Tuesday, June 01, 2010

thought purge

I wanted to get some thoughts/feeling out while I'm somewhat able to think a bit clearer because sometimes it's difficult to sit and focus on writing happy things for this blog. It used to come naturally for me as I believe I used to be a happy person. The reason I started this blog was to share happiness with others because I felt I had a lot of it in my heart to give. In fact, I started this blog during a difficult time in my life (5 months after my Dad passed away) which is kind of strange now that I think about it. Let's start a happy blog after the death of a parent, what fun! But I've realized a couple of differences between coping with the death of my father and moving here to Seattle.

First the death of my father is permanent. Unless we opted to freeze him cyrogenically he's not coming back. And even though losing him was one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with, I was able to process the feelings and emotions associated with death and accept them and continue to move ahead. That doesn't mean I don't miss him every single day, but I don't dwell in the sadness of the loss because there is nothing in my control to change it. I have no other choice but to accept it. Now with moving to Seattle, I keep thinking, it's not permanent, we (or maybe just me) could be on a plane tomorrow and go somewhere else. I have not come to accept this place as home because I still have options out there. I can telecommute and live somewhere else but I know that is not going to best for my marriage. But yet my marriage is not always at its best when I'm living in this constant state of fighting this place so hard. And why do I fight it? Well the plain, simple fact is the weather has severely depressed me. I know sometimes I make light of it and laugh about 13 of the last 14 days straight rain, 40+ degree temps while I'm walking the dog in my mittens and trying to stay dry at the same time...at the end of May. But after living here over a year and a half I have a good enough grasp to know that this is really taking its toll on my mental health.

When we moved out of the midwest to California so many people would say, "Oh you're going to miss those seasons!" Well I thought I would but I didn't. The only time I felt a pang for another season was on Christmas Day, but other than that I never looked back. When we moved here I remember my mom saying, "Oh at least you'll have the seasons again!" And now after living here I don't really see distinctions between the seasons aside from summer. Although the winter of 2008 did get a TON of snow and that was pretty cool, but it was out of the ordinary. I feel like October through March (this year though it's been through May) is pretty much the same season. 40's and 50's (which is great because it's never that cold in the winter, maybe 20's for the absolute low) but just so dark and wet. Now we do get flowers that bloom in what should be spring time and the trees are sooo green and lush but the sky is consistently draped in what feels like a giant gray tarp for many, many months. It is rare to get more than 3 straight days of clear skies during the months of October to March and to me a season is more than just a few days peppered into a month's time. There's that darkness that just hangs in the sky and each day it feels like it's closing in, closer and closer until you can no longer breathe. Could it be scientific and maybe related to barometric pressure in the air that causes one to struggle with breath or is it the fact that the clouds are so visibly low in the sky you feel like you could touch them? Either way it puts my head in such a fog to where I can't think straight and the flood gates of depression have opened and it affects my marriage, my work, and my interactions with others. And that is something new that I'm having a hard time coping with. Maybe I've been prone to this all my life and living here just brought it all out but I never remember feeling this way, even when we lived in Minnesota for those 11 months. And there is nothing like the cold in Minnesota to make one crazy but this is a different crazy, just a heaviness that weighs you down. Just this year alone, it has averaged 21 days a month of rain. And there are times when it will stop and there will be an afternoon beam of sun and believe me I do my best to get out there and soak it in if I can but it's just not enough to sustain my mind and quell those dark thoughts/fears. It got so bad this last Saturday that I had a panic attack and strongly believed that the world was coming to an end because human beings can't live like this and we are all going to die. Now as I type that out here I can sort of see the irrationality in it but I need some way to clear my head from the darkness because I know it will happen again, however irrational it may seem. I strongly feel that if my Dad had passed away while we were living here, I would have never started a blog about Living Happy. I don't think I could have handled his death when I'm overcome with this darkness inside and probably could have done something completely irreversible because when I'm in that funk there seems absolutely no other way out. Everything else you have to deal with seems magnified 100 times and you just want to say F this, it's not worth it. I'm not alone in feeling this way and that should make me feel a little better (not as foreign) but it actually makes me more sad knowing others are struggling so much as well. I tried to prepare myself for living here but anticipating it and living it day in and day out after a year and a half are two completely different things. And if you are not prone to depression this can be difficult to understand but this is a very challenging place to be especially when you have a panic attack just by looking out the window. Wow I didn't expect to write so much on that but as you can tell it's been bubbling up.

So, this weekend after my melt down, we started thinking of ways to deal with this because what I've done thus far is barely keeping me sane. On Sunday, the rain finally stopped early afternoon and then slowly, out came the sun. Tom and I rushed home to get Wrigs and walk him outside and one by one everyone starting opening their doors just standing in their driveways/yards staring up at the sky. It was like something out of children of the corn. I thought how comical the whole scene was, especially for those who LOVE the benefits of the sun but yet have to endure months of darkness to enjoy it. Seattle is a gorgeous landscape when the sun is out, I just feel the many months of depression to get those fleeting moments of feeling good again aren't enough to sustain me. My bones have been aching (another sign of severely lacking in Vitamin D, lucky for Tom, he is too) and I thought it was because I got some of those tone up shoes. Well when the sun came out yesterday my aches and pains started to go away. I felt my body relax, I had ZERO stomach issues and I could again, process and think things through and find solutions/perspective to situations in my life. And that felt soooo good.

There are a couple coffee shops in town I frequent on weekend mornings and have become acquaintances with a few of the regulars. I met this woman back in Feb or March and we started talking about life and she was so down, on the verge of tears. She is going through a messy divorce, has 3 unruly teenagers and is also taking care of an aging parent (or parents, I'm not sure if it was plural). She was so visibly depressed, I really thought she was going to go off the deep end and drive her car off a bridge. I gave her one of my bracelets made with healing beads and told her that I would be praying for her strength through all of the things she is dealing with. I saw her just a few weeks ago and she was a completely different person. I said things must be so much better you are beaming! She told me that no, nothing has changed in her life, things are still the same but she just got back from visiting her sister in Arizona and she feels like a new person. She said as soon as her youngest is through with high school she is going to move there. Just ONE solid week of sun worked wonders for her mind and cleared the negativity in her head and she felt like a new person with a new start. She said her problems are always going to be there but she can cope with them better when she's not so depressed. I know the issues I'm dealing with in my little life are not as drastic as hers but I 100% know where she's coming from. And now that she has a plan in motion she is much more upbeat, light hearted and when I looked at her this time I even thought, she is happy.

Amazing how that works. People benefit tremendously from the vitamins and warmth from the sun. Why else do people retire to warm, sunny places?

So that's where I'm at. I need to come to a place of acceptance but it's still very much a work in progress.


ChiTown Girl said...

Living in two different COUNTRIES for nearly 6 months a year has kept my parents married for 44 years. Just sayin'..... ;-)

Stephanie said...

I've thought to myself that you needed to move out of Seattle, but then again, you just bought a house. And have a husband. And a dog. And a crazy cat. Don't think that moving is all that reasonable. But you are right in that you are lacking in sunshine and that it definitely has an effect on your mood and happiness level. People always make mention of the rainy dreary depressing weather that is Seattle. I feel for you. It goes 3 to 4 days here in Florida and I can tell a difference in my patience level and mood. I wish I could hand you some advice. You already have a sunlamp, right?

Stephanie said...

Are you coming to acceptance about living there or are the two of you going to devise a plan to move someplace sunnier? This is my thought, work is just that, work. You should never let a job affect your life or your family or your marriage in this way, because in the end, when you are both 80 years old, the job, the money, the houses, the cars, not even the kids really will matter more then your marriage will. When your 80 years old it will just be the two of you and your relationship will be the only thing that truly matters.

So if your reason for staying in this city is just for a job, it is not worth risking your sanity/health or your marriage for, because that job will not be holding your hand at 80 years old. Life is about being happy and enjoying everything it has to offer and being the best person you can be to yourself, spouse, family and friends.

Smileygirl said...

Ok thank you both for taking the time to even read all of that. For some reason I forget that there are other eyes on here, I know that sounds so silly but sometimes when I write I just get things out and then it's like OH HI! You read my thoughts! It's weird I do that on facebook too. I forget things I guess.

So yeah moving is not really an option right now and I feel weak to just up and move but I don't think it's healthy to continue the path I'm on. We have sun lamps and I've even resorted to tanning which I swore I would never do again. And I'm not tanning to be tan I did it to feel warm and hope that the artificial rays would mimmick the benefits of the sun. Tom also suggested that I look into volunteering sometime in the fall/winter for a month somewhere warm like costa rica or down south to help with the gulf because I'm sickened by the suffering down there. And Stephanie it's so true how just those few days can really affect your patience level. In California when we'd have June gloom for a month (but it would clear away by 1 everyday!) I was such a beast. If I knew then what I know now! Wow. I would have never said a peep. Actually no I probably still would have because it really is something beyond one's control. Ok still writing a novel here so I'll stop but thank you for reading!

Kathleen said...

Laura, I can completely empathize with how you are feeling. I was very excited to move back to Seattle after not living here for 8 years and having spent 2 years traveling back and forth for family and a long distance relationship. In the back of my mind I worried about SAD but pushed those thoughts away. Now I am regretting that because now that my mom has passed away the weather is taking a serious toll on my mental health. I feel like I cannot move forward because I am stuck in this gray place and it will never get better. I'm sorry you are facing this struggle with the weather as well and even though it might make you sad to know someone else is, I want you to at least know someone understands and doesn't think you're irrational when you have a panic attack by looking outside.

Smileygirl said...

This is for the 2nd Stephanie, I didn't see your comment til after I posted mine. I completely agree that marriage is the most important no matter what, especially when we are 80 years old and all we have is eachother. Thing is, I do respect Tom's career and where he is right now and I think if I can come to a level of acceptance that this will be our home it might help. I have been living each day thinking/wishing that it will change and I think that is what makes someone crazy. Isn't that the definition of a crazy person, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? It's something like that I think. But I have to keep imagining that we will be whisked away somewhere else (and I"m not just thinking s. cal, seriously any place outside of the northwest will do) ok there I go again, BUT, I'm so over the fact about going back to S. Cal, I have put that out of my mind. Ideally, I just want a place that is less dark, less wet but until then I have to accept this is where we need to be. So I'll probably be taking a LOT of trips while we're here!

Smileygirl said...

Oh Kathleen, I wish there was some way I could help you. I hate to hear that you are having regrets because that on top of dealing with the depression is sooo difficult. And when you feel this down you tend to really believe that it's going to stay this way forever and will never change. Yesterday when the sun finally came out did you feel a little better? I did and it was like OMG I am a normal human being again!!! And that lasted the whole day and night and I had pleasant dreams and felt like OK I can do this. Then another gray day comes and it's like I feel Shit slammed back to the ground. It's not a healthy way to live at all and I'm so sorry you are feeling this way but PLEASE know that it won't last forever. If there is anything I can do to help I would. We're in this together along with A LOT of other people so don't feel that you are alone. I'm just so sorry about your mom and I know she would not want you to feel this way so let's try to get through this and help each other.

Kathleen said...

Thanks so much. Here is my e-mail: kscanlonpr@yahoo.com. I think we are neighbors if you ever want to meet for coffee or something. I think it would be great to try and help each other. And yes, I did feel better on Monday when the sun came out. I feel like I am actually awake!

Anonymous said...

2 years was my limit. I moved there the year it rained 90/120 days and had never felt so miserable. Great place to visit in the summer but you have to love the rain and the chill to thrive in that climate. Hang in there.

Jeannie said...

I've lived here for 10 years and wish I could say that it's not typical of May but it is. We have cold temps thru June, compared to California and what we experienced last year was unusual. July - Sept is our reprieve from the rain but like someone else said - you have to come to embrace the weather here or else you will have a very hard time. It's not for everyone and I guess that's what keeps it from overcrowding.

I just recently found your blog searching for key lime martini recipes and enjoy your writing.

karen gerstenberger said...

I'm so glad that you wrote all tha you did here - purging this way keeps it from exploding under pressure!

Wish I knew what to say about the weather. I'm a native, so I expect it. It's why there are "snowbirds," I suppose - those who can afford it, go south for the winter. Heck, even the birds know to do it!

I think Tom has a wonderful idea there - and if you can plan even a long weekend (or two, or a week, or two) away from the gray, you may find it helps you endure what you can't change.

Indoor hobbies help a lot of people, I know: knitting, sewing, crafts, reading, writing, internet, volunteering, etc. Since you do all of those, I am not sure what's next: maybe developing a "Real Housewives of Seattle" show? Does Mark still read your blog? XOXO

Anne Good said...

Hugs to you. I wish there was an obvious answer. I hate to recommend medication, but maybe that's a part of a temporary fix until you can move somewhere sunnier? Mental health is so important and you deserve to find some peace. I know I'd feel the same way without sun for so long.

Anonymous said...

Well since moving isn't an option, at least make sure you're taking a good quality Vitamin D and complete B supplement. Designs for Health are the one's I take because they are triple tested and very pure. I don't sell them or anything, I just really love them :)

rebeccacdm said...

This made me so sad for you. I totally know how you feel and although I don't know you, can I make a suggestion? It might not JUST be the weather. Or even mostly the weather. I've been reading your blog for a couple of years and during that brief time you have gone through so many changes - moving, health problems, animal problems, etc. etc. and now I would add your dad dying 5 years ago... well, let's just say you might have totally understandable reasons to be depressed beyond it raining 360 days a year. Not to say that getting some sun won't make you feel better, but maybe even nice weather is just something to distract you from your feelings. Maybe it's just harder to "shake off" the depression when its raining.

I certainly know I have been very much effected by the weather, but since I started getting help for my depression (and the reasons behind it) the more I am able to cope when it's miserable outside. I do live in SoCal, but 5 years ago, if it would rain for more than 48 hours, I couldn't get out of bed. This year it rained for almost 10 days straight and I was completely fine.

I don't know if that makes any sense to you. I just want to hug you (sorry if that is creepy from a stranger :-)). I think you really need to get help - you DO NOT have to live this way. There are solutions. The things that worked for me were drugs - the legal kind - and a very talented and patient therapist, which I would highly recommend you look for.

Hugs to you!

Smileygirl said...

I haven't been taking vitamin B and I think that's something important. Also there is SAM-E stuff that a friend recommended and I'll look into that too. It is quite possible that there is underlying emotions that I have buried or been too distracted before to deal with and now after just feeling soooo low those sadness feelings come to the surface. That's part of what I'm figuring out. It's like could someone be predisposed to depression but not know it until moving to a depressing surrounding? Could be. I think there are some other issues too because I feel completely closed in and claustrophobic when it's dark. It's different from just being sad it's a gripping feeling that the world is coming to an end. That's what is so bizarre. So I'm talking with someone now, have a couple referrals I'm testing out and we'll see how that goes. I went to therapy in CA and really benefitted from that so why the heck haven't I been doing that here? It should have come standard with our relocation package.

rebeccacdm said...

Oh, honey - hugs again. I know exactly how you feel. Seriously.

So, number one - you are so not alone in this. You have had some issues and you recently had a panic attack (BTW, the end of the world stuff is also anxiety - totally understandable) - which I have had many times in the past - and dammit, if it isn't the scariest thing in the world.

It's hard for me to put into written words, but I totally understand what you are feeling. The first thing that helped me was listening to these tapes/CDs (and if you have seen this before, just listen to the free tapes - seriously they will make you feel less alone right off the bat) - I SWEAR I don't work for them, but I was desperate enough ay the time to buy and listen and it really helped a lot - http://www.midwestcenter.com/. They do truly brilliant work.

For what it's worth...

Smileygirl said...

rebecca, thank you for that link. I'm interested in any help as I don't want to have another one of those so it can't hurt to do the 30 day trial. But dang if I didn't get anxiety just looking at how many CDs there are! That seems like a lot! Have you ever heard of Kundalini meditation? It's pretty powerful. I've done it a few times and did some today and felt clearer and more focused and able to cope afterwards. And as I'm posting a link to send to you I just read the paragraph at the bottom where it talks about the dangers and here is what it said:


The Kundalini can be dangerous in the respect that is can cause terrible headaches, increased body temperature, extreme anxiety along with other numerous symptoms within the body and mind. Sometimes the symptoms become severe if the energy isn't balanced. Prolonged symptoms could lead to mental neurosis and cronic physical pains. We automatically and naturally want to fight what is happening within us, especially since we don't fully understand the process. If we recognize the body as energy, we should be able to tune into any symptoms and help balance the Kundalini energy promptly. The same is for chakra work, which is the starting ground for body-energy awareness. Once the feelings are recognized, we can then deal accordingly with the energies. Recognizing it is half the battle."

So I'm guessing my energy is definitely not balanced! I wonder if doing this work is causing more anxiety??? Soooo weird.

Well here is the link so read it and see what you think but not sure you want to do it:


bakingbarb said...

I am totally with you on a few of the things you write about. Depression and Seattle seem to go hand in hand, I take 50,000 iu's of D3 every week. I forget when the sun does shine to take it and now I am feeling the weather suffocating me.

My Dad passed, this spring was a year. So much that wasn't resolved makes it harder to deal with him being gone. Plus this weather.

I would move if I could but I can't so for now I soak up the sun when I can, take my D3, blog about flowers - it helps keep me sane to see sunshine and flowers year round even if I took all the photos on the only sunny day!

I hope the sun comes out and we both feel more better.