I Am Alive

You know when it’s 12:40 in the morning and you’ve just finished working on a project you started nearly two hours ago because it’s normal to start working at 10:46 PM. And you’re listening to an audiobook of some sub-genre of a self-help book because God knows you can’t help yourself these days but you get bored or really triggered by the book—but you can’t decide which—so you turn it off and try to listen to whatever music is trending on Spotify.

And you realize you don’t get today’s music. So you switch to 90s alt-rock or something called “Dreamy Vibes.”

Well, you might be turning 36 this month. Or, at least, I am.

If you know me, you know how deeply I love my birthday.

Here’s a truth: Those who deal, daily, with depression and anxiety feel really fucking lucky to make it to their next birthday. It’s just a fact. My new diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression and the subsequent med change has me feeling like April 25th is a day to shout from the rooftops that, “I AM ALIVE!”

I feel fine. Most days. I’m still very, very tired. I am fighting very hard to beat this particular side effect of my treatment. It might help if I went to bed at a normal time as my husband suggests. Repeatedly. But my body is still in some weird transition period. It will work itself out in time. It always does. The fact that I’m just exhausted and not actively thinking of ways to harm myself is a huge step forward.

But some days are hard. Some days are hard even when you’re not fighting the demons inside your own head. Life can be hard. Period. Raising two sons under my roof? Hard. Being a present and supportive birth mom even when it would be easier to hide away from the truth of what your choice meant to a large number of people? Really hard. Getting out of bed when you feel worthless? Well, that’s so hard I don’t have a word for it. But I’m doing it.

I’m doing it.

Or I’m trying to do it. Something in between the two.

Someone called me Super Woman today. I laughed because, boy, do I have the whole world fooled. Today I put on a base layer of makeup, some mascara, some clothes that hid the parts of me that I literally, viscerally hate, and I did the things that needed to be done. I carried on conversations with people who aren’t part of my inner circle. I worked really hard to get my business jobs done and my home-life jobs done. I made a healthy meal for my sons despite being on a crazy, wonky baseball season schedule. I took dogs on walks. I didn’t drive across a wide ass state and give a teenager a talking to about what is and is not appropriate to text my daughter; this was the hardest of things to do today, if you’re wondering. I learned new software. I wrote a poem because it’s both National Journaling Month and National Poetry Month and, goodness, sometimes my words make more sense when they’re written in five lines of jagged Jenna-cursive-slash-whatever-it-is-I-write in a notebook, black ink on white paper. I don’t show you those. I don’t show anyone those. Maybe someday.

I do so much.
Yet I feel like I’m worth so little.

And this is the truth of my everyday.

In three weeks, or, looking at the time again, two weeks and six days, I’ll celebrate another birthday. Despite being miles ahead of where I was two years ago at this time, I’m still struggling to just be okay. Maybe not struggling. Fighting. Fighting each step of the way because I know there’s hope on the other side of this; I know I’m going to make it through this dark night.

There’s a new tattoo in my future. And a mole removal. And some meme I saw said that if you wore those black, slip on, platform Steve Madden sandals in the 90s, it’s time for Botox. I’ve seen my wrinkles appear this year. And I literally don’t give a fuck.

Aging means I’m alive. I’m still going to dye my hair for the time being; my grandmother was completely gray at an age younger than I am now. I’m not ready, but I’m aware. I’m still getting zits, so I can’t be that old. But I refuse to subscribe to a belief that my late 30’s mean anything more than the world.

I. Am. Alive.
I am thankful.

Thank you, Amy, for all you did. May your legacy live on through those of us whose lives you touched. Our stories aren’t over yet;

 

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The World Is Full of Suffering

The World Is Full of Suffering

I am blessed/cursed with a heart that feels everything.

ASPCA commercials make me want to run down to the pound and adopt all the dogs and cats, even though my husband is allergic to the felines. When someone tells me about a local pregnant teen, I want to find her and comfort her as I fear she isn’t being supported in the ways that truly matter. Homelessness. Poverty. Death to drug addiction; drug addiction in general. Suicidal ideation.

All of it makes my heart spill over. I want to fix the world.

I cannot. Some problems are based in cycles and systemic issues that won’t magically be solved just because Jenna stepped up to some proverbial plate. Some people don’t want help. Some people will actively work against your attempts to help others.

I get it. There have been (too many) times in which I haven’t wanted help either. Sometimes it’s easier to live in your own personal, mostly self-created hell than to say, “I want this to change,” than to actively do something about it. I refused and waited out this most recent diagnosis and med change because, wait for it, I didn’t want to “gain weight with a new medication.” Yeah. That’s right. I chose to live every day—for months on end—with my first thought being, “I want to die. I want to kill myself,” simply because I didn’t want to gain a few pounds.

Even thought admitting that seems silly and fucking selfish as hell, the feeling at the time was enough to keep me from telling my therapist what was really going on, from telling my Meds Doc that, no, current medications weren’t keeping me from wanting to kill myself. A few people knew, but even then, I tried to play it off as something minor.

“I’m just struggling.”
“It will pass.”
“I’m fine.”

If you ever hear me say, “I’m fine,” let me be the first to tell you, I’m not fine. Not at all.

The good news is that someone finally got through to me, meaning my husband, and I took the hard steps of actively seeking an answer to the depression that would not quit. The new diagnosis initially shook me. “Treatment Resistant? Am I stuck like this forever?” I’m not. I just need to work harder with the medical professionals in my life to find the appropriate answers.

And while the world is full of suffering, as Helen Keller said, “it is also full of overcoming it.”

I don’t know why my brain doesn’t work quite right. I don’t know why I get stuck in Major Depressive episodes. I know that adoption grief and loss, sexual trauma, and a few other things poke and prod. I diligently work on these issues, but the depression, for now, persists. I don’t know why my anxiety will stick at a manageable level for a lengthy period of time and then sky-rocket to astronomical, I-can’t-do-this levels. I know that adoption grief and loss, sexual trauma, trust issues, fear of failure-slash-perfectionism all come into play. I work on these things, too. But I can be sitting, cozy and warm on the couch on an idle Tuesday and be absolutely run down by sudden anxiety. Out of nowhere.

I don’t know why certain segments of our society feel more akin to hate than to love. I don’t know why people abuse or neglect animals. I cannot, for the life of me, as a birth mother or just a simple human being, understand why other human beings neglect or abuse children. I don’t know what possesses someone to rape another. I don’t know why some people feel superior to others, thus making others feel inferior, based on the color of their skin. Or whom they love. Or how they identify. Or whatthefuckever. Or, I know some of these things, but I cannot make good sense of them in 2017.

I do know this: Despite the hate, the racism, the xenophobia, the misogyny, the desperate need to be better than somebody else for whatever reason, the world is full of people who are overcoming the suffering others put them through on a daily basis.

Right now, I’m having trouble being awake enough to function. It’s a side effect of a medication my Meds Doc put me on in hopes that I would stop waking up with the desire to kill myself. I am thankful for those in my life who understand that this is a hard, dark time in my life and that I’m actively trying to work my way through it. I want to be me again; I want to be Jenna again. I’ve been fighting and trying and pushing and surrendering and failing and wishing and hoping and praying and working my way toward what I hope will help me feel like me again. It’s not happening in the time frame that I would prefer, but I am slowly learning to trust the process. To take any progress, however small, as a complete and utter win.

I am slowly working myself back to me. I know so many other people who are doing the same thing, right now, in this very moment. We are resilient. We will make it through this. You know what I mean.

The World Is Full of Suffering

We will overcome. Stay the course. Trust the process. Keep doing what you have to do. I will stand with you in all of it.