Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The black dog

Churchill called it the black dog, but it comes to different people in different forms. Dogs feel too friendly to me. This is how it feels: you wake up with a lead blanket on you, the kind they give you when you're getting dental x-rays. Moving in any direction is an effort. The dogs will come over to you. Bean stands over me as I lay there, her nose directly in my face, her eyes staring into mine, willing me to move. She nudges me with the wet tip of her nose, very, very gently, as if to say "just a tiny reminder that we need to go out."

I managed to get outside, as I do every morning, but once there, the air felt too hot, putting one foot in front of another a chore. I didn't even feel like taking pictures.  It's dry everywhere. It rained yesterday, a paltry few drops, a tease of water, enough to make us miss it, not enough to make any difference whatsoever. We take pictures of the rain to remind ourselves what it looks like, get out of our cars, walk around in it.

Rain. Mulholland. 06.30.15.

This is entirely my fault. I was doing so well. I was working hard and dating and walking and sleeping and riding and not drinking very much alcohol and eating properly and going to yoga and seeing friends and feeling loved. I thought I didn't need my meds. My eensy-weensy little amount of celexa in the melon-colored pills that I break in half every morning. I'd almost forgotten I was taking them, and such a tiny amount, what could they possibly be doing? A lot, apparently. They were keeping this depressive person under the illusion that she was okay and normal and happy.

Your world gets smaller. Everything shrinks. Your heart shrinks, most importantly. You don't have it in you to reach out to anyone. You have to remind yourself to love, to forgive, to go into the universe. You have to remind yourself: This is now. This is not your life. Or you would give up. You have to walk outside every morning and water the tomatoes and tend to the flowers and deadhead the gardenia you've struggled to keep alive. You have to remind yourself that people think you are a happy person, a jolly person, a person who people want to be around because of your good energy because that is what they tell you. You have to remind yourself not to bore your friends with (although I am lucky, I have friends who will talk to me when I'm like this). You have to remind yourself not to pick fights with your ex-husband, because, truly, he is the only one that really understands this. You have to remind yourself not to blame your ex-boyfriend or have revenge fantasies (like a stalker, I have been blocked from email, phone, social media and let me try to tell you how that feels; to have the man that you loved, the one you thought you were going to move in with, the one you planned to be with for a long time, the one who has left little bon mots all over your house in books, on postcards, the one that called you petnames and made love to you and told you his secrets, imagine having that person essentially pretend you are dead.)

Imagine the ignominy of online dating in this state. Of feeling not quite yourself, and progressively having it get worse, without really knowing why, and every day having to flick through pictures of smiling men hoping to find the love of their lives, and with each photo trying to ascertain within seconds, if this is a good man, a kind man, an honest man, a man of wit, a man who likes dogs... Imagine having to put up endless pictures of yourself looking fetching or sexy or cool, when all you want to do is just sleep.

And then when you do match with someone, and you think, maybe this time, maybe, this will be a connection, maybe this will be someone who will want to love and understand me, someone who will want me in their life, to talk to to, to do things with, to be more than the sum of these parts. And then the disappointment.

And I know it will pass. And I know it will be better. And I know I have friends who love me, and children who love me, and lovely dogs who love me even in this most unloveable, most hideous state. It almost makes me weep to think about their loving kindness.

And all of this time I think of my father, who stayed in bed for days and took too many sleeping pills and happy pills and drank whiskey and really only wanted to talk to dogs. And not understanding that he suffered from this. And being terrified of his anger, which was, really, only a thinly disguised depressive episode. And to think of the monstrous effort he made to smile when people came for dinner, to tell jokes, to be the life of the party, to live up to his reputation. "Oh, Denis" the women would say with delight.

"Nothing to be ashamed of. I have it too," said my lovely ex-husband, "We are super lucky to have such great meds today." I know that he is right.

I drive around LA in the heat. I take a picture of the mormon temple with its ugly, spiky fence. I fill up my car with gas and try to remember to hold my tummy in at the pump. I have a meeting and drink iced coffee and it makes me feel better, more alive, more energetic. I try to listen to music I love. I try to remember that this will pass.

I'd like a wingman. I say this to my therapist and he tells me it's a good time to get used to being alone and to realize that I can do these things for myself, that I don't need a wingman. Just because I've had a wingman since I was 20 doesn't mean that I need one now. "I am very able" I say to my brother on the phone, hoping to convince myself. "I can be on my own. I am on my own." I know that I am resourceful, that I could build shelter, or kill an animal for food if it were needed. I know I could make sorrel soup and elderberry cordial and live in the forest, and I know that I can change a lightbulb, or twist the wires on a fuse, or grow a tomato, or change a tire. I'm just not sure that there is any point in having these skills if you have no-one to share them with.

Everything is connected says my brother. It's synchronicity. Once you're in the zone, everything will come to you. If you're out of the zone, you're out of sync. Or something like that. I know he's right. On days like today I am so far out of the zone I might as well be on another planet.

20mg of celexa went into my mouth this morning and yesterday morning. This is what I can do. I only wish I was able to give myself a hug with two strong arms that didn't want to let go.


LPC said...

Oh sweetheart - I had no idea you suffered from this. So happy you are hopping back on the meds, so sorry for every minute it will take until they kick back in.

You write brilliantly, you know, black dog or life of the party.


carla_fern said...

Like the flight safety announcement says, 'Secure your own oxygen mask before helping others' xoxo. You are a beautiful talented woman...look in the mirror and introduce yourself.

Sue said...

I am reading your blog - it's winter here. I have lit a fire because it's cold and though it's mid day I'm drinking a dry sherry, playing gorgeous old 1930s 1940s songs. My beautiful girl dog aged 13 years is curled up on one sofa and I am on the other.

I really enjoy your blog and I want to tell you that I have two dear friends who take anti depressants in small quantities and they notice the difference if they don't take them. As your ex husband said it's wonderful what these tablets can do...

Life in a dry climate (I live in a very dry place) can be hard in summer; I do hope some good rain falls.

Your readers love you for expressing your emotions so honestly and I hope life becomes easier.

Janelle said...

hang in there Bumble...ditto to above. i only know you here, but i think you're an amaaaaazing woman, writer, horse rider, spiritualist, philosopher, yogi, dog lover, cook, gardener, friend, stylist and a million other things. i have received such solace (and huge inspiration) from reading your words here and seeing your photographs. perhaps you make me know that these things i know and feel, i am not alone in. keep seeing the light through the cracks, dear Bumble. sending love, lightness of being (that rare and euphoric life realisation) and a big hug. x janelle

Janelle said...

read this and thought of you...xo

Anonymous said...

I related to everything here and you mentioned something in a way I needed to hear very very badly. Thank you for writing this down.

Katherine C. James said...

So much to say in response to your beautiful words and the pain you eloquently describe. I've typed and deleted, typed and deleted. Sometimes the proper words, the words that honor the feelings, stubbornly refuse to appear. Tonight I'll simply send you admiration, love, a hug. It's not the kind of embrace you are missing, but it is full of understanding and concern. Some days the triumph is each step, the next act, then the next. When life becomes overwhelming, go back to the basics the circle closest to you contains: dogs, walk, shower, breath. Or a subset. Slowly move back out from there. xo.

Unknown said...

I have been down this road, this very one; I recognise it from your description. I can still see, in my mind's eye, the geography of it, the deep dark valleys the road goes down. You write about it beautifully. Sometimes I find myself on it again, and people who mean well say "what is it specifically that you're depressed and anxious about?" and it's hard to answer, because it's not a mood, it's a road.

But the thing is, the thing is (here's the thing): when you pan right back from it, when you've left it and have some distance, what you see is that it's just a road. One road in the whole huge various landscape, and not the everything-of-everything that it feels like when you're on it. It'll come to an end, hopefully soon, and you'll find yourself in the uplands. Meanwhile all you can do is be good to yourself and kind and tolerant, to yourself, and keep moving. Andrea G. Xx

Tania Kindersley said...

I think you are so brave. And, as always, you write the most beautifully when you stare the difficult subjects in the whites of their eyes. The awful irony about any terror or melancholy or incorrect brain wiring is that the love and goodness can make a person feel worse. The critical voices, on their fourth dirty martini, shout: how dare you be depressed when you have ALL THIS? Yet, the love of friends, the kindness of strangers, are like little impotent arrows of fondness which bounce off the existential armour and fall sadly to the ground. I remember years ago, with a Best Beloved, thinking if I just love her enough and take her to the mountains, it will all be fine. (I was young and ignorant.) But the love did not work and the mountains meant nothing. She stood in one of the loveliest glens in Scotland and I was waiting for the transformation and she suddenly said: I can't SEE the beauty. All of which is a long way of saying - I want to send you consolation, over the thousands of miles between us, but I know that is too much to hope for. I write anyway, so you know you are not alone. xxxx

Unknown said...

First, dear Bumble, I hope Norway is propping you up and nurturing you so you'll return to LA feeling more your horse riding, wildflower picking, dog loving self. Second, I know this is an odd and not particularly helpful compliment, but I envy your ability to assign words (beautiful ones at that!) to the dark place and the feeling of residing there. One of the most frustrating things for me when I find myself at a low point is that writing becomes damn near impossible. And, staring helplessly at a blank computer screen only drags me down deeper into the muck. Ugh.