Avoiding The Annual Late January Through Mid-March Depression

Journal, The Healing WorkKait MauroComment

I am still playing around with this new (to me) medium of collage. I buy two giant books on collage in modern art but don't open them because I know myself & I am afraid if I see really amazing & powerful collages by artists who are far more talented, experienced & patient than I am my inner perfectionist will appear and I'll become discouraged. All I want from this new medium right now is to experiment and allow myself to be playful, to try something different than my usual taking and editing of photographs. So the books remain wrapped in their plastic under all the magazines I am carefully cutting my way through. ☽

Edward has an exam at the end of every week for three weeks in a row. He's on his laptop watching lectures and reviewing flashcards most of his waking hours. During his breaks he talks to me or plays chess on his phone - he says it focuses his mind. Edward loves learning new chess moves and strategies. Sam likes to sleep on him while he studies. Edward is 6'4 so maybe you can tell how big Sam is (about 150 lbs) from the picture of them together on the couch.

I buy a monstera plant and love the cut-out template of it's more mature leaves. They were apparently very popular in the seventies. I plan to repot it in the summer because monstera plants can get MASSIVE if taken care of properly. I had to throw away my favorite orchid, a beautiful pale pink pansy-like type I'd never had before, because it had a mildew infection (it had it when I bought it) and I learned these are contagious and it could travel to my other healthy orchids and infect them too. It wasn't even finished blooming yet.

Lately I am rarely satisfied with anything - I always want the apartment to be cleaner, more stylish, less cluttered, more Pinterest-worthy even though I don't use Pinterest. I want to love my body and sometimes I do but sometimes I want it to be thinner. I worry that if Edward and I aren't growing closer then we're in a rut (or getting stale, or losing our passion, or something) - but how much closer can we really get? I want to explore and understand my own sexuality more. Even broader than that, I want to learn what it means to have sex in a female body, how heterosexual sex can feel more feminist and empowering, how to throw away the cultural script of sex I've inherited as a woman that I don't quite know how to escape. It's frustrating because the SSRI I am on right now prevents me from climaxing. I vent to a friend who, like me, has bipolar disorder and has the same issue and that makes me feel quite a bit better. I want to take better photographs. I want to have more experiences worth documenting. I want more fashionable clothes & longer hair. I know this desire for what I don't have, this constant reaching and fantasizing and striving, is doing more harm than good. I need to appreciate what I do have, tend to what I can, work on myself.

Edward and I try to watch A Ghost Story one night but I am crying before we are even halfway through it. The cinematography is stunning though.

We miss the first week of our acroyoga workshop because I am depressed but make it to the second one. It's a fun hour and a half but I'm already tired after the warm-up part. I don't really like being the "flyer" with anyone but Edward. I feel weird touching/being touched by strangers. My legs are sore the next day, especially my thighs. I lay on the couch and finish a Jodi Picoult book. I listen to a lot of Rainbow Kitten Surprise. I cut out a few images from this month's National Geographic and put them in the box for future collages. A red t-shirt dress I ordered online arrives in the mail.

I want to go to the mall and wander around the shops but I don't want to go alone - I want another woman friend to go with but the two I have in Birmingham are both busy, busy, busy right now. I feel too isolated sometimes. It's a shitty, very lonely feeling. I end up sitting in the running car for a while then just going back into the apartment because I don't want to go out in the world alone. I used to be more independent a time ago - maybe before Edward and I got together. My anxiety has gotten worse since then, turned into a hybrid of generalized anxiety disorder & panic disorder, and I've gotten used to doing most things with Edward. I used to travel to unfamiliar places around the United States alone taking only a carry-on bag and my camera. I've become spoiled having Edward to do things with/for me over the past couple of years.

The apartment becomes a prison, myself the prisoner. Almost every night I am held by nightmares. I awake and the feeling of just having woken up lingers all day despite how much coffee I drink. The days weigh on me and I cannot force myself to leave our apartment building. Every time I try to make myself go somewhere I turn on the car, sit in it for a while, turn it off and go back inside with the feeling that I am failing.

We don't plan to celebrate Valentine's Day because Edward has an exam on Friday. Neither of us can remember what we did for Feb 14th last year either, which makes me suspect this is a repeat situation. I start feeling depressed the day before. Edward and I have been fighting too much lately. I plan to avoid social media tomorrow because I don't want to see Instagram highlight reels of all the seemingly happy couples who don't have med school dictating their lives - where they live, when they move, how much or how little time they get to spend together. A fellow med school wife whose husband is about to graduate tells me Netflix was how she got through the lonely times but I feel like I already spend too much time watching things online.

Sometimes I resent that Edward is in medical school and how it has so much power over us, which I know is shitty because it's his dream to be a psychiatrist. Other times I am totally fine with it. I wonder if this is how other people in my situation feel or if I am a bad partner for being unsupportive sometimes.

I wake up on Valentine's Day to two of my formerly empty vases bursting with roses & lilies and a love letter from Edward. Apparently his plan all along was to sneak out to the store after I'd gone to sleep and surprise me when I woke up. His love letter makes me teary. I give him the gift I got for him - I finally managed to leave the apartment and drive my car and go into stores on my own. He still has to study most of the day but I feel loved. I felt so sad when I thought we weren't going to do anything for Valentine's Day at all. I know it's a silly holiday in some people's minds, and it even is in mine a little, but still people want to celebrate their love. I didn't used to understand why people celebrated their anniversaries so much but now I do. It's because long-term relationships are difficult some of the time and you're still here, still together, still in love. You haven't given up or thrown in the towel when things have gotten rough. You're sticking to your promises.

We miss week three of acroyoga because we haven't eaten and are running late so we grab food en route but then we are accidentally too full to do anything physically strenuous.

When the anxiety is manifesting as some kind of shame and self-hatred, I feel the urge to delete my social media accounts because a mean voice in my is head saying "You're boring. Your life is boring and not photogenic enough. You're not one of the 'shiny people.' Nobody wants to see/read/whatever about your life/thoughts/photographs." I dont't though and when I am feeling normal again I am glad I let that impulse pass. This blog is my little record and even if no one did read it, it would still be worth doing because it helps me remember, record and think about this journey of being a human.

I want to leave the house, I have things I want to do, but the anxiety won't let me. I've been trying to taper down my Klonopin dosage because I don't like how it effects my memory. I was taking 3mg on a virtually daily basis - my prescribed amount. I lowered it to taking 2mg. It's not just a mental feeling of being anxious or panicked - it's quite physical too. I feel exhausted, I get headaches, my stomach becomes upset & my body sore and achy like I have the flu. I become agoraphobic when the anxiety is at its worst. I feel overwhelmed by almost anything & everything. Today is the first time in several weeks I take 3mg again. I'm still tapering down the dose, one day doesn't ruin that, but I take my 2mg and the anxiety isn't going away so I take another milligram. I try the other basic things first - drinking a lot of water, eating lunch, reading, making sure my blood sugar is okay - but today, for some reason, I just need those full 3mg to be properly functional. It works. I am able to leave the apartment, drive  and do what I needed/wanted to do. Again I make it out into the world on my own - twice today, in fact. Progress.