I’ve been sad most of the time for over a week. Perhaps two. My time sense is blurry. Beyond living with the fact of having two dead husbands, I’m not sure why exactly. I thought I was sad before but this sadness feels different, deeper. I tear up more frequently; I feel fatigue, low energy, little desire to do, which is not like the me I used to be. I ask myself if I’m depressed, but while I can’t explain in words the difference between depression & sadness what I feel is different. It’s a genuine sadness that arrives at any moment like the Portland rain, stop and start, stop and start in downpours that combine in unpredictable patterns with sunny, joyful moments.
I had been taking 1/2 Xanax each time I’d wake up pretty consistently at 1:30 a.m. Even at that small dose I felt drugged when I’d wake up, as if my brain was packed away in grey fluff which didn’t wear off until late afternoon or early evening. I researched Xanax vs Ativan, read on Web MD that Xanax is bad for older people, their advice was to take Ativan. So I switched. I had taken Ativan in Viet Nam to tamp down my excitement & help me sleep but in Viet Nam I’d wake up happy, focussed and refreshed, due more my guess is to being in the country of my revolutionary dreams, and not the drugs. Just the opposite of my circumstances after David died when I retreated back to my familiar 1/2 Xanax. I wonder, is it when I went back to Ativan over a week ago when my mood swings and extreme emotional vulnerability began? Naturally I can’t remember. Or am I just now letting myself feel a deeper sadness I’ve been repressing all along?
In Calistoga, before I met up with Rio & Metah, I spent a day floating on a plastic noodle in the refreshing, hot spring waters of Indian Springs. It took the entire day of floating for me to feel relaxed. So stupid, right? There I was, surrounded by soothing warmth & I could not relax into the moment. Because I was alone. Even the most relaxing circumstances won’t allow me to escape the reality of David and Stew’s deaths. Be honest, Gumbo, you are the one who won’t allow yourself to relax. I know, I know I have to be gentle with myself, practice self-compassion, not let the self-critical voices creep in. Easier said than done.
I came back from Calistoga on Tuesday. On Thursday I had to deal with a very stressful situation not of my own making. I am not ready to reveal the details yet. This I can say: On Thursday I woke up at 6 a.m. in a genuine panic. I texted Jessica, called my neighbor Ellen at 8:30 & woke her up, called Bets for legal advice, texted my tax preparer and, eventually, by the end of Thursday got enough support to come up with a strategy which I will implement after I draft this blog and have my coffee. But boy – did going through that ever take it out of me! I wanted to blog while it was going on, since I knew blogging would help me process, but I literally could not put a finger to the keyboard. I wonder. Did my vulnerability and sadness get exacerbated by the anxiety of my circumstances or by my change in medication? Or both. How could I know?
At some point yesterday I decided I had had enough. I took this as a sign of health. I don’t know how I came to this decision, it may have been a fight or flight response but I decided not to hang around any more feeling sorry for myself. To get out of the house. As quickly as I could. I walked to Shattuck Avenue, slowing my pace only as the Berkeley heat got to me, and bought a ticked to the movie “Inside Out.” And saw it. By myself. I can’t remember the last time I went to a move alone. It must be decades. And the best part of Inside Out is that it is a movie that legitimizes sadness. It’s ok to be sad. Sadness plays a role as much as joy. And at the end, thank you Hollywood, after sadness comes joy. It may be weird to use a Pixar movie to elevate my mood but that’s what happened.