Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Goodbye Canyon, Dust Roads

I have only one photo to show you today... Mainly as proof that we are in Flagstaff.


It is pouring rain. And thundering. And lightning. It was a good day to leave the Grand Canyon. The trails all close when there is lightning. 

We have the perfect room, finally. It's a Hampton Inn Suite with a kitchen (which we don't need now), two separate rooms, a sofa bed and a rollaway. Lilah squealed with delight and shrieked "I don't have to sleep on the floor!?" But, ironically, at this very moment, she is having trouble falling asleep!!

For all the whining and complaining... It turned out she slept very well on the floor right next to my bed. 

This hotel also has a pool! I have been using that as the ultimate reward. "If I have to tell you to stop poking Alex again, you will never see the pool!" Whoa. That worked really well!

The child has always been a mermaid and a water bender. Even in the womb she swam back and forth until she was completely tangled in the cord. I think this ordinary pool was her highlight of the whole trip. :-)


Lilah drew these ladies in my journal during lunch. 

So - except for a maze of flights that will take us 12 hours to get home tomorrow - our adventure is pretty much at an end. It feels like it went by so quickly. And with all the shuttle rides and upcoming flights, I will have too much time to think again. 

On the shuttle today, I was thinking about Robin Williams. I couldn't get much internet at the canyon, so I was behind on the news. I was thinking more about Depression and my own experiences with it. I wrote a long post about it a few years ago, but I can't add the link from my iPhone. 

For a long time, it looked like my depression was brought on by radiation which led to a damaged immune system which led to getting Mono, which is often associated with Depression. I went through all the standard treatments, including every anti-depressant ever made. Nothing ever helped. And I had the added curses of being a gifted kid, over-sensitive to medication and other things, OCD-ish, prone to anxiety, and a perfectionist. Quite a messy combo. But doctors really only focus on their own specialty and depression got top billing. It was the most serious. Looking back, I see that my depression was a symptom, not the actual illness and all the other, ignored, parts played a huge role. 

The biggest part of the curse was in the doctors' diagnosis that I was a "walking depressive". Which basically means, I was a total mess... but I was very, very good at hiding it. On the outside, I appeared to be doing everything I was supposed to be doing. Everything. 

I could write a whole book on this subject, but what I was actually thinking about on the shuttle today was about how we have no way of knowing what is under the shell that society insists we wear. 

By writing books, I try to share what I have learned, my experiences, with others. In many ways this has helped me meet a lot of people, break through my introversion, and find common ground. In other ways, it forms a bigger barrier. People think I am "famous" and on a pedestal. Or that I should be perfect. I am far... Far... from perfect. I keep making huge mistakes and messing up. But I expect that of myself and other people. I don't see the point in doing things the easy way. The irony here is that - when I started expecting these glitches and making room for them - my depression went away (along with my perfectionism). 

The year that I decided to end my marriage (the ultimate admission of failure in my own rule book), I also had to close my creativity store, lost three friends who I had considered to be my closest friends, and had to completely reinvent my life and my finances. All really good fodder for some serious Prozac bingeing. 

But, no. I wrote three books instead. And I find great pleasure in writing on my blog. That saying about - if you can't be a good example, be a bad example, or some such... I can always say to myself "well, that sucked, but I can write about it on my blog!"

Although I have kept the depression at bay for many years now, I do still occasionally get bursts of panic attacks.  There are actually only two... subjects... that seem to trigger these attacks. And I am only just recently noticing the relationship between the anxiety and the fact that I feel that I am not allowed to write or talk about my feelings on these subjects. 

For the past week, while on our adventure, there have been high and low points, as expected. But I have been so busy having my mind blown that I haven't thought about those "subjects". I also haven't thought much about anything back at home or work or the future or the past. Just keep moving. 

My anxiety seems to stem from a very small handful of people. Most stress inducing events do not cause the attacks - even giving a talk in front of 112 people at TangleU didn't trigger a panic attack. If I feel like I have options, even options that might be mistakes, I'm ok. But other peoples' insanity, that really has nothing to do with me or my choices, that pushes me off the cliff. 

Going back home feels like hanging myself back up as target practice. I just want to scream "This is not MY problem to solve! You are not MY problem! I have my own life and it is not any of your concern what I choose to do!"
....

Ahh... See? There is something very refreshing and freeing about self expression! 

As far as thinking about Robin Williams, I have two things to offer...

If you have a friend who suffers from depression, don't try to advise or fix them. Just let them know that you are there for them no matter what, and just listen. 

If you suffer from depression, find someone who will listen. It might not feel like it - but know that there is always someone and there is always something that can help - not just drugs and therapy! There are lots of unorthodox  things - like flipping your entire life or changing your diet - that are more work, but more satisfying than suicide. Puts a new spin on "thinking outside the box"?

Bad pun, I know, but laughing at myself is what keeps me sane. :-)

25 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! Your blog is always interesting regardless of what you write about and your honesty is very refreshing.

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  2. As a person who is always fighting my depression and feeling I need to be there for everyone or I'm a failure. I know I really need to focus on me and talk out my feelings with my best friend. She has been a rock. For those who have depression know that you're not alone. For those who know a depressed person just listen. Thank you Sandy for being so open.

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    1. I'm glad you have a good friend to talk too. :-)

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  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences! I have to admit, I am now wondering why you ended your marriage and I AM a nosey type. With respect to depression, which I describe as being caught in a thought track that does not shift, I sooooooo recommend against drugs and do recommend aerobic exercise (a lot of it) and writing (including drawing) about the future expressed as "If everything were perfect, this is what happens." I'm only "up to date" about good books on the subject through the end of 1999, but could come up with some titles if requested. Connection with others is an important life ingredient, but when the depressed mind is in a deep grove, that is very very difficult to achieve. Speaking of aerobics, listening to very fast, high-pitched, up-beat music through headphones for hours at a time also helps. The brainwaves of a depressed person tend to be slow, like drifting into twilight sleep. Aerobics and fast paced music helps to physically get things moving again. Depression happens during physical rehabilitation in hospitals because patients tend to be drugged and spend most of the time prone in bed. (BTW, I'm referring to physical depression, not sorrow over trauma or the loss of loved ones.)

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    1. Maybe someday I will have enough courae to write about marriage/divorce stuff. For now, all I can say is that subject is one of the two I am not supposed to discuss.

      I'm glad you found that fast music helps you. It really is different for different people. For me - some fast music actually triggers the panic. But I do agree that moving your body - walking outside - or even playing wii - can have an uplifting effect. And drugs did not work for me, but I know they have helped many others. I guess that is my point though - that if you have tried something and it has not worked - try something else.

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  4. Great post, Sandy. I really identify with a lot of what you wrote about. Thanks for your point of view and thoughtful ideas. While I do think of you as sort of famous ;) , I mostly prefer to think of you as a friend.
    I really enjoyed reading about your adventure. Say HI to your mom for me and wish her a Happy Birthday on my behalf.
    ...Raine

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    1. "Friend" is good. ;-) And mom says "hi" back at ya.

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  5. Thank you for your candid post about your struggles with depression. I'm finally realizing that I have pretty much spent the majority of my life with depression lurking somewhere near by. Sometimes it hides its ugly self in the recesses of my mind --- and then BaM! out it jumps to knock me back down. As an OCD-ADD-Perfectionists I can surely relate to your perils. Art is a life jacket that keeps us afloat through the stormy seas that crash on our shores. Healing hugs to you, Sandy. :D

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    1. I always pictured my depression as a troll-girl who would take over driving my brain and I would just be watching from somewhere else as she made me say and do things I didn't want to say or do. ;-/ I have a drawing of her somewhere... but as you say - Art is a life jacket... I like that.

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  6. Thank you for writings eloquently about your own struggles, Sandy. I fought acknowledging my own struggles for so long - I didn't want to be seen as weak, or, hell, I don't know, lazy, whatever. It's only as I've gotten past 40 that I've finally started to say, 'y'know, I'm not crazy, I'm not weak, I'm depressed and that's what it is and that's, not ok exactly, but not a shameful thing." For me, what precipitated my awareness (even though I was suicidal at points in high school) was losing a special cat, then losing a baby, then a couple years later my mom got her second bout of cancer and my husband got cancer - all while I, the tremendous introvert, was dealing with 3 small extrovert children, a job, and no time to recharge. Finally, I was able to say, "yeah, I have a problem." Unfortunately, as you found out, then *everyone* feels they can offer an opinion! For me, Zentangle and an antidepressant have done wonders. I'm more aware of what triggers the feeling (usually lack of recharge time) and more externally aware of the black cloud in that I can recognize it as not being "me". For others, other things will have the same effect. As you know, it's finding what works for each of us that will set us as free as we can be.

    Thanks again for sharing this. Wishing you safe, timely, and uncomplicated travels home!! K2 (man, I wish I knew how to make that 2 a superscript on the internet! ;-) )

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    1. Oh man! That sucks!!! :-(

      Being strong and being an introvert also can suck. Sometimes it would feel so much better to slam a door and scream "someone else take over! I'll be back in a week." Actually, blush, I DO that - without the screaming. I still feel guilty about leaving, but no one really understands that I can't run on empty for very long. That's why I go to Maine every year. I'm no martyr. And kids will suck you dry if you let them. I think all kids would rather have a juicey mamma. ;-D

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  7. I appreciate your comments on depression. I especially like your advice for friends to just listen. I think you did very well at Tangle U. You probably felt like you were in a room with close friends, which you were. We all love you dearly.

    I feel compelled to add that there are many types of depression. I have been on antidepressants for years. You do not want to take my meds away. I feel that my depression is a chemical imbalance, because I feel my life is good and am very happy. But when I don't take my meds, I become suicidal. That's when I knew I had to seek medical help. Whenever you are feeling down, just post something on the CZT page, and we will all build you back up. You are loved and valued by us all.

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    1. Thank you - I do love being around the CZT folks. :-)

      I am so glad to hear that you found a good fit with anti-depressants! I know many people who have had success with them. And I didn't mean to make it sound like I was against them - only that they did not work for me. And I didn't want anyone else who had had a bad experience with them to think that was it. There are so many other things to test out. A chemical imbalance is the right problem for the medication solution. Mine seems to have been caused more by an over-sensitivity to sugar accompanied by an addiction to it as a treatment for all my problems. Kind of like alcoholism. So the drugs had a negative impact. But when I changed my diet (which was a LOT harder than it sounds - and involved horrible withdrawal symptoms) - I had almost miraculous improvements. But that's another post! :-)

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  8. Thank you for sharing. It takes a strong woman to expose herself the way you just did. And I admire you for that and for being honest with yourself. No excuses needed. Sometimes the best medicine is just to laugh at oneself. I works for me and I´m bipolar


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    1. You can laugh or you can cry.
      Laughing is so much more fun.
      :-)

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  9. Thanks for taking us along on this wonderful adventure trip! Such fun to hear the happening and see the pix!
    On the "I cannot change this situation but others make me feel like I should" zoo situation, a friend of mine shared a cute little bit with me I has been a helpful reminder for me:" Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys! " no it is not a magic wand, but it does give me a little giggle to remind me to release other's drama and not absorb it! Hugs!

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    1. Love that quote! It would make a fun drawing... but what if...it's not my circus, but they ARE my little monkeys? ;-)

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  10. I enjoy reading about your adventures. It is vicarious living at its best! "NO" works real well.

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    1. "No" works best if you stomp your foot too. (my daughter taught me that!)

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  11. I also have always lived with depression, it seems to be thick in the air this year.....I have been pretty low for most of the year. going through Menopause and adding more diagnoses to my medical folder has not helped at all. I thought having my grand children for the summer would help, but it hasn't. My Saving Grace has been my art, if not for that? who knows.....It Helps to know I am not alone, although I would not wish depression on anyone.....I will keep you in my thoughts Sandy. Stay Positive! And thanks for sharing!

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    1. Ugh - that's tough stuff. ;-/

      Other medical crap on top of depression, that wears you down.

      I read a great book last summer by Kris Carr and I'm trying to reread it again. It's called "Crazy, Sexy Diet" and that's "diet" as in the food you eat, rather than a way to lose weight. It's inspiring and reassuring, even if you don't choose to make all the life changes. I feel like I at least understand how my body works and can make better choices now. For example - besides all the bad effects I already knew about in me between sugar and my depression - I learned how eating so much dairy was triggering my arthritis and making my body feel swollen. But besides all that - I like having Kris as a new role model. She's doing all this to beat her cancer - and she is so positive and encouraging.

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  12. After posting my initial msg which discussed brainwaves and aerobic exercise, I decided to google the subject (lots of information), then check to see if there was music available to stimulate the brain (I remember CDs being available for study, calming down, sleep, etc.,) and found a lot on YouTube as well as in MP3 selections. THEN I searched Amazon and came upon a trove of fast-paced music - and I mean trove! It is called "100 Dance Workout Hits - Techno, Electro, House, Trance Exercise & Aerobics Music". You can buy it for $9 or add it free to an Amazon Prime account. If you need to get up and dance, or want to unstick your mind, this thing is a treasure hunt.

    Not only that, there are a series of 100 tune collections related to this topic - fast, dance music. Search Amazon for the title given above to see all the listings (or maybe "workout hits"). Here's the link to the dance workout hits: http://www.amazon.com/100-Dance-Workout-Hits-Exercise/dp/B003M7GHGO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407985448&sr=8-1&keywords=100+Dance+Workout+Hits+-+Techno%2C+Electro%2C+House%2C+Trance+Exercise+%26+Aerobics+Music

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    1. Thanks for posting the links. Interesting idea - the trick would be finding music that is just the right speed to boost your mood without triggering anxiety or over-boosting. I find dance club music, with it's repetition, to be like fingernails on a chalk board. Classical too is distracting. But jazz music and swing - oooo - they lift me right up! :-)

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  13. Here is the link to the post from a few years ago that I mentioned: http://beezinthebelfry.blogspot.com/2011/03/yet-another-sad-goodbye.html

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