Meandering in the Plume

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I’m not bringing anything new to the table with the weather metaphor.  Were this blog being workshopped, someone would probably point out that I need to earn that metaphor.  Being the beginning of my blog, I’ve clearly earned nothing yet.  I’m late to the blogging party (no surprise there) and have to catch up, so I’ll just earn it along the way.

So why the metaphor?  Well, I’ve been torturing myself for ages over what to blog about.  Is it better to stick to one subject, or to let myself go fanning (*see the About page) about, as does my attention span, from one topic to the other, without prior notice.  If the blog were devoted to a specific subject, which would it be? I worried that I’d run out of things to say. But I feel so passionate about certain causes that the writing well drying up would not be a concern.  But writing about these wouldn’t necessarily make for happy times on my blog.  I’ve been told that talking about some of these subjects would make people uncomfortable.  That I sometimes talk about things that people don’t want to talk about. That said, limiting the focus to one cause might draw a particular group of readers, sure, but would probably push some of you away.  And I really want you to stay.

Without a specific cause to write about though, I wasn’t sure I’d have enough to say about anything.  (To those of you who know me, yes, I can hear you laughing at that.)  Years ago I went through an angry phase.  It was probably more about depression, but it’s one hell of a lot easier to be angry than depressed.  There were frequent storms chez moi. I always had something to say, complaining all the time, spewing pessimism, anger. It all took so much energy. And my words really held no weight, just the negativity.  Eventually I grew tired of the lack of happiness, and found my way out.  Then there were good years, normal ups and downs, and then, The Dark Years.  This was a different twist.  Depression also sucks the life out of you, but it feels very different.  There’s a tired old cliché: “Depression is anger without energy.”  That’s bullshit.  Anyone who has ever been made it through a serious depression will tell you that.  Depression robs you of your interests and your hope.  And if there is no hope, what is there to say?  It also steals all of your energy – every last ounce.  And it takes energy to work up a good thunderstorm, with flashing bolts of lightening and violent winds.

There is no energy in depression.  It is one long, endless gray sky under an incessant autumn rain.  There is no thunder.  No lightening. No beautiful clouds forming into a threatening sky, sending you for shelter.  And certainly no break in the clouds or the rain. Like the bone-chilling rains November inflicts on the Midwest, it makes you want to head for the couch, wrap up in a blanket, and remain that way until further notice.

Like quicksand, once your foot has slipped into depression, it is extremely hard to pull out of it.    I was stuck in the mud under a dull drizzle.  Empty.  On the couch I’d sit, staring at the t.v. while stories on the news floated past me like clouds.  Life was floating past me.  Then finally a few of  those clouds opened up and began dropping rain on me.  Thoughts and emotions gathered like debris in my head until they formed funnel clouds and took flight. Corrupt politicians.  Failing economies.  Nothing new there.  But what got to me were shows or stories that evidenced the ways people treat each other.  Humiliating others on national television as though it were a sport. Audiences of thousands laughing, taking pleasure in watching adults jeering and mocking young contestants.  Media honing in on adultery in celebrity marriages, and a world standing by, waiting for the next round of jokes about the most recent public figure having a nervous breakdown.  One could hardly avoid hearing about Brittany Spears or Charlie Sheen, or any number of humiliating incidents on American Idol, but how much attention did the media give to the thousands of American girls who are kidnapped and sold as sex slaves every year?  How much did we hear about the men and women who fight for our freedoms coming home to fight yet another battle, now with PTSD?  These issues began sparking some sort of fury in me.

And thank God for that.  For a while the only thing strong enough to pull me out of the depression was hearing something that really got to me, really angered me.  These furious storms have never gotten me completely out of the quicksand.  Once the initial downpour had drained my energy, (there’s a reason I never really have much energy, but that’s for another post, some other time) the storm would fade and I’d still be partially in the mud.  Here’s the thing: I’ve learned a little bit about the importance of balance, and also about how precious energy is.  Depression is thick, gluey, and it takes a considerable amount of energy to pull out of it, even partially. So it needs to be budgeted.

I try to not burn up all my energy on one thing, but rather let it disperse, like the plume, fanning out horizontally, and let my thoughts meander about in a stable atmosphere.

There will always be the occasional downpour. But the raging storms are far less often. Yet still, sometimes I’ll read an article, or hear about something happening, to someone I will never meet, maybe far away, but that even from a distance strikes me as powerful as a sudden bolt of lightening. That’s when you’ll hear some isolated thunder.

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About lauracgardner

Laura lives in an undisclosed location with her adopted dog.

Posted on October 2, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The description of depression is so accurate – it is nothingness with the power to erase everything. It is the endless, bone-chilling rain that you described, punctuated only by more rain with no end in sight. Reading your description reminded me of the commercials on television for anti-depressant medication. When I see those ads, I ‘feel’ the depression they are talking about. When I read your description, I felt it again. Anyone who has ever been truly depressed knew exactly what you were saying.

    • Thanks for the comment. I always thought one of the Cymbalta commercials did a decent job of showing how depression affects the individual, as well as the people around him or her. (The dog in the commercial, of course, gets to me. Then Mojo gets some extra attention.) It’s not easy to convey how completely overwhelming depression can be to people who have not had to manage it. Too often there is still the misconception that a person with depression is just having a bad day or going through a difficult period, or even that they are depressed because they “choose” to be. While they may very well be having a bad day (even in chronic depression there is variation, some days being worse than others) true depression goes far beyond what we normally think of as feeling down or sad. I cringe whenever I hear someone talk about it as though it were a choice. Nobody chooses major depression. That is an outdated belief that should be disappearing from conversations about depression as researchers bring things like cellular involvement into those discussions. It is disheartening that despite the evidence of medical bases for depression, for mood disorders, or for anything that fits under the psychiatry umbrella, many people simply refuse to let go of misinformed notions and perpetuate such stigma. Still, when we consider the attitudes of, say, twenty years ago, there has been some real progress made.

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