Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Tomorrow is my favorite day of the year. It'll be the first in our very own house, and we are hosting my mom, dad, and brother. Baking began last night with my double-layer pumpkin pie (it's a non-bake Jello recipe I've made for, oh, about 10 years at this point). Today means hypercleaning, organizing, taking out the "holiday" dishes and serveware, more cooking prep, and finally collapsing into bed before waking up at about 5:30 to shove the turkey in the oven (so we can eat in the late afternoon).

Right now the forecast looks dreary, but I'm crossing my fingers the storm will blow itself out and we can light up the fire pit for cocktails (hello, hot brandied cider) and appetizers (uhm...cheese and veggies are involved...need I say more?).

I am very much hoping to stop back in here during the 4-day weekend with some photos of The Cottage all festived up for the day of the gobbler.

I'm trying hard to not stress out, and to be kind to myself (and poor John, who is often upon whom my compulsions are the most apt to fall) while I juggle a lot at home and a lot at work, and a fried mental hard drive. But the good news is, I'm keeping on keeping on. I am immeasurably thankful for the love and support I have from those in my life, now more than ever since it's hard for me to provide those things toward myself.

I hope you all wake up and watch the parade in the warmth of your homes. I hope you eat too much good food. I hope you don't argue too much, and you don't spill the gravy when you pass it. I hope you are mindful of what you're thankful for.

Gobble gobble.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Maureen in Therapy

I have made the decision to begin talking with a therapist. I have been in this major depression (my term, not a clinical diagnosis...well, not yet anyway) for about 7 months. It's time to climb out of the pit.

It is something I've been thinking about for quite a while, but I think I hit the proverbial bottom recently, and then something weird happened: I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time. I actually had to leave work one day because I was feeling utterly hollow, overwhelmed, and incapable of doing anything, let alone my high-stress job. So I left. I went home and in an effort to offgas some of the energy and anger and confusion, I spent a few hours setting up the office in our house. I felt good to be doing something, and to be doing something nice for John, since that will really be his sciencey man cave space. I let myself wallow in feeling awful for the rest of the night. Then I slept better than I had in a while, and I woke up feeling a little more hopeful than the morning before.

Granted, I was by no means my usual self, but there was that glimmer that said I was indeed buried somewhere in the shell I've been wearing, and there was something I could do to bring me back out. I muscled through the next few work days, and then my bosses sat me down for what I affectionately call The Intervention. It was everything an intervention should be: gentle and kind and caring and supportive. Again, something weird happened: I felt like I was going to be okay. Here were people who spend hours a week with me, and they just wanted me to feel better. I have been opening up more about being depressed, and as I continue to do that, I'm continually impressed with the support that is pouring toward me. Some people offer their own stories about depression and treatment and say they it was a positive and helpful experience for them. Some simply say they are glad I'm taking care of myself, and offer to help however they can. It's been good to feel valued and important to others, and to know they care.

I still think a big part of the depression is medication-related. I've since switched, but am waiting for it to be in my system long enough to tell if it makes a difference. I'm not going to hang all my hopes on that, though, because I know there are so many larger issues I need to work through, and another realization is that I do not have to work through them alone.

I still feel largely like a muted version of myself, and struggle to find pleasure in the things I typically enjoy. I still feel incredibly anxious and paranoid and sad and somewhat helpless. I worry about pushing away those I love. I've been looking through distorted glass for so long that it's hard for me to sit back and say, "No, Maureen, everyone does not hate you and think you're crazy. You do not screw up everything you attempt." But because I've been broiling in negativity and self-loathing for months, it's been difficult to focus on the positive and the good.

I have made the conscious effort to get better. I have created ridiculous mantras to repeat when I feel myself slipping and when it all just seems too overwhelming. I have put it on blast that I am depressed, and that I want to get better. And I made the difficult second step of actually calling and setting up an appointment with a therapist. Thank goodness for the resources I have here at Princeton. They have a wellness program here for us called CareBridge, and it gives you access to online resources as well as nutritionists, therapists, lifestyle coaches--and much of it is free or for a very nominal copay. For me, I will get 8 free sessions with the doctor, and then I think if I continue, it'll be a copay through my health insurance. I have to figure out the nitty gritty, but that is a bridge I will cross when I get to it.

In the meantime, I am still struggling. But it feels less like treading quicksand and more like treading water. It took a moment of clarity and hope for me to take this step. When I was entrenched in the mire, I couldn't imagine feeling any other way. But as soon as I had a time of feeling okay, I wanted to feel even better. And now I can bring the perspective of feeling a bit better to my sessions and hopefully arm myself with newfound knowledge about myself as well as ways to cope better if things begin to feel suffocating again.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Off-Topic from Recent Posts, but Honest

My dear friends, I want to be up-front about something. For months I have been struggling with some pretty severe depression. I'm working on making it better, because I can't take waking up in a black pit every day anymore.

Some days are good days, and I feel like myself. Some days, however, are very bad, and I just feel awful and hate myself. I don't like the person I've become. That person is paranoid, harsh, negative to the point where I can feel others' eyes rolling, and just an overall prune to be around. I should take inspiration from my positive and happy friends, but instead of attempting to improve myself and rise to their level, I instead sprout a forked tail and try to drag them down to my level. Because it's dark and lonely, and it takes much less effort to just continue being a sour grape.

This has caused a particular problem at work, where I often feel confused about my depression, and have basically chosen not to say anything beyond my closest friends. But then I realize my behavior must just look bizarre to everyone else. Like, "Wow, that Maureen is a crazy broad." I often feel frustrated because let's face it, I'm at the bottom of the pecking order, so the higher-ups are probably wondering what I have to be worried about when my responsibilities are so small. Important, but small in comparison. I don't want to take time away from my coworkers', and especially from my bosses', ridiculously busy schedules, and so I kinda sit there, internalize everything, and just fester and rot from the inside. Which is totally unhealthy, and I know this, but I don't know what to do. 

I don't really have any words of wisdom, but just wanted to throw this out there. I think I've mentioned it in posts before, but I like to vocalize things because I'm then held publicly accountable. So here I am, now publicly accountable in my quest to get better.

I'll leave you with one of the things that has provided constant encouragement for me because it provides some much-needed laughter, but also really accurately describes how I have been feeling. I'm sure anyone who's gone through depressions can relate as well, and so I hope you fellows especially appreciate the sentiment of Hyperbole and a Half.