before I met these two…. Mei’s bean brain does not seem to grasp housebreaking, and London just does whatever she does. Advice welcomed. They’ve seen 2 trainers about this, and I’ve read several books on different approaches to house breaking. I’ve tried everything from physically attaching them to me, to crating them (London panics in a crate though and injures himself severely so I’ve had to refrain from crates with him), to taking them out every 30 minutes, etc. They’ll come inside and then immediately go on the floor. We keep them diapered, but still…