Monday, April 21, 2008

Shocked and Horrified

I found out today that a moderator on one of the forums I frequent passed away very suddenly from an aneurysm yesterday morning. She wasn't very old--not much older than I, in fact--and the whole thing was totally unlooked-for.

I didn't know here very well, not even as well as you can come to know someone on the internet: considering them a friend you have never seen. She was just a mod on a forum, someone who was there to help out, who posted a lot... but I find her death has really shaken me.

Part of it is the manner of her going. I have always been terrified of going that way myself. My brother used to tease me with it; when I'd have a headache he'd say, "there's the aneurysm acting up again..." The first time I had to have him explain to me what it was and he made the details as graphic and brutal as only a teenage boy can. I was not very old, only about seven or so and I think the experience left a profound mark. No: I'm sure of it, because ever since then whenever I get one of my headaches, no matter how mild, I'm certain that this is it and I'm about to die.

I don;t want to go that way: suddenly and with no warning or time to prepare.

I remember several years back I watched my cat, Tamlane (who is also now gone from me), hunting a spider. The spider was walking along the edge of the wall and Tamlane just came up, swept it away from the wall and ate it. I was horrified by the suddenness of it. One minute there, the next gone. I am horrified by the way life can be like that: one minute you are there; the next you are not. I am horrified by death anyway, but the way it can take you without warning seems the worst thing about it.

I suppose I would not be so horrified about it if I had any sort of faith about any sort of afterlife, or even any sort of caring god or gods. But I don't. I think when you go you just stop and there is no more of you. No second chances. No way to go on and make it better the next time. No merging with the great here and now and knowing eternal bliss, no reunion with loved ones who have gone before. This is what makes death terrible to me. There is no comfort in it. I used to believe in reincarnation until I saw that spider get eaten. And then I thought, if there is an afterlife, it can't be just for humans. It has to be for humans and animals and insects and even vegetables. For every blade of grass there has to be a second chance. And that's when I stopped believing. My mind just can't encompass it. Can't make it balance or come out even with conservation of energy laws. I want to believe, but I can't do it.

There is no end to this blog and no end to this horror. I want to stop thinking and can't do it.

Good night, Sue.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Flute Musings

After not playing in nearly a year, I have finally started trying to play my Irish Flute again.

It is very hard and frustrating (especially when a cat insists on "helping" by draping himself over my lap). I am a good player on the Boehm flute, but Irish flutes are not nearly so forgiving. That's probably why Boehm flutes were invented. Irish flutes take more air and more breath support and more attention to embouchure and the position of your mouth--all those things it's so easy to get lazy about. I can only keep it up for 15-30 minutes before I get too tired and frustrated and quit.

Still, I consider that something to write home about. For a long, long time I couldn't even think of my flutes without severe distress. I don't assign blame easily, but I do assign blame for that. Blame for the bad experience that was Beat Smash Square. Blame for the half of the band that just sat back and expected me to carry them and yes, blame for the other quarter of the band that saw what was going on and did not speak out against it. I feel that the laziness and rank hostility that was so much a part of my experience in that band really squashed my desire to make any kind of music.

I don't know if I can ever wholly forgive that. I try every day. But music was one joy I had in life and having that joy stripped away...well, let's just say it did a lot to put me in my current depressive state.

I would like to get back to performing again, actually. I think about it a lot. I think about performing at ren faires or other smallish venues. I think this will be a long time in coming unless I make better progress, so I try not to focus on that. I try to focus on getting back the enjoyment. Right now when I play, I do not make a huge deal of my mistakes. I think, "I am playing just to play and progress will be made." Even if no one but M. hears me, it is enough. I'm fooling myself, I know. It is not enough. In my heart I have always wanted to be a performing musician and the thought I have come to this age without reaching that goal is a cancer to me, eating away at my insides. I try to tell myself that I have many more years to achieve some kind of proficiency at my instrument and at my voice--the voice I had those years ago with the band is gone and I wonder if I will ever get it back. But every day seems like too long. I want to be good NOW.

M. and I have been playing a little almost every night and I like what I hear, for the most part. He is learning; I am learning. We are in it together. That's one thing I never got from BSS--the sense of togetherness on the project. There was always some hidden agenda, or even spoken agendas: play more gigs, add more people to the line-up, be more, more, more. More than we could be, being who we were. And somehow I always felt it was up to me to make that more happen. Maybe that was true, maybe not, but it was and is my true feeling.

Anyway. Six years after breaking up the band I am finally playing again. It has taken me twice as long to recover from the band as the band existed. That says a lot.

Maybe I finally have a chance at this. I hope so.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Still Sweating

So, I was sitting at the table, innocently eating my breakfast when I got a moment of HORRIBLE pain in my calf--the kind of pain where you break out into a sweat all over your body and your heart starts racing and you feel like yo can't breathe. It was just a moment, but I was convinced in that moment that I was going to die. From a pain in my calf. In fact, I'm still not sure that it wasn't a harbinger of some deeper issue or problem. Hence the "Still Sweating" title of this post.

Pains like that always set off terrible anxiety attacks for me and that's another reason I'm convinced I'm sitting here waiting to die and M. will come home to find me slumped over the computer, my lifeless hands making senseless words on the keys. Put like that it sounds almost funny, but the experience is anything but. Imagine living your life in constant terror. That's what my life is like. Every day some little twitch or random neurological impulse sets me off. It totally incapacitates me for the rest of the day. I did manage to get dressed--in case I needed to call 911, for heaven's sake; I didn't want the EMTs to find me still in a state of dishabille at 12:30 in the afternoon. Funny how you can be concerned about stuff like that when you think you're about to die.

The pain is gone but the anxiety is not. I am trying to drink a cup of tea and calm down but the chamomile is not helping much; I feel like I'm going to choke on every swallow.

I hate this. I hate not having a life because I feel like I have constantly to be on guard against my own body. I hate that your body can do things to you that you can't control. I think this mainly goes back to the two miscarriages I suffered several years ago; I don't remember it being so bad before that. But those two experiences--body out of control when it should by all rights be having a normal pregnancy--just made me realise how iffy life is: how you just don't know what's going to happen or when. Another part of my trauma, I guess.

I was going to do things today. I was at least going to do my Pilates workout and wash my hair but those plans are shot for the moment. I will have to put them off until tomorrow, again. I hate that too.

Maybe I can get it together enough to brush my teeth, at least. That's how bad I feel: that even something so simple is beyond me.

My hands are very cold. Cold sweat. Slipping on the keys.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Beautiful Scary Day

I should not be afraid. It's a beautiful day and I have no reason to think I'm going to drop dead in the next 30 seconds. Yet that is always on my mind. You can't know what your body is going to door when or how it's going to do it.

It puzzles me that I'm so afraid of dying and yet somewhat suicidal at the same time. I think sometimes that being afraid of dying is what keeps me from suicide, really. If I had any faith that it would end the pain or change anything, maybe...but I actually think dying would be a bad thing, a bad choice, as it were. It's not so much that I believe in Hell--I don't; I had my Hell on earth for many many years--but my one near death experience was not filled with white light and welcoming presences and reassurance. It was nasty. I don't want to go back there.

But that's not what I meant to write about.

I meant to write about what a beautiful day it is. The sun is shining and the birds are singing. I have the windows open and I can see that the plum tree outside my office is about to bloom. People are going by in shorts and short-sleeved shirts.

In years past on a day like today I'd be out playing in the dirt: weeding, digging, picking up the detritus of winter, getting ready for this year's garden. This year, and for three years running, looking out my window at the garden just fills me with dread. It's another thing I used to enjoy that I just don't enjoy anymore. It's hard and cruel and the hardness and cruelness overshadows what I get out of it--if in fact I get anything out of it at all. Vegetables, yes. I like the fresh vegetables. But one can get those at the Farmers' Market.

The truth it, it just became too much work. Too much work that I had to do all my myself. I had kind of thought that the garden, or at least parts of it, could be something M. and I could share. He did not feel the same way. We didn't communicate well about it. And so it was considered my project, which wasn't what I wanted at all.

Then I got sick, first with gallbladder disease and then with this depression and everything went to pot. And every year it just seems to get worse and worse: messier and messier and more and more overgrown. I am ashamed because for a while there I had a really nice looking garden. Now it just looks like hell and I can't even care.

I have no answers. If I could, if I were infinitely wealthy, I would hire a landscaper to come and re-do the whole yard. But I don't have the resources for that. I can't even put up the privacy fence that I want--I think part of my dread stems from the fact that we live on a corner lot and I can't go into the back yard without some passer-by stopping to pass the time of day and comment on the work, when I just want to get on with it. I think if I had a privacy fence it would be better.

So my yard gets worse and worse and I get more and more guilty about it. Does not help.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate this?

"This" being my state of mind, my dis-ease: anxiety, depression and all that comes with those things. I hate looking out the window on a beautiful sunny day and feeling abject terror at the thought of going out into it. I not being able to concentrate on anything for more than about fifteen minutes before becoming incredibly frustrated, and even then feeling like I'm pushing my way through a thicket of brambles to get anything done at all. I hate the days when all I seem capable of is lying on the couch staring at the ceiling or the walls like a catatonic person. I know every fault, every swirl in the plaster. There is one that looks exactly like a hawk in flight, another like a moose.

I want to be well. I want to feel energy and excitement. Mostly, I want to be able to enjoy life. Even when I accomplish something I get no feeling of satisfaction to offset the horrible difficulty of getting it done at all. I have been trying. I have been trying to play my flute. I have been trying to read. Trying--read--those words together seem anathema to me, as reading was the one sole pleasure I had in life even when I was horribly depressed up until now. But now it's as if all pleasure in everything has been wrenched away from me. I feel nothing most of the time and when I feel it's only pain. I bite at my hands and scratch at my face and I can't even take enough interest in it to make it horrific. I remember practicing self-abuse in this way in my teen years and drawing blood. But I feel as though there is no blood left in me and all I am is a lifeless husk. Or maybe not so much lifeless as soul-less. Whatever; I am waiting around for something to happen that just does not come.

People tell me to keep trying, to hang on and keep pushing at the walls and the spark of enjoyment will come down the line, but I find that harder and harder to believe. Rather, it seems to me that every activity eventually gets sucked as dry as I am or becomes too painful even to mention, much less engage in. I start to have a conversation and the tears run down my face when I try to talk about what I am up to, what I am doing. How can I even be with other people in this state?

I wonder if I am self-perpetuating this depression and making myself ill on purpose, but I don't think I am. I just hate it so much. And I don't know what to do except keep trying the different medications and hoping against hope that one will work, that I'll get some semblance of a life back. It may be a hard life; I accept that. But anything would be better than this.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Is it in the stars?

What is it with relationships these days? In the last few weeks I've found out than no fewer than three of my friends are having serious relationship troubles with relationships they've been in for many years. One is in the process of getting a divorce, another is almost certainly going to and the third is in limbo.

It makes me afraid. My hands sweat. Not that I think anything is going to happen to my marriage. But you can never know, can you? People change. What they want and what they feel changes.

I know I'm not an easy person to live with. And we married for better or worse, richer or poorer (poorer is what's happening right now). But do people really take those vows seriously?

I think of my mom and dad, who were married for over 50 years. I know they weren't happy some of the time--my mom wasn't happy with my dad, at least; I don't know about him. But it would never have occurred to them to end the marriage. They married "'til death do us part," and they meant it.

My husband and I married in an unusual ritual but it still meant forever to us. It still means forever to us as far as I know. I asked him the other day, in light of all these break-ups, if he would ever consider breaking up and he said no, he was in the journey wherever it might take us. And I am too. That's a comfort, I suppose. Because I really don't know if I could survive on my own, without him. Is that love or just necessity?

My brain feels clogged right now. I find it hard to write about anything, much less this. I think it's partly the pills; I'm on an enormous amount of medication for my various conditions and I don't like it. I miss the feeling of clarity I used to get, when everything just seemed to flow from my fingertips to the keyboard without even going through my brain. Now my brain is stuck in this smothered place, like it's all covered with a heavy layer of damp wool. Warmish but not comfortable.

I am writing this mainly because I have not written a blog in so long and I have not written because I have had nothing to say. Nothing is interesting to me; it's all the same. I thought that trying to write about my friends' relationship troubles and going somewhere from there would work for me but all I've done is come back to the same old place: I'm stuck here. I don't really feel any emotions, good or bad. Just a mild, "oh," at every new piece of information.

It's snowing outside and the snow is in my brain as well.