I stand in the shower, water off, body cleansed, and unable to open the doors. Stepping out means the day is well and truly underway and that is something I am not sure I can face. I could stand there for minutes, hours, forehead pressed against the seam between panels, avoiding the outside world. But I don’t. I take about thirty indulgent – terrified – moments and then grab my towel.
My is hair matted, my body feeling bloated, heavier. I’ve gained a little weight this past week or two, I can tell. I won’t step on the scale as that would fill in a blank in my head I’d rather ignore. I have been less active for more than a month, thanks in part to a torn shoulder muscle. It’s healing slowly but my mind is getting worse. I’m taking it out on my body. I’m drinking more. I’m unstable. I’m having meltdowns and desperate, depressive episodes. Just last night I sat on the floor of this very bathroom blubbering and choking back wails of despair as snot and spit reached from my face to the rug beneath me. I’m typing this now in a state barely held together with determination and a need to express myself in more than tears. My eyes hurt too often.
I am on medication for anxious depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The pills are typically fairly effective at keeping me in check daily, dare I say, functioning at an acceptably quirky “normal.” When the dark swallows me up, no pill can help, only keep me from doing _really_ stupid things. Last night, as I felt blobs of spit and snot pour out of my face and I tried so hard to not let Neil and Pete hear me from the living room (the exhaust fan in the wall may have helped), I thought about harming myself more than usual. More extremely. Neil shaves with a traditional old razor which takes individually packed blades. I imagined slicing up my arms, not towards ending it all, but to feel something – the endorphins, the purifying exsanguination. I didn’t do it. My method of self-harm is branding myself with a hot fork. I don’t like cuts- they take to long to heal and require more clean up. Burns bubble my skin, the tines leave sooty little dots I can lick or rinse away, and then the scabs heal. The electrical punch my brain receives from the flame-hot fork in my flesh is typically as much of a signal interruption as I need in that moment.
This week – or two, I’ve lost track – has been more difficult to manage than branding can budge.
I am in a cycle of overwhelm. I’ll rattle it out as best I can, in no particular order. I produce huge amounts of art and am growing increasingly anxious and horrified at the tasks involved in selling it. I want to sell work. The admin side of it all is what cripples me. Photographing, scanning, storing, uploading to sites, creating catalogues, visiting galleries, being nice to people, smiling… all feel like asking me to perform beyond my capabilities right now, and yet I can’t stop creating. So the piles grow. So the tasks grow. The millstone becomes heavier. I retreat. I get depressed. I collapse from the weight of it all. I fulfil the prophecy of the artist-fuck-up.
My marriage has been difficult for years. We love each other, we seem to mostly like each other, and yet there is a sea of disease that ebbs and flows like a tide. I know I’ve not been the same since my mom died in late 2010, but the original cracks go back much further, and seem to be variations on the same old themes we’ve revisited since saying our vows. One of these came up yesterday through innocent conversation when Pete and Neil and I were out having lunch at our favourite café. It threw us all into a tailspin. Puking, apologies, and breakdowns followed. I’m still feeling fragile. It was painful to eat my breakfast this morning due to a night of clinched jaws in my sleep. I am writing this now to help me cope. With everything, really.
My shoulder injury has hurt me mentally. I am a strong, capable person, and the Tough Mudder I entered is coming up fast in September. I know I can still heal enough to compete, but my goal of being lean, mean, and in freakishly awesome shape is slipping away. I’m in half the shape I wanted to be in at this point. I’m mentally exhausted. I’m depressed. I’m drinking a little more than I should and crying most days. The shoulder flares up with pain just often enough to frustrate and taunt me. It reminds me I’m weak, fragile. It reminds me of more goals that I’ve failed to reach. It fills me with doubt.
Money and fitness are two difficult topics in this house. I don’t bring enough money in (see above about my work), and I am not getting out [for fitness] like I did/should. Granted, the basic motion of walking was hugely painful in my shoulder for weeks, so that broke me of any routine fitness. I consider it a win right now to get out of bed, so you can imagine that going for a healthy three mile walk is like asking me to climb a mountain. Tensions run high on both the money and fitness and they both cause friction in my marriage. They always have.
I guess what I needed to do this morning was to write some of this out. I’ve blogged so little over the past year. I’m exhausted now, and there’s so much more to say. The title of this post refers to me picking clothes off the floor next to the bed and wearing them day after day. This isn’t much of an indicator of depression in me, as I wear the same jeans for weeks, rotating a few pairs to be more laundry frugal, but it is more of a problem recently. I just don’t care if I’m wearing the same thing day after day. It’s often ‘work’ clothes which have paint all over them anyway, but something just feels different when I’m depressed. Or it’s a lack of feeling. Yes, that’s more accurate.
I think I’ve been functionally depressed for the better part of a year – maybe longer. Neil has asked me to discuss an increase in my medication with my doctor. I’m not sure it would help. Change is all that will help and I’m not sure how to do it or what to do to achieve it. Change is nebulous. I desperately need it, but can’t even identify it. Where the hell does one start when one can’t stop putting on the same pair of socks every day? If I start there, will something else follow? Some other ‘change’ in my life? Will I all of the sudden have the process clarity I need to organise and sell more work? Will I begin walking for fitness every morning again? Will I snap out of functional depression and feel human again? Does it start with dirty socks? Can it?
It has been so dark for so long and there have been so many tears behind closed doors that I don’t know what I used to feel like anymore. I have genuine moments – even days – of ‘normal’ or happiness, but it is increasingly difficult for me to remember what life was like before mom died, and frankly, the time after has been mostly something I don’t like to think about either.
I am grateful for a few things though- I have love and support from Neil and Pete, Aaron and Jodi. I have a handful of local people who listen and hug me when I need it. I am producing the best art of my life. I am still alive. I have no suicidal urges, though the fantasy of walking off a cliff does wander through my mind from time to time. That I haven’t is a good thing.
I suppose it means I’m not wrung dry of hope.