Monday, January 18, 2016

Post-holiday Hibernation

The busyness of the holiday season has passed. Weeks of preparation- the baking, shopping, decorating, card writing blur of busy days that culminated in a single day of celebration are now done. I have blinked and the time has passed, leaving me exhausted and still.

I allow myself to sink deep inside where the shadow of the celebration still lives- inside my heart, which knows that each and every day is meant for celebration. 

The holidays have a way of amplifying everything- love, joy and sadness alike.

I am raw with feeling. My weary body cries for rest. My soul is now as coarse as if it had been rubbed with sandpaper and I nearly vibrate with the need to hibernate away from any and all stimulation.

This, the blurry days no longer marked on a calendar punctuated by holidays, is the time of my very own holiday- the hibernation of self. These are the days where rest is celebrated- sleep and quiet days lost inside a warm house while outside the cold wind ravages the barren Iowa topography. The snow does not discriminate. It falls softly over everything in it's path, softening the hard edges and forcing a calm to settle over the world, reminding our very souls of the importance of stillness. 

These are the days in which I remember the flickerings of my soul, the deepest parts of myself that were forgotten amidst the flurry of holidays that have been long lost to consumerism. 

Those harried days have passed and now, I am here. I am alone, deep inside my head with the thoughts that were forgotten in the bustle of the past months. Every year I promise myself that I will remain strong and still amongst the busyness of the season and every year I fail and lose myself inside the sanctity of busy- the place where your moving limbs blur the need to remember the core of who you are.

I was lost, but now I will find myself again.

There is nowhere else that I need to be, that I want to be. I am alone with only my own thoughts for company. I shall sink into this solitary place for as long as is needed. Until my life blooms again around me. Until I am rested and whole.

This is my holiday. A simple celebration of the quiet within.  There is nothing needed to prepare for this holiday- I am all that was ever needed.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Life, Death and Nursing

Sometimes I feel as though I have lived an entire lifetime in one nursing shift. 

I have borne witness to life and death in the span of mere hours. My exterior remained strong even as my insides were shaking. I have held you while you wept- in pain, in fear, in mourning. Your tears have long ago dried into the fabric of my uniform, but I carry your sorrow with me, unable to wash away the tragedy of what I have seen as easily as I have washed my scrubs and my skin of your blood, sweat and tears. 

My soul is raw, my heart as course as if it had been rubbed with sandpaper. 

My shift is over but still I carry the weight of it all within me.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Slow Dancing with Life: Stopping Antidepressants

I have suffered with bouts of depression and anxiety ever since I was a child- I would guess that these fits of sadness began sometime in grade school. I have always been a highly sensitive person and feel the sadness of others in a very deep way, often taking it on as a personal burden.  At times, these feelings become overwhelming and I become trapped in a world of deep sadness and anxiety, frightened to even leave my bed.

I was sixteen when I was placed on antidepressants for the first time. I remember the feeling of freedom when the Prozac took effect and I no longer felt the oppression of a constant stream of bleak thoughts that I felt I had no control over. With this freedom also came numbness, an inability to truly feel joy, but I was so grateful for the lifted weight that the numbness seemed a small price to pay.

In the past twenty years I have had three periods in which I was on antidepressants for a short period of time- the most harrowing time of which was the extreme postpartum depression I had after the birth of my second child.  I consider myself lucky to not have to be constantly dependent on medication, but struggle with asking for help when I know that I am in another bout of depression.

Early this year I took the last Lexapro in the bottle and realized that I was out of refills. With a start I realized that I had been on Lexapro for two years- a much longer period of time than I was comfortable with. I had asked the doctor for a prescription when I realized that the latest bout of depression was out of control and I was having trouble sleeping, eating and going about my day-to-day life. However, I had never meant for the antidepressants to be a long-term solution. I knew that it was time to come off of them and learn to manage my life again.

I admit that it is terrifying to live again without antidepressants, when they have helped to manage my emotions for such a long time. I fear the terrible sadness but fear the unreasonable anxiety even more. When my anxiety is at its worst, I cannot sleep and am frightened and jumpy at all times. It can be a living hell.

In the first months without the medication, I am always surprised at the myriad of emotions I experience. I do notice more sadness and anxiety when I am medication-free but I also notice more joy and energy. Anti-depressants leave me feeling a heavy, measured slowness and without that feeling I feel more alive than ever. If I manage my self-care, the days of depression are few and far between.

I find that life comes at me in stops and starts- days of joy punctuated with days of sadness that only envelope me for a short time before releasing me from their sticky grip back into the arms of happiness. When the days of depression are few, I can sink into the feelings and release them when I am though, even finding worth in the days of sadness as my creative soul tends to come alive and I bleed ink onto the page without any laboring.  I dance with the grief and sadness as easily I spin in the arms of joy, the contrast of the two reminding me that every feeling has a purpose.

For today, I will slow dance with life without medication streaming through my veins. I will find the worth in the good days and the bad and care for myself in the same loving way as I care for my beloved children. However, if there comes a day in which it is, again, time to ask unabashedly for help and an antidepressant prescription to manage the darkness, I will do so unashamed.  This life is a blessing and a curse and some days we all need a little help towards the light.