a little night music

it has been a beautiful fight


so it seems the happier i get the less i have to say.
i’m trying to figure out how to continue speaking about life without sadness.  it’s weird.  sadness wasn’t only a lens for me, it was a way of life.  and now i don’t have that anymore.  and that feels strange.
wonderful, obviously.  but strange.  

there were 7 years of profound depression, which also happened to be 7 years of friends and family holding me and caring for me and loving me.
now i am happy and stable and happy to report that i am stable.
it feels like i have nothing more to say: i was sad.  the world was sad. i am no longer sad.

to be honest i’m having trouble placing myself.  that sounds ungrateful but it also sounds true: i’ve spent 7 years engrossed in unbearable sadness and now how on earth am i supposed to define myself without that?
i’m not so sure that i can, or that i should.

i’ve always struggled with who i become after sadness; i have never wanted to be a poster-girl survivor who can point at people and things and show you what and where it hurts.  (not that there is anything wrong with these people; many of the poster people for the mental health movement are close friends of mine: it just never seemed to be a suit that fit me).  i don’t want to walk around trumpeting recovery and i don’t want to hold seminars about dealing with sadness.  

i think all i want is for people to know that i hold darkness.
and that it's okay.
all i ever really wanted was for people to see why i wasn’t what i thought i should be.
“i want to be something good in the world,” i said. 

i told you what it was like
when i held suicide inside me like a clock
(dry ticks mark time)

now i’m telling myself
it’s different now.

in what universe do i make my bed every morning?

this is that universe, apparently.
i barely know where i am.  i am lost entirely, but not in a sad way.  i’m not trying to say i’m sad to be happy; i’m quite happy to be happy.  i promise you, this is not a complaint - it’s just a question.  i just don’t know where i am.  so show me.  

what’s next?

i think i need to take a moment and realize i am in love with the world.

the seven habits of unbearable sadness

so, this post is an obvious little harkening back to the days of “7 habits of highly effective [someone],” but i don’t mean it in a rude way.  i think if we are going to celebrate the people who we think are doing it right, we need to look towards people who find themselves in darkness too - we do not need to celebrate or glorify their depression or anxiety.  but we do need to learn about it, to try to understand, and to recognize that there is both value and deprecation in these habits. 

this is a small compendium of seven aspects of depression; the terrible and the great.  because depression is a reality.  this is not a treatise on how to cope and move on - i don’t think i am qualified to tell people how to do that.  i am trying to look at the clearest reality of unbearable sadness.  let’s see how i do.

(i would also like to note that i am not trying to say THESE ARE THE HABITS THAT ALL DEPRESSED PEOPLE HAVE.  what i am trying to say is “these are the habits that i developed when i was depressed.” and maybe someone will relate to some of them and maybe they won’t.  i am acutely aware that depression manifests itself different in different people.

unlike most of  the habits literature, i’m not saying that these habits are wrong or right - they are just a different mindset.  they have their merits and detriments.  if anything, i just want to help people identify the habits they may have in their sadness.  i found this very helpful.  maybe if you do it, you will too. because some of these habits can hold you down and stagnate your recovery.  this is about moving past that.  

this is long - so i will do a brief summary first:

1. knowing the limits of joy
2. reading too much sylvia plath - yeah.
3. finding sadness
4. forgetting about tomorrow 
5. looking inwards
6. keeping love close
7. holding on

(this picture is from Hyperbole and a Half, which is awesome)

1. knowing the limits of joy

during waves of profound depression.  this keeps me safe.  but it also keeps me sad.

what i mean when i say the “limits of joy” is knowing that, like sadness, joy always ends.  it is the idea that joy can only last so long and all joy is subject to sadness anyways because of the sadness we will endure when our joy ends.  this isn’t a particularly novel idea - lots of people hold on to this as reasons to avoid relationships or friendships or lots of things really.  it is the common hymn of the realist and the pessimist.  ultimately, this is probably a destructive habit i developed.  i remember walking my dog and feeling so much love for her and then being sure she was going to get run over and just dying with grief.  i found a way to grieve without anything terrible actually happening.  

the most important thing that came from this, for me, is the realization that sadness, too, has a beginning and an end.  maybe our lives aren’t perfectly sinusoidal (i use that word too much), and there is something continuous about our lived feelings and experiences.  but the reality is, depression too has a beginning and an end.  like joy, sadness is not a forever reality (although it often feels like it).  this is one of the things i learned to repeat to myself.  these things have a beginning and an end.  these things have a beginning and an end.

also just read le petit prince over and over and over.

2. reading too much sylvia plath

well, i guess we all have different limits de plath - what is too much for me is not too much for someone else, and some people can read dear sylvia til the cows come home.  i am not one of those people.  i read way too much sylvia plath when i am depressed, because all i want is the truth, and her dark words often hold it.  like a horcrux. or something. 

"i took a deep breath, and listened to the old brag of my heart. i am, i am, i am.”

this is good in that it makes you a plathconnoiseur and it gives you a language of darkness to speak in.  but it can hurl you down a rabbit hole which is never very fun.  so be careful.  you can now communicate your sadness, and understand the sadness of others, which is so so so important.  i just had to learn not to give her words too much control.

3.  finding sadness

when i’m depressed, sadness comes to me like a magnet.  i cling to the sad realities of the past and i create sad realities in the future.  i find sad realities in the most neutral circumstances.  this doesn’t sound very creative - obviously, as a woman with depression, i can find sadness.  but the point is, it is dangerous when this habit seeps in when you find yourself happy again.  so what to do, what to do.

this can be a skill and a curse.  it helps you understand people in a profound way.  but it can also be destructive.  the only way i have learned to work against this is through mindfulness techniques, and repeating this one phrase “there is light.”  it is about finding sadness, but holding it far away from my self- if i need it to help someone cope, it is there.  but it does not hold me.  that’s a bit ambiguous, but this is all very wishy-washy so it’s fine i guess.

4.  forgetting about tomorrow

‘forgetting’ is a bit of a euphemism.  when i’m depressed, i’m generally convinced there is no tomorrow.  i can barely imagine making it through an hour without hurting myself irreparably, let alone a full day.  this makes things not matter for me: it doesn’t matter what i am wearing.  it doesn’t matter if my bed is made, if i go to the gym, or if i do my laundry.  

the result is usually that i am a wreck.  my hygiene goes kaput and i trudge along doing the bare minimum because why on earth would i brush my hair if i’m not going to make it til tomorrow?

this is why i try not to judge people who wear pyjama pants, or leave their hair wet or greasy,  who wear the same clothes, or don’t smell great.  i don’t know their reality, but maybe they feel like i felt.  and honestly, pleasing society just wasn’t my top priority when i was depressed, and i need to understand that the same can be true of other people.

5. looking inwards

i’ve been hearing a lot lately about the need to reach out when you are depressed.  it is true that it helped me more than anything, that my friends and family supported me like champs, and my doctors and team of mental health professionals rallied together to make my recovery happen.  but it is really not always that easy.  it took me four years and a really nice boyfriend to get there.  

this is because i was looking inwards.  i’m not saying i was oblivious to the world around me - but i integrated the world around me into my own realities.  i feel the grieving of others inside of me, and i look inside myself and see abyss.  be careful with abyss.  

6. keeping love close

this is one thing that i have struggled with a lot in the past few months.  despite my sadness, i have still been able to feel a lot of love.  tons of it.  my cup brimmeth over.  etc. sometimes i feel like i will explode with love i love people so much.  this didn’t change when depression took hold of me.  the problem is, i don’t show this to other people all that often.  well maybe i do.  but i hold that love inside me.  i keep it close.  i rarely actually do things to express my love.  this is because it is impossible to do a lot of things.  it is hard to brush your hair, and it is hard to make a card.  

this is a tricky one.  people need to understand this and be patient, but i had to teach myself how to love people more openly.  and that was really hard.  i want to make it clear that this is certainly not a true habit of everyone with depression - just one of the things i felt.

7. holding on

this one is tough.  i found it so hard to let go, of anything.  depression felt like i was held up by strings and without any of them i would sink.  everyone is important.  everything matters. this was particularly hard for me when it came to *~romance, but with friendships and activities, and circumstances too.  the only thing i can do about it really is know that sometimes i hold on too hard - i am training myself to let go.  it’s hard.

i love you but

this is a piece i started writing a long time ago.
by "started writing" i mean i had the title in my mind and i had a general idea what i wanted it to be about.  but when i sat down and started writing it got away from me and became some kind of wisdom i know nothing about.

originally this was supposed to be a poem for the men who could not love me.  not a biting critique, but rather a simple exploration of why love needs limits.  because as bitter as i usually am when relationships crumble beneath my feet, i can usually (a few moments later) look back and smile at how people know when and how and why they cannot love.  that is not an easy thing, and i appreciate it when i see it.

i have my heart wide open.  it's not necessarily a good thing, but it's not all bad either.

i don't really know entirely what this is about.  i just started writing and all of these words were being hurled around in my mind and it was both confusing and lovely.  this became about the dips and trials of loving myself.  that is one of the things i have talked about before, and it is one of the most profound quests you go on.  so i want to be clear that there is no real 'you' i am talking to in this poem who i'm trying to teach about love or any nonsense like that.  it's really a conversation with myself.  and it's based on some of my dearest friendships.  because mostly these words are just a reminder for me to hold the love i have and hold it closely.  and sometimes i will falter and so will you but that's okay because that's kind of what love is.

but the first few lines, again, are not aimed at anyone but myself.  i'm afraid of coming across as preachy.  and then in the end the 'you' kind of transforms into being me and you and just about everyone.  i hope that makes sense.  we'll see.

i love my friends.

i love you but
there are treasures for you but you cannot hold them.  not with your hands stretched this wide because you can know love but it will flow through you.  love can do that.  flowers will wilt and their leaves will dry like they've never known water but the truth is they have.  and i have known you.  and i love you but we will falter.  and i love you but we will rise again.

the last six years

i gave a speech at the student mental health panel a few days ago.  it was probably a mediocre speech but it was fun and a good crowd and i felt good afterwards.

i always said i would tell my friends and trumpet around when i had finally won my 'battle' against depression.  again, i don't think it's a battle.  it is a reality.  and i never really did that, and i never will.  but this is a post to say one thing: i'm still here, and i'm proud of that.  but i'm not proud of myself for staying alive; that doesn't feel noble or courageous at all.  i'm proud because i have learned to love the darkest version of myself.  and that is why i do not want to erase the last six years.  and that is why i'm writing this post.

sometimes i feel like i've lost 6 years of my life.  i stayed in bed.  i wasn't a leader and i wasn't a champion and i didn't rise victorious in any great fight for something important.  and there are a lot of things i believe in fighting for. i wasn't the 'dynamo' i used to be and i didn't laugh with as much enthusiasm and my reality was generally just that i was living inside of myself.  this post will be for those six years of my life that would otherwise remain blank in any memoir.  because when you're depressed the world goes on without you.  so this is just that; the world never went on without me.  i was always a part of it.  (although i didn't know that at the time).  and this is just a little proof to myself that that is so.  i was something good in the world.

there are no more shocking details about depression i can reveal.  i have opened my heart and shown you my entire reality.  any other dark details i might share could be triggering, so i will keep them cradled in my mind.  but by and large, you know everything.  and i'm happy now.  as i was writing my speech i legitimately had to research my own writing to see how i felt.  granted, i remember a lot of things.

there are some things you don't forget.

i remember my friend calling me and crying because i didn't want to be alive anymore.  i remember you taking a knife from my hand and hiding it.  i remember nessie licking tears and mascara off my face like it was her one noble task in life.  i remember obsessive dreaming about drowning myself while sitting in a dark room in toronto.  i remember writing a poem called 'the world was not meant for me' and meaning every word of it.  i remember writing 'an ode to my depressive self' and having to convince myself that i had value.  and i remember every friend and every response i got to my first e-mail admitting my sadness to my friends and family, and every message i got from friends and strangers once i started writing my blog.


for the sake of history, let's review.
in grade twelve i was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia, at the time), which the DSM lovingly dubs "double depression."  i'm actually not sure if that's in the most recent DSM, but it's in the notes of my doctors, at least.
i spent seven years in a crippling sadness.  during the last two years, i thought about suicide every day.  that sounds like i'm exaggerating but i promise you i'm not.  i promise you that because those kind of thoughts stick in your mind like dirty gum and you remember the days when the thoughts weren't there.  the thoughts were always there.

i somehow got a degree.
to this day, i cannot possibly imagine how i managed that.  i was miserable in the last two years of my degree.  i could barely walk, let alone write a paper.  and every time i walked to school i would cry about my most recently disintegrated romance and repeat 'i am worthless' over and over to the beat of my step.

after a year in ottawa studying and working on da hill, i am home.  in that year, i stayed in bed a lot.  i cried on my birthday because erin's flight was cancelled and i finally accepted that effexor just wasn't working for me.  and then by the time june rolled around, i was capable of working a real job with real hours.  by october, i was capable of working and then going home and cooking and watching netflix.  these are milestones you don't forget.  by the time i saw my psychiatrist when i had moved back in december, i had healed.  

i have already told you what i have learned from my unbearable sadness.
i have already told you how i learned to love my unbearably sad self.
i never know what to write about anymore.  that is why i barely post anymore.  but here i am.
and here you are.

the last six years of my life i have been essentially immobilized by my depression.  mental illness can and does do that.  but that doesn't make us worthless, or make us take up space, or any of that; it gives us a perspective, and often lets us love in a fantastic (though painful) way, and brings us into a world where everyone lives; into a world with real darkness.
and being able to see that is important.
and you glow, and are something good in the world. 

the last six years have stuck with me.  
and here they are for you.

prayer for a cousin, with buckets of love

there was a time 
when i thought the sun 
was a myth
hidden in words
like demeter and persephone
there is fog here
and the night comes too quickly
and you are wrapped in 

tears fall out of my eyes
like anvils

sometimes only gravity keeps us here.

and i am only here to tell you
when the fog lifts

the light will be where you left it.

(also this: https://theburninghell.bandcamp.com/track/everything-will-probably-be-ok) 

songs without words

hold your head high boy, because we've been here before.  we have been to this place where sadness holds us and tears us apart.  but we're quiet now.  we have love but we can't look at it.  silence is our secret.  it keeps our hearts at bay and let's us keep walking through life like we never were.  and my how we've grown.
hold your head high boy, because we've been here before.
tell me the reason why
has this hold on us
tell me why the clock 
talks like a devil.
so let us hold our hearts apart
and never wonder
but my

how we've grown.  

the collected writings of my teenage years

so i wrote a lot when i was a teenager.
it was usually through angst, but also through the general perceptions of a pre-depressed mind.
looking back, some things aren't so bad.  most of them are.  but i'm sharing them anyways, because i've had a hell of a time trying to write without my sadness, and this will maybe remind me that it is possible to create things when you're not miserable.

(i should mention that this little foray into my history wouldn't be possible without bluekaffee.  hat tip for that.)
i'm starting with the newest things (high school cool) because they are less embarrassing.  or maybe more embarrassing because they are more recent and i can't hide behind the general guise of the absolute hideousness of junior high. nothing recent, because that's just scary.

but don't let it break your heart.Edit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Mar 20, 2006 08:17:20 PM by kiss kiss bang bang

and we can smile but we just can't balance on the thin lines that divide us. you say you love me, but you could love my shadow and never know the difference. those are the difficulties that come
because your heart is filled with glass.

kiss goodnight
steel lips
and lead dreams
but please
no more wishing.
i can hear strangers talking.

i'll drive away someday
when it rains so hard
that we can't see each others faces
and i won't know you're crying.

take that look off your face.

you dress her in the finest silks
but kiss her with the saddest love
and love her with a fond frustration.
and if you’re going to cry at the table
take your suitcase to another hallway
but don’t blur your vision such that
you can’t see that
we were crying too.

you’re so rehearsed
and in every photo
you’re over exposed.

but don't let it break your heart.

to be of beasts.Edit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Sep 20, 2007 09:53:03 PM by kiss kiss bang bang

the faucets are leaking leaking leaking
but no one knows and no one's gonna fix it
still, theres got to be a smile that fits.
and with all the iron curtains spilling down
our hearts are spastic
and its hard to breathe
the leaded air.
all tears are fine print
even with the sky falling
and the pieces won't fit
because the world is

and the sparks from friction
they are the demons
but don't worry cause
your heart, like hell, will freeze over
(and you won't feel it if it breaks)
so you will know
you are of us.

while sadness still holds us.Edit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Feb 04, 2009 11:38:48 PM by kiss kiss bang bang

its a ruthless love that left us here.
they were all empty battles
but we can see now
that it was more of simple savagery
and my insatiable hunger
for anything like catastrophe.
aphrodite always cried with us
because it was all so broken.

but now.
now we can be tragedies.
with different lives and different chaos
and with simple soothsayers to remind us
how happy we'll be

but for now.
while sadness still holds us
just know
that i'll always have this sorry heart.

on this arrested love.Edit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Feb 19, 2007 11:37:33 PM by kiss kiss bang bang

its an odd inside-out love
with an unforgetable heartbreak
but its full circle
with icicle hearts and invisible tears
and nothing else to save us.

laughing eyes and quiet resignation
we were calm once
time was love's simple channel
but when it comes to love and betrayal
i just can't tell anymore
that patience is our enemy-

just wait before you laugh with us
but don't dare
don't you dare cry with us.

on the stoic systems of frozen tears.Edit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Jan 29, 2007 06:02:44 PM by kiss kiss bang bang

sixty minutes in counting.
our stoic smiles bear no boundries
but our hearts a different story;

if its a matter of control
then this sadness has a system
but when its time to cry-
when love is overdone
and smiling overrated
don't catch me if i fall
with a hard and heavy heart.

its an ironic two timed torture
with a one minute saviour
because the angels just won't cry.
just wait until we can wish
and then we'll lead another life
but for now we'll count the minutes.
and maybe in sixty minutes i'll smile
at how the last three years have been
the timeless romance of an almost broken heart.

this heart can't handle love.Edit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Jul 10, 2006 11:53:52 PM by kiss kiss bang bang

Maybe if we tore our homemade paper crowns
we could wade deeper.

And maybe we’re all false prophets,
since greed is in our hearts
but no matter if I loved you
from the stars or from my heart
each love as unkind as the next.
our love comes and goes
but it still helps to know
we were beautiful once.

and my silence is a golden
secret confession.

but since this heart can't handle love,
it will wallow

she cried for persephone.Edit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Aug 29, 2006 01:18:36 AM by kiss kiss bang bang

a.) our tears could turn the snow to ash
but we don't believe in fire
and if she cried for persephone
she could never fight off love
time could do so much
to sway our rotted dreams
and we all owe so much
that i can't pay off the interest
i just can't pay the-
interesting lives or poetic smiles
we're all going somewhere.

b.) even with all the greed of time
there's no contest
and never heart enough to commission smiles
but by the sun's luck and the stars in the right place,
life goes on.  life goes on.

when its time to weepEdit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Oct 04, 2006 08:50:29 PM by kiss kiss bang bang

higoodbye dine alone
only pick the damned roses
rinse and dry love but no dreams
will come of happy tears.

don't wade too deep.

but all in all,
you're my crutch and broken bones
so i guess i'll never heal.
when its time to weep
our tears will never cross our hearts
and hope to dye into a better sun.

and we all have little kingdoms
until our hearts collapse
but i can take it

thoughts on undisturbed livingEdit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Mar 27, 2011 04:22:50 PM by kiss kiss bang bang

there is something outside of me that feels like everything. this is the conspired happiness that sleeps in everything and descends with the inexplicable peace of snow, while cities groan and carry on.
and at the heart of all of this movement
i find myself

this is okay.
sadness is
is only an arrested world
with everything halted in a series of frames
nothing is deliberate.

so there is really nothing to be done except sit and wonder
when will it stop

this is from a mind stopped like a heart
(while the stubborn heart beats
with the streets and rhythms
it doesn't feel.

so try to understand
but also know
there is no truth in this.

a heart so white.Edit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Dec 23, 2006 11:41:42 PM by kiss kiss bang bang

with tears or smiles or broken hearts
time was soft then.
to wish alone 11:11
to love once and breakheartsmile just forget
so shame is still.

but of all the hearts around me
no heart so white
so these are sad and sorry men
we would give the world to be.
and when our hearts collapse
just try to remember
we are not heroes.

we will be calmEdit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Apr 19, 2006 12:24:14 AM by kiss kiss bang bang

heavy heart and weak my smile,
but if i am to stand alone
in the spray of a cold ocean
then i will stand
without grace or mercy
or anything else the tides will rob

and when i'm in comfort
i'll wait for the tide
to kiss the smile off my lips

and i'll listen for the undertoe
but for now
let's be patient

teacups and saucers.Edit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Dec 05, 2004 04:07:20 PM by kiss kiss bang bang

Tea cups and saucers are shaking across the table, but you don't take notice. You don't take notice that fragility is broken. You'd rather sit and read your paper drinking coffee from a mug and a side of platonic nothing to ensure that nothing goes wrong in your salacious attempts of sensualism. Lewd libido is not in my heart right now.
The books are falling from the bookshelf, and you're picking your favourites up.
Turbulence is on this plane to futility. It's a problematic clock and only I can hear the ticking. It's offbeat but it's something. It's something that's telling me that the feeling of my world at peace is a long ways away.

AnonymousEdit ] [ Tag ] [ Report ] [ Bookmark ]
Submitted: Mar 02, 2005 08:53:03 PM by kiss kiss bang bang

She loves herself but it's unrequited, and that's whats making everything double times the intangible. She can deny herself nothing tonight, and that's exactly what's bothering her. It has been awhile since things have gone wrong, but some battery keeps the antiquity rolling. Somewhere in the stratosphere someone said fault and she took it with her.
it'll never be the same, unless the times keep eroding the core.

the six things i have learned from unbearable sadness

there are things that come from sadness. one of them is knowledge. people spend a lot of time talking about the benefits of depressio...