Depression is a lying bastard.

Courtesy of - btw, if I had a jar like that, it would have to be much bigger. And full of paper money. And I would have to go to the ATM.

Warning: This is not a tango-related post. Well, not directly. Kind of. I don't know, really.

It's been so long since I've updated, and I tell myself (and everyone else) it's because I'm so busy. "Busy" sounds so much better than "hiding". It also has the benefit of being mostly true.

I have 4 part-time jobs - ghostwriter/content producer, shoe sales and leather restoration, web traffic data analyst, and certified personal trainer for dancers. (According to one of my online Argentinian friends, the fact that I've got several jobs and am working in leather, makes me an honorary Argentinian. I think that's good, right? Does that come with a lifetime supply of empanadas?)  I'm also still a student working on my next certification. Pretty impressive, right? I can revel in a feeling complete bad-assery for about 15 minutes before it completely wears me out and the truth comes back in.

While it is true that I've got a lot going on, that's not actually the whole story. It might not even be the most important part of the story. (Btw, the thing I like doing the most is sitting on my ass in a room full of shoes, shining leather. Or recovering soles. Or making leather hair thingees out of suede scrap - that is also awesome. You know why? I don't have to shave my legs, or put on make-up, or try to think up normal sounding conversation. It might also be that I like the smell of leather and glue, but I don't think we should dwell on that.)

I love all of those roles - and I do find them very fulfilling. Even the data analyst job, which probably speaks to my less desirable OCD qualities. But if I'm honest, I'm really trying desperately hard to stay busy. I don't need to have 4 jobs - only one of them is actually paying any bills. I just want very much to keep moving. To feel some forward momentum. Busy-ness fills the dark, scary gaps for a little while. Because if I stop to look around, if I stop treading water  . . . I just sink. I sink so quickly.

I don't know if it's the long, unusually cold winter (and then warm weather, and then cold weather, and then warm weather again *sigh* - which makes me think of this cartoon) or the job change, or just a combination of everything. I'm in a bad place. Unfortunately, that place has gotten so familiar, and so perversely comfortable, it's very hard get out. If you've never been here, can you know how absurdly easy it is to stay down? Down starts to feel safe. How does that happen? Logically, I know how it happens. Because depression lies to you and tells you it's better to stay down. Outside is scary and makes you vulnerable. Better to stay inside where you're still vulnerable, but no one knows it. As the Bloggess so accurately summed it up, "Depression is a lying bastard."

So that's what I'm trying to write about.

This was supposed to be an attempt at an explanation to those who've been asking why I'm not out much anymore. The explanation feels so weak. I'm running away from the things that would almost certainly help me (dancing, friends, socializing) because those things absolutely paralyze me lately. Not all the time - just often enough to keep me from wanting to try. I do venture out occasionally, reach out to friends - especially those who have had to get used to this kind of crap from me. It's hard on them, and knowing that makes me retreat a little more. "I'm sorry" escapes my lips more often than "hello".

I'm not dancing much because right now dancing is physically and emotionally incredibly hard. I have no stamina. Because my spirit hurts, my body hurts. The autoimmune disease that I thought I had beat, seems to have taken residence again. Or maybe it happened the other way around. I'm never really sure - chicken or egg? Depression first or pain first? I'm battling constant nuisance infections, aches, asthma attacks. I'm back where I was 6 years ago - fighting for breath, fighting for energy. I feel like I'm walking shoulder deep in water. And what I would give to be able to sleep through the night. Instead my night looks more like this. Seriously, clowns scare the holy hell out of me. I blame Poltergeist.

I'm dancing badly. I feel rough, even to myself. Dancing creates that usually so desirable quiet space, but right now that's what I'm trying, for better or worse, to avoid. I don't want to be in someone's arms when the sinking starts. It really can be that fast. Before one tanda is over, I can go from peaceful, almost blissful, to searching frantically for exit signs. It's crushing, my breath catches in my throat and the air evaporates from the room. Panic replaces peace. Tears well up in my eyes. Apologies fall from my mouth out of habit. And then I'm out the door - to the bathroom, outside - somewhere with air. I can fight it off for a little while, sometimes a couple of tandas in a row. I've made it through my own practica twice - 2 hours each time, once (at my Mr. Tango Shoes Trunk Show) because I didn't dance the entire time.

That's me sitting on the floor during the Mr. Tango Shoes Trunk Show/Sizing event. I was happier that afternoon than I had been in a long time. What made me think wearing a skirt for that kind work was a good idea, I'll never know. But the moral of the story - yay shoes!

Most milongas/practicas are just too many people for me. Too close. Dancing often leaves me abraded and raw. Often I dance with only a few people, not because I don't want to dance with other people, but because I don't know how many leaders would respond if I don't get away fast enough when things go south. If I don't keep it together.

But I'm in business now. In business for myself - so I have to hold it together. At least for a few hours at a time. I'm usually so exhausted by the end of a practica or milonga, that I go home and collapse. I managed two practicas in one day last week and was almost manic I was so proud of myself. Then I spent the next two days sick and sore. (And pondering questionable decor purchases. I didn't buy it. But I thought about it really, really hard.)

The upside, well not really upside . . .  amusing side? Entertaining side? My humor is becoming even less appropriate than usual. Which of course also worries me a little. What few filters I had on my mouth seem to have gone missing. Lots of thoughts that should have stayed in my brain accidentally make it out of my mouth. I end up having a lot of conversations that later on I think might have sounded like this.  (By the way, I almost ordered greeting cards with that on it. I couldn't stop laughing at it. Not the happy kind of laughing, but the maniacal, hysterical sort of laughing that makes my husband worried and suspicious. I didn't get the cards, for the record. But I think they're still in my Zazzle cart.)

So, even though it's far too late for the short story of all of this, the summary is - I'll come out and play as soon as I can. As often as I can. (When I haven't given myself mild food poisoning with my own cooking, which is why I'm writing this and not dancing.)  

I'm not ok, but I will be. If I say weird shit, you can take comfort in the fact that that's always been going on in my brain, I just kept it quieter. I guess that's not very comforting. Never mind. 

Meanwhile, I'm making leather crap in my office, playing "which of these is not like the others" with data, and telling myself this. If you have been in this place, you might want to get this pin too. It's a good reminder.

Thanks for reading this far. For reference, if you ever get this bad off, it's really helpful to get an animal hat like the one I'm sporting below. I don't know why. It just is. That's a lion on my head.  Hear me roar. :)


jimgil said...

Your lion head pic is very cute. If we could dance together, I think it would help. Take care.

Jane Prusakova said...

That's an awesome hat!
Good for you that you are writing, not hiding. You'll get through it, hang in there.

Unknown said...

Hi! I'm the stitcher who makes your potential "questionable decor" (my favorite kind of decor, by far), and I'm here to say: don't buy it. I recommend, instead, adding cross stitching to your leather-working habit and stitching it up for yourself. (Check out my shop for a kit with all the materials or if you have a local craft shop, the PDF pattern downloads.)
It's silly, but I actually recommend cross stitching not only because I love it, but because I've been where you are, too, depression-wise. Probably crafts don't help everyone the way they help me...but I recognize your description of leather work as the same in my love of stitching, and it also appeals to MY OCD tendencies. (Filling in all those little squares perfectly, referring to a chart and watching it progress -- especially in the case of something as complex as Captain Picard's face -- can be very satisfying. It's also one of the only places in life where when you make a mistake, you can figure it out and go back to fix it.)
Crafts help me feel like I'm accomplishing things without those things being so VITALLY IMPORTANT that I'm letting people down if I don't finish them. It might be that I keep coming back to cross stitch throughout my life because it's such a forgiving craft; you can throw an unfinished project in a closet for years and not lose any time when you pick it back up later.
Before I started my cross stitch shop, if I started to slide into severe boredom (the first stop on the way to depression for me), I would make tiny animals eating a random food out of clay. I still have a panda with a little burger, a hippo eating a kebab, and an adult owl eating a lollipop in front of a baby owl. (Your lion hat happiness makes perfect sense to me, in other words.)
If the internet were a place where I could reach out one finger like E.T. and touch your finger, I would do that, but I'm pretty sure that technology doesn't exist yet, so in the meantime, I, a random person whose cross stitch you linked to on the internet, am wishing you well.

Marika said...

@Jim - Thank you and I think you're right about dancing. Dancing with you always helps. :)

@Jane - Thanks for the comment - I wasn't too sure about posting this and I worried all night about it, actually. You never know how these things go once they're out there in the world. A lot of people have reached back to me to tell me where they have been and sometimes where they are now, and I think that's been the best thing that could happen - that we all stop feeling like we're broken beings on our own in the world. We're stronger than we realize most of the time - and certainly stronger together.

@Alicia - I'm in tears that you took the time to write such an inspiring comment - I'm so glad you did. Not just for me but for others who are also reading this post looking for a little inspiration. You're exactly right in why I took up crafting. I may not be able to tackle all that's on my plate on a given day - but I can take a few minutes (or an hour, whatever) and make something with my hands. Something I look at, and focus on, and put my mind to. It gets me to a better space. (As you already know.) Thank you, thank you, thank you, for taking the time to reach out and encourage a total stranger. It means the world to me. I'll be paying it forward.

Btw, I'm dying to know, what does a clay hippo eating a kebab look like? That sounds awesome. Just saying.

Peter said...

Hi Mari. Thank you for the honesty of your article. I am sorry to read that you are in a very difficult place right now. When you come out of that place (which you will because we know that this status will pass) I will again enjoy the pleasure of your writing. Until then, all I can offer is to keep watch and send you much affection while I wait for you to feel stronger. Peter

Ghost said...

Something that helps me a lot is a part of "Running from Safety" by Richard Bach. He's talking to his inner child about going to a social event that he _really_ doesn't want to go to and what to do if it all goes horribly wrong and he needs to leave. His inner child is full of suggestions about swinging off chandeliers and so forth. Richard says something like "I'm a grown-up now. We can just walk out."


Unknown said...

Well, I'm afraid the hippo with the kebab is probably my worst one, but I've posted it here so you can see it, anyway:

...along with a link to your blog post, unless you mind that, in which case I'll remove it asap.

I'm so pleased to be a reason for someone paying forward good things. Today is a good Internet day! Huzzah!

Anonymous said...

Having danced for many years, I've realized I'm not a professional. Tanto afficionados always say it's about the dancing. As a beginner or a pro, perhaps..or if you arrive as a couple. But for intermediate singles I think it's an emotional rollercoaster. I can't think of any other activity that takes my emotions right to the edge tension, or passion, and then leaves them unfulfilled, unspoken and unresolved. There is no one to help, no one to talk things through. And that's the point, Tango is a tragic dance for the unattached. What's worse, I vaguely recall times when I could talk through emotions with friends, or just share it with a bar friend. But we all live in different cities now, and bars are even worse now than tango for making a friend. When I get in a bad space, usually the only thing that helps me is art - making art. Expressing my emotions in some form, even if just to myself, as the alternative is dissolution. Tango, my unfriendly friend, you are a far cry the friend I need. I am a man, so I should be stronger, bolder, braver, but some times I'm just a man. I can't imagine what it's like to be a woman.