Depression

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North

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

If you know my sister Becca, you know she’s all about dogs. She always has been; her first word was “woof-woof.” In addition to running a dog rescue (whence came Foxy!), she has three dogs of her own – and they’re like her kids. So when she and my brother-in-law decided to go to Seattle, they called in only the best.

Annie the Dog Nanny.

Foxy and I moved into Becca and Michael’s house on Saturday night, and it’s been the Wild West ever since. I’m playing defense against a collective 200 pounds of canine. Things I will need to replace before they get home: Bulleit and a lot of chocolate chips.

In the midst of it all, I am wrapping up my job, selling my house, and looking for a new place to live – because I forgot to tell you:

I’m moving to Minnesota.

Two weeks ago, I gave my notice at work. I am leaving what has been a gift of a job for what is sure to be a challenging, soulful adventure of a next chapter: I’m moving to Minneapolis to work for my favorite public radio show, On Being with Krista Tippett.

For over eight years, this has been a blog mostly about my feelings – so don’t think I’m going to stop now.

What can I say about my 5 ½ years in Denver? They have been the toughest years of my life, minus 6th grade when all of the girls turned mean. Cancer brought me here, divorce made me stay. I watched my family disintegrate, and a few relationships of my own. I’ve said such horrible things to God, it’s a wonder he still loves me. I’ve lost hope, battled depression, and numbed the pain with all sorts of soul novocain.

Denver made me write this song. (And as always, forgive the guitar.)

[UPDATE: Song has been taken down. Maybe you’ll hear it again someday.]

But it’s not lost on me that the hardest years were spent in the most beautiful place. It’s like someone knew I would need the beauty.

I’ve walked thousands and thousands of miles. I’ve climbed mountains – I’m up to 35 14ers, with 19 to go. I spent 11 days on a solo backpacking trip, digging deeper than I knew I could dig. I’ve learned to own my finances, my career, a dog, and a house. If Seattle is where I became Annie and Nashville is where I became a woman (gross, sorry for saying that), Denver is where I became an adult – a reluctant transition, but true nonetheless. I’ve made a handful of incredible girlfriends, the kind that make it hard to leave. I’ve been to counseling – gracious, have I been to counseling. I’ve stopped blaming my parents for everything that’s wrong in my life.

As it turns out, I am sad to leave Denver – but not as excited as I am for a new adventure.

I will miss my perfect tiny house and my friends and the weather and the mountains. But I know that there’s something for me in Minnesota – lakes and forests and people and meaningful work. And mosquitos. And snow. But I’m choosing to believe that richness awaits. I can’t wait to tell you about it. I can’t wait to learn it for myself. I might even start going to church again.

Until then, I am frantically wrapping up my time with LÄRABAR/General Mills. Yesterday I wrote a “manual” for how to do my job. So far it’s 17 pages long. I’m getting my ducks in a row to sell my house, and looking for another in Minneapolis (tell me, is 40% of my income too much to spend on a mortgage?).

And I’m dog-sitting for my sister. Maybe these dogs will come visit me in Minnesota.

My roots are up, and I’m headed north. There is so much to be nervous about, and so much to be grateful for. Thanks for sticking with me, no matter the gap between posts, no matter the city in which I live.

See you soon, Minneapolis!

Minneapolis

Sunrise into day

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Things look different here (you might need to refresh your browser). After 6 years, it was time.

I loved that photo, the one taken in a Kansas field, sun-drenched and vibrant and glamorous – because who wears heels in a meadow? That girl was a great girl, bold and impulsive. She had so many wonderful things ahead, things that she couldn’t have dreamed even if she tried. She was running full speed into the unknown, and the latter half of her 20s was sensational, to say the least.

She was happy, and she didn’t know it.

But then again, her life was censored. She didn’t know that, either.

The field was eventually plowed over, and townhomes went in. That flowered chair ripped apart, and so did her family. Her free spirit was trampled into the dirt. Her skinny thighs got a little bigger, while her confidence got a little smaller. And one night, the left stiletto on those red high heels snapped right off.

Uncensored reality can be ugly. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that the last several years have been dark for me. You’ve tracked along with what I now know to have been seasons of crippling depression and despair. And when the struggle got to be too much, I just went on auto-pilot, choosing monotone over minor chords through a variety of anesthetics.

But Brené Brown says, “We cannot selectively numb emotions.” She’s right: when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb joy, love, and compassion. And what kind of a life is that?

So I’ve taken that idea to heart, and have spent the past year plowing forward into the darkness – which, by the way, has been about as fun as venturing into my spider-infested cellar with nothing but a Zippo. But at least I’m seeing things for what they really are, or at least closer to the way that they really are. These days, the veil is lifted, for worse and for better – and there is a “better.”

So it’s time for this space to be fresh.

Life is quiet these days, and largely uncomplicated. It’s also lonely, although that’s probably mostly by choice. If I told you the last time I went on a date, you would cringe. I have more questions than answers, and the things that are unresolved – the broken relationships, the questions of purpose, the nagging insecurities – peck at me from time to time.

But somehow, there’s an element of contentment. I am rooted – not necessarily geographically, but in who I am and what I’m willing (and not willing) to wait for. I can’t say exactly when it happened, but I feel a simple confidence that just like there are good things behind, there are good things ahead.

The light is soft, the colors gentle, and the good hair days abound.

Thanks for being here through the slow, slow changes. Here’s to more light and laughter in the midst of the quiet unknown.

Change comes slow,
And sometimes you don’t notice
The twilight into darkness,
The sunrise into day
-Jill Phillips, “If You Were Here”

Better self

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

After my half-marathon back in April, I quit running cold turkey.  I don’t like to run when it’s hot outside, and I focused more on hiking and mountain climbing this summer.  Because I’ve been insanely active, I didn’t think that it would be that hard to get back into running this fall.

Oh, my friends.

A few weeks ago, I decided to give the treadmill a go.  I ran one ugly mile.  When I stopped running, my butt kept moving.

Bad.

Then, someone who will not be named told me that she didn’t think I could fit into the bridesmaid dress I ordered for Mel’s wedding.

Bad bad bad.

But AP’s reverse psychology has kicked in, and as of last night, I’m back up to 3 miles.  You’d have thought I’d won the Olympics.  Come Halloween, I’ll be up to 5.  And after tomorrow night when I meet with a Viking of a trainer man named Gunnar, I will be back on my way to that ever elusive runner’s booty – the one that I never get, no matter how far I run, but always think MIGHT happen at some point.

For me, running helps ward off depression, insomnia, and existential crises.  It’s a good and healthy thing for me to do.  I haven’t weighed myself since March of 2009 – which, I might add, is more liberating than terrifying, even though I still have my terrified moments – and while I have a hunch that running actually makes me weigh more, if I don’t ever see that number, it doesn’t even matter.  I feel better.  I look better.  I think better.  I sleep better.

In short, I’m back on the path to my better self – the one with happier thoughts and a smaller booty.  I know: you’ll hardly recognize me.

Hope

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The other day, this was my Facebook status:

picture-2

As futile as Facebook can be, I took a shot of it because I wanted to remember that moment – that realization that the darkness that I’ve been sitting in for going on a year now just isn’t really there anymore.  Perhaps this is tempting a jinx, but I will say it anyway: life feels pretty good right now.

I know that in the middle of the depression, the disappointment, the pain, no one really wants to hear, “Don’t worry, it will get better!”  Those honeyed words can feel hollow and nugatory – because when all you can see is darkness, it’s hard to imagine the light.  In my experience, when well-meaning people try to band-aid despondency, it highlights a disconnect, and makes the depressed person feel even more alone.

But now, on the other side of this most recent bout with a powerful hopelessness, I am just so grateful that it’s over – and I want to remind those who are in it that it’s not always going to feel this bad.

It’s not.

It might feel bad for a long time, and before it gets better, it might even get worse.  I know that some of you out there have experienced mammoth losses, ones that I cannot comprehend.  Some of you have broken hearts that feel beyond mending.  Some of you have faced disappointment after disappointment, or suffered a family life that you didn’t ask for, or simply fallen into this same old rut over and over again, with no idea how to change your stars.

I do not pretend to have the answers “why.”

But it’s not forever.  You have not been abandoned.  You are loved beyond all measure – and even if you know it in your head, someday, you are going to feel it again, too.

So don’t lose hope.

“Where?”

Monday, October 5th, 2009

I don’t feel much like writing these days.  I’m tired and sad – and those things don’t make for good fodder.

Sorry that the blog has been pretty lame for a while now.  I don’t even know why I’m apologizing – or who I’m apologizing to.  I guess it just feels like the only thing to do.  Life changes, as do the seasons, as do our hearts – and sometimes we get tired and sad.

I struggle with depression – I always have.

But I’m also a Christian.

I’m a depressed Christian.

I can be both, you know.  They are not mutually exclusive.  I can be both.  What it means is that I’m not the one in the front row singing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!”  Instead, more often than not, I’m the kid in the back, responding with the bewildered and suspicious echo: “Where?”

But God is bigger than the way that I feel.

Some of you may not believe that.  Sometimes, I don’t believe it either.  But I suppose that this is where Mark 9:24 comes in handy: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”