Thursday, November 6, 2008

How do you find you?

Well, today I met with my department chair (KR), the associate dean of the graduate school (BC), the associate director (AZ) of disability services, and someone else (VR) who was extremely helpful but whose title I've forgotten, and probably others I'm leaving out.

Monday I met with my mentor who suggested dropping my heaviest class and talking to someone at disability services to work out something with the graduate school so I could keep my assistantship. AZ gave me a form to give Dr. Shrink to complete during our follow-up appointment, the one set up to see how I was doing with the med change. Dr. Shrink wondered if dropping all my classes might be the best route, with just keeping the one course I teach, if I can. I thought I could, but how would the university deal? He completed the form, which I shared with AZ, who helped me set up a meeting with VR to help figure out what to do.

I totally forgot to include KR until the last minute, so I sent her an email filling her in and inviting her to the meeting. She didn't attend, but spoke with VR expressing her support of whatever needs to be done to, well, support me.

Meeting this morning: Surprise! Associate Dean will join us and I am so glad that remembered to take the Klo.nopin a half an hour earlier.

Everyone was very supportive and spoke very specifically about what was what, what implications were and setting up a plan so that I would still remain a student with the least hassle, even if it turns out that I decide I need another semester off. Extremely supportive and sensitive, too.

Forms and letters were initiated, forwarded, clarified. There will be a meeting of the graduate council (coincidentally) on Tuesday afternoon so I should hear something soon. No one anticipates any glitches or problems, as long as forms are filled out appropriately.

So why do I still want to cry? Oh, there are million answers.

One that comes up is "disability." This is why I'm being allowed to do this. I've developed a disability, which has hindered my ability to focus on, complete, continue my work.

There is nothing wrong with disability. Jesus C.hrist I was this close to completing certification and a masters' degree in the field. and yet.

I am disabled.

My whole young life I worried that I was weird, different, oversensitive. Spacey, "in my own world," said my mother, the special education teacher.

One of the greatest realizations for me as an adult was that everyone is fucked up in one way or another. Some hide it better, for some it just shows up in less detectable ways.

There is nothing wrong with being disabled. After the year I had, that letter I wrote back in April, the one before my sister's twins were lost, before B's father died. There is no wonder that I am affected.

I am severely depressed. I have the insurance code to prove it. I don't take care of myself. I don't take care of my house. My husband was sick this week (sinus and ear infections), sicker than I've seen in a long time. I took care of him. Sort of. I bought him liquids, and medicines and took him to the doctor. I made him tea, and made him eat, and got him salve for his irritated nose. I fed the cats and gave them their medicine. I took his crankiness. I slept in the other room.

It was odd to realize that I really do very little. Groceries. Occasional laundry. I pay all the bills.

I think the meds (cym.balt.a and K) are beginning to help. Maybe there are fewer hours that I am weepy, though I had a complete meltdown two days in a row, like panic attack, sobbing in the shower, wailing in the car at 65 mph. On the way to Dr. Shrink. Better, but not better.

Maybe the better is the seeing. The realizing how bad things are. How really sad I am. How I have no idea who I am anymore. How the hope is gone.


C recorded Obama's wonderful acceptance speech. Oh, it was wonderful. I teared up with the ideas and the hope and change and the humanity. I'm normally a political analysis junkie -- speeches like that are totally my thing.

But this was different. I couldn't feel it. I couldn't invest in the hope. I wouldn't, I mean, couldn't really engage with it. Like I was walled off from it. Bullet-proof glass. I could hear it, see it, but couldn't feel it. The maudlin in me says my "heart was walled off" from it. I had no trust in it.

For every good there is bad. Obama in the White House, K in the hospital. Support from school, but...what? Emptiness. I don't know.

Part of me wishes I could just drop teaching that, too, even though I've started to connect with my students. Something good. Something scheduled. A reason to get out of bed and focus my brain. Even if I don't think I want to.

I look around me and say, set up a schedule: laundry. writing. clean up the office. clean up the bedroom. and then I think, Yeah. Uh huh. Like that's going to happen.

I want something happy to engage in. I want to be hopeful. I want to play. And then I'll feel like, eh.

I have a wonderful husband who is tired of taking care of everything. He needs someone to take care of him. Or he needs to not take care of everything (not that he does, but he does what basic things need to be done).

Dr. Shrink said that I need to do *something* every day. Like go for a walk with C. Something.

I had nothing to suggest. And then I said, a dog. We've been sort of talking about maybe getting a dog. He said a dog, not a puppy, but a dog might provide something good to focus on. Force me to get out of the house for walks. Focus on someone not me. Take care of something, different from the cats.

I am still fantasizing about a dog. Even visited one a few times at the shelter -- how could I not, now, with virtual professional approval. A three-year old beagle, very sad looking at first, but the second time I saw her, she perked up, snuffled at my face, tail wagging, belly ripe for the rubbing. Great with cats. Good size.

C is worried that the next time I melt down, a dog will be another responsibility for him. I fantasize that this would give me a little creature to take care of, to focus on. A baby that's not a baby. Oh, yeah, that's healthy. But a (happy) little creature to take out to play when C just wants to sit on the couch and watch movies. "Playdates" with my friends with dogs. Or maybe I'm just looking for another club to belong to since I got kicked out of the Mommy club. And aside from the Dead Baby Club. Not that I don't love you all.

C says to wait to the meds are stable. Til we can get our house out of the state of squalor in which we've been living. I want to do this, I want to do this now. I want to believe that the reverse will happen, that being engaged with a dog will help me engage in life.

Honestly, I don't know who I am. What I want. What I even enjoy any more. I don't even know if I really know how to enjoy anything anymore. It's sort of like waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I don't even feel the first shoe. Yes, this is depression. Yes, this is grief.

How do I find my way back to me?

How do you?


Sara said...

Sue, I just wanted to say that I am out here pulling for you. I'm sorry it's taking such a long time to get out of this dark place. You WILL get out of it.

My dogs have been surrogate babies to me over the past year and a half and I think it's been very good for my mental health.

c. said...

I don't have any answers, Sue. I'm kinda still searching for that answer myself, without the depression you've had to deal with.

I think the idea of another club sounds like a good one, as I'm sure most would agree that being in this deadbaby club has its limitations. And who gives a shit about healthy: a baby that's not a baby is still a baby, right?

I hope you can find your way back to you, Sue. Or at least find a path that brings you some semblance of contentedness. I really, really do. XO.

Antigone said...

Dogs are great for mild depression and awful for severe depression.

If you're doing laundry and paying bills you're doing a lot more than I did when I was in the throes of depression. I think there was even a week I didn't brush my teeth.

k@lakly said...

Tiny steps, like the ones you are taking, one at a time. I like the idea of a dog, an older dog who already knows how to be a friend and doesn't need the training or the constant care. One who will sit with you when you need a little company and one who will walk beside you when facing the outdoors seems to lonely to do by yourself.

Heather said...

I'm really glad to see that you are getting support from your school.

I think small steps are good steps. I like that your doctor said to "do something every day". I've tried to do that myself. Some days it helps, some days not, but at least it's something.

Thinking of you and really, really wishing for peaceful days ahead.

Anonymous said...

dear heart, i happened upon your place by blindly typing some hopeful words into google and clicking randomly. looking for inspiration.

as silly as this may seem? i the depth and awareness and feeling and, yes, caring, that your words are soaked in touched me and inspired me deeply.

these past seasons life had crushed and shattered me so totally that i could not do much but crawl through the garden and fields crying. sometimes i could not crawl.

and --- like you --- there was this quality in me that --- while standing (or laying as it may be) in the deep pain --- i kept the fingers of my heart reaching out for the fingertips of angels. (are angels just the wind? is the ladybug who just landed on my nose an angel? i hope you forgive me if i use a language such as this --- but there are no other words available to us than can describe such things)

some wise ones say that this act --- the act of standing fully in ones pain while at the same time feeling into the winds of eternity with the hopeful heart --- that this act is the alchemical fire of the cauldron where the phoenix is burned to ashes --- and then, yes, arises.

and this did happen to me --- after a long time. i now am standing in just as much destruction and pain and loss --- but some metamorphic transformation (initiation?)has transpired such that the fingers of my soul (my most inner child) can feel the heartbeat pulse of a living eternity in every floating cast away speck of dust --- hear the --- i hesitate to say this --- hear the love song of the yearning stream of forever in every complaining person passing.

yes, it is true, all of this ragged torn wondrous beautiful creation --- every moment and every substance and every chipmunk by my window --- is imbued with the holy spirit --- sorry, there is no other word i can se to describe this --- i do not use the term holy spirit in any christian sense --- i just use it as a stranger in a strange land who has come to feel the earth beneath her feet.

so, dear heart, all of this is to say simply that --- that --- thank you for your depth being --- for your being of a true love (i know, i know, you might not feel this of yourself, but your words exude this) --- and that i know that soon you will find yourself in a wondrous new universe --- a universe that has been born of the alchemy of your own soul.

i am reminded of the opening of a rumi poem. it went something like this ---
hearken to the sound of the reed
(the reed --- now a flute)
and the reed says
ever since i was cut from my stem down by the sea
my cry has been
and has set to tears all the men and all the women
i want a heart that is torn by separation
that i may truly declare the agony of yearning
of every one far from a lover and true friend
and, yes, i have sung this song with all kinds
with miserable and happy
and, yes, i seek the one who knows the sign
one who can mingle all of their soul with mine
the sound of the reed
is fire
not wind


from a sister of the wind
walking beauty way
in the winds of grace,


CLC said...

A dog sounds like a good idea. I like your doctor's suggestion. At the same time, I think C. may be right, maybe wait a couple of more weeks to see how the meds work out ? Maybe you can keep making your visits to the shelters in the meantime.
Thinking of you Sue.

Anonymous said...

Maybe volunteer at the shelter! Consider it as test-driving lots of potential pets, until you're sure what you want to do.

I love my puppies dearly, but they can still be a pain. Not sure you want to mess with that right now....

Do what you can, and don't be impatient with yourself. Keep hanging in there - you'll find your way.

Thinking of you, wishing you peace....

Tash said...

Oooh, I LOVE Jodie's suggestion of volunteering! And really, I think a dog might be nice. As you know, we had a dog when Maddy died, but rather impulsively adopted another about 2 months later. And he really saved me in more ways than I know. He focussed me. He needed me. I was good at it. Of course now he surfs my counter and eats my gourmet cheese and in many ways makes me want to kill him, until I find him with his head on my pillow, and then all is forgiven.

I haven't found myself. Hell, I'm not sure I had myself before Maddy which is making things that much more difficult. but again, I like to compartmentalize things. Keep family and profession kinda separate in my head, as much as possible, and work on each, and honor the positives in each, and keep the bad news in each contained within those walls as much as possible.

Thinking of you, S.

Shana Runyan said...


I am so sorry that you are in so much pain. Your post about breaks my heart.

I am in such a similar place right now. We lost our baby girl after years of trying. You wrote so many things in my heart today.

At times the depression has been too much to take. I have felt paralyzed and in a fog for almost a year. By telling you this, I just want to validate your feelings and thoughts. You are not alone, and you are not crazy for feeling or thinking the way you do.

When my house became too quiet to take, we rescued a dog. I had no idea how much it would help. She has been my saving grace, something to take care of, something to talk to my husband about, a reason to get out of bed, someone who loves me and sees me as whole. She's been a distraction from all the grey. Your shrink is wise.

Thinking of you.


Ya Chun said...

I ma glad you are getting a break for the rest of this semester and maybe next too. eaching one course will keep you plenty busy.

What about volunteering somewhere? Nursing home, shelter, or AT the animal shelter.

I quit my job, and each week after that I have been able to pick up the pace little-by-little. But you need time and a flexible schedule so that you can deal with the bad days. I have had many of those, where I couldnt concnetrate and nothing got done but me making it thru the day.

luna said...

oh sue, the heart ache is palpable here. I'm just catching up with you now, better late than never.

I also think the shrink is wise, as is C to suggest waiting until you find the right balance for meds. I also really like jodie's suggestion of volunteering at a local shelter. not only will it get you out of the house but it will give you something to care about, responsibility that isn't tied to school or career, and possibly even some love and affection not weighted down by human dynamics.

dogs are wonderful faithful creatures who give so much and ask for so little in return. but before you may be ready to adopt one, you could always visit and care for some first. see how it goes.