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 béchamel, 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.
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. ;-)