ALICE AND DEPRESSION

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Explaining-Depression

I am sure that I must have written about this before, but at present, I am in a terrible depression and feel horribly lost. There is a lot going on – some health issues that concern me a lot – a time of reassessing things, feeling in flux and out of control. But at the end of the day, I know this dark place all too well and it is a painful place to be. Nothing gives me joy and things that did not too long ago, no longer do.

The little, crazy family that Kimm and I have created for ourselves feels a bit detached from me. I love our family, and still feel supported, but none of that can eclipse this emptiness. I haven’t been meditating, or writing or doing anything really. I saw my therapist yesterday, and she gave me 3 options while waiting for this depression to lift. One was to just bide my time. Knowing that everything is constantly changing and nothing lasts forever. But that doesn’t work for me. I get too caught up inside my own head, and change is too slow. Two was to give myself a project – like knitting or some such – and just knit until there is emotional movement. The last one was to work on things that have given me joy in the past and even if I only write a sentence, I have accomplished something and am less out of control. I have taken charge.

Number 3 appeals to me the most, as I have a couple of proverbial irons in the fire already – like this blog – and I really don’t want to let them go. Being proactive seems to me the most positive thing for me. The best solution. So here I am, and I do feel better just being on my site and writing. Just the other day, I wrote a “Simple Contentment” piece for the iWonderSisterhood.com website and I had a good day then too. So a bit of pushing myself out of this dark comfort zone is the answer for me.

And yes. When one is in a deep depression, the darkness becomes a comfort. One doesn’t want to do anything! Making any kind of move takes a monumental effort and often that effort feels too impossible. But one thing I do know from my own history, is that I am a survivor. I can only sit around with my head in my hands for so long before I say “Enough!”. Today is the day I say “Enough”.

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Not that tomorrow I won’t find myself back int the dark pit. But probability says I won’t. Because I have reclaimed my Self. This brief entry is enough to give me some control over things. Depression is a living, breathing entity, but I can choose to no longer be part of its agenda. Kahlil Gibran so beautifully says in The Prophet “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.” Perhaps my depression is merely an inversion of my true joy, and that joy lurks just under its surface. Like my joy is just standing on its head. I like that image.

ALICE AND 2016

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Well, it’s only been 5 months since my last blog post! Ha! So much to talk about, but I’ll keep this one brief.

As you can see, our family has been added to by 2 new fur babies. Dobby, the brown chihuahua, came to us in October, and Maxx, the white chiweenie a month later. They are both rescues from death row, and have brought more joy to the casita. They keep Kimm and me on our toes, and bring us so much love. Just when I think I have no more to give, I find an endless well full of love and compassion. We adore them and they seem very happy with their family.

As for me, I have been up and down. Had to raise the dose of my antipsychotic, loxapine, twice, and had to lower my bupropion because my insurance wouldn’t pay for the dose I was taking. So I got depressed as well as paranoid. Just saw my psychiatrist yesterday and she found a way to raise my bupropion that my insurance will cover, so hopefully I will be much better soon. The extra loxapine makes my tremors a lot worse, but the paranoia is gone so it’s a fair trade. At least that’s how I feel.

Kimm and I still freelance write, but work has been slow and we have been very tight financially.But just this week we launched a new business – auntie kimm Bakes Chloe’s Doggy Delights. We are going to run with Kimm’s recipes for dog biscuits and sell them. When my Social Security and SSI come, we will buy Kimmie some dog bone shaped cookie molds and begin the process.Right now we are taking private orders, but we hope to be in stores as well. We are excited! And we are giving a portion of our proceeds to help animal rescue teams in New Mexico. Like the one from whom we got Dobby and Maxx.

I have also been having some physical issues that I hope to get resolved soon. Breathing issues and leg and hip issues. I am getting an MRI on my spine next Saturday and a CT scan on my lungs the following Monday. A bit nervous about both – especially the MRI.

Thus begins our 2016. I hope to have enough gas money to get back into therapy and money to take Chloe to the vet and groomer when she needs it. And I want to deal with my teeth, which are falling out one by one. I want a cash flow that makes life a little easier for us. And I hope my “episodes” become next to none. They are very enervating. And I have been way too tired lately.

 

ALICE AND “CLOSE YOUR EYES AND JUMP!”

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On your journey you will encounter many precipices. Some will be higher and more scary than others. Some may have bridges or ropes there to swing across the chasm below, and some may just be a ginormous leap into some thing – you know not what. These are the times that define you. Fear will be there. That is a given. But what you do with it will tell you who your are. Listen closely

Moving out of our comfort zones is what life is all about. As Sirius Black says to Harry in the film version of HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, “What is life without a little risk?” You must take chances, leaps of faith, when your gut tells you something is right for you. Even when others look at you as if you’d just grown another head, you must hear your own music, and dance your own dance.

Going where I know no one and doing something I have never done, both excites and scares the shit out of me. Recently I went to a local wellness centre and took a class called Zen Movement and Sound Healing. I had no idea what that entailed, and I worried about my physical limitations of the moment. Also, I am not good at talking to strangers and thought nobody would talk to me. But I closed my eyes and jumped, feet first into the class. First of all, the class was brilliant and I now look forward to taking the series. But second, people welcomed me and talked to me and I felt part of the group. In time I will get to know them and they me, and I may even make a couple of new friends. In many ways, that was the point of it all. To connect with others. This does not come naturally to me, and I have to work at it ALL the time. But I knew that if I risked nothing I would get nothing.

Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, close your eyes, and leap into the abyss. You have to spread your wings, fly, float, get to the other side of the chasm, or fall, fall, fall, and land in a new and wondrous world. The truth is that there is a price to pay for everything, and sometimes that price is just letting go. There are lessons to be learned whether your leap or not. But I can guarantee that price you will pay if you don’t risk is greater than you can imagine.

ALICE AND EXPANDED CONSCIOUSNESS

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My evolution as a human being has astounded me. And the growth I experience every day as Andrea – the changes and expansion of my heart and mind – is mind-blowing. I will never need any mind-expanding drugs to give me insight, to show me Truth. I have all the tools within me. At 68, I am living the most thrilling phase of my life! Who could ask for more?

I have always believed that as you age you become more of what you always were. So that if you tended towards pessimism, you would become more pessimistic as you got older. This has NOT been true of me. I lived my life in fear for a very long time. I thought I was a fraud and that any kudos that I got for anything were given under false pretenses. I believed that I conned everyone into thinking I was better than I was. Nicer,more talented, even prettier. I never saw myself through the eyes of others. I never trusted that. I didn’t give others enough credit, which if you think about it, is me having a big ego trip. Thinking that I could so easily manipulate people. But now, in my elder years, I believe it when someone says I am adorable, or wise, or good. I believe it for the most part. Old habits die hard.

When I meditate now, extraordinary things happen to me. My consciousness expands, I am visited by other-worldly beings, I understand more. And what I don’t understand I am okay with. The mysteries of life are fine staying that way – mysterious. I don’t hunger to know everything. In fact, I am very okay with saying “I don’t know.”

My self-awareness grows every day. I have a far greater sense of who and what I am now than ever. My vision is clear. Yes, every now and then it gets clouded by a dark history, but mostly the past is in the past. I don’t carry it around like a heavy backpack. I don’t use it to excuse my behavior. I take responsibility for the darkness that was once my life. I cast no blame. I have let that go, and it is so liberating. I know that my parents did the best they could given what they knew and the experiences that made them who they were.

As my consciousness expands I rest more comfortably in my own skin. There is greater self-acceptance and, as a result, greater compassion for others. I become more giving, and I enjoy that. And there is more Joy and Peace within me. I accept Happiness as my right. That has been a hard learned lesson for me, but I got there!

I wish all this for everyone!

ALICE AND ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY

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I don’t believe that I have always taken responsibility for my life, and I think most people have times during their lifetimes when they feel victimized by circumstances. But I have come to know that taking responsibility for yourself and your life is one of the most liberating and empowering things anyone can do for themselves.

Even when circumstance seems random and challenging, owning that circumstance gives one the feeling of being in charge of the outcome. We are, each of us, never powerless, unless we abdicate that power. And standing in your power takes courage. Make no mistake. It is never easy to say, “This situation is mine, and only I can make the changes necessary to make things better.” But once you come to the realization that the power to alter circumstance comes down to you and you accept that, you are suddenly at the helm of your life. It will be a most freeing moment. Relish it for what it is. A release of being the victim.

Once you set victim-hood free, you can act. As long as you remain in victim mode, life will feel static. There will be no flow. You will think you are inextricably stuck. You will blame everything and everyone around you for something that is really of your own making, coming down to the choices you have made. When you are able to let go of being the victim – or  should I say, playing the victim, because it is really a role one takes on – you can suddenly move forward.

Accepting responsibility for your life is an act in defiance of the victim mentality. And as such, it flies in the face of blaming, whining, feeling “Woe is me”, and gives you the sense that you have been set free of shackles that held you down. I know for myself, the moment I took my life back and accepted responsibility for my role in circumstance, I felt like I could do anything. I felt strong, empowered, alive once again. And I realized what a living death I had been in. I could feel the breeze against my skin, the sun on my neck, the stars came out for only me, and I was connected to the Universal flow again. I had a unique sense of belonging to something greater than my self, and while I felt my singular-ness, I felt at peace in my oneness with the All. It was a moment I will never forget. It brought me back from the edge of the abyss.

I still must work at accepting this responsibility every day that things do not go my way. I played the victim for a very long time, and even though that was aeons ago, old habits and patterns sometimes insist on rearing their ugly heads. But the work is no longer that difficult anymore. The rewards of owning my life surpass everything the old habits gave me. The freedom one feels is too sweet to want to to go back.

A big part of me died as a victim. But I have rediscovered and reclaimed it, and feel more whole than I ever thought I could.

ALICE AND BEING DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

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The pic above has a light at the end of the tunnel. That is not always my experience. But right now I am whirling down the spiral and feeling out of control. As ever, when I get this way I leap into action and take all the steps I know of to fix things. I am taking an extra antipsychotic, have called my psychiatrist, and am seeing my therapist later this week. Only my BFF, Kimm, knows how I am right now. I struggle every day to squelch the thoughts and delusions that are plaguing me – to get the volume down.

When it’s turned up like it is, it’s very difficult to concentrate on anything. The best I can do is watch Harry Potter, and even that is going over my brain. In one ear…

I hate when I get like this. It is a reminder that I am not cured, but managed. Yes, I am better than I used to be. Lots better. I have tools now, and the awareness to be better able to deal with these episodes. But it is my illness tapping me on the shoulder from behind saying, “I’m still here!”. That drives me to distraction. Just when things feel calm, it shows itself. Years and years ago when I was living alone in NYC and trying to cope, I bought graph paper to see if I could chart these episodes, figure out when they occurred and how. It proved to be a waste of time and paper, but at least I had the presence of mind to search for answers.

I know these episodes have triggers, but for the moment I am at a loss as to what has triggered this one. Maybe with my therapist we can shed some light. But I do know that I am free-falling and can only go with it. Often it’s the resistance that makes it worse. I can only be where I am and what I am.

I realize, deeply, that this is only a part of who I am. I know it is not what defines me. I am aware. But when you are in the midst of it, you feel that this is all you are, that there is nothing else. I fight with my head to remember my own wisdom. It is exhausting.

Each time it is different. The environment changes, the people around me are different people. My ability to try to use cognitive techniques to create a strategy for coping is better. I can still laugh, even at myself. I am not curled up in a ball. I didn’t make my bed or meditate, but I did brush my teeth. The little things bring me back to center.

This is just another color along road that is my journey. It no longer takes me off the path or turns the lights out altogether. I don’t isolate myself like I once did. I don’t hide. When you hide you believe you are alone, but I know now that I am not. While no other can know what it feels like to me, I know I am loved. And I can still feel that love. That is how I know that Andie is not gone.

ALICE AND HER SISTER

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I am the oldest of 3 siblings; I am 3 years older than my brother and 8 years older than my sister. That being said, I am the only one of us who has led an unconventional lifestyle and relied on the generosity of my family for assistance even to this day. And it is my little sister who has done the most giving. When I returned from England in 1989 and went right into the looney bin, it was my sister and her husband who took on the parental roles, as my mother and father wanted little to do with me. Basically, they wanted me to go back to the UK and didn’t care how that happened. But my sister and brother-in-law stepped up and took care of me and my finances.

I have always had a special connection with my sister. We are very different, and chose extremely different life-paths, but we were always close. We joked that if we weren’t related we probably wouldn’t know each other, and that is still true. But maybe not completely.

I was too ill to manage my life, and my sister did that for me. For a very long time, she paid my bills, took me to lunch, and gave me a feeling of belonging. She and my brother-in-law gave me a weekly allowance, had me for sleepovers, treated me to dinners out and in, included me in their very busy lives. It was nothing less than a god-send.

My craziness made me extremely self-involved – somewhat oblivious to what was going on around me –  and so showing appreciation for all this generosity wasn’t something I did. I think my sister knew I was grateful, but it would have been nice for her and her husband if I had expressed it in some way from time to time. I was unable.

Sadly for me, and perhaps for my sister as well, I still need her assistance. But happily, I am well and can be there for her too. There is a much greater reciprocity between us, and she is aware of how much she means to me. I am very able to express my gratitude and do often. She is quite an extraordinary person. Loving, generous, compassionate, smart, funny, and understanding.

Since my move to New Mexico 15 months ago, she and my brother-in-law have let me know quite emphatically how proud they are of what I have accomplished, and are so very happy that I am happy. My sister and I Face Time every 2 weeks or so, and she and her husband are coming to visit Kimm and me in September. Just yesterday, she deposited money in my bank account because I became overdrawn, yet still was able to tell me that I do give her something back. That made me so happy. I may not be able to give her money, but I can give her myself whenever she needs me. She helped me realize that that counts for a lot. (So did Kimmie, by the way.)

As the big sister it is difficult to be needy financially every now and then, but my sister doesn’t make it harder for me. To be honest, I am the one who makes it hard on myself. But I owe my sister a lot and I feel that very deeply. The reality is that each of us does what we can for the other, and perhaps, one thing isn’t really better than the other. I hope that is true. I love my little sister more than anyone.

It could be that our differences and the separation that we experience now make the relationship even better. Whatever it is, I feel more close to her now than I ever have. I feel how proud she is, and how joyful for my joy. I know she has embraced Kimm as part of the family and that means so much. And I hope she knows how much I wish for her, for her wellness and her happiness. My love for her can still bring tears to my eyes, and I miss her so much. But we are actually in touch more now than when I lived in Florida where she is. It is thrilling to me that my other sister, my Kimmie, has gotten to know her and considers her family too.

My sister has been to hell and back with me, and it was very tough on her. For a while it affected our relationship for the worse. But we have come out the other side. I am grateful for my sister and know how very blessed I am to have her in my life. It is my great hope that she feels some of that too.