Friday, September 26, 2014

Hello Again

Okay, kids.  Here it is.  I never promised you a rose garden, but I did promise you a blog and I have been remiss in my duties.  This is my attempt at an explanation.  As per usual, I use adult language.

Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge that this will be deeply me-focused and therefore, ultimately largely unimportant in the vast scheme of things.  If you want to read something truly important go here or here or here.  In the words of 12 step programs everywhere, I am going to share my experience, strength, and hope in an attempt to a) be understood, b) shed light on depression (as I experience it), and c) (hopefully) reach at least one person who might be experiencing similar things so that they perhaps feel less alone in the world.

My blog has fallen by the wayside because I spent the last year in a very dark place.  There wasn't light enough to share what was going on with others.

There is a growing awareness of depression.  There are lots of brave souls out their sharing their experiences.  This will just be one more voice.

About a year ago I started off on the path through the woods of depression.  The pregnancy/post pregnancy bliss was wearing off.  I was exhausted.  My breast milk supply was dropping because of the alarming rate at which I was losing weight.  I was starting to break out.  Kurt was working full time and Monty was crying full time.  I was not auditioning.  My only prospect for work was a show that I was 100% responsible for writing and producing.  I was overwhelmed.  In mid-November, shortly after my 34th birthday, I had a major panic attack and ended up on the floor of my apartment gasping for breath.  

When I was 14 I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.  I suffer from chemical depression.  This is not news to anyone who has read more than one of my blogs, frankly.  Chemical depression means I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that, when left unchecked, can lead to all manners of depression, from mild anxiety to DEFCON 5-type meltdowns.  I was hospitalized in 1997 after a massive panic attack (I thought the bed was going to swallow me) and a subsequent severe depressive episode (I couldn't leave the house and spent hours unknotting a ball of yarn.).  I have been on medication on and off since then, but mostly on since off means relapses and who has time for that?

So, my brains don't work right.  That much is settled. 

You know those commercials for anti-depressant medications that are either cutely animated or live-action with people who can't get out of bed to walk their dogs, or play catch with their kids, or read on the porch (??)?  I mean, sure, no one wants to see a commercial about someone who hasn't showered in a week and is lying face down on their kitchen floor staring at a carving knife trying to determine exactly how much blood their loved-one(s) would have to clean up.  Or maybe one with a person curled up in a fetal position in the shower with just a voiceover of her thoughts racing out of control but all culminating in her ending up dead in a gutter somewhere (I should totally direct commercials, by the way.).  THAT'S depression.  Or that's my depression.  When the only thing keeping you from killing yourself is the guilt you feel at the clean up job you would leave behind (which, by the way, at least is something).  When the overwhelming voice in your head is one that continually reminds you of all your failures no matter how trivial and that wants you to know you are the worst.  That's my depression.  When you sleep for 20 hours at a time.  When you are absolutely positive that you can not remember any time in your life in which you were truly happy. When you are sure that anything you do will fail.  When you have convinced yourself that your successes have all been undeserved or just outright mistakes.  When you feel bad for your child for having the rotten luck of getting you as a parent.

That's my depression.

When I am properly balanced I know that voice is wrong.  I know my successes were deserved.  I know I have talent and can succeed (and have succeeded! And am succeeding!).  I know I won't end up in the gutter, penniless and alone.  But, my depression is very strong.  It's tenacious.  It really likes being around.  And the fight against it is constant.  Constant.  Every day for me is a battle against a voice in my head suggesting that driving off Mulholland Dr. would be a peaceful way to go (and scenic, besides!).  And it is a very lonely fight.  Because no matter how many of us share our experiences, or how often you go to therapy or whatever, depression is a solitary fight.  You can work hard to surround yourself with supportive people, but at the end of the day (or, really, first thing in the morning, at lunch, around dinner, and at the end of the day), it's you, alone in your own head trying to rationalize with a part of your brain that is completely irrational.

This has been a loooooong fight.  This particular episode has been about a year long, but it's been an uphill battle since I was 13.  I have gotten in my own way more times than I can count.  I have let that voice echo unkind words I've heard from unkind people (or read on message boards, which, just can we take a little detour for a second?  What the fuck is wrong with you people who say mean shit about other people on message boards?  Seriously?  Like, what the fuck is wrong with you?  Do you REALLY need your shitty opinion to be "heard"?  Is it that important to you to cut someone else down?  Does it make you feel better??  At least at the end of MY day I don't have to deal with the guilt of having said mean, hurtful and damaging things about other people who are really just doing the best they can.  Just THINK for TEN SECONDS the next time you want to post some shithead comment on someone's work.  Ten seconds.  "How would it feel to read this about me?"  "How would I like to hear a total stranger say I'm ugly?"  "What makes my opinion important?"  "How does it contribute to the world to be mean?")  (Wow, I feel a little better.)  I have let those voices become a cacophony at times.  I have made major choices about my career and life because of those voices. 

In 2003 I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in TV and film, but also to escape a community I felt less and less entitled (or interested) to be a part of (Musical Theater).  In 2007 I quit the business for my own sanity and joined the real world.  By then I had spent what was left of the money I had earned as a kid.  I have never been good with finances and have not saved a penny (Boohoohoo.  This factors in later, I promise.)  In 2011 I re-entered the business.  A year later I was pregnant. 

Monty is 100% the best thing that has ever happened to me.  I never wanted children and I can't imagine my life without him.  Monty FORCES me to be in the moment.  All that is ever happening is what is happening right now.  There is nothing else.  And, no offense?  But I LEGIT got the best one.  I mean, I'm sure yours is great.  But, church: Monty is the best one.  PLUS, Monty wipes the slate clean.  When I am not too far down the rabbit hole of despair, I can remember that every "mistake" or "bad choice" I made in my life ultimately led me to Monty.  So, I am forced to forgive myself.

But you know how they say you can't get anything done with a new baby around?  Turns out?  Totally accurate.  The only way I can imagine all those "mommy bloggers" are getting their content out is with regular childcare.  Remember the part where I said I spent all my money and didn't save anything?  It so happens that living in L.A. on one income is hard.  Regular childcare was not something we could work into our budget.  I spent the first five months of Monty's life with him pretty much 24/7.  There was no time for blogging.  

And then there was the depression.  And the thing about social media is you're supposed to project an air of success so that people want to work with you or whatever.  So, when you're depressed you don't feel like you can share much of anything.  So, you stop writing pretty much all together and then you're out of practice.  I'm sure you can see where that snowball goes.

But I'm standing at the other end of the woods.  I can see the light and I'm almost there.  I can feel the depression clinging to my heels making it difficult for me to get to that open, sunny field just over there.  Difficult but not impossible.  So, I'm working on it.  I'm working hard, you guys.  I'm working harder than I ever have before.  I owe it Monty.  My mother was angry a lot when I was growing up.  And then she died.  I don't want that for my son.  I want him to think of me laughing, and singing, and dancing.  So, I'm trying to get there.  I owe it to myself.  I can't carry around this burden anymore.

I never promised you a rose garden, but I did promise you a blog and I have been remiss in my duties.  I'm going to make an effort to share this process.  Sometimes it's going to look messy.  Sometimes it's going to be dark.  And sometimes it will be filled with joy and awesomeness.  If you want a traditional "Mommy Blog", there are thousands to choose from.  Some are great!  Some are... not great!  If you want suggestions on healthy meals for your 2-year-old, or great ways to make popsicle art, or 10 Tips on Taming That Tantrum, you will have to go elsewhere.  This is the Mommy Blog about a mother who is FIRST a woman and then a mother, partner, sister, daughter, friend, actor, writer, singer, story-teller, bitcher, moaner, laugher, Al-Anoner, procrastinator, food-lover, ardent pro-choicer, motherless daughter, currently acne-ridden, person who suffers from depression, survivor.  This is about that person, living her life, and sharing it with people who are interested.  I'm going to do my damnedest to share this process with you.

You ready?


If you or someone you know is suffering from depression reach out.  Call someone.  Ask for help.  Call Crisis Call Center.  Most cities and towns have clinics that offer free or very low cost counseling.  Call information for numbers.  DO NOT let money be a barrier in getting help.  You DO have options and there is hope.  I swear there is hope.