I looked up menopause on Mayo Clinic’s website “ may affect emotional health.” Hmmmm. I wish I could blame menopause. I’m trying to rationalize in my distorted mind that my daily crying spells is the beginnings of menopause.
I excitedly tell my husband as the Atlantic Ocean waves roll over our feet. My head on his shoulder with daily tears in my eyes “maybe it’s menopause.”
I don’t even believe what I am saying. I’ve been depressed my entire life. I was hoping at age 52 that I could blame my crying spells on something. I am exhausted by my own racing thoughts. The problem is there are too many scenarios that slither in and out of my brain randomly.
I have been inconsistently in therapy since I was 20. How many more times can I process the same fucking shit? Process the same shit that feels as raw and prickly as the moment it just happened. I know a woman who was in a horrific bus accident in Bali. A truck full of refined sugar trapped her in her seat for 6 hours. Both her best friends sitting next to her already deceased. When I met her for only the 2nd time, the first was 15 years ago when my soon to be boyfriend now husband had a crush on her, she told she did some weird fucking rapid eye movement therapy and was feeling better.
I couldn’t help but blurt out “you are joking, right?” She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. “It helped.”
I know therapists and psychiatrists personally so I usually get unsolicited advice when I tell people I’m depressed. I was friendly with a psychiatrist I worked with and her answer was working for our community based mental health agency was making me depressed. “You make no money here. It’s a terribly run. You can buy a social work degree online for like $10k and then you can be a therapist and make good money in private practice.” I also thought she was joking but apparently people did this.
I’ve always been in the wanting to ease people’s pain business. I never got a counseling degree. Or a social work degree. I had compassion and empathy and wouldn’t give up on you even if you gave up on yourself.
A therapist who I worked with left to join a practice in which people trip like when I went to college hippie parties. Allegedly in 6 hours you moved through your subconscious trauma and woke up fine. The therapist was in a loveless marriage to a cop so I never trusted her anyway.
Then there’s psychiatric meds. I have been on everything. They help for awhile and then I’m right back to crying and being anxious again.
The same psychiatrist who told me to buy an online degree told me to try deep brain stimulation. I thought if I was ever going to take any of her advice, which I never did, the fake degree seemed like the more sensible of the two.
Then there is talk therapy. I have been to every kind of therapist you can think of. One therapist would lean her desk chair all the way back that she would fall asleep for a few seconds and roll herself back down to look at me and say “Exposure therapy! You have start. step by step day, dad by day until you make it all the way to the building where your boss harassed you. I guarantee that will help.”
I tried shots of liquor when I was 17. That just made my parents liquor cabinet empty and me cry more. I know. Alcohol is a depressant. But when my parents went to the bank on Friday evenings because the lobby stayed open later I would open the cabinet that I broke into months before and take a shot straight from the bottle. I would furiously shake my head. It tasted like as bad as the homemade wine that my nonno made. Sometimes I would go out and my friend and I would just drive around. I would smoke camel lights out of her black mustang, pull out a tight tshirt from my purse, and try to forget I was depressed. The stupid boys we met only made me more depressed. They were a distraction from why I was depressed. All the years of poor decisions like allowing all that alcohol slide down my throat or being drunk and letting guys have sex with me.
I always wanted to be distracted. I’ve always had jobs in which I helped others in distress. While a woman had a surgical abortion I would tell them to squeeze my hand tight. I would tell stories to distract them. I would ramble about god knows what but when it was all over I wheeled them in the recovery room. I placed a paper bowl with graham crackers and a large cup of ginger ale next to their recliner with a pillow and blanket. For the last 20 years I distracted residents in the Capitol of this country of ours from their addiction, trauma, mental health, poverty, purposeful segregation, marginalization , undervalued and under appreciated beautiful selves.
So it is not lost on my as I write this after crying on my husbands shoulder with the abundant sunshine on the Atlantic Ocean beach that I have done and do all of this to distract myself from my own story. A story I blame myself for. If I had done this…then…Or if I was a better daughter or sister or niece or wife or step parent or co-worker or student or whatever than I for sure would have diverted my depression and….I don’t know. I would be smarter, thinner, less passive aggressive, a better wife, a better daughter, a better friend, a better sister…just better. Since I’m not better than I’m angry at myself. Which makes me feel guilty and ashamed and depressed which makes me quickly want to focus on you. Your pain. Your hurt. Even your joy.