I promised an update before the end of 2016 without realising quite how quickly it’d roll around. (It rolled around very quickly.)
|Tomatoes from our plant. We're tired of tomatoes now.|
This time last year I noticed that my medication was more anti-hair than anti-depression; both my forehead and my despair were growing. The yukkiness must have lasted until at least early March (I remember feeling suicidal on my birthday) but not long after that my new medication kicked in, and then, a few months later, the new dose of the new medication kicked in, and now, at the start of a new year, I am both happy and hairy. It’s the third medication I’ve tried – the first left me unable to drive or reach orgasm and the second seemed to wear off awfully quickly (as well as making my hair fall out).
It’s been incredibly helpful having depression stuff sorted out, because last year was a difficult one marriage-wise. Alan and I are opposite in so many ways: when conflict arises, Alan withdraws, while I pursue. Alan likes talking about mundane things at exactly the moments I want nothing but a dark room and silence (he’s an extrovert, so working alone leaves him craving people and conversation at the end of the day, which is precisely the time I - the introvert - long for zero interaction). Alan’s motto is “Near enough is good enough” while my motto is “Do it right or don’t do it at all.” (Actually, now that I’ve written it down, I realise it’s just “Do it right.” Or maybe: “Do it right. Preferably the first time.”) Our oppositeness makes us terrible housemates. Our relationship would be far cruisier if we lived in different suburbs and didn’t share children.
I’ve been enjoying paying more attention to who each of us actually is (we’ve fallen into the unhelpful habit of filtering everything the other does through set lenses – Alan’s the thoughtless, incompetent one and I’m the cranky, impatient, perfectionist) and what we each need. Strangely, the Enneagram, which I learned about through this episode from The Liturgists, has helped a LOT, as has remembering Elaine Aron’s Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) theory, which captures very well my experience of the world. With these in mind, I’ve been doing a better job of looking after myself (avoiding caffeine, for example, or choosing quiet over listening to the radio or a podcast), and Alan (thinking of him as a Type Nine rather than a Defective Fool has done wonders for my view of our relationship). (Come to think of it, thinking of myself as a Type One rather than as a Defective Neurotic has done wonders for my view of myself.)
I’ve known for a long time that Moses is an HSP as well, which is one of the reasons last year was also a difficult one parenting-wise. We started seeing an Occupational Therapist in December to talk about Mo’s sensitivities and difficulties with emotion regulation, and it’s been a huge relief to feel supported and be given tools to help him feel slightly less overwhelmed by the world, and us feel slightly less overwhelmed by his overwhelmedness. I’ve also been appreciating the upside of his sensitivity: my grandfather died in January, and Mo kept a close eye on me at the funeral and wrapped his arms tightly around my neck whenever he noticed tears welling up.
So Grandad’s gone, which hurts even to write. We found out at the end of December that he was unwell, and then, days later, that he was really unwell, and then, two weeks later, he was gone. He’d stayed with us early in December and seemed exhausted but well; he said he felt old, and was frustrated by the fact that his body wasn’t as young as his brain felt. I took more photos of him than usual, pictures of him playing Boggle and showing Moses and Hazel a gyroscope he’d brought along for them, and I recorded a few conversations so I’d have his voice nearby forever, not realising how soon after his visit these would become precious. I also got to see him a week before he died; I fought off my fears of seeming overdramatic and flew to Ballina to visit him in hospital, where he was chirpy and keen to talk of his life. He, Mum and I played word games and made each other laugh (he was happy to talk of dying, but he wanted us joking rather than sombre). Ridiculous things are reminding me of him (“Grandad was one of the last people to use this toilet!” *cries*), as well as not-so-ridiculous things (“Grandad loved camembert!” *eats cheese while crying*), which means he’s not far from my thoughts at the moment. I miss him.
I’m glad, though, to feel grief over his death and to have felt sadness/frustration/hopelessness over marriage and parenting struggles; to me, being able to differentiate these emotions is a sign of my wellness. I’m not sure I have specific emotions when I’m depressed, just an overwhelming sense of pointlessness and mental exhaustion and wanting to not be around anymore. I love my antidepressants SO. MUCH.
I start my honours course in February. Bring on 2017.
* Flopsy’s the preschool rabbit we were petsitting over the summer break. I loved having a pet for a month or so, despite the fact he made my nose itch and my eyes run. I also loved dropping him back to his owner again, and no longer having to worry whether the kids were at that moment torturing him somewhere with their over-enthusiastic cuddles.