Posted in adhd, Depression, faith, happiness, Life, Mental Health, Musings, People, women

Notes on Being Sad (for no Reason)

notes on sadness

September was a hard month. At least, it seems like it was. You know, when things get a little…off course for me, I tend to lose track of time. Everything seems long-interminable, really. The funny thing is, just before this little tussle I’ve been having with myself, I was doing so well! It seems like that is how it goes, though- one week, I’m on top of the world, the house is clean, I’m productive, happy, eating well, having fun, sure that this time I am finally where I’m supposed to be. Feeling so confident that I can’t even imagine how I ever could have felt sad or down before. I look back rather scornfully on my previous self, if I’m being honest- that girl. What was her problem, anyway?

And then that niggling sense of dissatisfaction creeps in- that’s how it always starts. Like I’m searching for something, I need something, but I can’t figure out what it is. I start finding fault with others, and fault with myself. Then comes the internal litany of bullshit- the negative self talk that wears me down, bit by bit. Eventually, I stop washing the dishes, stop making the bed, stop sweeping the floor. I can’t be bothered to wash my face at night. I won’t pick up the phone when it rings, and I cancel plans. Everything feels heavy and sad.

What a lot of people don’t know- I didn’t even know this until recently- is that moodiness and depression are a big part of ADHD. It’s literally part of the deal, part of the chemical function of our brains…or would it be dysfunction? I don’t know, whatever. It’s not imaginary, it’s not a “made-up” disorder. It’s a real, scientifically proven affliction, and they’ve got the brain scans to prove it. It’s a spectrum, as well, so it affects everyone differently. Learning to understand and accept this fact about myself has been far more difficult than I could have imagined.

I have learned there are people who get it and people who just do not. Reciting back to me a list of all the reasons I should be happy does not help. I understand that I have no reason to feel sad…but I feel sad anyway. These feelings cannot be reasoned with. As a matter of fact, telling me all the reasons I have to be happy makes it so much worse, because now I feel guilty about how shitty I feel.

Trust me when I tell you that I would prefer to be happy all the time. That I get no satisfaction from feeling myself sliding backwards into a slump. It’s not a lot of fun to be a person who cannot count on themselves to be steady, at least emotionally, for any length of time. When things are good, they are very good. When things are bad, they are awful.

So, I try. I try really, really hard to slap a smile on my face. To be nice when I want to bite someone’s head off, to temper my tone of voice when I want to snap. I keep showing up, even when I want to stay in my house with the blinds drawn. I try not to try to figure out why I feel the way I feel anymore- honestly, I don’t think there is an outside force at work. I think it’s inside of me, it’s chemical, hormonal maybe…that’s as far as I am willing to go. Trying to fix it seems to only make it worse.

I wait for it to pass. It always does. When it gets really bad, I just remind myself that, no matter what happens, I am safe. It sounds dumb, but remembering that I am “a spiritual being having a human experience”, that this is just school here on planet earth, that, even if I keel over dead tomorrow, I’m still going to be okay…at least, the way I think things are, that’s how it goes…well, that honestly helps a little bit.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no interest in keeling over dead. I’m not advocating for that in any way. I’m just saying, it helps to remember that what we humans prioritize, in order of importance, is pretty screwy sometimes…and that being sad, being down, being depressed…those are just feelings. As long as I know myself well enough to know where to draw the line, when I might need a little extra help, I’ll muddle through.

Yesterday, I followed my boss into the office kitchen, and told her I needed to talk to her. “I’m just really sad.” I told her, tears immediately popping into my eyes. “I knew you were, I could tell by how quiet you’ve been.” She said, “What can I do to help?” I shrugged and shook my head. “I just wish I could understand why I get like this.” I told her. “Yeah, but you know that isn’t how you operate, Courtney. For you, it just happens sometimes. Is there anything I can do? Do you need to see someone, or take time off?” She asked. “I don’t know…I just needed someone to know that I was struggling.” I told her.

And just that, just the simple act of telling someone- someone who doesn’t judge me, or try to reason with me, or try to fix it; someone who doesn’t give me a list of reasons why I should feel differently, but instead just hears me, knows me, and treats me with patience and kindness…it really matters. I don’t know how, but it helps.

I came home yesterday and found that whatever this thing was that had been gripping me so hard…it wasn’t gone, but I could breathe at least. There was space all of the sudden that hadn’t been there before. I could see a little further beyond myself, the way you see the forest around you when you turn your brights on in the car, driving down a country road at night. Last night, I made tater-tots and a grilled cheese for Cam- not much of a meal, but I made it happily- I cut it into fourths, and arranged it just so on the plate, piling the tater-tots in the middle, and filling a stolen ramekin with ketchup. I don’t do things like that when I’m terribly sad.

I unloaded the dishwasher and changed the five gallon water jug that has been empty for days. I made my bed and swept the floor. I helped with homework, and Cam and I read together. These sound like little things to anyone who doesn’t struggle with their moods, I’m certain. But those of us who know will get it.

You know, I find it a little embarrassing to tell the truth about this. I sometimes feel like I sound whiny, or I’m being dramatic- when there is so much turmoil in this world, who am I to think my bouts of sadness even matter? But trying to pretend all is well when it isn’t keeps me silent- it keeps me from writing, and it keeps it all inside. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels the way I do. Maybe you can identify with me, and maybe it’ll help you. Who knows?

Here’s to a better day- to people who can meet us where we’re at, bosses who listen, and to telling the truth, even when it isn’t easy. May we all feel just a little better today than we did yesterday…even if yesterday was awesome, but especially if it wasn’t.

 

Posted in advice, happiness, Life, Musings, People, social media

You’re Allowed to be Happy

okay to be happy

The other day I was just brimming with happiness- I am sure you know what that feels like, but I want to tell you what it is like for me, in my wacky little ADHD brain, so indulge me, won’t you? I have what my therapist likes to call “BIG Feelings”. I get really, really excited, super bummed out, terribly disappointed, extremely angry, and incredibly happy. Even when I am feeling just blah, I am the most monotone blah there is…in other words, I’m a lot. One might even say I’m what the kids these days call “extra”. Except, not for, like, my nails and clothes and shit like that. Just emotionally.

So, much as I try these days to keep my personal life to myself on social media (excluding my blog, obviously, which I only occasionally post links to on Facebook, depending on the content), on this particular day I was just bursting-out-of-my-skin happy, and I wrote a vague-ish post about it. It said something like: “I know the world is weird right now, but I am happier than I’ve been in…I don’t know if I’ve ever been this happy, honestly. Like, Disney Princess happy. Not one part of my life is acting up right now and I am just so grateful.”

That was it, that was the post. I want to tell you that I hesitated before I hit “post” because…well, because I felt a little bit guilty for being happy. I mean, the state of things here in the US are NOT GOOD. Mass shootings. Mass deportations. Children sobbing for parents that have been rounded up and shipped off like animals…you’ve seen the videos, right? Then the comments. Oh, fuck, the comments make me sick with outrage. Accusing the kids of acting (I’m sorry, I have an 8 year old daughter- I know the sound of a heartbroken child.), saying how the parents “should have thought of that, it’s their own fault.”, or just plain cruelty-“Oh well”, “too bad”, etc. I don’t get it. I don’t understand people like that. And then there are the people still in cages, thousands of them. The corrupt government. Trump. God, he’s a nightmare. Climate change. Racism. Even the goddamn social justice warriors on the internet that jump down everyone’s throat the minute anyone says anything, however innocently, that might be the palest shade of offensive. I mean, I am on THEIR side and I find them intolerable. It’s just a big fucking mess here these days. I could go on and on.

But I posted it anyway. It was how I was feeling, with my big, big feelings, and I HAD to get it out. My friend Jen commented “I’m glad you posted this- I was feeling the same way today, but I felt weird posting about it with everything going on in the world. I’m happy for you.”

So, I wasn’t a weirdo, at least, for my strange guilt about feeling good in spite of the troubles in the wider world.

Then, another friend responded with “I’m glad you are happy. But I’m afraid you are not paying attention.”

Man…wow. Sooo…I am not allowed to be happy while there is chaos and tragedy unfolding in this world, is that it? Because that’s what I took from that. If that’s the case, I suppose I better forget about being happy ever again, because, as humans, the one thing we are really excellent at is inflicting misery on one another.

Honestly? I’m glad that person responded the way they did. It revealed to me how absurd it is to believe that anyone should feel guilty, ever, about being happy simply because unhappy things are going down in the world. It doesn’t mean we are happy about the tragedies and wrongdoings going down. Of course it doesn’t. But you know what? You sure can deal with a broken world more effectively from a place of love than from the dark. I can find the right words to speak to someone with an opposing view point far more easily when I am happy than I can when I am simply angry. I have access to empathy and kindness and gentleness when I feel good about my life, and can therefore find words that might make someone hear me. I don’t have to resort to insults and mud-slinging as I might when I am down.

My point? If you are happy, share it with the world. We need to find happiness in these bleak times- like attracts like, right? Contribute something useful, say something kind, do not feel guilty about feeling a glimmer of hope, or shining your light, or sharing your joy. Up the vibration. Find the good. Create some if you can’t find any. This world needs it more now than it ever has.

And when someone else shares their happiness out loud, for Pete’s sake, don’t knock them for it. Be happy for them- then you have a little happiness, too, for yourself. And that’s all you need to get started.

Posted in anxiety, Depression, health, inner peace, Life, Mental Health

Hard Work

Just the quickest of check-ins here, to prove that I am still alive and part of this blogging community. Life has been busy as all get out lately, and when I have had time to sit here to write something, I just have been coming up empty handed. My brain has been so awash with busy thoughts even when I am sitting still…thoughts about what is going on at work (and I NEVER think about work when I’m not working!) and what I need to do next, and next, and next.

My littlest girl starts back to school today, so it’s almost time to go wake her up and get back to the old routine. Part of me is relieved to be back on a normal schedule, part of me remembers it’s a lot of work, mothering a child in school. But the new school year is always one of my favorite fresh starts, and if you follow my blog, you must know by now how much I love clean slates and fresh starts. I am always up for the challenge of doing better than I did before. It’s what keeps me interested in life- challenging myself, and hopefully, teaching my kiddo to love a good challenge.

Work has been insane. We are implementing a new hospital-wide computer system, and we “went live” on August first, which is why we weren’t allowed any paid leave over the summer-training and all that- and now we are just working out the kinks, trying to figure out the best way to do everything. As is my nature, and loving new things the way I do, I have taken right to it. I haven’t had any problems at all, apart from the fact that I’ve had to work in an office every day rather than at home. That has been tough. I don’t do well tied to a desk in a windowless room with ten or so other people for eight hours straight. My boss commented that I worked better at this new thing than I’ve worked at the old stuff, and that she was surprised by how quiet I’ve been. Well, part of that is thanks to my ADHD- I have a new puzzle in front of me to work out, so my brain is fully engaged. But part of it is due to the fact that sitting still, trying to conform and behave is basically poisoning my soul, so…by hour five, I’m pretty miserable. She said I grew more and more pale as the day wore on. I told her it was because my spirit was dying. LOL. Thank God she loves me.

But the best thing I have to report is that I have been actively combating my creeping depression with tons of exercise (even when I really, really don’t want to), vitamins, and healthier eating, and it is WORKING. I’m not sure what is helping the most, and I don’t want to mess with it, so I’m just going to keep going. My anxiety is nearly gone, and the anxiety is what triggers the depression I’m pretty sure, so the depression has lifted, too. I haven’t eaten fast food not even once, nor have I indulged in Starbucks. I have really, really been giving it a solid go, and the results were nearly instant, and so obvious. I guess I just have to continue on this path if I want to feel good. Which, honestly, is a little bit daunting- it’s so much freaking work just for me to feel okay. But feeling okay is such a relief. Not worrying constantly about things that aren’t even logical is such a relief. So if I have to keep at it, I will. It’s so worth it.

So there you have it! I will try to check in again soon, but just know that things are looking up for me, and I hope they are looking up for you, too!

Posted in Addiction, friendship, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, Mental Health, People, recovery, relationships

Facebook Fast, Day 7

facebook

 

You might have noticed that I have been posting a LOT this week. I think I published three blogs more than I intended to, but…well…you see…the truth is, I think I may be suffering a little bit from Facebook withdrawals. I don’t think I mentioned here that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to do a detox from the social media site so many of us love to hate. So, starting December 31st, I have been FB free.

The first few days didn’t bother me a bit- to my surprise, I hardly even thought about it. If anything, I just felt relief, and maybe a sense of freedom. By day five, the relief felt more like emptiness- I had the nagging sense that I was supposed to be doing something, but I couldn’t remember what it was. “What IS it?” I kept thinking to myself, wandering around the house, looking for the…the thing, whatever it was that was missing.

Yesterday was rough. It was Saturday, and I had a lot of free time- more than usual, actually, since I am kind of on a self imposed quarantine. Not because I am sick, but because pretty much everyone else here on the peninsula seems to be. I didn’t go to my Saturday morning meeting, I didn’t go to the gym…come to think of it, I didn’t even leave the house once yesterday. Whoa. Anyway, I was home, alone aside from a seven year old who just wanted to be left alone with her Roblox game (I think that’s what it’s called), with a lot of time on my hands. This would be the time when I would normally jump onto Facebook and start scrolling away.

Okay, wait, I just lied. The truth is, there was never a time when I wasn’t jumping onto Facebook, scrolling away. That was part of the problem. The thing is, and you may not agree, but remember, I am talking about ME right now- the thing is, my addictive behavior can manifest itself in a myriad of ways. It goes WAY beyond drugs, into all sorts of compulsive BS. Listen, not only was I blessed with the gift of addiction, but I am also a genuine, medically diagnosed ADHD “sufferer” (I say this only because I think the people around me suffer from my ADHD way worse than I do!), with the added bonus of not being able to take medication for it because…well, because the medication they give you for ADHD is a LOT like the “medication” I had a big problem with. To put it mildly.

So Facebook lights up all the synapses for me- I can satisfy compulsions, it’s fast and sort of gratifying, I can go back to it again and again and again, I can post funny little snippets of my life and get the reward of “Likes” and comments, kudos and agreement. Yuck! Definitely an element of narcissism in there too, isn’t there? Yeah, it just started to be bad for me. No, it was bad for a long time, actually. Not only was it bad for me in that way, but it really fired up all my character defects, too. I judged the fuck out of everyone on there- for their level of interesting (“Oh God, you are so boring, no one cares!”), for their number of selfies (I literally have NO BUSINESS saying shit about this one- didn’t stop me from thinking it, though), for their “If you agree, type AMEN” posts (Um, no.), and for their spelling. I mean…how do you mess up so badly when spell check exists? Look, we all make mistakes at times, but I have seen posts that were indecipherable, and I don’t get it. Facebook started to make me feel bad every time I went on, and I went on about a million times a day.

So, I stopped, and yesterday was the first time I missed it, but then I realized something. I didn’t miss Facebook at all, not really. What I missed was the false sense of connection, of involvement in people’s lives, that it gave me. Yes, this year, one of the things I am striving for is connection, but not like that. Not pretend connection, and me sitting at home, judging the spelling and choices of others. I want real connection, with people in real life…and I think I may have forgotten how to foster that. I was actually a little bit lonely yesterday- that’s what was going on.

Today, I am going to practice reaching out- I have been doing that a little bit lately. I left an incredibly awkward voicemail message for my friend recently, and I can’t help but laugh just thinking about it. He still hasn’t called me back, either, the jerk, but he’s an old friend, so I’m not worried. It’s kind of weird even picking up the phone and calling someone these days, in this world of texting as the main form of communication. But this year, I want to hear voices, and see faces. I want to get together IRL, you know?

Oh, and the Facebook Fast is only supposed to last through January, but who knows? Maybe I’ll keep it up even longer. Then again, maybe I won’t last the month.

No, I totally will. Thanks for putting up with all my chatter this week! I’ve found a lot of new blogs to follow, and have connected with a few new bloggers, which is great. I’m really curious what your experience and habits with Facebook are like, so please feel free to fill me in in the comments!

Talk to you soon! (You can pretty much bet on that)