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Lost in Tulgey Wood

"I warn you, if you bore me, I shall take my revenge." J.R.R. Tolkein

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Location: Canton, Ohio, United States

The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure --Mikhail Baryshnikov

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dammit! The Bastard Snuck Up On Me Again!

I woke up with an earworm in my head this morning, Alice. It just kept skiing up and down the gray folds of my cerebral cortex, singing its chorus with the gusto of an Alpine yodler while I saw to my morning ablutions. As I put mousse in my wet hair, I began to listen to its song in earnest. This is what it had to tell me:

I'm gonna harden my heart
I'm gonna swallow my tears
I'm gonna turn...and...leave you here.....

As I processed the words and listened to them repeat over and over again, the meaning began to sink in: it's time to harden your heart and swallow your tears, Honey, 'cause that's the only way to beat the bastard.

"That's right!" I thought to myself. "I've been depressed!"

No duh, as anyone who has spoken to me within the past week would probably say. My withdrawn behavior, my spontaneous weeping, my woe, are no secret. In fact, I've admitted it myself. I was also suffering from a stomach bug at the same time. But there was nothing anyone could do for me. Big Orange tried to annoy me out of my stupor by singing crazy songs and doing entire Bill Cosby routines. When he failed to get a smackdown from me, as is my wont when things get too silly or avant garde, he kind of gave up. I could hear the defeat in his voice, Alice, but I couldn't do anything about it.

My Riley tried to comfort me, but that made me cry harder. My Lucy wanted me close at all times, and that made me cry harder. My Doc gave me some space, which was more valuable than you may think, Alice, maybe the most valuable, that way I could weep without reservation. My Mom was ready to bully, cajole and engage in fisticuffs to set things right. My Dad, bewildered, just tried to be there for me. Madame E, also perhaps a bit under his spell, tried to help by giving me good counsel, as usual.

I guess I knew it was the bastard returned, Alice, but part of his magic is that he's teflon coated and difficult to identify while you're having a picnic on his Moors of Doom. But as I sat there under a weeping willow, drinking punch, I saw a lovely vision, that of a lady-sage with a saxophone. Harden your heart. Swallow your tears. All of a sudden, the scales fell from my eyes and I left the Bastard on the Moors of Doom. I was back, tougher and ready to fight the obstacles in my path like the great Achilles I know I can be.

I'm not one hundred percent fabulous again, my Alice, but i'm cruising past sixty and things are looking up; just in time to take my place at the ledge, coaxing those friends and family back from it who need it. I guess we all take our turn from time to time on the ledge, ready to leap and beside the ledge, begging for a return to sanity.

I'm just glad to be off the ledge, out of the tunnel and back in the Wood.


Blogger Elizabeth said...

Thanks for bringing this up. If you hadn't included the link, I might never know what I have and have had for many years. The description of Dysthymia is an absolute perfect fit. I've tried for years to figure out what I have and now I know.


5:45 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I will say, though, that I've never had a weird idea that I was a prophet.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Big Orange said...

Ooooh... "the Bastard." I like that!! Ben Johnson apparently called Time "The Old Bald Cheater", and I think we need some flavorful adjectives to add to the Bastard, Depression. Lettuce thunk of some.

Question For Class Discussion: Does merely ACKNOWLEDGING that you're depressed get you out of it, or are you like me and in need of Lil' Bloo Happy Pills?? (brand-name Prozac is green an' off-white, but generic is in a blue capsule). I absolutely LOVE my Lil' Bloo Happy Pills (LBHP's) and only regret I didn't start back on 'em until recently.

MADAME: I'm glad you've discovered dysthymia... that is, I'm glad you've discovered the definition: sometimes merely KNOWING something is power enough. To you I suggest that if you thunk you're dysthymic (I'm pretty sho' *I* am) you might wanna see someone 'bout that and-- possibly-- start takin some LBHP's, too!! BETTER LIVIN' THRU PHARMACOLOGY!!

(Princess: this doesn't mean I'm gonna STOP singing awful songs on all your answering devices, I hope you understand!!)

7:16 PM  
Blogger Flannery Alden said...

I'm glad you mentioned the prophet thing, Madame E. I looked at the Classical definition of Dysthymia and I actually know someone like this:
The term dysthymia originally referred to a sub-clinical psychotic condition. The Greek roots of the term dysthymia suggest the interpretation: "abnormal or disordered feelings".

Classical dysthymia refers to "feeling" something as a reality which is not a reality, for example "feeling" that one knows what others think - or "understanding" an underlying social dynamic which is not real. This thinking pattern would lead sufferers to see themselves as "prophets" or as "highly intuitive healers". Such people may imagine that they can "feel" underlying hostilities which do not exist.

These people often endure social estrangement because they continually inject disordered judgments, which result from their abnormal "feelings". These disordered feelings and the way that dysthymics may express them within social settings are usually considered intensely strange.

This definition of dysthymia used to cover a broad band of disorders, which may very likely result in anti-social behaviors


7:44 AM  
Blogger Flannery Alden said...

Big Orange,

I would say that, no, merely acknowledging that I'm depressed doesn't give me a get out of jail free card, although it's a start.

On the other hand, I don't take LPHP's to snap out of it either. Tom Cruise told me it was bad.

Not really...

Seriously, though, the last time I took Prozac, I felt like a zombie. But, then again, I was pregnant too, so maybe that caused me to have an adverse reaction.

The first time I took it, it did wonders for me by providing me with a benchmark for "normal". It gave me an idea of how I should be feeling. So, in future, I'm able to identify where I was on the spectrum and adjust accordingly.

For me I just kind of check out for a few days. This time, I had Xanax to help me; I was truly hysterical. And that helped to hold back the flood.

But you know what helps me the most? Writing. It gives me the chance to stop, examine my situation, and think about it. Then I can determine the source of my distress and start to work on it. Also prayer helps. I really threw myself into repititious prayer the night before I caught the earworm. I just repeated the Lord's Prayer over and over until I fell asleep the previous night.

"Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek and ye shall find."

It's true, for me, anyway.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Maybe I opened up a can of worms for myself that I shouldn't have. The reason why Dysthymia seems so familiar to me are the listed symptoms:

On the majority of days for 2 years or more, the patient reports depressed mood or appears depressed to others for most of the day.

When depressed, the patient has 2 or more of:

Appetite decreased or increased

Sleep decreased or increased

Fatigue or low energy

Poor self-image

Reduced concentration or indecisiveness

Feels hopeless

The whole thing about anti-social behavior and "injecting disordered judgements" I believe, comes from being continuously told that I was stupid as a child. That's not a neurosis, that's bad parenting. If your own parents feel that you're worthless, you can't imagine anyone else perceiving you as valuable.

I take it all back. I don't have this disease. My symptoms are the result of long-term emotional abuse and these symptoms didn't start in adolescence, I remember experiencing my first deep depression at the age of six.

Unfortunately, there is no little blue pill that can go back in time and change my parents attitude towards me.

For God's sake, don't feel sorry for me! I may struggle with my self-image, but I'm totally aware of my myself and I can identify what's bothering me and I'm perfectly capable of verbalizing it, which is something I couldn't do as a child. Being able to blow the whistle on whatever crazy thing that's going through my head is half the battle. The rest is coming to terms with the fact that I can't make everything perfect and that I do have to work with the reality I'm given. Sometimes that leads to feelings of hopelessness which then makes me angry and frustrated, but, hey, that's life.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Flannery Alden said...

Well, Madame E, a little blue pill can't change the past but it can help you disregard it and start fresh. I think all three of us have suffered a range of emotional abuse that kicked started depression.

I would caution against denying that you suffer from dysthymia, though. The list of symptoms are just packaged under that name, regardless of what caused them. It's what I was diagnosed as having and it sounds like what you suffer with too.

I know when I was taking anti-depressants, I was able to concentrate on the "now" and abandon all of my baggage. I was also attending church at the time and found the confession portion of the Anglican service to be very helpful as well.

Then again, the emotional abuse I suffered was as an adult and not from a parent. Therefore, it's probably easier for me to recover from run-in's with that Old Wiley Bastard without the help of little blue pills.

Anti-depressants reminded me what it was like to be happy. Maybe it could show you how to be happy.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Flannery Alden said...

Life doesn't have to be filled with so much suffering at the hands of your own mind.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Big Orange said...

PRINCESS: we must learn to TURN OFF THE CRUISE CONTROL, mustn't we?? >:-P Gawd, that was funni!!

Oh, and as to the power of repeatitive prayer: there ARE Anglican rosaries, you know...


Actually, I not only pray the rosary I make them by hand-knotting them, which is a wonderful way of not only losing yourself in the prayers but also of doing something useful with your hands (www.rosaryarmy.com -- should you join, I'm Big Orange)

I don't thunk I knows y'all well enuff to say, "yeah, you strike me as dysthymic" but I DO know the Human Condition (also known as the Human Comedy) well enuff to know that seein' someone (shrink, psych, clergy, etc) is a Good Idea, especially if you THINK on any level you might either be a wee bit dee-pressed or even a wee bit dysthymic. *I* think that LBHP's have done me a WORLD of good, but I also acknowledge that A) it ain't the answer to everything and B) theys ain't for everyones. I'm conscious that it sound like the Princess and I are gangin' up on you to get you to think that LBHP's (or LPHP's-- Lil' PINK Happy Pills, like Celexa) are the answer, which I KNOW ain't the deal on either o' our ends (I can speak for you, Princess, on this one, no?)

ANYHOODLE, if you THINK you might have the Old Cigar Chompin Bastard sitting at your elbow...

1:28 PM  
Blogger Big Orange said...

Good grief! Anglican rosaries are $20!! I could knot one up for you for free!! Sheesh...

1:29 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Per our phone conversation: I'm not pissed. I am also not in denial. This was my own observation after briefly reading the symptoms. The only thing I've been professionally diagnosed with is having had a bad childhood.

The depression I've been through lately has nothing to do with the past. It's all in the present. I'm depressed because I'm failing my kitties after I promised I would always take care of them. I'm worried that they are unadoptable because I stupidly thought it was a good idea to allow them to bond. Now they're so close they can't live without each other and nobody will take them in pairs.

I'm depressed because my mother genuinely feels that she has the right to control my life. She tells me that I'm going to be a horrible, abusive mother and she's threatened to take the baby away from me.

Fortunately, the Big E's attitude is "Don't fuck with my family." He's being very protective. I don't need a blue pill, I need a new mom. The Big E said that his mother is my mother now and she'll be happy to love me.

My mom takes Prozac and Xanex on a daily basis and has for years. Pills do nothing if you don't get the therapy to back it up. She refuses to go. On the other hand, I've been in therapy off and on throughout my life. I go when I feel I need it most. That's my place of confession. I hate church and everything about it. Sorry!

Yes, I have flashbacks of my childhood just a Viet Nam vet has flashbacks of war and I probably could use a little something now and then, but giving myself permission to accept the bad feelings I have and allowing myself to accept love from those I've chosen to have around me is more helpful than anything else and I thank YOU and all of the sweethearts in my life for that.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Big Orange,

I tried to post my message before you're last post came up, but it wouldn't go through. I read yours after my last post. You're two cents are welcome. I don't feel ganged up on, I just think that quickly diagnosing myself and posting it may have been a bad idea.

"Look before you leap" is the saying that comes to mind.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I tried to post my message before YOUR last post came up, but it wouldn't go through.

My mastery of the English language is downright scary!

3:07 PM  
Blogger Big Orange said...

Madame, I've ALWAYS found you scary. >:-}

Meanwhile, tell mom to go ahead, TRY to take the kid away. There's someting called LAWS in this country that usually prevents that sort of shit from happening. Also, a change of venue to something w/more Southern x-posure ::coff, coff:: might do well fer ya... >:-}

3:34 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Oh, you!

Thanks for the invitation. A vacation does sound good, but I'm not going to do any big traveling while my little bun is still in the oven. Florida is definitely a possibility later on!

6:22 PM  
Blogger Big Orange said...

All Lil' Buns must visit the ocean. It's a requirement to be a Well Rounded Human Being. Lemmie know when y'all is ready!

10:53 AM  

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