Monday, January 4, 2010


For so many of my friends, 2009 was just a terrible, terrible year. I know all-too-well how eager they are to cast it off and move forward into better days. Two thousand and eight was that year for me – the year that still makes me shudder to think of it. A year ago I was carefully and deliberately pulling myself out of a pretty fragile state, and while I felt tentative, I also felt hopeful, and ever so grateful, as one does on the upswing after depression. And as it turned out, 2009 was one of my best years in memory. It really was just bathed in sunlight and lived with arms wide-open. I pray for exactly that sort of year-to-come for all of my dear ones who have suffered so much in 2009.

And I would ask for you to keep me in your prayers as well. It feels so much more foolish and vulnerable to bare one’s soul on a public blog when one’s skin is feeling a bit thin and one’s soul is feeling a bit punky, but it also seems the only honest thing to do, doesn’t it? And the truth is that exactly a year after I started climbing out of the depression of 2008, I fear I’m crossing paths with myself on a downswing, tentative again, but this time with a blush of dread and foreboding. I promised myself a year ago that I would never let myself crash as hard as I did in the spring and again in the fall of 2008. Check in with me again in a couple of weeks, will you? Nobody I love can afford to have me fall that far off the deep end of depression and anxiety again. So I’m going to focus on taking care of myself in the next few weeks, and see how it goes. If I still feel this punky, I will seek some help. Promise.

In the meantime, I think part of my despond has been precipitated in the past week by the serious, painful, debilitating return of plantar fasciitis. Our trip to Ohio and a death in the family (Julie’s Auntie – I will write more about that soon) have made it difficult to do some things I know will help – get a really good new pair of shoes, get orthotic inserts, get a foot brace for sleeping, get to yoga, and stay off my feet for awhile. Auntie’s funeral is tomorrow; the new washing machine comes Wednesday; Thursday I’m off to the Bryn Mawr Running Company (and how much do I love the young man at Dick’s Sporting Goods who advised me this afternoon that no, the top-of-the-line shoe Dick’s carries is not as good as the even-more top-shelf shoe recommended by the American Academy of Podiatrists, where my research earlier in the day had landed me. This lovely young man urged me, in the interests of my foot-health – and, little did he know, my mental health – to pay a visit to the real running professionals at the Bryn Mawr Running Company. Which I am going to do on Thursday.) So, I’m not entirely without hope, but I’m pretty despondent. Running, especially running outside in the sunshine and fresh air, especially in the winter, is pretty much my first and best mental-health maintenance strategy. In the meantime I’m going to join a gym for a couple of months, but it’s just not the same. Sigh. Getting back to yoga will most certainly help, as will my plan to add in Pilates once a week. Still, this pain in my heel is a big old pain in the ass.

I’m also pretty sure that my funk is largely hormonal. Which doesn’t make it any less real, at least as I experience it, but it does make it feel a little less like something that is entirely in my control to pull myself out of by sheer force of will. I’m not surprised that menopause is calling me so early – my ovaries acted like forty-year-olds when I was trying to get pregnant in my mid-thirties, and they are acting like fifty-year-olds now that I’m in my mid-forties. There’s much that I love about this menopausal time of life, actually – in many ways it is powerful and passionate and liberating … and something I should write more about, now that I think about it. (Who is writing about menopause in the blogosphere these days? I would love to know….) But I’m pretty sure nature did not intend for the mother of a highly sensitive and energetic six-year-old boy to be shepherding her son’s early childhood while her brain is awash in the hormones of menopause. So I’m going to see my doctor soon in the hopes that she can help me figure out how to manage my wildly irregular and intense menstrual cycles these days. At the very least, I’m hoping she can tell me it’s all relatively normal (hypochondria runs in my family, and it’s pretty easy for me to convince myself that Something Is Terribly Wrong).

In the meantime, I’m cooking a lot – a sort of kitchen-therapy that feels calm and contemplative and satisfying on so many levels. I’m loving my Christmas copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, though if I can’t start running soon, I may have to consider cutting back on my butter intake. But cooking feels like the best way I can take care of my family these days, something I don’t always feel entirely up to when I’m in a funk. Tonight, on the eve of Auntie’s funeral – a sad and stressful time for Julie and all of us – Micah and I designed a menu of macaroni and cheese made with sauce b├ęchamel, artichokes in white butter sauce, mussels steamed in white wine and shallots (and butter), baguette from Baker Street Bakery, and left-over apple tart that I made yesterday (I was even late to church waiting for it to bake, gasp! You know that’s devotion to my new French tart obsession – though I did make sure to get there for the sermon, which would have been a terrible shame to miss – Michael’s a little on fire these days).

And now that I have cried on your collective internet shoulders (and having done so, feel much better, thank you!), I’d better limp my sorry butt to the kitchen and clean up the Awesome Mess that a tornado of French cooking can leave in its wake. I’m writing on Wednesday while I wait for the washing machine delivery (we’ve been without for several weeks), so more soon, I hope.

xo m

PS I made Julie read this before posting, to make sure it wasn’t too embarrassingly confessional and attention-seeking. She looked at me with a quizzical expression and asked, “It’s a blog. Isn’t that what a blog is? Confessional and attention-seeking?” The fact that I laughed out loud rather than stomping off to pout – and have posted my confessional attention-seeking blather nonetheless – all points to the fact that I am really fine. Really. In case you’re like me and a bit of a worrier. ;-)


Corey said...


Do you have a SAD light? I have not needed mine as much this winter.. I think partly because I am in VA where the winter is milder, and partly because I am running.. I would be willing to let you borrow mine if you want to give it a try.. mine is small (like 6" x 6" or so) and would be easy to ship.. Let me know if you think you want to give it a shot..


Joanna said...

I made a pie in your pie plate on New Year's Day and thought of you with love. I didn't know how bad off you were in '08 (I was all self-centered and pregnant, in my pathetic defense), and I'm so sorry I wasn't of more use.

I have problem feet too, and wear very sexy $200 shoes that do help. Bless the guy at Dick's for his honesty, and I hope you get some relief.

liz said...

i think it's healthy when we depressives are attention-seeking! can be seen as a sign that we haven't totally gone off the deep end. reaching out is so important.

thinking about you. wondering if a cup of something with me would be helpful or hurtful!

i'm here. always. xo

Anonymous said...

will be keeping an eye on you ;)


Patrick said...

Dear One,

I'm so sorry to read this, and yet delighted, since my experience with depression tells me that when I can identify it and ask for help, I'm already in a better place. Maybe that's not how it works with thee, but I am definitely sending love thy way, and will check in regularly. After what seems like MONTHS away from blogging I've had an orgy of blog-writing, and am only just beginning to get caught up on my blog-reading. I still several Advent posts to savor here!

Love, love, love,


Sara said...

I'm behind in blog reading but will say a few things briefly here - and more detail by email if you wish :) I had really really bad plantar fascitis - and custom orthotics were entirely the solution. I wore them religiously for years - but moreover, it went from crippling pain every step to instant "aahhhh" the moment I started using them. I can now get away with not wearing them so religiously.

Re hormones - I use Prozac in an atypical way - not for ongoing depression, but to treat fairly intense PMS hormones. I take one at the onset of symptoms, and take one for the next couple of days. It works fairly instantly (well, a few hours) for me. I only have to do it every 4 or so cycles. Some of my cycles started getting WACKED hormonally/emotionally a couple of years ago. It has been a total transformation. I have no doubt that this is part of my own menapausal pathway - but put it on your list of things to ask about. Honestly, I take it for 2-4 days, and then stop. It functions entirely differently for treating PMS than it does for regular depression (where it takes a while to build up and work).

hang in there. I'm not reading "depressive" in your writing - though I do hear your worries and am thrilled with your proactive stance!

oh, and put the butter/food worries way at the bottom of your list. If it is still an issue in oh say June, and all the other stuff has dropped off your List O' Worries, take it up then ;) Food is comfort, now is not the time to be messing with comfort.

Rebecca said...

Your post has been on my mind since I read it on Tuesday.

It's good you've recognized the potential for a nose dive and can ask for help. Better to prevent the descent rather than climb out of the abyss.

I had terrible post-partum depression (anxiety) in 1999. I recovered but then developed panic disorder in 2005 due to my running injury. I became obsessed with trying to get better, the fear I wouldn't get better, the anger that my body was failing me yet again (infertility issues), fear of the pain, etc. Thankfully I was already in therapy and my psychiatrist recognized it and put me on Lexapro. I still take a very low dose and that manages my irritability and insomnia.

My running career ended but thankfully I can say I did find a replacement in tennis. I swim once a week and that's OK, but the tennis is simply amazing for me. You will likely be able to run again. But on the small chance you won't I think it's good to know that you can find a replacement. One that isn't so very, very hard on the body.

You are in my thoughts.

Marta said...

corey, i can't tell you how touched i am. i know you are off running a marathon -- or maybe have already run it? at any rate, when you get back and and everything is back to normal (bwa ha ha ha ha!!), i actually wouldn't mind if you sent me that lamp for a try-out. i will email you off-blog. and thanks again so much for your thoughtfulness.

jo, i felt and still feel guilty for having so totally neglected you during your pregnancy. not to mention just dumping la leche league in your lap. anyway, i'm really going to be fine. feeling better already! it makes me happy to know you ate pie and thought of me. i miss you.

liz, PLEASE let's have a cup of something SOON. it would so totally help, lol!

wanda, i'm counting on it. thanks friend.

patrick, dear brother twin, it will make me happy to have thee check in with me, but really the only remedy is bodies in the same room. i'm thinking end of january or early february i will come to thee and sit on your couch and write for a day or two. what does thee think?

sara, this is awesomely helpful. i'm seeing my doctor soon and will discuss. i will be in touch if/when i need more info and kindness. i am so glad you are my friend. (and don't worry, food is my friend!)

rebecca, thank you so much for your kind thoughts. it helps knowing folks are thinking of me. i despair when i think of not running again -- more because it fits so easily in my life, less that i can't imagine replacing it with something else. but i know i could if i had to, and it's good to be reminded. so thanks again!

Maria said...

Oh, Marta!
I'm only reading this now. What a gorgeous soul you are. You will not fall. And if you do, you will not be alone.

with love,
Maria Beatty