In a dark and cold place.

Forgive me, friends, for what is likely to be stream-of-consciousness rambling. My fervent hope is that writing it out will somehow help.

I’m awake at 1 am, and I’m too sick to go back to sleep. Jaw permanently clenched. Gut permanently queasy. Feeling ice cold and burning hot at the same time. On the verge of tears at every moment, day or night.

In short, what happened in the U.S. on Tuesday night, November 8, has plunged me into my first deep, full-fledged depression. 

I’ve fought Seasonal Affective Disorder for years. And, of course, this is the exact time of year for that malady; the world turns black just after 5 pm. Thing is, my world feels black every moment. This? This is different.

After literal weeping and literal wailing in the wee hours of Nov. 9, I got a few short hours of fitful sleep. I woke at 5 am, sobbing uncontrollably the moment my eyes opened.

Having survived so many years of my husband’s intense depression, I had a pretty good idea what I needed to do in order to manage my emotional state. Full-on self care.

That started with a very deliberate avoidance of all news outlets, social media, and blogs. I was in the midst of an extremely tense and busy work week, so I focused as well as I could on work. Had numerous conversations with others who were struggling – family, friends, co-workers. Exercised. Tried to maintain a normal sleep schedule.

On Friday, I finally felt as if I might be turning a corner when our Oldest and I began making plans for me to join her in the DC area in January for the planned Million Woman March on the White House. I recruited several other women to make the trip with me. I was doing something productive, channeling my anger.

But still, I felt despair. Two days in a row I accidentally caught glimpses of television news reports: One day, my beloved President Obama talking with the person who is profaning the office, right in the White House. The next day, footage of that person, with the caption “President-Elect XXX.” I cannot say or write the name. Both times my stomach lurched, my breath caught, and I was overcome with chills.

Late Friday I cautiously glanced at Facebook, knowing that at least my Panstuit Nation tribe would be some comfort (NOTE: Very little of my depresssion has to do with the defeat of our first female candidate. None of this is about pouting because my team didn’t win the game. I could go on and on about what her defeat means about and for women, however, and that subject contributes heavily.) On FB I saw posts from many about moving forward, taking action, staying positive, not giving up hope. I simply am not there. In my heart right now I truly believe there is very little hope.

Yet I found the energy to harness my grief into action. I donated to Planned Parenthood in the name of Mike Pence, a neanderthal about the agency of women to control their own bodies. I bought tons of safety pins to share at church on Sunday morning. Continued with deliberate self-care: got out for a walk; handled of some long-overdue needs like a haircut and ordering new eye glasses; immersed myself in beautiful music; read a favorite book.

Saturday evening, The Husband tuned into NPR for “Prairie Home Companion” as our beautiful Middle Sister prepared supper. All was well for the moment.

And then, during a station break, I heard an ad from one of my favorite journalists, Ari Shapiro, telling listeners to stay tuned to NPR throughout the coming week as they discussed the election of a new president (that person’s name was mentioned, but again I cannot bring myself to say or write it) and what it means for our nation.

The minor progress I’d made was lost. Back to chills and nausea. Back to uncontrollable tears.

I see no end in sight. Every tiny bit of information I’ve seen about the coming “transition” brings only the most horrific news for our environment, for women, for minorities, for immigrants, for our LGBTQ friends, for justice and civil rights. The most abhorrent public figures (including an intensely disgusting pair from my own state) are being picked or discussed for important positions.

With each of these bits of news I remember that all three branches of the government so carefully crafted by great minds nearly 250 years ago are now in control of dangerous, self-serving, backwards-thinking people who are guaranteed to do great harm.

I know for a fact I have a platform in my own community for working for good in the coming days, months, and years. The question is, will I have the wherewithal to do that work? Can I overcome this crushing despair and affect change right where I am? Right now I’m not convinced that I can.

And I’m furious that, for my own emotional well-being, I can no longer enjoy my lifelong passion for reading and watching the news; for being well-informed and carefully forming opinions through research.

It is dark in this place. And cold.

**Reading back over this post, I am struck by how “me-centered” it is. I am very aware of the irony that “me-centeredness” is what got us all here in the first place. I apologize. I am hurting, and having a hard time looking outward just now. 

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16 thoughts on “In a dark and cold place.

  1. Well, if reactions to this election follow the traditional five stages of grief, then maybe it’s a good sign you’ve gotten as far as depression? And fortunately, moving to acceptance doesn’t mean you ever have to be OK with what has happened. Because this outcome isn’t OK. But you, and I, and so many other people in this nation, will keep on doing what we’re capable of doing. And our work really will show that the values we believe, the values preached in our churches and which we’ve spent decades teaching our children, are values that really do matter. Hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know it’s been weeks since you left this comment, but it means a lot to me even though I’m just now coming back to WP after taking a break. People like you give me just about the only hope I have to hang onto for the future of our nation and our society.

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  2. Sending hugs your way! Gosh, although I’m not struggling with depression, I understand why you are feeling this way. I noticed that since the election, I’ve been avoiding social media more often. I’m trying hard to find a balance between not letting this all get me down and staying informed on what all of this really means. It’s a lot right now and it’s important that you focus on what you need to do to get back in a better place. The few things that I’ve read about what you can do now that the election is over and we are dealing with the aftermath all start with the same advice- practice self-care. I think it’s a good place to start.

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  3. Step one: Stop apologizing. Women need to stop apologizing and asking for permission to feel. Please, if you do one thing, stop apologizing for feeling. Step two: grieve. Rage. Do both. I am aquiver with anger, but I am self aware enough to know it is making heartbreak. Anger is easier to deal with than heartbreak. It gets you through the tough times until you are whole enough to deal with the grief. Step three: Act. Act in anyway you can. Donate. Protest. Hound your representatives. Step four: Be kind. To others yes, especially those who will need it, but to yourself as well. You are not alone. x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good, good….you got it out. I didn’t even know what day it was until yesterday. You know what makes me mad about this whole thing? Voter turnout. A small percentage of registered voters chose a nut case to run our country. I can admit that I didn’t do much research on the other candidate because I knew I could never vote for him. Not because I wanted to see a woman in the White House, but because he is such a vile person. I have considered the Women’s March, but just thinking about getting there and then the crowd….oh my anxiety! However, I’m mad now and I will do what I can to bug the crap out of my representatives—hopefully with a bunch of others. (smaller group maybe a little less anxiety?) While that man can destroy all the progress made over the years, he has a group of yayhoos giving him legislation to sign….we need to make them not push their views upon us whether it is for religious reasons or not. They want smaller government but certainly have their noses in how we make personal decisions.

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