I'd like to start by saying...I'm fine. Or at least, I will be fine. Eventually.
If you've been wondering where I've been, well...I've been wondering that, too. After a declaration in May that I was going to get more serious about writing, after fixing up a quiet corner of our home into a writer's nook, after even toying with the idea of taking a year off of my real job to see if writing full-time could produce anything, I failed to write anything this summer longer than a swim-season grocery list. And while those lists are long and include all the main food groups a growing swimmer needs, like Clif bars by the dozen, it wasn't quite the writing I set out to do.
I have excuses, if anyone cares to hear them. Ainsley had some recurring asthma issues that kept us in doctor's offices and pharmacies more than usual. The 11-12 age group in swimming also has a more intense practice schedule than 10-and-under swimming, so I was running to and from the pool and sweating it out in a hot car in the pick-up line more than I anticipated. We had more travel meets this summer, too, meaning not only was I busy every other weekend, I was stuck in a hotel room 2 hours away from home every other weekend. It's hard to write when you're never home, and hard to find something to write about when the only drama in your day was that your young athlete didn't come out of practice on time because she prefers daydreaming in the locker room after practice to keeping Mom from sweating to the point of dehydration in her Pontiac Vibe.
And yet I still could have used the cushion of summer vacation to take that step into writing I'm always threatening to take. But I didn't. I didn't do a lot of things I set out to do this summer, actually. With the bottom line being...I sort of quit. Checked out. Gave up.
You may not have noticed if you saw me this summer. I didn't make a big deal of it, I didn't talk to anyone about it, and I assumed my blues would, as they usually do, lift on their own and melt in the bliss of a Kentucky educator's summer like so much snow.
I'm still waiting.
I tried the various tricks in my bag I reserve for times like these. I did something outside every day. I exercised. I napped. I attempted meditation. I went away on vacation. Sometimes, briefly, the fog lifted. But it always came back, and by the time I started my pre-school-year extended employment days the first week in August, I was like that frog we always hear about who lands in a pot of water that keeps getting hotter and hotter but the poor amphibian doesn't realize until too late that he's thisclose to boiling.
My realization that I was almost boiling came one sunny afternoon when I was headed to the gym to clear my mind and learned that Robin William was dead in an apparent suicide.
Like many with ongoing depression and anxiety, it has been a trigger. The idea that someone as brilliant, as seemingly joyful, as family-oriented as that man could wake up one day and go, "F*ck it, I'm done," hits hard. If he couldn't find a reason to go on, to push through the pain another day, what the hell hope do the rest of us have? I have always assumed that no matter how dark things get for me when I'm going through a depressive episode, I'm always going to get better. Through medication or therapy or self-awareness or all three. Because I always have.
And I would guess Mr. William always had, too. Until that one time he didn't. And that one time he didn't trumped the many times before that he did.
It's frightening beyond blog-post words.
I'm taking steps to get through whatever this is I'm going through now. I acknowledge that a winter and spring that saw me weathering a basement flood, unexpected orthopedic surgery, swine flu, and dental woes culminating in dry sockets (the pain of which I feel is tragically underrated) could get my chemicals out of balance. I acknowledge that some changes in my work environment could have me feeling just overwhelmed enough to magnify everything. I acknowledge that on top of all of this I just turned 40 and have a very active family and probably don't take enough time to do basic things for my mental health like get enough sleep and eat something for lunch with more healing power than a bag of Cheetos and a Snickers.
Basically, I acknowledge that I have some baggage I need to put down. I've enlisted some help. Things aren't so bad that I don't see hope. This, too, shall pass. And God knows I've been through worse.
In the meantime, I'm just not really feeling like writing anything. I have just enough creative energy to say one light-hearted, possibly-funny sentence per day, and while that's awesome for Facebook or Twitter, it makes blogging or starting the Great American Novel sort of complicated. So I'm signing off for a while. (To give you any indication how hard I'm finding it to write, I started this on August 12. And have only been able to focus on it roughly 30 seconds a day.)
I'll focus on getting back on track. I may be back. Or I may start writing a memoir or some essays or, at the very least, a recipe book I can spiral-bind and pass along to my grandchildren when they come over to my house in their flying car and ask, "What is this 'book' thing of which you speak, Mamaw?" Because writing is important to me and I know I'll find healing in it again.
So, you'll be hearing from me again soon. Maybe not on this platform, but somewhere.
In the meantime, thanks for reading.