While I was painting this acrylic picture last night, trying to capture the burgeoning depression I could feel weighing on me, the REM song Shiny Happy People came on the satellite channel I was listening to. I felt that song perfectly captured how I was feeling, as I always felt it was a rather tongue-in-cheek, mockery of a song. I decided to name the artwork after the song, so here is my version of Shiny Happy People:
Check out all my art currently for sale on my ebay store.
I’ve been feeling rather sad and isolated the last few days. I think a lot of it comes from the stress of dealing with chronic illness and chronic pain. Anyone who has chronic illness is probably familiar with spoon theory, an illustrative way to describe why you have to choose carefully how to use your energy to do things when you have very limited physical ability.
In other words, sometimes you have to choose whether you would like to go out and socialize for a short period of time, spend that energy getting some much-needed housework done, work on a hobby or personal interest, or even simply take a shower…because you just don’t have the energy and the physical ability to do them all within the same day like a healthy person could.
Most of the time I end up choosing to spend my “energy” and limited abilities to either spend time with my husband, work on my art/writing/blogging, or take care of personal hygiene or light housework. Prioritizing these things leaves no extra energy or time to socialize on a wider scale or do much outside of the house, other than maybe occasionally going out for dinner or doing a little necessary shopping. Even the thought of going to a movie is often too exhausting to contemplate.
All of this makes me sad, especially when I remember how I used to enjoy so many other things I can’t do any longer. I used to love hiking, playing tennis, roller skating, bowling, dancing, working, swimming, being a foster parent, and going out to various activities with people I know or share interests with. I’ve pretty much lost all of that for good. And that is depressing.
A couple nights ago I was feeling so confused and conflicted inside that I started to feel a little bit claustrophobic. Some of you may not understand that feeling if you’ve never had it yourself, but it is something I have experienced more than once when the emotional and rational parts of my brain just can’t seem to find common ground. It is even worse when the emotional parts of your brain are telling you different things at the same time too.
Part of my brain might be telling me that someone does care about me because they buy me stuff (they are so generous!) and make such a fuss over me whenever I see them. While another part of my brain is reminding me of the times they fucked me over and left me to cry alone. From what I understand, this is a common thing experienced by those who have been victims of abuse. There is a real trauma bond that is created between abuser and abused, which makes it so very hard to see the abuser for what they really are and to be able to keep your wits about you when they suddenly do something nice or swear yet again that they’ve “changed”.
I know I have complex PTSD and a buttload of cognitive dissonance going on in this weary head of mine. I know that the healing process is long, and realistically, never-ending in some ways. I know that none of it was my fault, even though I still struggle with feelings of guilt, insecurity, and inadequacy. I know that I have made wide and sweeping relationship changes I had to make for my own welfare, but I still find myself feeling sorrow for what could or should have been.
I am often confused and desperate to understand what is beyond understanding. And I guess I have to make peace with that. I really have no other choice.
I’ve been severely depressed the past couple days. Two nights in a row I’ve been teary and weepy and feeling very much alone. Late last night I lay curled up on the bathroom floor crying, a position I often find myself in when depression gets severe.
I do have the support of a wonderful husband and he spent probably a good hour yesterday listening to me cry and talk about how I’m feeling. Sadly, he struggles with much of the same issues I do, so I always feel bad unloading on him because it brings out the same feelings in him that I’m suffering with.
I think what is getting to me the most is just the desire for a loving, supportive family, which I simply don’t have. Most of my immediate family is dead, only one member is still living and they seem to not be talking to me right now for some unknown reason. In some ways it might be best if we don’t talk since the constant ups and downs of the relationship really affect my moods, but it is still not easy to know that your only living close relative doesn’t seem to want anything to do with you or seem to care about you.
I wish I could replace those family relationships I have lost, but where do you find family if you don’t have one? You can’t exactly go shopping for one or even expect friends to step into those positions (if I even had friends). Sure, I could make friends if I tried harder maybe, but it still wouldn’t be FAMILY. It wouldn’t fill the huge hole in my heart left by those who have left me.
Like a tumbleweed rolls,
end over end
what I’ll collide with next.
Tonight was a bad night. The pain, isolation, and despair came crashing down so hard and fast that I crawled off the couch and collapsed onto the carpet, on my side, in a loose fetal position and just wept. I gripped the beige carpet fibers in my fingers and pulled as the tears pooled below my cheek. I pinched myself. I aimlessly pummeled the floor. The anger exploded in that way it always does, boomeranging right back into myself. I considered my options. All the ways it could end. The option of reaching out for help. The feeling that grasping for that help would only inconvenience others. After all, my husband has to work tomorrow, he needs his sleep. I can’t take the car, who would bring it back to him?
Eventually, I made my way outside. Hoping the cold would numb it all. I walked on the icy, wet grass and then took a seat on the deck stairs. Soon my feet were frozen numb, and my body curled inward, instinctively seeking to conserve its heat, even as I wished that I could bear it long enough to freeze. Dark thoughts of black toes breaking off soon made hypothermia a less attractive ending. If only it were like a Jack London novel, a slow nodding off into warm, cozy whiteness.
Eventually, I found myself back where I started, on the couch, hoping to find comfort on electronic waves, here in the place where lost things seem to gather in today’s society. I soon stumbled across someone else crying and hugging a giant stuffed giraffe and it soothed the edges just a little. Now, I can only hope tomorrow is brighter.
Hiking with Hemingway
Written By: Maranda Russell
One foot in front of the other,
he reminds himself sternly,
pulling the edge of his hat down
to shield his sensitive brown eyes
from the glare of the city lights
winking in the distance.
Every glimpse of human society,
of the burning embers
from love lost and found
and lust thrown to the ground,
only serve to make a lesser man
turn his heart aside.