Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do You See What I See?

I never thought of seeing as being a subjective experience. Perception, yes, but the facts of seeing always seemed to me to be absolute. That is obviously the Grand Canyon, that is the letter A, that is the last piece of pizza. There's nothing hypothetical there. Once again, however, I am wrong and must evolve if I am to survive in the this constantly shifting anthropology of modern motherhood.

Exhibit A:
I left the house on a Sunday night. I'd spent the majority of the day doing laundry for the various humans in my home. I fold laundry, as I do most tasks of tedium, not listening to NPR as most of my neighborhood claims but in front of the TV. After the final load of laundry was put away, I left the empty laundry basket in the living room tucked up against the coffee table; partly because I didn't feel like walking upstairs again, and partly as a test. Yes, General Akbar, it was a trap of sorts. I wanted to see if anyone would bring it upstairs. I left that night to do what I do and I returned Tuesday afternoon to find the laundry basket in the same exact location; untouched by human hands or even toppled by the dog trying to get to whatever crumbs were left temptingly on the coffee table.

I say it was a trap to catch my children and husband in the act of willful laziness, but it was really a trap for good old me. There was a part of me that hoped someone would do what needed to be done, what seemed excruciatingly obvious to me; but most of me knew the basket would be there with its pathetic lonely used dryer sheet still hovering in the corner. And of course I was frustrated. No, I was mad. I actually trapped myself into being mad. My miscalculation came in the assumption that Husband and Teenagers 1 & 2 would walk into the living room from any angle and see the laundry basket. That was, in fact, my fatal flaw Aristotle.

That is when I realized that seeing is subjective.

I walk into the living room and I see:

  • blankets askew and piled in violation of all magazine recommendations
  • empty glasses with juice puddles waiting to be tipped and dripped all over the rug
  • random bottle caps left to find their own way to the trash
  • dirty socks on floors, furniture and draped on the dog
  • jackets fallen from their hooks
  • mail unsorted and neglected
  • clumps of dog hair amassing troops in corners to wage war on my pride
  • An empty laundry basket
In short, I see chaos. Chaos I have contributed to, but chaos nonetheless.

When Husband & Teenagers walk into the living room they see:
  • The TV
  • Places to sit and lie down
  • Blankets to keep them warm
  • a convenient place to find socks
  • remotes
  • a convenient overall location to call out to the kitchen for food and drink
In short, they see comfort.

It is the same with the piles of things on the steps intended to be brought upstairs. Even if I put the new toothpaste box or pile of paid bills, or whatever item belongs on the second floor in the middle of the steps, it is invisible. Until someone actually trips on it and then asks loudly why no one brings things up and just leaves stuff on the stairs, at which point I clench my teeth, roll my eyes and answer them inappropriately in my head.

I want to blame them so badly. I want to point out their insensitivity and laziness and selfishness, but I cannot because I gave them no opportunity to succeed. I tried to enlighten through passive aggression, a ploy universally employed and effective only in the distribution and proliferation of guilt and self-loathing. It really isn't that hard to ask someone to take the laundry basket upstairs. Much easier in fact than trying to elicit gratitude for my efforts by expecting them to read my mind and exhibit compassion the way I want it rather than the way they offer it when I'm too busy generating fury over perceived chaos.

So, I cannot blame or resent them for failing tests they did not know they were taking. I can teach them that a laundry basket is not actually a quirky design choice, I can ask them to help a mother out, and before I expect them to see the world through my eyes, I must remember to look at the world through theirs. Though the lens may be filtered by Call of Duty site scopes and clouded with Doritos residue, I will try to see what they see as I continue to navigate the terrain of this bizarre wilderness.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Boden & Foreboding

So I haven't written in awhile. You may think it's because I've been so busy being fabulous; and as much as I'd like to perpetuate that kind of magical thinking, that is not the reason for my absence. It's because I am depressed. I know, boo hoo, poor me. I'm disgusted myself, though I'm not sure if that is because of my innate sense of moral righteousness or caused by the depression, which, of course, diminishes the validity of said disgust. As a result, instead of writing witty blogs with a little message thrown in courtesy of a spoonful of my characteristic hilarity, I have been doing what you do when you are depressed but trying not to be.

I've been shaming myself into gratitude since there is suffering far greater than mine here, there and everywhere.

I've been listening to a lot of anthemic pop music.

I've been finding too much hidden meaning in movies like Mockinjay and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

I've been knitting. A lot. For a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

I've been watching too much TV and, having caught up, am seeking out new broadcast addictions.

I've cried and tried to cry.

I've browsed the extra 40% off sale page of the Sundance website frequently.

I've done the same with the Anthropologie website, but they only have 25% off sale items and, even in depression, I am plagued by my practicality.

Boden's sale page is next. (I'm actually looking at it right now whenever I can't think of what to write next.)

I'm exercising regularly because it has been said that helps. It does, briefly until I am done.

I play Candy Crush. A lot. For a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

I search job listings.

I frequent Groupon's travel deals.

I stay up too late.

I've stopped filing my nails.

I practice envy and resentment.

I add to my debt. (Usually by way of Sundance, and, momentarily, Boden)

I confide in my dog. A lot. For a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Why am I depressed? There is no fabulous or obvious reason. Unhappy at work, failure to achieve most of my dreams, lousy parenting, brain chemistry, winter, no marketable skills, no money for this awesome whimsical Boden skirt. Take your pick. It is a decidedly mundane and whiny depression and I am not doing the one thing I should be-therapy.

It's a tricky thing to start therapy when you are depressed. It makes sense and should appeal to my aforementioned practicality, but it actually feels on par with establishing breathable air on Mars or getting my kids to understand the correlation between stiff gummy toothpaste and the act of leaving the cap haphazardly to one side of the tube of Crest. Here is the Mt. Everest I see before me:

To start Therapy I have to first find a therapist. How do I do that? Ask for references from a friend I don't mind telling that I need to be in therapy on the off chance that their recommendation is actually in network(see Boden dilemma above). Or maybe I can search my health insurance's website, make a list and start making calls. Being depressed it takes several days to work up the courage to call an office and talk to a disinterested but trained in empathy intake administrator to explain my reasons for seeking out a therapist all the while sounding like I don't need one because I fear judgement from this stranger. After one call, filled with pride and exhaustion, I reward myself with a cinnamon roll and feel confident I have made enough of an effort and can now forgo any future search or follow-through. I might even make it to an initial appointment in a weird basement office filled with shelves of action figures used for play therapy and role play, only to be further exhausted by not finding the right therapist for me, plunging me into a deeper depression. And then, a week or two later I begin again with the next name on the provider list. It may, in fact take many calls of forced nonchalance and visits to a variety of eclectic offices before I find the therapist for me, and the prospect of that kind of mental health EHarmony is daunting to the point of being defeating.

What I really need to do is start therapy when I feel good. It takes hope to start therapy, and depression and hope are not quirky friends who bring new sitcom-like understanding to the term opposites attract. It stands to reason then that I should seek out therapy during bouts of confidence, just like I should buy jumper cables before my battery dies. So, will I help myself and get into therapy? Yes. but that's not why I write this.

I write this because depression whether it feels justified or petty, whether it is triggered by tragedy or no milk for your cereal is not insignificant, wrong or a sign of weakness. Denying it because you do not feel worthy of or entitled to it does not make it go away. Shame or pride will not conquer it. Treating it seems impossible and scary and an open invitation for stigma. Because, the truth is, we don't want to need help. We've all retained a touch of that stubborn toddler defiance that repeats "No, me do it," time and time again. If I broke my leg though, I probably wouldn't wait to see if it would go away with time. If I had heart disease I might not just tell myself to get over it.

I am not writing to reveal anything new about depression or too shock you with the suffering I feel. Mine is a garden variety depression. And I still feel pathetic and arrogant for presuming I have it. I do not really believe I will make any strides in normalizing or de-stigmatizing depression. But I want to stop pretending everything's okay even though by outward appearances it is. It's not just that I am depressed, I have depression. I'm hoping experts will help with it. I am not asking for you to feel anything about my talking about it. I am not hoping you will solve it for me. I'm just saying out loud(ish) That I have it. Because saying it gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment...

And gives me the confidence to accomplish more.

Right after I add this kicky Boden top to my wish list.