Wednesday, June 06, 2007
We all knew, right, that I was not as completely unruffled and untouched by the miscarriage as I thought I was. Right? I'm still not depressed. Aside from a brief and hormone-fueled burst immediately after figuring it out on Saturday, I haven't cried, haven't felt the need to. But stuff like that doesn't happen without a price.

My price has been this sense of weird. That I'm forgetting something; that I've missed some crucial detail or am about to make some huge mistake. It's a sense of vulnerability, a lack of self-confidence, that I find alien and yet all-too-familiar. A year ago, two years ago, this would have blossomed into a full-fledged depression, complete with hibernation and caustic humor and an inability to quite be myself at any given moment.

I know it would have happened, because it did. I had post partum depression for over a year with Jacob, which wasn't entirely the fault of the pregnancy because I was married to a man who was profoundly unhappy at his job and therefore unhappy in most of his life, and I find it very difficult to watch that kind of misery on a daily basis without getting a little on me. But the pregnancy, the stress of it all, and the ongoing hormonal roller-coaster of breastfeeding and working two jobs and grad school... it wasn't good.

Then I started to swim out a little. We moved across the state, we had a fresh start, I got to stay home with my kids full-time... life eased up on me a little. I picked up a new hobby, knitting, which has become a way of life now. Things were on the mend. Until I got run over by the You Didn't Get an Internship Steamroller and was flattened for several more months. Especially because, hard on the heels of that, came the You Can't Continue to Stay Home Jackhammer which just eroded at my core well-being. No insurance, no money, working at the only low-cost mental health provider in town... all added up to just fumbling through, just coping.

I can say, with honesty and confidence, that I've been better for the last, oh, eight or nine months. Since the fall, sometime, when I accepted the necessity of a full-time job, and learned to take pride in the work I was doing with such hurt, damaged people. When I was able to really see the fun and sociability my kids were enjoying at their respective schools. When I was watching my husband - whether he wants to admit it or not - succeeding at grad school.

Which is why I'm able to sit here now and recognize my weirdness without falling down into that funnel again. Because that's what depression is like for me - it's like sitting at the bottom of a huge, slick funnel. You can't climb up the sides; there are no footholds, and every time you make it a few inches, something happens and you slip and wind up at the bottom again, only worse because it's again. Things keep coming over the edge and falling down on you, and you're at the bottom so they can't land anywhere but on your head, and you can't avoid them. Life just keeps pounding away at you, and on the really dark days you wonder what would happen if you just let go.

I'm not there now, to begin with, which is what is allowing me to keep it together through the various stresses falling down around me. I'm not at the bottom of a funnel, so some of those stresses are able to miss me a little - not everything feels like it's my fault or my responsibility. Such a relief.

But I'm still weird. I'm moody, and far too easily frustrated. Just ask Willem and my kids about what a paragon of stability and cheer I was last night. They'll say, "What? She was? I didn't notice, what with all the yelling." I'm impulsive and reactive, doing instead of thinking. I took the first step toward rejoining a message board that I'd left a while ago due to my own inability to figure out how I fit in, whether I fit in; I'd been thinking about going back for a while, but I don't know for sure that I was done thinking. I think it'll be good for me to get back; I miss some old friends and am in a better place to be myself without referencing others' responses. But still - I'm not normally impulsive, so it's weird.

Adding to this all is my recent experience with both my parents, in which I have been more Something than each of them. It started with my mother, in France - I'd traveled internationally before, so I knew things about air travel, and using a subway system, and speaking French, that she didn't know. And it put both of us into an odd relational spin, because normally we're both pretty willing to live and let live, but in this case I felt the need to step in and be more of a leader of our little group. My mother doesn't like it when someone else knows things she doesn't know, and she doesn't like being told no. (Does anyone?) So it was weird.

And now, with my father, watching his relationship with his girlfriend roller-coaster up and down - he's thinking of moving back in with her - and at first thinking, "This is all way too fast. What is he thinking?" And then realizing that my parents got married at 17 and only officially divorced about a year and a half ago. He may have had other short-term flings before now - let's not delve too deeply into that thought, okay? - but this is only his second relationship, ever, that he is sharing with the family and sticking with for more than a few months. So, yes, it really is sort of unsophisticated and impulsive in a lot of ways - negotiating relationships is a learned skill, not an instinct.

So, yeah. I've been weird. There've been other examples - I applied for a per diem neuropsychology job this morning, an hour away, which would probably be a good thing for me but, again, not like me to just bang out a cover letter and C.V. like that. I ate the better part of a pint of Ben & Jerry's last night, and I've come a long, long way from daily overeating. You get the idea.

But I'm not out of control, and I'm not depressed. Know how I know? Because I'm not playing mindless computer games for hours and hours at a stretch every day. That's one of my early symptoms - I fall into card games or thoughtless Windows games and can't stop. I've done my share of solitaire and played Hoyle's gin for a while last night while my father watched the Republican debates, but I'm keeping an eye on it. So far, it's all been a choice - "I think I'll play for a while" - and I've been able to stop when I want to, instead of staying up until 3:00 in the morning for one more game of Jezzball.

So, for now, weird isn't bad. And with a little luck, I'll shake it off soon.