Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

Although I mostly deal with anxiety on a daily basis, on occasion I get bogged down with depression. But it's often not a deep-I-can't-get-out-of-bed depression, but much more of a melancholy-what's-the-point kind of depression. I've been there for about a week or so. 
I'm not entirely sure what caused it...maybe because I had to lecture about abortion...which although it's one of my most important lectures and one that I get a lot of positive feedback from students's just a draining not-so-fun topic that I have to cover. I worry about students freaking out and going all "BABY KILLERS!" in the middle of class, worry that I'm being too preachy-too liberal and not presenting the information in as neutral a way I can as possible...and it drains me. My teaching style is very much one of letting students figure out their own feelings, morals and values about topics and not shoving things down their throat. So while I am wildly pro-choice, I try as best as possible to not be the shouty scary feminist that turns off students from the message. I believe in attracting bees with sugar. But it takes a lot of effort. 
Actually it might have more to do with all the political hubbub in Indiana. Day after day after day of people debating whether or not it's ok to shun you is mentally and emotionally exhausting. So exhausting that that's all I'm going to say about that for now. I'll write more about it later. 

The weather here has also been weird. Raining, cloudy, cold, tornado warning the other day. After weeks of sunshine and warmth this feels like a step back. And that usually hurts my moods. I don't want to take off my sandals and put my sweaters back on! 

My therapist has been out sick for a couple weeks. Not having my weekly therapy sessions is a drag. Not that anything major has been coming up for me that I NEED to process with her, but there's something calming and reassuring about checking in with her each week. It gives me a stability that I worry I can't maintain on my own sometimes. 

The hard part about the melancholy is making sure it doesn't spiral out of control into larger fatalistic moods. Those are much harder to rebound and recover from. I'm getting better at reaching out to my support system when I start to feel that happening. I used to keep it all bottled up inside. Or would suffer needlessly because I couldn't stand to burden anyone. So when I realized that I was spiraling to the "OMG WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE FROM ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION AND I CAN'T MADE GOOD CHOICES ANYMORE" I knew I had to reach out to one of my most favorite melancholic confidantes because she'd know exactly what I was feeling and would be able to help me find perspective. It's lucky that my friends and I rarely fall of the edge of sanity at the same time. There's always one of us to support the other(s) when shit starts to get too real. 

And then I talked to my lovely, neverendingly patient partner. Who listens and doesn't judge. Who seeks to understand and doesn't strike out. Who reflects and responds rather than scolds and blames. Lord she's the best. 

And now here I am blogging two days in a row. Maybe the fog is lifting. I hope so.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Music Moves Me...To Laugh or Sing or Cry

Like any good kid growing up in the 90's I dabbled in all of the popular "alternative" bands. We might call them emo now, but in the day, they were all "alternative." It was in my teens that I first noticed how much I used music to evoke emotions and work through things that were weighing on my mind. My family didn't really do emotions and feelings and talking, but we did do music. Both of my parents are big music fans. They also both like pretty different music so we were exposed to wide ranges of musical tastes.

Remember how I have OCD? Yeah, that fucks with your musical inclinations. At least it does with mine. I don't like change. Change brings uncertainty and uncertainty can be uncomfortable and that's just scary. So it's really hard for me to venture into new music. I'm usually about 6 months behind everyone else in listening to new music. I've had to be exposed to it a zillion times in various public places before I can even think to adopt it into my musical library. This has drove many partners and friends nutty.

Another side effect of not liking change is that I am VERY comfortable with a certain level of monotony. I can listen to the same playlist every single day for months. Which is usually do. If I liked that music enough to download it and put it in a playlist, then I'm probably going to like it for life and probably ok with listening to it every single day. Again, this tends to make other people batty.

Another thing about me that combines my upbringing and my OCD is that music often will work on feelings that I'm having deep deep down that I am not yet able to consciously access. And often times that means one particular song will get stuck in my head. And I'll fall asleep hearing it in my head, and I'll wake up hearing it in my head, and I'll listen to it 793 times on repeat for days on end. Even I can recognize that this is very strange. Most people cannot listen to the same single song for a week straight. But they don't have compulsive behaviors that soothe them. So I try and refrain from playing the same song eleventy million times in a row when other people are around. But when I'm alone? Bam. Back to repeat.

Most of the songs that get stuck in my head tend to evoke some sort of negative emotion. I rarely have a problem with being happy. But I often have trouble processing harder feelings. So I listen to a lot of emo music when I'm struggling. It's one of the easiest ways Andrea or close friends can cue in on my mood. If you hear Jane's Addiction "Jane Says" out. Dark, gloomy and wounded mood. Marilyn Manson? Angry, angry, annoyed, pissed. Certain Goo Goo Dolls songs...wistful, clingy, wanting love and reassurance.

Sometimes when I've been down for many many days and I'm struggling to overcome I'll listen to insanely happy music. And usually fake big goofy smiles. I read an article one time about how if you fake smile it activates endorphin releasers in your muscles and eventually you'll feel actually happier instead of just fake happy. So if you ever hear me listening to Judy Garland "Come on Get Happy" and looking like I'm having some sort of spastic happy stroke? No worries. Just trying to dust out the gloom in my head and doing it one of the most accessible ways I know how.