For today, Friday, I bring you Heidi’s guest post. Yet again I cannot remember how I stumbled on to her-but now I’m drawn to her-her simple light, glowing in the wilds of the interwebs, full of Buffy and Molly and passion. It’s invigorating and inspiring.
Heidi blogs, mostly, at Daisybones, but around other places as well.
I started drafting a post a month or two ago, and called it My Brand of Crazy. I was seeing a lot of mental distress happening in my blogiverse haunts, and as if in tiny shards of mirror I saw familiar glimpses everywhere. Perhaps the collective consciousness of women writers is brewing something. (If that’s the case I hope it’s a steaming cauldron brimming with radical change for those of us stuck in oppressively repeating patterns.)
We are all living depressions or anxieties that are all distinctly our own but tie us to one another. My first draft still waits unfinished, most likely because writing from down in that darkness is rarely successful for me. My shattered sleep was killing my focus and perspective, and now that the night rhythms in my family are gentler, I’m able to write from a coherent place. I’ve been meaning to piece those mirror moments together, to compose a fragmented Thank You to the writers whose candid work inspires me and shows me a little many-forked path out of isolation.
Thordora, wisely taking some meditative steps away while inviting others to share here, presents me with a perfect reason to finish the writing. Her crisis is wrenching me, but for the first time I feel like I’m seeing huge changes that will be healing for her. I see it as Shiva energy- she walks inward toward death and finds a frighteningly intense life instead. Pain but change. Reading her world through my experience, I have to imagine my moods cycling steeper and harder and darker and that vision brings me awe. You are still here, we still have you: Awe.
I don’t mean in my mirror metaphors to compare the whole of my mind with the whole of another. It isn’t helpful to create a hierarchy of illness. But I’m aware, acutely so, that I’m lucky among my writer-heroines- what I would give to be lay sleep on them like a restorative veil and to find that it’s enough to lift them out. I’ve teetered on the edge of needing medication again, and it’s a good feeling to be able to see a choice there. Many of us- a younger me- had no luxury to wonder if they needed the pills.
When Teresa bravely wrote at Soul Gardening about her diagnosis and symptoms, I cried hard for her because I knew, deeply. Hers is the first description that matched my anxious “flashes” exactly. Her visions weren’t quite the same as some mothers with PPD who feel urges or imagine hurting their children, but they are so close and are also terrifying. Like me, she would imagine strange, violent accidents. I remember holding my daughter, stroking her hair. I’d envision her older, with longer hair, and I’d be getting her haircut- then a flash like a horror film still with scissors in her soft spot and I’d clench all over to force the image out. I’ve had these flashes since I was a child. Compulsive, fast, little movies. They came more often post-partum but I had seen them before and could manage them. When I think of Teresa having these scary flashes out of nowhere, baby in arms, I want to hold them both tight and promise them it’s OK. I think things are improving for her now, and I send her loving thoughts.
I’m crawling out of my recent moderate-crazy, finding the ups more gentle and frequent and the downs less steep. I’m crediting the mirror people with a lot of that. It’s more than a reflection metaphor. It’s light, bouncing invisible. Little wavelengths binding us in a web we keep making. It strengthens and build me and lifts me out and up to read words so like those I was afraid to write at Schmutzie’s Milkmoney or Not Here I Come or Sweetney. This tears down barriers that keep us from seeing ourselves as part of a collective. The nature of depression/anxiety is isolating and somehow we are defying that by writing through it.