A Tent in the Desert

For a long time now, I’ve felt like I was struggling to get through a desert.  Choking on dust, slogging through sand, extreme heat and cold, walking into cacti (I’d probably do this in a real desert), falling into craters, running scared from those creepy sand worm things you see in the movies.  It’s not real.  I know it’s not real, it’s not even logical, but it’s there.  I’ve made this trip every day for over a year.  Three hospital visits, dozens of drugs, tons of time missed from work – I’ve had respites, mirages that seemed so real.  But I always return to this damn desert.

Texas desert.

Texas desert.  Only 1,000 miles to the next town.

I’ve run a long time.  Sometimes it’s from the anxiety causing (I’ll say) sand worms.  Other times it’s running toward something – the cure.  Surely there is some pill, some treatment, something, that is going to cure me and make me all better and normal and functional.  I run and run and run.  Until I can’t run any longer.  I look back, but it’s too far to go back from where I’ve come.  If all stays as it is, if I continue to run, continue to fear, continue to tell myself “Once x happens, then y= HAPPY”, I’m not going to get anywhere.  Already I’ve collapsed several times from exhaustion, ready to just lay down and give up on the desert sand.

Obviously all this mental desert time has caused problems in my “real” life with my husband, my kids, my work, my health (nutrition is pop-tarts right?), my cluttered, sometimes disgusting house (Let’s play what’s that smell today), my finances, and on and on.  And I’ve tried to solve these.  Or hoped that a new med or therapy would give me the ability to solve them.  ALL OF THEM.  As Allie Brosh, author of the blog Hyperbole and a Half and a fellow sufferer, would say “CLEAN ALL THE THINGS”.

It doesn’t work.  It’s too much pressure.  You will drown.  Even in the desert.

So I told my therapist about the desert.  And she said something simple.  “Build a tent.”

My tent. What?

My tent. What?

Don’t focus on “cures”.  Don’t focus on what’s behind you.  Don’t focus on what’s ahead.  Just keep hanging in there – exactly where you are right now.  Use whatever “coping” mechanisms you can, and I don’t just mean “deep belly breathing” or making gratitude lists (Thank you so bloody much for depression.)   No, use YOUR coping mechanisms, anything that makes you able to make it through another hour.  Some of mine are getting away somewhere that I can cry alone (especially while trying to tolerate work) hot cocoa (it soothes my nerves), soft socks and this sweater / throw rug my friend gave me.  And my Things of course, they are my two favorite things.

So I’ve stopped.  I have my tent, and my goodies, and I sit and I peek out occasionally.  I am counting down the days (three weeks now) until I can visit a shrink who is not a total jackass.  I’ve gotten a small increase on one of my meds from his nurse who is not a jackass.  I’ve missed work, gotten time without pay, and gone home and napped.  I missed half a day today, and woke up depressed.  Sleeping that much is not a good coping skill.  Naps are good.  Hours and hours, which leads to hours and hours up at night watching Lifetime and infomercials (I can lose 80 pounds without exercise if only I do extreme damage to that heart thingy!), is not good.  I need good sleep.  Without it, even the tent shakes.

So I just have to focus on day by day.  I hope I can stay at work, because being at home is not much better.  If anyone has tips for handling depression at work that do not have to do with breathing (trust me, I’ve heard it), please feel free to offer them.  I thought a lot about just quitting, but realizing today how bored and sad I get at home (especially whilst playing the “what’s that smell” game), I know I need my job, and for more than just the income.  I also need to know what I want.  If I sit in the tent instead of constantly racing and racing, my counselor says it will come to me.

What do I want – in work, with my husband, with my kids, with family, with my house, with my life.  What do I really want?  I don’t know right now because I am too blinded by everything else, all the hurry and worry and sad and sick.  If I can just sit in my tent, can I just sit and thinks?  What do I want (besides getting well).  I hope I can find it.  But I can’t rush it.  The knowledge of what Alice really wants will only come when I stop looking.

So I have to stop.  Take comfort in the tent.  Survive.  And listen to that voice in my head.  Not the mean, depressive one.

The one that belongs to Alice.

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15 responses

  1. I will stand by you on your journey.

  2. Reblogged this on Knocked Over By A Feather and commented:
    Please send some support to my friend Alice.

  3. Seems like a perfectly good tent to be in. You’ll be okay I think.

    1. I’m working on it, thanks. BTW, do you happen to have another GI Joe review up because those do wonders for depression. 😀

        1. I hadn’t read it yet! The shenanigans of those crazy government officials and terrorists never let me down. Thanks for letting me know. 😀

          1. I had sent you a Twitter message back in the day. Guess you don’t check the Tweets too often?

  4. NotAPunkRocker | Reply

    I know I have been away for a while but I have been thinking of you and wondering how things were going. Now I know…because you are brave enough to put this out there/here/whereverthisis…so score one for Alice for taking that initiative.

    I love the idea of the tent, I may have to adapt it into my life. We can be neighbors in the desert, but not annoying “always dropping by ones”. ((hugs))

    1. You can drop by anytime. Especially if you bring legos. 😀

  5. Hey Alice. Good to see you. Listen to your Alice voice. I don’t know advice for work. I’m going to try walking around our outdoor track, now that the weather is nice. Last year I had to compete with the geese and their poo. Property Management assures us this year will be different.

    Take care.

  6. I am so sorry I didn’t get to this sooner sweetie. Your therapist sounds good. This is actually a great idea and a hell of a lot more practical than some of that drivel therapists sometimes come up with. One thing I would offer is that part of the reason smoking is still a coping skill for me is because it gets me up from my desk and away from whatever is likely bothering me. I know you don’t and can’t smoke, but maybe you could get up and go outside for a short walk. Just a little time to get your blood flowing and change your scenery. Offer to run a package to another building on campus or to go get lunch for a co-worker from the cafeteria or just tell whoever you need to tell that you need 10 minutes worth of sunshine and fresh air.

  7. Is there a way of moving yourself to a different room at work for a time-out every so often? Or can you find “errands” to run to other buildings, because getting outside for a brief while and a look at a different set of walls other than the ones you work in (and therefore also getting away from the immediate colleagues) can be very, very helpful. Clearly you need work for the alternative set of walls to home. Is there a chaplaincy type thing at the uni where you work? You could always escape there in your lunch break as it should be pretty quiet and peaceful if you need some time by yourself.

    And finally, is there a way I can ask you any more questions in one post?

    Love you, Alice, and I will keep on bothering the Man Upstairs on your behalf.

    1. Thanks, faith. I do try to walk around and take frequent bathroom breaks. Also archives is locked so I can get in a few deep breaths back there. And please bother that old man. 😀

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