Friday, March 5, 2010

it wasn't supposed to be like this...

Wait a like what?

Depression is insidious. It winds itself around you almost before you realize what's going on. It wreaks havoc on your own perceptions of yourself, and the world around you. Hope is lost, there is no hope, there is no change, what the hell was the point of all this hard work when I'm still sitting here....I'm sure you understand.

I've resisted any kind of chemical remedy so far, beyond any natural substances within my reach - Valerian seems to work okay for the few days every month that it gets really bad.  But something is always hovering, just below the surface, waiting to grab at any slight failure, missed opportunity, unhappy moment and say, "See? And you thought things were getting better...." Some days I feel like I traded a sterile and comfortable existence for a life that's shorter on material goods, more independent and true to me, but much, much lonelier. In the low moments, it doesn't seem to matter that my former life partner spent all of his available spare time creating computer stuff in the basement, that we had nothing in common, that the corner of the world that I could call my own was very small, indeed.

Was I any less depressed, really? Probably not. It was just...different. I didn't allow myself to feel, because feelings were somehow...not okay. So I floated. Now I seem to vacillate between treading water and being pulled beneath the waves by whatever errant current is grabbing at my ankles. I'm not really moving forward, but at least I'm somewhere. And I'm still alive. But I would like to see land some day, would like to feel as though this journey somehow makes sense. So far, it's an elusive prospect.

And I could...if I had to...I could live out here indefinitely. The water's not cold. I do get fatigued, but I have enormous reserves of strength.

It's an isolated existence. Never alone completely - with kids you're never really alone, thank the goddess. But I haven't bumped into many other swimmers in this part of the ocean. Only wonderful virtual swimmers, who are the most marvelous support system imaginable. I am so grateful.

And I am so scared. There's nowhere to go when you're out here. It's a big ocean. And I'm out here, with my head above water, treading as fast as I can, but not really getting anywhere. While I can name any number of reasons why I can't move forward, I think my biggest challenges are fear and geography.

I don't know anyone in this city except my co-workers, my ex, my kids and my sister, and a few other people whom I am not close to. I traveled the streets and byways as a straight woman for eight years, I went to market and shopped in the grocery store, drank coffee and browsed for books then, just like I do now. I've never really felt as comfortable here as I should have, never really put down roots, and now it's worse. Coming out at 42 means that you don't grow into those familiar spots, and even when you find them - which I can't - you're surrounded by people who have been secure with their identity all their lives. And you get questions that are uncomfortable to answer - like how I know I'm a lesbian when....and what made me "change my mind" so late in life. As if I'm 80. As if there was some kind of choice I made, beyond deciding that I was going to live my truth.

Sometimes I feel like the freak I know I'm not. And I feel like I don't belong anywhere. The rational side of me knows, hopes that this is temporary, that I will carve out a place for myself in this community that's not completely isolating. But it's so very close to my childhood experience, a childhood that was composed of isolation, rejection and grief. Too close to the bone, too much for me to tolerate, especially when I am in such a fragile state.

I know that I can and will get through this. I don't think about an "end point" because once you've reached a point, a milestone, there's something else to reach for. But I'm drawing on that very same strength that pulled me through childhood, through my adolescence, through other moments of deep despair when I felt, really, as though there was nothing left. I can't leave as long as there's work left undone. I have children to raise. I have more words to write. If I can't find happiness, I can always find more work to do.

But there's always hope...and my hope can be found in the spaces between the notes. Here's a glimpse of the concert I saw last night, listening with joy, and tears, and everything else in between....David Francey is amazing. The first song reminds me so much of where I am right now - out at sea, not sure where I'm headed, but with lights burning brightly, hoping to find my way. The second song is another favourite.


Nulaanne said...

No, you are not alone. I did not come out until I was 37 and my HoneyLove did not come out until she was 47.

Neither one of us in the community so to speak. So I to feel adrift out here. All of my friends are straight so there are times I feel like the token lesbian.

Hang in there girl things will change.

Making Space said...

We are all lights burning bright. Yes!

You are a wonderful light out there on my journey. Sending you plenty-of-fuel vibes...

Camlin said...

Nuulane - On one hand, I know I'm not alone. Ever since I stumbled across Mon's blog almost two years ago, I've realized that I am not the only one. But physically, I am a bit isolated. And impatient. I want things to change now!!!

Making Space - love, love, love....

Murray said...

You have come so far, Camlin. You will make it because in the end you think positive. "We are all lights burning bright" is such a wonderful thought especially in our world where there seems to be so much darkness and trouble. I was wondering if you have investigated coming out groups, especially groups that are focused on women over 40? Are there any groups like that in your area?

Maria said...

Depression is isolating by it's definition. I always tell myself that if it lasts more than a month, I will take drugs to help. So far, I have only managed to hit 22 days. At any rate, it helps to know that there really are others in that ocean, we are just hard to see because it is so large and we are so small.

Camlin said...

Murray - while there's lots of student support in this two-university town, I've yet to find a group for older women. I'm investigating a queer writer's circle in a nearby city - it might be the outlet I need. It's been hard to think positive this week, but I'm trying!

Maria - yes!!!

Kalisis Rising said...

Oh sweetie, I love how you can turn this stuff around in your own mind. That's a skill and a gift. Pshaw, what you said in your comment to me about not being able to visualize yourself out of a paper bag, I beg to differ, my friend.

There is hope and love and light and it's all out there. For you. Actually, it's all within too. Isn't it, now?

Depression is such a PITA. I've battled it and anxiety for years; years I had no idea that something was clinically wrong with me. I just thought I was weak and couldn't deal. I try to be mindful these days of the time of the month and when I feel like slitting my wrists, that's usually when AF is right around the corner. Yam cream has helped tremendously. I slather it on and it makes a difference. Also, evening primrose oil. I am sure you know all of this, just throwing ideas out there.

I know you think that geography limits you, but why not look for something long distance? My first lesbian love, we dated long distance for 6 months before we could manage to move closer to one another. My last gf, we commuted nearly 200 miles to see each other. Love is out there; there are no barriers, except the ones you put up in your own mind. Long distance, in my opinion, is almost better - I never have to ask for space, it's just there. And, the reunions are hot as hell. ;)

aneke said...

You know, I always thought medication was for weaklings. Until I finally folded, and took Prozac. By the SECOND DAY I felt a distinct difference. Because nothing else had changed, that more than anything convinced me that medication sometimes has its place.
I'm off it now, but it helped me.

Maybe you should think about it.

Anonymous said...

I so understand, the depression, the late in life questions, the feeling that you don't belong anywhere. This too shall pass. It's a long journey from who we were to who we want to be and it is hard to be that kind of patient. My jumping in too soon earned me one very broken heart, took ,e over a year to recover. Then one day after pushing away the very idea of a partner for over a year I knew the time had come. Don't ask me how I just knew. I met D that very night. I wasn't looking to meet anyone and yet there she was. Stay on the path. Take care of yourself and listen. You will know when it's time.

Anonymous said...

Having reread the comments I want to add that while it took a while to find the correct dosage and meds the difference is amazing. The mill stone had been lifted. And I am no weakling. My entire life has been a long challenge of on crisis after another and each seemed determined to one up the last. It was about two years ago that I began trying some meds, rather hald=f heartedly but now that we found something that works and I remember the differences in me I am so much more willing to keep the drug balance in check. It goes a long way toward making me happy. Won't hurt to try it. It won't take over your soul and make you unable to make another intelligent decision for you so give it a whirll.