Posted in Moving forward, Thoughts

The Other Side

My last few posts have been, well, depressing is one word that comes to mind; a little disturbing since now, looking back, I see the progression towards the rabbit hole I’d tried so hard to resist and avoid. But there it was, lurking just beyond the forest as I made my way through. Or at least I thought I had.

I’m not going to repeat the past months here, only to say that I had hoped I could stay at White Feather for at least a year. Turns out I could not. Turns out I had six months, which would have had me looking for another place to rent in the midst of snowbird arrivals and holidays. I couldn’t face that, so I started looking for a rental. Again. Everything was overpriced, overly small, or just a room in a house. The fact that I looked at Facebook Marketplace at all still surprises me. But again, Mom is up there guiding me in ways I’m not aware of until afterward. On there I found a 2/2 condo on the third floor of a 55+ complex on the outskirts of Ormond Beach – yes, I now have a Daytona Beach address – but it overlooks the pool and the Intracoastal and I have it for a year, at least. I again started packing. I arranged for movers this time, and in mid July, I got the keys to my current place. I’ve had to start completely over again. Oh, I had some kitchen stuff, a lamp or two, my office. But no furniture to speak of. No bed, no dresser, no living room, dining room; nothing that makes a home livable. Thankfully the place had some very old, very dated things in it that got me by until the house sale when I was finally able to hit some used furniture places and start filling it in.

I think it’s so interesting how we perceive ourselves. I’ve gotten through some pretty difficult times going back to my teens, and usually, at the time, I’d wonder how I was going to do it. This past year is almost a repeat of the period my dad died, though I won’t go into that. Suffice it to say, this wasn’t my first rodeo. And while my head was going in a million different directions still waiting on the house sale, still waiting on the divorce, planning a move again, juggling all that, my days consisted of going through the motions of putting one foot in front of the other, falling into a fitful sleep, and repeating that the next day.

My friend Anita and I share a common experience with what we call ‘the rabbit hole.’ It’s a dark place that gets more comfortable the longer you’re in it. Comfortable to the point where you don’t want to climb out, you don’t want to interact with anyone; not your friends, not your kids; you just want to lay down and be miserable in your misery. That’s where my good friend Chris found me the last time. After sharing her experience and how she finally came out of it, I decided the next day to contact my doctor who suggested we try an antidepressant. He said it could take two to three weeks to see results. Silently I wondered if I could make it that long. He called it in. It was a low dose, so I wasn’t expecting a miracle. I know about depression and chemical imbalances in the brain. Again, the rodeo thing. I was loathe to go back down this road, but I knew I had to do something.

Morning came, and it was as if a fog had lifted and pulled me out of the hole. Just like that. I woke no longer feeling the heavy weight of sadness and despair that had plagued me. It wasn’t as if I were high or giddy. No. It was an evening of my mood, a balance that wasn’t there before. My tolerance and patience came back. I wasn’t crying or tearing up suddenly. I was … relieved. If it hadn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t have believed it could happen that quickly. What it suggests to me is that the stress of the past six months had taken its toll on my body, both externally with the eczema, and internally in my brain, knocking out whatever that pill replaced so that I could function again, live again, enjoy the sunrises and sunsets again.

I think I’m on the other side now, or at least pretty darned close to it. It’s been less than a month that I left Flagler Beach, but it seems like a lifetime ago. If you’ve never experienced a deep depression, first be grateful, but second, don’t underestimate the seriousness and scariness of it. I don’t ever want to go there again. If I have to stay on these, I will, but we’ll see. I will be forever grateful to Chris who most likely saved me from either being Baker Acted or not being here at all. I think there’s only so much one body can take. When this happened long ago, I had family around, lots of friends, my kids were younger and more dependent, and my mom came to my rescue. It was different, but it was still scary. This time it was just me. I’ve always to believed that I’m strong, that I have what my dad used to call MOXY. And maybe I do. I’m still here; right?

Now I need to look forward and stop dwelling on what was, on what happened. It’s in the past. Everyone has problems. Everyone goes through hard times. Some have people around them, but some do not. I’ve learned to be more compassionate, more patient. I don’t judge. If you have been lucky enough to avoid the rabbit hole, be very grateful. Too many people don’t make it to the other side.

Posted in Moving forward, Randomness

The dreaded rabbit hole

If I try to sum up the last four months of my life, it needs to be done in bullet points. Oddly enough, 11 years ago I was enmeshed in a similar set of life-changing events that forced a move from Michigan to Florida. Between the years of 2007 and 2009 I lost my dad-my champion; I lost my little yarn shop to the big box Hobby Lobby; I lost my 30-year marriage, and I ultimately lost my home; life-changing events that nearly plunged me down the rabbit hole that is so difficult to climb out of. And now I find myself, 11 years later, in a similar situation.

My 95-year-old mother had been living with us over the past year and loving Florida. When January came around, we discovered we had major water damage to our home that involved a complete tear out of the master bathroom and laundry room. We were without hot water for four weeks. And then the insurance company pulled the plug (no pun intended) on our claim.

In less than four months:

  • With the water damage came a critical mold issue that seriously affected my health and my mother’s to the point where we were forced to very reluctantly move her back to Michigan the first week of February.
  • A month later I was at her bedside when she died.
  • While my mother lay dying, my husband never once asked how I was doing; he never even went to the funeral. I filed for divorce.
  • In April, while I helped my daughter move to New Mexico, he moved out and left me to deal with all the bills, the emptying and the sale of the house.
  • Mid-May my son’s family relocated from four miles away from me back to Michigan taking my two young granddaughters with them.
  • After finding a new place to live, the never-ending process of emptying the house began. Countless items were donated, tossed, or stored with the help of some incredible friends.
  • With the help of these same friends, I moved into a little rental, a wonderfully sweet bungalow on a canal where I am attempting, on my better days, to begin again at 67 years old.

I feel so extremely fragile right now. It takes very little to send me to the precipice of that darkness. I know I need to avoid any more stress; an online stress test revealed a 476 score. Anything over 300 raises my likelihood of illness in the near future to about 80%. So I know I need to surround myself with positivity, joyfulness, and gratitude. But I’m not sleeping. My stomach is constantly in knots. I dread phone calls because I’m tired of my own voice.

But I also know I’m my mother’s daughter. I am made of pretty sturdy stuff. I’ve been through a similar period before, albeit at 56 and not 67. I need to constantly remind myself to give it over to God, offer it up as a prayer and keep telling myself that with His help – and Mom’s – I can do anything. That rabbit hole will just have to wait.