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The Dark Clouds are Lifting

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I had a cheery recipe and photo all ready to go. I decided not to post it today. I am taking a big risk here, instead. I will be vulnerable.

The title of my post is not referring to any weather report. I am talking about my January mood. Since January 2, I have been depressed. I have always hated January, but this year has been the worst ever. I used to think it was the post holiday blahs. I thought it was about cold weather. This year I figured out that I grieve in January. I have cried most days, and slept at least 3-4 hours a day more than normal. I was considering medication. I keep thinking about that Cymbalta commercial that says, "Where does depression hurt?" EVERYWHERE.

Here is a list of depression symptoms from the Cymbalta website:

*Sadness
*Loss of interest
*Emptiness
*Guilty
*Worthless
*Restless
*Trouble sitting still
*Hard to concentrate
Hard to remember
*Hard to make decisions
*Trouble falling asleep
*Waking too early
*Oversleeping
Lack of appetite (I wish!)
Weight loss (yeah, right...)
*Overeating
*Weight gain
*Irritable (just ask Brad)
*Fatigued
*Lack of energy
*Vague aches
*Vague pains
Thoughts of death (it wasn't THIS bad!)
Thoughts of suicide (no way, I'm a good Catholic girl!)

I marked the ones I've been having with an *. I guess (OK, I KNOW, remember, I am a therapist...) having 18 out of 23 symptoms is bad.

This January, I figured out I needed time to grieve losses...lots of them. Bad things have happened to me in Januarys past. I have been grieving losses of people, of dreams, of expectations. I miss my parents. I miss the babies I lost. Each year I think, I would have/should have had a 16 and 21 year old. My life would be very different. This last Christmas was tough, and not joyful. Just about veryone I know had reuinions with children or grandchildren, or siblings, or nieces or nephews, or parents. Grown kids were coming home for the holiday visits. Family traditions continue. Brad and I are childless orphans. While I certainly know all families are not happy at the holidays or at other times, it sure seems wonderful if you don't have one. Family events, birthdays, weddings, babies... We go to others', but don't have our own. I worry about the future and being older and without family.

Maybe I needed my own pity party. The economy sucks. I am making less than half of what I earned a year ago. I definitely know money does not buy happiness, but it does help distract! I have cut back on every discretionary expenditure. Pretty crappy time financially.

Most days, I tried. I got up, got dressed, and did what had to be done. I slapped a weak smile on my face. Other days, I didn't do as well. I took 4-5 hour "naps". I didn't take a shower if I didn't have to work or go anywhere. I didn't want to see people. I avoided social interactions. I bitched and moaned if I had to go somewhere. I bitched and moaned if I had nowhere to go. The smallest tasks and errands seemed too much. I rewarded myself with sleep or food. I did not share with friends. They chalked it up to "January Blues". Friends can mean well, but get uncomfortable, and don't know what to say. They want to change the subject, or make you laugh, or have you "get over it" and be your usual cheery self. Sometimes they can even unintentionally make it worse by a lack of empathy. Dark moods seem contagious.

Now that I read back what I have written, it sounds worse. I did not miss any days of work, my house is clean, and everything got done. I painted some watercolors, went to my book clubs, and we had dinner every night. I have a sense of humor. Life goes on. If you saw me in January, you probably wouldn't know anything was wrong. You might think I was having a "bad day".

I think/hope the worst is over. Every day, I count my blessings. I have a wonderful, supportive and very patient husband who understands. I have great friends, and a cozy comfortable home. I am healthy. We are going to Italy in June. I am very happy with our new President. I have everything I need.

I know I am a strong person, and I can "snap myself out of this". I needed time to mourn in order to heal a little and move on. I can see, though, how people with little support and fewer resources and coping skills can be overwhelmed by depression. It also has a chemical component, and we know it is a very real disease (that is treatable).

I also know this is temporary. I know what I need to do. I need to get some exercise and eat healthier (all the usual New Years stuff that I am a month behind on...). If I don't feel better soon, I am not afraid to ask for help. I know all the right people.

I have started another project, and I am painting. Yesterday, I helped rescue a lost dog, and helped a friend. I need to get over the "all about me" of being sad, and go back to seeing what I can do for others. I got my haircut (finally). I am very excited about the upcoming Slow Bowl weekend. I think a good dose of friends and hugs is just what I need. The weather is warming up. The flowers are blooming. Spring is coming. The dark clouds are lifting. Now I will be brave and hit the "publish" button.

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Comments (24)

Gigi:

{{}}

Hugs from a stranger!

Palma-I am very proud of you for publishing this. It takes a lot of courage to admit when we're having some trouble. I hope that with January ending and February beginning soon, that your depressing times will also end. But as you say, if they don't, you know there are things out there that can help you. I can't offer any advice that you don't already know, so I'll just say I'm thinking about you, and hoping you'll feel better soon.

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe:

Brave post.
You know that November is my 'bad' month. I count the days and tell myself this is nuts... It's not!

I feel your sorrow and pain in January. We are here for you!

January is a difficult month. It is the worst of the winter, the shortest of the days and I look ahead and see the whole year going by too fast. I think we need to give into it and "hybernate" a bit. Sleep more, don't be as socially active, read, watch more movies. Don't expect as much from yourself. That's what I do! Kisses to you and Brad!

Nathalie:

Hi -- you don't know me but I read your blog a lot and find that I am often 'picked up' by your posts.... I identify completely with your post today right down to the significantly less income, no children (that's a biggie), crying jags, vague feelings and (thankfully) very patient husband. I am humbled that we have been sharing similar feelings and I have been relying on your post for good cheer. Thank you for being brave and sharing this today. Things are becoming lighter for me, slowly but enough so that I am hopeful. I wish the same for you.

Nancy L:

Palma, thank you for sharing your January feelings with us. I think you'll be surprised by how many of us have experienced the same thing. January 2008 was a real bummer for me and I learned then there could be a hormonal component at play here, including thyroid...check it out! This year, I left the holidays in a guarded mode praying for no repeat of 2008, and so far, all is well here. Feel better soon and remember that you have an entire family out here praying for you. You most definitely are not alone.

Nancy L

Palma, hugs to you, my friend. I, too, would like to eliminate January from the calendar, but maybe January is here to make us slow down a bit, to reflect, to catch up. I think it's okay to think about what might have been, which dreams came true, and which are yet to be. Tears are always healing for me....

I am glad 2008 is behind us. I love to see that cheerful face on your blog, and that writing that always makes me smile.

Baci.

Sharon:

Why wait 'til the Slow Bowl? I'm sending a LARGE dose of friendship and HUGE HUGS your way right now ... and more to come in person this weekend.

XXXOOO,
Sharon

Barb Cabot:

Palma, I appreciate your pushing the publish button on this one. I have been walking this January tightrope along with you and (I suspect)many others as well. You are really loved and respected by so many of us. We would not be human if we did not give into our vulnerable side. Your blog brought tears to my eyes. I look forward to this weekend and having fun with you and all our "Peeps". Take care, travel safe and see you and Brad soon. Love ya!

nancyhol:

Oh, Palma, I wish I had known - I could have come and hugged you in person!

I know exactly what you mean about experiencing the symptoms you listed. I have to force myself not to head back to bed several times a day.

Slow Bowl will be just the right thing to cheer us all up! Lots of good wine, lots of good food and wonderful company.

gloria espinoza:

Palma,

You'll always be my Martha. Virtual hugs and kisses for now. Real ones in Paso!

gloria

Eden:

Palma, I am sending you a huge virtual hug. I won't be at SlowBowl this year but will be thinking of you. Take care.

I admire your ability to be so open and post this on your blog. I am very sorry you have had such a rough month. I am glad you do know where to go for help and can recognize the need for help if you need it. I hope February brings you more joy.

February is always my rough month. That is usually when I end up buying my ticket to Italy. I guess that is one way to get there every year.

Sending lots of hugs...

Jill:

You don't know me either but I also look to you for your cheery outlook on life and so admire all that you do and your wonderful attitude. But I especially admire you for taking a leap of faith and publishing this latest entry. You seem like such a strong person but even the strongest people need support every once in a while...however, recognizing that is the hard part (in my opinion). I have been reading your blog for a while and I remember that you have said in the past that you truly dislike January...so as the month went on, I thought about you and wondered how you were doing. I find writing extremely cathartic and usually when I actually write something (like you did with your blog post) it means that I am coming out on the other side. I hope that is the case for you and that brighter, lighter and happier days are just around the corner. You are an inspiration to me! Here's a to a great start to February...it's almost here! Virtual hugs to you!

Dear Palma, your post made me cry - I don't like it when friends are hurting, even if they are internet buddies! I think it is very wise to grieve the losses that you ave experienced, to allow yourself some time to grieve in this month that brings back difficult memories. The current economic situation doesn't make it any better - here in DC it is all we hear about, I feel. But that too will get better with time. Sending you lots of virtual hugs!

Hey Palma! I so sorry for you. I have always hated January myself. This year seems to be so much worse for so many people. The country, the economy, laid off workers....I guess we just need to be thankful for what we have and look forward to better days....in Italy! Take care my friend...

Thank you so much to all of you for your kind words and hugs. I think it was good for me to write things down.

Gigi, Nathalie, and Jill, I am so glad you enjoy my blog, and took the time to write.
I know I feel like I "know' some of my blog friends from reading what they write about their lives. Thank you,

Big hugs back to all of you! Deb, Italy tickets are always a good idea! Let's all have a better, WARMER February.

My dear Palma,

I am guilty of calling your down period the "January blues", not knowing until know the extent of your "downness". I have struggled terribly with depression many times over these years and KNOW how it hurts...so I am extra close to you now...fully aware and empathetic. I am an email away, my friend.

A sisterly hug,
Mary

sandrac:

Palma, I'm so sorry to read about all of your losses. I can understand and sympathize with your pain. Those are real concerns and while there are solutions (which I know you're finding) that doesn't always take away the pain.

I tell myself that we can't know the ups in life without experiencing the downs, but it often seems that there isn't a lot of balance -- why does it seem that there are so many more downs than ups?

Take extra good care of yourself at this time. I'm also sending you lots of hugs and thanks for your courage in expressing these feelings! You've struck a lot of chords with many of us.

Kathy Giovanini:

I read your blog every few days and so enjoy your busy life. Your welcoming smile made me feel so good the times I have been around you and I will always remember that. I too , struggle around and after the holidays as we are also childless and have no family . This year we went on a cruise and that helped. I wish you all the best and I know that things will be OK for you. You touch so many of us!!

sheri:

Hi Palma,

Just catching up on Blogs this evening. Big hugs from me too! I am glad that you were able to publish this post. I know that you know how many people can relate to your symptoms. I know that I can. Except for my birthday, I hate January too. Wishing you a brighter Ferbruary.

Sheri

Cyndy:

Palma,
I have been following your blog for forever now! It is my favorite one that I follow and always lifts me up with your great style and cooking features! You have written what many of us are feeling, especially in January, thank you. I find my faith helps a lot in times like these. May God continue to bless you and your beautiful spirit! Cyndy

Teaberry:

Hey, Palma. Just ditto what everyone else has said. Sometimes it takes more energy to fight our sad feelings than to indulge them and better understand them.

Much love to you.

Palma, I saw your post today and thought "What is she talking about?" So I went searching through your old posts.

I don't know where I was when you posted this. So, here's a belated hug.

Glad that happy days are back. Next January, should be spent in Italy!

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