Did you know, that “chaos” used to mean “a chasm, or abyss”? I didn’t, but it works handily into today’s theme, which is. . .
Chaos, in the sense of disorder, confusion, turmoil, anarchy, and whatever you’re having yourself.
Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I have a chronic illness called depression. It’s been a part of me for most of my life, and I have quite a number of coping behaviors that pretty often get me through a flare-up. Sometimes, though, the coping behaviors just don’t do the trick, and I need to resort to brief periods of being medicated. Happily, I do pretty well with a medication that doesn’t fog my thinky bits to the point of not being able to write, but it’s still medication, and, cat-like, I hate being interfered with, so I cut loose from the drugs as soon as I feel steady enough to carry on my ownself.
It occurred to me, after the last flare-up, that I needed, at this late stage in life, to expand my repertoire of coping skills, because the disease has learned how to circumvent a number of the classics. And because I’m getting old enough that helping professionals will tend to stop listening to me, because — Old Lady Syndrome. And because, yanno, we all need new challenges in our daily lives, to keep us. . .sharp, that’s it.
So, I began daily meditation, and took up a firm schedule of exercise, made the commitment to return to yoga, and established bed-time and wake-up time. I started this when I was on meds, so I’d be in stride when the medication was stopped, and — it was going pretty well.
Then, the schedule was somewhat interrupted by a vacation — and utterly shattered by family emergencies of the most disruptive sort imaginable.
I fell off the meditation wagon, thoroughly scrambled my exercise/yoga routine; bedtime and wake-up became fluid, and sleep was not always sound. The nature of the emergency meant that I, and everyone I was in close contact with, were being constantly dosed with toxic levels of uncertainty, confusion, grief, and distress.
So, emergency — we got through it, did the needful — and came home.
One of the most pernicious aspects of this disease, depression, is that it immediately magnifies any small error you may have made into a Huge Life Failure, therefore making it harder to, say, go back to meditation or exercise: You’ve already proved you’re a failure, unable to keep to the simplest schedule. Why bother? Who cares? What a waste of time and space you are; why don’t you do everyone a favor, and just curl up and die?
. . .says the disease to yourself, and, honestly? it’s pretty devastating to hear that kind of talk: here’s your own brain telling you what an utter loss you are, after all.
You need to take a lot of deep breaths, and remember to stop and figure out by dead reckoning if it’s you, or the disease, talking.
We’ve been home a few days now, and I. . .notice the subtle signs indicating the approach of a flare-up. I do not want a flare-up. Truthfully, I could do with never being depressed again, ever.
So, this morning, I hit the gym. This afternoon, by ghod, I will meditate; it’s only 10 minutes, not a lifetime. I can do this. I’m registered for the next yoga class, which starts in two weeks.
And I need to remember to get to bed on time. Or close to time. Or, anyway, before 2 am.
And! I need to keep a weather-eye out — on me. I think this is the part of the whole chronic disease thing that I hate the most. I have to monitor myself; to weigh every moment of sadness, or disinclination to do a thing, or failure to find the Exactly Correct Word for the current WIP, to try to judge if there’s a flare-up on the horizon, or if I’m just having, as everyone does, a bad day.
So, anyway — Chaos. Disorder is not my friend, not if I want to stay out of the chasm of depression.
. . .that shouldn’t be hard to remember.
Today’s blog post title is brought to you by Alfred Bester, who ‘way back wrote a novel called The Demolished Man, which may be worth your time, even in these enlightened times.