Not much to say

“They” say that women use 30,000 words in a day, while men use only 10,000. This sets up quite a difference of communication patterns between the sexes!

I used to talk a lot. It was an ongoing joke that the moment my husband shut off the lamp for sleep, I’d want to talk, tell him about my day, ask deep philosophical questions. Sometimes, he’d even turn the light back on in hopes I’d wind down!

But since my experiences with depression, I am much more quiet. I’m content to listen to conversations going on around me, and don’t feel the need to chime in at every opportunity. I’m happy to observe – I don’t need to contribute every thought I have.

It’s been a noticeable change. Several friends – especially those I don’t see regularly – will ask me if I’m ok. They’ve commented that I seem so quiet. Even my husband will ask me if everything is alright if I don’t say anything for a while.

I think the change is due to several factors:

Firstly, I think I’m a better listener than I used to be. I’m content to hear about others’ successes and troubles. I’m much quicker to pick up on subtext – those behind-the-scene  feelings. My therapist once told me that I’d find myself able to spot depression in others, since I’ve been through it myself. I think this is true – I sense a person’s unspoken sadness or struggle. So I find myself listening instead of talking.

Secondly, I simply have less to say. There’s just not much going on in my day-to-day to share. My hours are pretty quiet, and often silent. If I have lots of thoughts, I try to write them in my journal, so I don’t seem to have the need to verbally share like I used to.

Lastly, I’m more content with silence. That’s a benefit I gained from depression – being still. I pray, I journal, I don’t need noise to fill every moment. In fact, I usually look forward to my down-time, the peace that comes with silence.

On the Myers-Briggs test, I used to be an extreme Extrovert, which means I get my batteries charged from being around other people as opposed to being alone. But since depression, I’ve moved from the far extreme to closer to the Introvert, where my energy comes from my personal down-time. On the continuum, I’m still an E, but much closer to an I than before. I still need people, connection and community, to recharge my energy, but I’m more content being alone than I used to be.

This past week really tested that observation. My Tuesday small group was cancelled due to weather. I had to cancel my therapy appointment – where I talk most of the hour – due to illness. So my week was much quieter than normal. I still had my students/work, but that’s not socializing or even real conversation. By Friday, I was feeling the silence as loneliness, and I was crying because of it. I felt so alone – way past enjoying the silence. Instead, I was craving that connection and community I mentioned earlier. I journaled pages about feeling lonely. I cried out to God, and reminded myself that He was with me – I wasn’t completely alone. Still, it took me several hours to adjust to a week’s worth of quiet.

Then my husband got home from his business trip, and let me “talk his ear off.” And I felt so much better!

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Solitude2

Solitude – important time to be alone, to be silent, to listen.8866088E-FF7B-4AFC-887B-01ABDBDACD31

The Path to Solitude

Across gravel drive, across gravel road,
Up second drive to
Grass freshly mowed.

Blue sky above, green hill to climb,
White puffy clouds,
The hike is sublime.

Top of the hill, fields on both sides –
Ragweed and wildflowers
And tall grasses to hide.

Trees to the right, dark up ahead.
Temperature drops;
No hat on my head.

Shade of the rock steals the heat of the sun.
Keep walking on,
See and hear no one.

The path just got muddy; think I’ll turn around.
Walk back to the grass and
Sit on the ground.

An effort at mindfulness, be quiet, be still.
Be here in this moment
As I sit on this hill.

Focus, breathe, count to four, start again.
But what is that noise?
Close your eyes, now open.

Sit still and listen, it’s close to me.
Look around slowly, it’s the
Sound of this tree!

The wind blows and bark flaps, that’s what I hear.
The aspen is peeling on
This tree that is near.

Notice the ant army as they march down their hole.
Does the leader shout orders so they know
Where to go?

A feeling of peace as I rest in the sun.
A short nap; I awake.
This walk has been fun.

Writing201 Poetry: map (topic), ode (poetic firm), metaphor (literary device)