The Loneliest Time

November 11th, 2014

I haven’t written many blogs posts lately. Haven’t written much fiction lately either. The most I seem to be able to manage is a Facebook post or two. Even emails feel overwhelming.

It’s hard to be sick and I’m sick. Only not in the ways I’m used to being sick–sneezing or coughing or whatever. I feel sick down to my core, sick in my brain, sick in my heart.

“An anxious depression,” the therapist called it–“or a depressed anxiety, if you prefer.” I think the first sounds better. I still like phrases to sound good even if I’m not writing many of them these days.

My heart races, my stomach knots, my mind leaps around, terrified, and I think, “I have to flee.” And then I remember there’s nowhere to run to and, anyway, I don’t really want to leave the family I love and the wonderful life I have (but can’t appreciate right now). And the conflict of that–the wanting to be gone and the knowledge that I should stay–hurts and bring sadness.

This is the loneliest I’ve ever been. I feel so alone in my head. Sometimes I watch myself talk and it’s like I’m pretending to be me, to say the things I would “normally” say to my kids and husband and friends, and it’s like something out of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. Am I fooling them? Do they think it’s the real me? What if they see through me?

I don’t want to go on too long about this, not because I’m worried about revealing too much–I’m not ashamed of feeling like this, just wish I didn’t–but because I’m worried about being too boring. It’s a cliche, isn’t it? Middle-aged woman, grappling with menopause, falls down a deep hole and can’t find anything to grab onto to keep from going deeper. It’s not news.

So why write about it at all? Partially because I want to explain why I’m not being creative these days and partially because it really does make me feel better when I open up to someone and that person says, “I know, I’ve been there.” And means it. That helps the loneliness. It also helps me believe that this will pass. So there’s a hopefulness to sharing: maybe some of you have been in the hole or are in the hole and maybe you’ll help me or I’ll help you feel less alone in there.

And, just so you know, I’m being responsible: I’m working in every possible way on getting better, both on my own and with professionals. This week was better than last week. Two weeks ago, I couldn’t even have written this post. So that’s something. And there are moments when I feel like my old self, when something makes me laugh for real or distracts me from the thoughts that race around my head and body, telling me not to relax my vigilance for one second, because bad things are waiting to happen, will happen, soon and forever. There’s such relief when I can escape from those thoughts even for a moment or two–it gives me a glimpse of a future when I won’t feel this way all or even most of the time. I know it will come and I’m doing everything I can to make it come sooner rather than later.

In the meanwhile, see that little hand waving around at ground level? That’s me in my hole. Reaching up to say hi.

  • Sarah Emsley says:

    Oh, Claire, I’m so sad to hear that you’re not feeling well. What a terrible situation to be stuck in. I hope you will soon find a way out. All best wishes for good health and happiness. I enjoy your writing very much and I look forward to reading more.

  • Juanita says:

    Thank you for writing this! This middle aged peri-menopausal woman feels the exact same way and I feel so bad about it because I “am so blessed” and “others have it so much worse”—and you’re right, this seems so cliche.

    • Claire says:

      Juanita, I feel the exact same way–so angry at myself for being ungrateful when I’m so lucky. And that doesn’t help the bad feelings at all . . . Thank you both for writing!

  • Marcia ward says:

    I know; I’ve been there. sometimes I’m still there. it really stinks. it helps me to take deep breaths. maybe taking deep breaths will help you too. you’re not even close to being alone, and I hope that helps you too. much love.

    • Claire says:

      Thank you so much. And I’m trying to do all sorts of breathing/meditation/mindfulness kinds of things. Baby steps, I guess . . .

  • Joyce says:

    You are so brave to write this piece and I am glad you did. Thank you.

  • Cathy Ladman says:

    Claire, just have to tell you that I’ve had depressions that have been so deep. I am grateful that I’m not in that space right now, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be again some day. It’s part of the disease. Charming. But, place take this off your plate right now. You do not have to please or entertain. You just have to be you. There is a lot of beauty that comes along with a bout of depression. Try to not judge and just be.

  • Cathy Ladman says:

    That is, “please,” not, “place.” Sheesh.

  • Cathy Ladman says:

    By the way, this post is creative.

  • *hugs* to you Claire. It will get better and you are improving which is great. Be patient and kind to yourself.

  • Claire, Your candor is very much appreciated. Depression is an invisible illness; when you are suffering everyone around you looks perfect and perfectly happy. I’ve watched a close member of my family struggle with crushing depression and anxiety recently. She was helped immeasurably by anti-depressant medication. It took a while to find the right med and the right dose but it allowed her to get her life back. When she doesn’t need it anymore she will let it go. Have you considered it?

    • Claire says:

      Rachel, I started an SSRI last night. I’m also exercising every day, per the therapist’s orders, and trying to do some meditation (oddly, that’s harder for me than the exercise). Maybe I should write a post in a few weeks to let everyone know how I feel about the SSRI, once it’s kicked in. It feels good just to take something, in a weird way–like I’m taking a step that will help.

  • Denise says:

    Bless you, Claire. I’m right there with you, you just can’t see me🌹

  • Robin says:

    You’re not alone…

  • brooklynbird says:

    You are not alone. I find the beginning of fall to be a typically sad time.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for writing this. I struggle with a similar “anxious depression” almost every fall, and especially in light of very large life changes that have happened in the past few months (I am a sloooow processor), I’ve been feeling the loneliness alongside the fake it till you make it a lot lately. I don’t like thinking anyone else is in this hole, but it is comforting to know we have company. Xoxo

  • Irene says:

    Thank you for sharing. It’s like you ripped the thoughts right out of my head and mirrored them back to me. Fall is a tough time. Even though this is a hard place to be, it’s nice to know we aren’t alone. Xoxo.

  • Irene says:

    I’m sorry for your sadness. I think you are right to write about it. Sharing one’s grief, depression or sadness helps. Many shoulders can help shift some of this heavy weight off of yours. Of course you know you aren’t alone. You just have the wisdom to know that sharing your story will help you and others as well. You’re brave, brilliant and you do what needs to be done..always. You will make yourself better. I know this to be true. I love you too.

  • Kelly says:

    Hey. I completely get it. I’ve had anxiety and depression both in my life. And it’s no fun at all. I’m guessing some or most of this related to menopause? Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and all kinds of other things can be attributed to it, but I’m sure you know that. 🙂
    Sounds like the SSRI may be a good thing to help. Fingers crossed!

  • Hope you feel better soon, it’s an awful thing to dael with. Sending positivity your way <3

  • In my experience of this kind of thing, we humans suck at predicting our future emotional states and we think the current emotional state will last forever when all history shows these states are ordinarily fleeting things, at least on the scale of a full lifetime. I know you know all this, but you have done so much for other people (especially on autism, a subject important in my life as I have an autistic nephew), and you have also accomplished so much writing-wise, that you should be reminded of the very real good you have done. And you know what? You will do lots more good, I have zero doubt. In fact, this fallow time may be storing up energy for something very significant. It has to have some adaptive evolutionary function, right?
    (Hey, maybe my entire 54 years of low-grade-depressed life might be leading up to something just HUGE, instead of the nothing I’ve done to date! I feel better already! …I think I’ll take a nap. Be well.)

  • Ken Pontac says:

    Write to me if you want me to tell you stupid jokes.

    Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2014 23:46:52 +0000 To: kpontac@hotmail.com

  • Ellen Austin-Li says:

    Claire,
    I am so sorry that you are struggling right now. I, too, go through periods of anxiety and depression. I have been in a mild depression for a long time now. I know exactly what you mean when you describe sometimes catching glimpses of your old self. I really do believe in the saying “this, roo, shall pass,” because in my experience it does pass.
    Go easy on yourself. You will write again when you have the mental energy for it. Sometimes I feel like I am just trudging through life, but then there are these magical moments that surprise me when I least expect them — those are the things to look forward to.

  • Chanpreet says:

    Claire, as someone whose struggled with depression before, know you are not alone. Hopefully the SSRI will kick in and that feeling of utter despair will start to lift. i can tell you exercise does help. So does chocolate. Please keep us updated with everything.

  • […] sphere is important. I decided to post about it mainly after reading other’s accounts. Both my mother and my brother wrote beautiful posts about their own struggles, which I highly recommend reading. A […]

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