Flat

In depression, between descending into the dark or coming up into the light, there is flat.

Flat affect. Flat enthusiasm (an oxymoron). Flat attitude. Flat outlook. Flat energy.

For me, it usually happens when the meds aren’t quite right.

A month ago, I had been on the edge of a depressive episode, so the psych doc and I increased one med and I’ve been using my blue light. He said that I’d feel better in 7 to 10 days.

It’s been a month. I don’t feel better. I don’t feel worse, either. I feel flat.

Flat is a lot like depression – indeed, it’s part of it, but I tend to feel it more distinctly – as its own symptom – on the way out of depression. Even though the effects are similar, depression has a downward pull, where flat is flat, not down.

Like I could take it or leave it. All of it. Nothing really matters. I don’t have strong feelings of sadness or anxiety, nor do I feel excitement or joy. I don’t really want to do anything. I eat because I’m supposed to; I’m not usually hungry. I’m able to do the things I need to do, be around the people I need to be with, can even overcome the apathy to run errands or attend the ladies’ Bible study. I don’t really want to, but I will.

In depression, the desire to stay home in my pajamas, is so strong! In flat, I can go out and do. In all truthfulness, I go out and do during depression, too. But it’s way harder; I really have to fight myself. In flat, there’s just the barest speck of desire to go and do, so it’s just a hint easier. I can hardly tell the difference myself.

Last week, I accompanied my husband on a business trip, and got to hang out with my kids while he worked. I wanted to go, but wasn’t overly excited like I’d think I would be normally.  I trusted that I would have fun once I got there. And I had a wonderful visit with my kids – was able to live in and enjoy the moments. Our entire family laughed a lot, especially on a relaxed Friday night. But those feelings didn’t stay with me, nor can I reach back to retrieve them. They simply were. And now they’re not.

This flatness happens on my journey up and down with depression. It’s often a first indicator that something is wrong, that depression is threatening to return and wreak its havoc. That’s flatness with a downward pull.  And it comes back when I’m recovering, emerging from the darkness and into God’s light of hope and expectancy.

Usually a tweak in meds will do the trick, and I can bounce the rest of the way up. So I’ll tell my psych doc on Friday that I’m not where I thought I’d be in my recovery, and see if a small adjustment will fix it.

And I’ll remind myself, yet again, that God is with me through my depression. He has not abandoned me, even when I descend into the dark thoughts of depression.  He’s with me in the flat.  And He rejoices with me when I emerge on the other side. He’s my constant companion – I am never alone.

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Saving on airline fares

Drove over 2900 miles, twice across 7 states. Listened to hours of podcasts and Public Radio. Visited dear friend and her family. Camped for 4 days with life-long family friends. Great vacation!

Body is sore and tired. 

Missing my kids. 

Didn’t take any camping pictures – what was I thinking?

Laundry is done. Camping boxes are repacked. Went back to work. Saw the masseuse and chiropractor today. Almost returned to normal routine. 

Just another memory. Time went too fast. 

The older I get, the more I have is just memories. Having a hard time living in this moment. It was easier on vacation. Now I’m left with longing for family and friends. 

Visiting the kids

I always thought that my children would move away from home, but never considered that “home” might move away from them…even though this happened to me. Oh, how life repeats itself! My parents moved out-of-state during my sophomore year of college. I had no idea then, but am guessing now that it was hard for them to move far from their daughter.

My husband and I moved to FL two years ago during my son’s freshman year of college, then last year we moved to VA. Kids don’t come “home” for their breaks, because this isn’t home to them. They come to visit Mom and Dad for the Christmas holiday – we get to see them for a week or two then.

In the meantime, we travel to visit them. We just got back from a 5-day trip to Colorado Springs, where our son is interning for the summer. We had a great visit, and explored his new temporary home with him, enjoying Garden of the Gods, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a drive along the scenic Arkansas River, and even the Colorado Springs Rodeo Parade in the downtown.

My husband and I lived out West when we were first married, and so we really enjoyed being back in the red rock mountains.  The whole visit was good, but the best part was just being with our son.

from Garden of the Gods
son and husband, along the Arkansas River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

family graduation photo

A couple of months before that, we celebrated my daughter’s college graduation with the entire family. While it was only for a 3-day weekend, we packed it full of fun and memories.

We’ll see our daughter again in a few weeks at the annual camping trip we take with another family – we’ve been camping with them for 27 years now! This will be the first year without our son, and one of their daughters got married last year, so we’ve added to our group. But again, what I’m most looking forward to is seeing our daughter.

Our visits with the kids are not regular, but do seem to be consistently frequent. The couple of weeks at Christmas, plus these visits we can do in between. I wish it were more, but it’s the way it’s supposed to be. We raise our kids to be independent people, and then they go and do that – be independent!

I can’t help but think that if we lived closer, we might drop by more often. For one of my daughter’s shows, or for my son’s concert, or simply to take them to dinner. But we’ve never wanted to be hovering parents, so maybe this is better in the long run.

husband and me at Pikes Peak, CO

My husband and I are learning to be empty-nesters. Everyone told us it would be a challenge, they just didn’t tell us it would take so long to get used to it! But we are learning to enjoy our time together – just us – and the freedom that offers to see and explore what we want to do. So much of our lives has been about the kids – it’s good to get back to us.

But we still miss the kids.

So we’ll pack our family visits full of memories. And we’ll enjoy our kids all we can while we’re with them.

And I thank God for texting and Skype in the meantime. And visits to Colorado and camping. Good times!

Thinking about writing

(Thank you to K at Walking After Midnight for the prompt.)

Thinking about writing and actually writing are not the same thing. I’ve been thinking about writing for several weeks, but I haven’t blogged for several months. And the longer I wait to write, the harder it is to write. After this long of a delay, do I even have anything to say that anyone would want to read?

I have a friend (https://theapplesinmyorchard.wordpress.com) who started blogging in the past several months, and she is doing a fantastic job of writing every day, something I long for but haven’t figured out how to do. She is a prolific writer, and I urge you to check out her blog – she’s got all kinds of fascinating topics, from education to home life and everything in between!

Can I write about things that don’t tie to my tagline? “I am not my depression.” Even though I have lots of subject ideas on living with depression, what it was like going through depressive episodes, the impact of depression on family life and work.  How to-s on living with it, living after it, etc. I have a whole file folder of topics I could address. I still think I want this to be my focus.

Then there’s just stuff from my day-to-day life. Granted, my days are pretty quiet. But as I’m learning to be content and appreciative of what is around me, I could write about those things. My backyard birds, the spotted fawns by the brook, the recent hikes I’ve taken. The peaceful days. The joy of sleeping in. Daily-ness.

I can write about special people in my life. My daughter who just graduated from college, and our fantastic weekend of family celebrating her. My adventurous son who took off for Europe for 14 days, then promptly moved west for his summer internship – where did he get such courage to take on these adventures?! My amazing husband could be part of lots of my stories – he’s in the center of my days.  My relationship with Jesus, and how our connection ebbs and flows with my effort. He is faithful – I tend to vary; so I could write about my journey with the Lord. Or searching for a church home. Finding friends. Settling into my job.

All topics of interest to… me. Anybody else?

Then again, why do I write? The question that every author must answer. Who is my audience? Do I write for myself, for clarification and release, or do I write to be heard or to start a dialogue? Maybe the answer is all of the above – something for everyone, anyone, or someone.

In which case, someone may read and identify with what I write. So I’ll write again. And I’ll start right now. Thanks for reading.

Missing my kids…

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My 20-something kids left this morning after two weeks of vacation. Our daughter arrived a week earlier, our son on his 21st birthday a few days before Christmas, and we’ve enjoyed a wonderful long visit. We shopped, read books, watched movies and Netflix (have you seen The Crown?!), took a two-day history tour that included Harper’s Ferry, Gettysburg, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum.  We played with the cat, shared opening presents and making meals, and really enjoyed each other’s company.

And now the house is very quiet.

When we lived in WI, we could get up to visit them at school pretty easily. We didn’t hover, but could pop up for an event (concert, shopping). And being closer, even though we didn’t see them except every few months, somehow made it easier to be absent from them.

When we lived in Florida, I knew they would come for the beach and sun and escape from the winter cold of the upper Midwest.

Now, they just feel so far away and time stretches so long between visits.

And this is the way of things. We raised our kids to know Jesus, to be strong and independent, to be able to tackle problems with heads on straight. To grow to need us less. So we did it right. And it’s hard, because they’re great people and I really like spending time with them.

So I’ll choose to focus on the fun we had together and I’ll plan for our next visit northward. Who knows when, but we’ll be visiting great people!