little sarah Big World

Tag: depression

Kane (and Able)

 

little boats

This is a story about my nephew, Kane, who just turned 7 years old. About the things we have in common, and the ways that he helps me be good.

*      *       *

We rarely just say Kane, but rather Kane-o, and he is an odd bird, one of my favorites. Didn’t really talk until 3 or 4, won’t eat anything that’s not a cereal bar without extreme goading. Getting him to eat a single bite of apple required intense negotiations, and even then he chews it the exact way you or I would if forced to eat a spoonful of diarrhea, with his hand in front of his mouth to prevent himself from spitting it out. Still, he’s a sport about it, dutifully eating his fruit and veg. He wants to be a doctor someday.

Kane is incredibly affectionate and sweet, quickly befriending anyone who shows him kindness or attention. “I love you, Auntie Sarah. You’re my best friend,” because I sit and read with him on the couch. Or, “I’m sitting with my best friend Auntie Sarah,” announced to the room, after I offer him snuggles because Ollie punched him in the chest. This is not specific to me–anyone can quickly become his best friend, and yet that somehow doesn’t make it any less sweet or sincere.

Kane likes to have Harry Potter read to him, though–as Sam pointed out–he doesn’t really seem to follow the story at all. All he’s concerned about is that you’re moving forward in pages, which he keeps Rainman-like track of in his head. You literally never need a bookmark, since Kane always remembers what page you were on last, even after hours or days.

Sometimes while reading I’ll ask him what words mean, to try and keep his focus:

       Sarah – “ ‘Harry began to feel ill’–what does ill mean?”

       Kane – “Uhm…Sebastian? What does ill mean?”

       Sebastian – “Uh…it, like, means, like, sick, or whatever.” (Teenagers!)

       Kane (to me) – “It means like sick.”

He does this with every word, while Bastian and I smile. I think secretly Bastian is pleased to be considered an authority, especially in matters concerning Harry Potter.

Kane-o is 6 but relates most with Ollie, who’s 4 (as opposed to Rosie or Isaac, who are 8). They play together well, mostly, but tattle on each other nonstop, often over non-issues (“Kane-o’s reading a book!” / “Ollie’s not eating his carrots!”), and we are all so over it and have said “Use your words to talk it out” and “You just worry about your own self” more times than I can count. Sometimes they hit each other, though, and then we do Time Out.

*      *       *

This day what happens is that they climb all over the couch, smushing it up, which unnerves me. Getting ready to go to a museum, I ask that the boys help fix the pillows (of which there are SO MANY, Mom); Kane-o declines, without comment. Ollie helps, trying to motivate Kane (“Kane-o! It’s okay! We’re helping!”). But Kane throws a pillow–attitude–which accidentally grazes Ollie, and is obviously enough to end the world.

So we get a timeout, for resisting clean-up, and then throwing, and that’s when Kane-o REALLY blows: “God dammit mother fucker stupid shithead!”  with a hand gesture that’s like the “Rock On!” symbol, or like SpiderMan shooting webs. But from Kane, we know it means “Fuck you!” And so timeout is extended, and then extended again, after he lets loose another impressive string of swears, instead of apologizing to Ollie. And on and on, for maybe 5 minutes.

I stay patient, calm, clear with my explanations of what was happening and why. Though rarely and barely able to stem the flow of my own overwhelming emotions, I can be good in a crisis. I can be solid while somebody else crumbles, especially if it’s a child.

By the end, Ollie is standing next to the Time Out spot, where I’ve called him over, while Kane-o lays on the floor, on his back, stiff, eyes terrified, mouth taut, breath rapid, barely able to eke out an “I’m. Sorry. For. Throwing. A. Pillow.”

“That’s okay,” chirps Ollie, already off on his merry way. I pull Kane-o up to standing and he continues the motion, falling forward into my arms and already shaking with sobs. “Do you need to be held?” He nods yes, I pick him up, easily, as he’s bird-boned.

While he cries, I walk around, swaying gently, talking to him, trying to soothe. “It’s scary to feel so out of control isn’t it?” He nods, and I think of all the times I’ve come back from the brink: shaken, shamed, and uncertain. A few weeks ago I threw beet greens on the floor, so unable to contain my hurt and frustration, yelling at my Moms and then crying, inconsolable, for hours.   

“I know I don’t like when I feel like that.” And then, for both our sakes, “I think everyone feels like that, sometimes.” He tightens his arms around my shoulders.

*      *       *

On the road, in Colorado, I was hit by a wave of anxiety and depression so complete that I slept for days on end, waking to the disappointment of continued consciousness and praying for sleep to return, rolling me in its thick, merciful, obscuring blanket. Cried hours into the bedsheets, embryo-shaped, contracting around a center of pain and pity, meditations on all my own awfulness.

Outside, I could hear sounds of merriment, signs of life, people dancing and singing, teasing children, drinking whiskey, making and eating Pho, together. I felt no jealousy or resentment. Just the plain knowledge that they existed so far beyond my realm, and sadness at that thought.

I could hear that people were, but the best I could do was to seem, to appear, and I was too tired even for that.

How long could I lie hidden, without raising suspicion? My sickness showing through every crack, and I burned with the shame of people’s curiosity and concern, unable to even make eye contact. Unsure of my place in the conversation, my point of re-entry to the human race.

I think the hardest thing, sometimes, is to be forgiven, which is to say: to forgive yourself.

*      *       *

“Nobody’s mad at you, Kane-o.”

“They’re not?” more sniffles, optimistic disbelief. The best I have to offer him right now is love, and an open palm. An invitation.

“Of course not, sweetie,” I say, swaying. “We just don’t like it when you feel so out of control. We want you to be calm and happy. We want you to be here with us.”

“Nobody’s mad at me?” head heavy on my shoulder.

“Nobody’s mad, I promise.” Tighter arms, like a hug; I squeeze back. “You ready to be put back down now?” No, he shakes his head, not yet.

But then in a little bit he was.

beams

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The Year That Was

Funabashi, Chiba, 2014

~OR~

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You a Far More Easy-Going Person

*       *       *

2014 was the year I stopped feeling homesick. The year I ran my first marathon and fell in love with Japan.

Nagano, Japan, April 2014

The year my best friend rushed home from work to spoon me on her couch while I fell apart, crying in her exhausted arms.

The year I was held together by so many, from so far, in so may ways that it is unbe-fucking-lievable.

The year I learned you can’t always reciprocate, you just have to pay it forward, and be better than you were. Sometimes you have to live the “thank you” or “I’m sorry,” because saying it isn’t enough.

The year I was brave enough to say no, not ready, not yet (even if later I wailed and wished I’d said yes).

The year I got dumped, for the first time in my life.

Broken Glass, Japan, 2014

The year I realized that I had a choice, about whether to fall apart or not.

The year I flushed a fistful of pills down the toilet, breaking plans for a very dark date with myself.

The year I tried head meds, saved my own life, and then stopped them, quit counseling, and followed my own advice.

The year I realized that I know better than anyone else, when it comes to my own life.

The year I started making my own damn decisions, without endless debate or consultation.

The year I held my own hand, small in my bed, and knew that it was enough.

Daffodils, 2014

I almost didn’t make it through 2014. I had to learn to live for others first, then for my own self second. If I could say one thing to the whole wide world, I would say: it’s okay. Everyone is doing their best.

Shibuya Crossing on a Rainy Day, Tokyo, 2014

I want to dedicate 2014 to all of my many many loves, but especially to these people, for these reasons:

To Erin, for bringing me a cookie and sitting with me while I hid in a stairwell at work and cried.

To my mom, for patiently having the same conversation with me, over and over.

To my dad, for being my soulmate, and my friend.

To Scott, who talked me down off of a couple ledges, even if he didn’t know it at the time.

To the folks at Tokyo English Life Line, for obvious reasons.

Meguro, Tokyo, 2014

To Daniel, who told me his story, bought me pizza, and helped me plan a trip that I didn’t take.

To Nicole, who gave me a book like a friend, when I needed exactly that.

To Eric and Izzy, who shared their bed with me and rubbed my shoulders until I fell asleep.

To Granny, for telling me it wasn’t so bad, that we all have to kiss a few frogs.

To Gramps, for the necklace I wore like an amulet, a charm to protect against evils.

To Paul, and Felix, and Cha and Kobe, for reminding me that I could make friends.

To Nami, for putting it simply; to Nozomi, for Halloween.

Flowers, Kyoto, 2014

To Espy, for the letters; to Griggs, for the laughs; to Sperry, for the pep-talk; to Sydney, for the sunshine; to Havilah for the flowers; to Melissa for listening; to Nikki, for trying to understand; and to Natalie, for fighting with me and still loving me, even after I threw a temper tantrum.

To Sammy, for making time to see me and create the world’s saltiest nachos.

To Kendra, for that time by the pool.

To Kristin, who stopped me in my tracks, made me repeat myself, when I said: “I stopped writing in my diary, because I couldn’t write without hearing that voice, judging what I said.”

To Darcie, who gave me a new diary.

Letter from Havilah, 2014

To Kasey and Rosie and Sydney and Carol, for being brave enough to tell the truth.

To Manu, who sat with me at my hollowest moment, and knew that I would get better.

To Marcos, for a well-timed hug.

To Nanako, for being just like me, and for all of the smiles and food.

To Adrienne and Luca, my divoster parents. You bore the brunt of this.

Nagano, Japan, April 2014

To Cammi, for being proud of me, because I followed my heart, and “aint nothing wrong with that”

To Adam, for giving me back to myself.

To Melanie, for giving me permission to move on.

To Betsy, for the SkyMiles (!), but also for listening and sharing and wishing me the best.

And to Whitney, for everything, for giving me everything you had, and then giving some more.

Showa Kinen Koen, November 2014

To everyone who sat with me, when I was a husk of myself, thin and brittle and shaking and dull—for listening, for waiting, for explaining, for understanding, for that quiet small space where there was nothing to say, where you held me tight as the waves crashed overhead. Thank you for letting your hearts break open a bit, just for me.

2014 was a hell of a year; you made it unforgettable.

Yokohama, 2014

And 2015?

Oh, my friends.

My friends!

Palmer, AK, August 2014

2015 is The Year of Fuck Yes

This Is For You (You Know Who You Are)

~OR~

Worrying ≠ Thinking

Hey there, little happy leaf

I am no expert. At anything, at all. I try to share what I know, because I have not learned it on my own. I have been boosted up and helped along every step of the way, a living tower of family, friends, and mental health care professionals beneath me, so that I may survey my own inner landscape with some distance. From this vantage point, I can look down and say that it is not all bad.

I can tell you that this, too, will pass. That this awful, binding darkness, is fleeting, not forever. The sun will peek its rays through clouds of self-loathing and dark fear, slowly expanding to shed light and warmth on your oh-so lovable (I promise) body and soul.

Of course, as you’ve pointed out, this sunny intermission will pass, as all things do, and the darkness will come again. Yes, it is true.

But I’ve found, or been gently guided to see, that if you hold to the fleeting nature of feelings, a deeper sense of self will emerge, grown-up strong, like roots from the hard ground. And those emotions will not be yours; they will be like a storm front, passing through.

Then the vicious cycle of ups and downs will seem to have some forward motion, the anger and nothingness no longer blotting out the all light and air, nor even competing. Just shady spots, just clouds, over smooth, still waters.

Your cup is so full, and I know that feeling. Negative, poisonous thoughts and looming to-do lists, frustrations and obligations and days where even happy memories hurt. A brain so tormented, and tormenting, that it’s like being locked in a room with a crazy person hurling the most horrible, personal insults your way, with no end in sight. Of course you’d do anything to get away from that person. I know, because I have been that person, have wanted to kill that part of myself.

I know, because my cup is like your cup, too. All I’m asking you to do, as an experiment, is to empty your cup.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pants on Fire

So I lied. I acted like everything was sunshine and rainbows and self-improvement and growth. And it was.

Until it wasn’t.

Last night I cried myself to sleep, and not even softly, but in a major freak-out style. Bedtime is not my best time. Sometimes I lie in bed thinking of what I’ve posted for the day, and I’m like “Ugh, shut the fuck UP, Sarah.”

Sometimes the PMA and general optimism is too much even for me. The can-do attitude. You should know that’s not who I am, or at least not all the time. You should know that I’m moody, and that I am still having Spain-related regrets, and that I bawled loud enough last night that I’m pretty sure my neighbors heard me.

I tend to get super emotional around my birthday. Probably something to do with “another year passed” -style introspection.

Because I am not where I want to be, Friends. My jobs are fine, but they are not my life’s work. They are a way to make money, to mark the days flying past. Everything’s moved so quickly, since I got back from Spain, and I don’t like it. I’m all for being industrious, but not if being so busy means not a moment to spare to look at my life and ask myself what it is that I think I am doing.

Last night I realized I don’t know what I’m doing. I know what I wanted, what could have been, but those ships have sailed. Now all I know is that I don’t want this–to live in Salt Lake, surrounded by children, and weddings, to have so many empty social engagements and not enough opportunities to just sit down and talk, to be working nearly every day, early mornings and late nights, all in an effort to save up money, and for WHAT?

I don’t know for what, Friends. I don’t know what comes next. And so I cry.

*       *       *

Incidentally, the sight of my clean, dry dishes in the sunlight this morning pleased me in an inexplicably deep and sincere way. I have not forgotten how I felt last night. I need to look into that. But today I have a rack full of clean dishes, an example of some measure of foresight. And that pleases me.

For now.

I am not superhuman

What I want most of all is to be forgiven

I am only human, after all

Mutual Inspiration

My Mary and Emily friends recently started a blog called (5) Five Things, wherein one or the other of them writes about 5 things that happened to her on a particular day. I dig it. I like the idea of a specific theme, and consistent collaboration. I like how you get to see little peeks of their relationship through subtle cross-references.

It’s inspired me to write a little Five Things of my own, to see what a simple list will reveal. Interestingly, Emily said that littlesarahBigWorld was one of her sources of blog-speration. One good turn deserves another, Em. Hope you approve.

*       *       *

This is What Loneliness Looks Like – 5 Things for Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

1) Where is my mind?

I splattered my face with hot wax today. Unintentionally, but still. I was trying to blow out a candle that I’d accidentally left burning while I went for a long run, turning its opaque, taupe-colored wax into thick, translucent brown liquid, like maple syrup. The flame wouldn’t go out easily, and without thinking I blew as hard as I could.

2) Where is my mac?

That wasn’t the first thing, though. The first thing was that I woke up, ate a cookie that I’d told myself last night I would NOT EAT FOR BREAKFAST, then watched an hour and a half of Weeds, while eating cereal and drinking tea, trying to pump myself up to write a blog post. But when the time came, I just felt shitty and worthless from so much TV and extremely pissed off that I lent Kevin my Mac to take to Spain and there is no iPhoto (no iAnything, really) on his PC. Plus the big desktop screen encourages TV watching.

3) Where is my man?

Tried to skype Kevin, but he wasn’t around, so instead I sent him a series of increasingly hysterical SMS texts. I may have told him that I hated him. Okay, fucking hated him. For abandoning me.

4) Waaay out, on the water, see them swimming?

We did skype, eventually. Twice. The first time I sobbed and averted my swollen eyes, saying things like “I just want everything to be in one place, I just want all my things together in one place!” And, “That Sarah doesn’t exist anymore, there’s no point in having accomplishments for a person who doesn’t exist anymore.”

Then I took a nap, woke up anxious, ate some peanut M & Ms out of a chicken feeder that I had promised myself I would NOT EAT AND WOULD SAVE FOR GUESTS…before trying again. This time we made silly, scrunched-up rodent faces and I said things like “You have to be more fun! I can’t be the fun one all the time! I can’t always be the one that makes it fun to go to the grocery store–you have to be fun at the grocery store, too!”

5) Yeah.

Dinner at Moms’. I taught Rosie to play War and read her bedtime stories. One was about the life and death of a tree named Steve, as told in a letter from a father to his children, passing through various stages of their growing family in relation to Steve, the tree. And on one page was a picture of the whole family, the children playing under the tree, and the parents “looking on” (as they say), arms around each other. I had to fight back the tears and read with a throat closing tight, because I miss Kevin. Because I want us to be a family.

An unproductive talk with Mom, and I cried most of the ride home. Almost got hit by a car, even though I had my flashy lights going on my bike. And now I’m home, in bed, alone. With pen and paper for company.

Please won’t you be my neighbor?

Part I:

Whitney lives in San Francisco, and before that it was Maryland, before that France, and before that Juneau.

Melissa has a house in the suburbs and 3.5 kids

Brett joined the Peace Corps while I was in Spain

Allison figured out that I was never going to be the party girl she’d always wanted me to be

Carol forced me out of my own apartment, and several others are guilty by association

Nicole moved to Portland

Lindsey is a grown-up with expensive tastes (but she does occasionally slum with me, and that’s nice)

And of course my siblings, but they are frequently too grown up or too far away. (And sometimes too cool–even little Rosie)

I feel like everyone is going away from me.

Part II:

Freshman year I lived in the dorms, and for the first few weeks everyone was super friendly and outgoing–kids hanging out in the hallway, getting to know each other in the common spaces, joining new people for dinner…friend-making mode. But about a month into the semester that all STOPPED, and suddenly it seemed taboo and desperate to go out of your way to introduce yourself, or try to join in the reindeer games, to put yourself out there. Teams had been chosen, end of story.

Sometimes I feel this way about Salt Lake. Like…like everyone is already established and happy with their own group of friends, and while there might be some light intermingling, there aren’t really any open positions.

So maybe someone from work invites me to a party, and I go and it’s a good time (drinking, dancing, laughter), and I might get invited to another party, but that’s as far as it’s going to go. We’re not going to become buddies, no casual hang-outs, no junk food and video games, or driving around, running errands. And it’ll still be not-so-comfortable at work, because deep down we know that we’re really only acquaintances. We cannot breach that divide.

Part III:

I am so sick of dating my friends. Sick of making plans for movies, plans for dinner, sick of GOING TO LUNCH (seriously, how many friends do you have where all you ever do is go to lunch?). I just want to hang out. Eat popcorn and watch a movie. Get stoned and listen to records. I’m all for outings, but one-on-one it feels like a date, an interview, like too much pressure.

And you know what else I miss? Sleep-overs.

Part IV:

I just feel like such a creeper. Putting myself out there when it’s not appropriate, when the other person is not currently accepting new friends. In New York my cousins friends LIKED ME, and we GOT ALONG. They said I should move there, and I was blown away.

I had forgotten that I could make new friends, that someone could find me interesting and fun and want to spend time with me.

Part V:

Whatever, this stuff is totally what fuels this damn blog, anyways–the essence of littlesarahBigWorld. I’ll just keep drinking alone.

Things I Write When I am Drunk

At some point you have to stop caring.

My jeans have crusted-on brownish-orange patches, on the upper-left thigh, but not so thick. A little translucent, and this will not be resolved so soon.

Yesterday I spilled breastmilk–not my own–onto the sleeve of my gray hoodie and had no choice but to walk around, every hour a bit more sour-smelling, until 9:30, when I arrived home.

I had walked all day in the cold, expecting the moment when I’d reach home and be able to drown myself in a hot, hot bath.

But Mom was running her own bath, and what can I do? It’s her house.

And, anyways, I have no “home.” Don’t you remember, Sarah?

Jeffrey Brown Breaks My Heart

…and still I keep reading his books. *Sigh*

Just finished this:

But you could read any of his stuff and have old relationship wounds split open again. He has a website, also.

Lost

I guess this page does look different, so he was right about that. And what can I say? Of course I’ve changed, of course the events and people so violently introduced into my life in the past weeks have left an impression on me, influenced me, caused me to shift.

To lose myself, a little, lose my voice, my words. My Self.

Where are you, little sarah? But I will find you, and I will incorporate even this broken fragment of my life into the whole. And it will all be a part of me.