Oh. Christmas Tree?

One December, our family room looked barren. Where a glorious, fresh, decorated Christmas tree usually stood, we had but empty carpet. This was strange, since my mother loved fresh pine trees and had insisted on one for years. She loved the smell, you see. That year, however, she couldn’t bring herself to do Christmas. I’d say it was Winter Blues or a Nervous Breakdown or whatever euphemism people preferred for describing Depression, but it was also that my brother and I fought like angry dogs while complaining about our difficult lives in wealthy suburbia while demanding expensive presents.

Facing the reality of a tree-less Christmas, we children called a cease fire. Enlisting the help of the only other licensed driver in the house (our father), we set off to see what was available on a literal Christmas Eve.

Fortunately, we didn’t need to go far. At the point of commerce touching neighborhood, we saw that one of the businesses had donated their holiday decorations to the large dumpster out back. We drew closer. In the light of minivan headlights and father-held flashlight we saw them: a few skinny, short, still-alive Christmas trees.

“Let’s take them!” my sister said.

“They’re too small,” I claimed -or my brother; we share a similar optimism.

But we all knew we were short on options. We also knew we needed time to decorate, open our traditional pajamas, read Luke 2, and set out milk and cookies for Santa. Therefore, we took them.

And that is how, for our most memorable Christmas tree experience, we had three (rather dwarfish) pines in the place of honor. We looped the lights and tree skirt around them all, roping them like contestants in a three-legged race. We hung the ornaments where they’d fit.

And they smelled lovely.

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

©2020 Chel Owens

Thanks to CalmKate of Aroused for the prompt!

Life, Depression, Breakdowns, and Blogging

Life’s crazy sometimes.

Actually, life’s pretty boring if you’re an adult stuck in-between events. Like in the film Groundhog Day, each morning brings the same alarm which leads to the same breakfast cereal which leads to the same commute which leads to the same workday which leads to the same after-workday and housework. Exciting changes come in the form of bills (yay!) and the dishwasher breaking (double-yay!)

Lately, however, change has come creeping around like the green mist in Charleton Heston’s The Ten Commandments. At the advice of leaders, people have closed their doors, painted the lintels with sanitizer, and plan to stay inside till respiratory failure passes over.

I do not know how the Coronavirus news affected you, but ours was neither Groundhog Day nor The Ten Commandments. Ours was more of an accidentally-released film that started out with Alfred Hitchcock suspense, then lost all funding and turned into whatever the actors could come up with on the fly. We then got action, horror, comedy, bad stunts, feel-good moments, and even subtitles for when the grocery store workers watched their display of canned vegetables disappear for the umpteenth time.

Seemingly some of the few doing this, Kevin and I viewed the previews for this bad movie and planned accordingly. Still; when I read about this and this and this closing whilst listening to my baby’s coughing from a bad cold whilst tasting that chocolate I ate that yet again broke my diet -whilst probably experiencing postpartum hormones…

I broke.

Life was too much.

Blogging and all it entails was too much.

I wrote my last epistle, forever, and logged off. After a day of consideration, I logged on and added a note so as not to scare anyone.

A side effect of all this is a new desire for more privacy in my thoughts and feelings, so I will not go into many details besides these few. Even this much information is more than I wish to explain regarding my sudden change and my dramatic withdrawal.

My go-to in life is to numb, but I’ve taken it too far. I’m in The Matrix. Furthermore, I’m Cypher, intentionally trying to get plugged in despite tasting the freedom of The Real World. In the absence of godlike powers of Kung Fu and Jiu Jitsu, I concluded that life will always be the repetitive lines of off-green code that dictate a pre-programmed outcome that I will never change.

But; some tiny, immature, insecure person is still inside. It was she who woke, stamped her foot, and told Older Me to knock it off. Stop numbing. Stop plugging into the internet. Start living.

She knows I want to feel again; to live again.

And so, there are going to be some changes around here. I must, for my health and my life, prioritize what is real. I must connect with my family. Heck -I must connect with my bedroom wall, getting my brain to realize the wall is really there and really cold and really really real.

If you are experiencing similar numbness or disassociation, call your therapist or psychologist or whateverist. It’s not sustainable. It’s not real. It’s NOT what you want.

…and we woke to earthquakes this morning. If it gets any more funtastic around here, you may not hear from me till next year.
—————-

Since I checked out last week, here are the past two weeks. Bonus!
Wednesday, March 4: Complained about WordPress’ issues in “Dammit, WordPress!

Thursday, March 5: Throwback Thursday: “Motivation.”

Friday, March 6: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to EVERYONE!

Saturday, March 7: Announced the 62nd Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.

Sunday, March 8: Suffered a mental breakdown, and said, “Goodbye.”

Monday, March 9: An inspirational quote by Corrie Ten Boom.

March 10 – 12: Nothing.

Friday, March 13: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Ellen!

Saturday, March 14: Announced the 63rd Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is a limerick about hoarding during a catastrophe. PLEASE ENTER!

Also, I shared and featured my hope for how people are dealing with the COVID-19 scare.

Sunday, March 15: Nothing.

Monday, March 16: An inspirational quote by Terry Pratchett.

Tuesday, March 17: “Going Postal, I,” the first in a short series inspired by my postman.

Wednesday, March 18: Today.

I also posted on my motherhood site. I wrote “Super Parent or …Me?,” “Background Noises,” and “Oh, Baby.”

 

Photo Credit: GIPHY
Photo by Ekaterina Kartushina on Unsplash
Photo by Delaney Dawson on Unsplash
Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash
Photo by Roland Hechanova on Unsplash

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Oh, No: It’s That Irritating Need to Please Everyone Again

I suffer from Approval Addiction.

In every exchange, I try to be what pleases the other person. With my children, I am an experienced adult who unconditionally loves them. With my neighbors, I aim to be the easy-going one who’s willing to provide a cup of flour or plate of cookies. With my friends, I lend a listening ear and supportive hand. With my blog, I’m the writer-of-all-trades in order to please the greatest number of followers.

I wear many, many masks. I feel I even wear masks within masks.

Unfortunately, I fail. With my children, I become the resentful, repressed, and stressed adult who makes them think they must earn my affection. With my neighbors, I bother, offend, and fail to keep up. With my friends, I …don’t really have any. With my blog, I back-post midnight thoughts and give up (yet again) on reading what others wrote.

I feel dizzy with the ride of expectations vs. reality. I start employing my old numbing tactics: little sleep, lots of junk food, and mindless apps to distract.

Round

and round

and round again.

Sometime near 2 or 3 a.m., I lift my tear-streaked face from the closet floor. “I can’t keep doing this,” I say, with a smidgen of resolve. “Something’s gotta give.” I consider what I can get rid of:

  • Kids? Probably can’t give any back now.
  • Dishes? I wishes.
  • Laundry? Housework? Bill-paying? Errand-running? Etc? No, no, no, no, and no.
  • Staring at my shoe rack from my position on the floor whilst eating chocolate? Maybe.
  • Writing?

Ah, the writing. Some part of ‘the writing’ needs to give. I started blogging because I was going to succeed at something. Maybe I’d publish a book. Perhaps I’d attract tens of thousands of people to my site. Surely, I would change the world.

Whatever happened, my quick quips and cute phrases would most definitely be circulated around Facebook instead of the banal ones I saw daily.

Yet, here I sit, the same as when I started. I have nothing to show for all the time investment into ‘the writing.’

*sigh*

Well, I don’t literally have nothing to show for it. I have all of you.

I love my blogging friends, even those who don’t come around anymore. You’ve read, complimented, lifted, encouraged, responded, sympathized, reached out, poemed, and loved me. In a world where I rarely converse with like-minded people, I need this. I don’t expect everyone to read everything I write; you all feel the same, right?

So… I wonder how you all deal with ‘the writing.’ Have you a schedule? Do you write ahead? If you write and read less frequently, how do you still have followers?

Most importantly, do you write blog posts in the closet?

jamesthethomas5-HXVMKvaPNqg-unsplash

—————-

Here’s the breakdown for the week:

Wednesday, January 29: Talked about DIETING in, “The Diet: It Sucks But It Works.”

Thursday, January 30: Throwback to my Reddit story: “Customer Service.”

Friday, January 31: Posted the winner of this week’s “Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.” Congratulations to Matt Snyder.

Saturday, February 1: Announced the 57th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is LOVE. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, February 2: Shared Jules’ page of the poem we commented to create.

Monday, February 3: An inspirational quote from Nitin.

Tuesday, February 4: Poemed “An Overworked Poem About the Post,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Wednesday, February 5: Today

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Photo Credit: Jamesthethomas5

Wil Wheaton Gets Reals About Depression

A friend shared something useful to TwoFacebook: an article in Medium written by Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek fame).

Two of my favorite passages are:

“At that moment, I realized that I had lived my life in a room that was so loud, all I could do every day was deal with how loud it was. But with the help of my wife, my doctor, and medical science, I found a doorway out of that room.”

and

“One of the many delightful things about having Depression and Anxiety is occasionally and unexpectedly feeling like the whole goddamn world is a heavy lead blanket, like that thing they put on your chest at the dentist when you get x-rays, and it’s been dropped around your entire existence without your consent.

“Physically, it weighs heavier on me in some places than it does in others. I feel it tugging at the corners of my eyes, and pressing down on the center of my chest. When it’s really bad, it can feel like one of those dreams where you try to move, but every step and every motion feels like you’re struggling to move through something heavy and viscous. Emotionally, it covers me completely, separating me from my motivation, my focus, and everything that brings me joy in my life.

“When it drops that lead apron over us, we have to remind ourselves that one of the things Depression does, to keep itself strong and in charge, is tell us lies, like: I am the worst at everything. Nobody really likes me. I don’t deserve to be happy. This will never end. And so on and so on. We can know, in our rational minds, that this is a giant bunch of bullshit (and we can look at all these times in our lives when were WERE good at a thing, when we genuinely felt happy, when we felt awful but got through it, etc.) but in the moment, it can be a serious challenge to wait for Depression to lift the roadblock that’s keeping us from moving those facts from our rational mind to our emotional selves.

“And that’s the thing about Depression: we can’t force it to go away. As I’ve said, if I could just ‘stop feeling sad’ I WOULD. (And, also, Depression isn’t just feeling sad, right? It’s a lot of things together than can manifest themselves into something that is most easily simplified into ‘I feel sad.’)”

Go and read the full article, though. It is fantastic.

I Met Depression… and I Won

From the beautiful, authentic Heather Dawn:

A few years ago I was diagnosed with depression.

There are many reasons for falling into depression: Trama. Rejection. Bullying. Death or loss. Harmful world views. Stress. A life-altering event. Hormones. Lack of nutrition or sleep… and the list goes on.

Healing for each soul is a very individual path. So as I share my story of hope, that is all I want you to take from it.

There is hope.

Today I am alive. Joyful. Healed. Whole. And maybe what healed me can help you. But maybe you need to take a different path. That’s OK too.

I’m sharing to bring hope, not to say I have the answers.

In February 2014, I had my fifth child… a son. It was very, very difficult for me to face this addition to my family. Though I loved him more than words can describe, I was exhausted with the other children…

View original post 1,448 more words

Depression and Donuts (and an Elephant)

This morning, I sat in my car and ate a donut. I named it my 59 cent therapy. I forgave the tax.

I’d successfully taken the children to school -half an hour after the bell, and not counting The Child Who is Sick Every Day Ending in “Y.”

They were late because I was late. I was late because I woke up at my usual 5:30 too-early-to-do-stuff-and-too-late-to-sleep, but mostly exactly-when-the-baby-is-putting-too-much-pressure-on-my-bladder. After which, of course, I saw no point or purpose to life.

Some have expressed surprise that I am so candid about Depression. Why not be candid? You talk about your job, your kids, your hobbies -basically, your life. Depression is my life. It’s the cubicle I sit at, getting very little done because the computer rarely functions and the overhead lights have needed replacing for years.

Every day I either numb from it or succumb from it.

And I talk about it. Though not in person.

“How are you today, Chelsea?”

“Fine.”

I don’t earn an income, keep up on housework, raise the children without sarcasm, return library books before they’re due, or stay on top of budgeting or meal-planning. I’m fine, while some part that cares is yelling, “Everything is wrong, wrong, wrong.”

And that is why I’m honest about Depression: because the elephant’s in the room and I still haven’t figured out why I put it there or how I can get it out.

At least not for less than 59 cents.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe not. I’m told not everyone raises elephants. In that case, what animal won’t leave you alone?

alice-pasqual-cOKmuKWSsiM-unsplash

—————-

I wrote other stuff. Here it is:
Wednesday, October 23: Wrote “Parenting: The Fine Line.”

Thursday, October 24: Did a throwback to a post I wrote on JES’ site, “The Pit of My Mind.”

Friday, October 25: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Gary!

Saturday, October 26: Announced the 49th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is something SCARY. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, October 27: Shared “To My Guilty Pleasure,” a love letter to my charbroiled combo meal.

Monday, October 28: An inspirational quote by Someone.

Tuesday, October 29: “Since the Bombs Fell: Two,” the second in my dystopian, post-nuclear series.

Wednesday, October 30: Today.

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Throwback Thursday: The Pit of My Mind

Originally posted at The Bipolar Writer Collaborative Mental Health Blog in April of 2018. If you think it’s depressive; yes, it is.

A spotlight coming from a hole in a dark underground cave in Minorca

“Chelsea? Chelsea?” I don’t look up.

Wendy the counselor waits; I assume she waits patiently. She’s going to have to wait for a while, if she thinks waiting will get a response from me. I may be as mentally distant from her, the room, and life as possible; but, I smugly acknowledge, I still have my stubbornness.

“Chelsea?” She tries again, though not pleading or cajoling. The woman is too good at her job. Her paid job. The one I’m paying her to do. “I can come in there after you, if you need me to, but I want you to find a way out on your own.”

Fat. Chance.

I’m ugly. No one actually cares about me, least of all her. I’m paying her; she’s a paid friend. She doesn’t want to to see my face; my red, splotchy, tear-stained face, with stringy, greasy hair and imperfect, crooked teeth…

“Whatever you’re telling yourself right now is not true.” I hear, from a distance. “You need to stop listening to that voice, and meet each untruth with the more positive truth.”

Whatever. I’ve heard aphorisms before. know that my “voice” is the truth: the UGLY truth, yes; but the HONEST one. No one really cares. No one really cares. No one. People standing outside my pit, calling to me, don’t really want to be there. And, they are ignorant twits.

Whenever someone leans over the edge of The Pit I wait. “You don’t actually care!” I yell, from somewhere near the bottom, out of sight of any penetrating light. Occasionally, they take the bait; they lean closer. Grabbing them like a mud-pit crocodile, I drag them down with me to their doom.

“Wha-?” They manage, before getting a faceful of mud, moss, roots, overplayed apps, and wrappers from an entire package of Fun Size Snickers.

Believe me, that size of chocolates was not as “fun” as they said.

Soon enough, I have amassed a small pile of hapless prey. Almost all of them are not strangers; they’re me: Optimistic Me, Tried That Day Me, Motivated Me, lots of Medicated Me’s, Broke the Habit Me, and even Did Something Worthwhile Me. They’re not as big or strong as Me in The Pit, of course, which is why they’re lying, broken, at the bottom.

Balancing carefully, I decide to climb atop the living pile of bodies. They moan slightly, too down-trodden and depressed to fight back.

Knowing me, I’d probably kick them if they did fight. It’s easier to kick another down than help myself up.

Slowly, precariously, my head reaches sunlight. I climb higher, ignoring the complaints below. Helpful Me, the poor sucker, proffers a handy boost with her unbroken leg. Soon I see the top of the hole; I’m looking at ground level.

“Wow,” I breathe.

A slight, sweet-tasting breeze tickles my exposed face. A completely careless birdsong whistles down from a nearby tree. I see light, clear skies, beautiful landscapes. I can almost touch rough twigs and mossy ground. Almost.

A low shot of green underbrush in a forest under a bright sun

It’s not real, someone I know, inside, tells me.

“Come out,” my counselor requests. Still waiting. Perhaps she’s eyeing Medicated Me, just beneath a dirty sneaker, when she adds, “Medication is never meant to be taken on its own. Studies are clear that any treatment must include therapy.”

The breeze tastes of rain, as well. Storms will come, maybe soon. That whistling bird is a sitting duck for a hawk or fox, singing so anything can hear it. The impending storms will mar the sky -look! See? A cloud is already blocking the sun. The twigs and moss are not actually there. I’m sure they’re just fake craft-store props.

It’s too much.

I climb or stumble or intentionally fall back to the dark comforts beneath me. We all roll or crawl or drag ourselves to muddy positions as I select the easiest numbing solution nearby.

“Don’t do this,” I think I hear, from far away. Wendysomething?

You didn’t, Depressed Me says.

“Let’s play Fallout,” Addicted to Apps Me suggests. A few others perk up a bit in agreement. I acquiesce, and we all wait for it to load. We really ought to fix the WiFi in The Pit, but Motivated Me is still recovering from a concussion.

“Can I have a Snickers?” Pig Me asks. I hand her the bag. Thank goodness for home delivery, otherwise we might starve.

 

Photo Credits:
unsplash-logoJez Timms
unsplash-logoDeva Darshan
unsplash-logoIan Chen
unsplash-logoJanus Clemmensen

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Except for the Exceptions

Midnight. Same as eleven. Same as ten. Same as nine eight seven six…
Except she yawned. She blinked a few more times than earlier.

Water the plants. Water the children. Water the trees vegetables flowers weeds…
Except for every other day. Except for the vegetables; they were every day.

Socks, folded. Same as shirts. Same as pants socks pajamas undies…
Except there were no exceptions.

“You should try a vacation,” they said. “I want you to be happy,” he said.
Except for when it affects me, he thought.

Except for when her happiness interferes with everyone else’s.

One More Day

Smoky, slatted sunlight lay in lines across the staring face. Soon, only a muted glowing shone there as the associated hand pulled the blinds closed again. *Snap*

He’d said he’d be different; for one more day. That had been a gigantic step, vocalizing. Into the dark of night and mind he’d stood and whispered, “Tomorrow, I go out.”

A laugh escaped the lips. Whose, he did not know; but then, he did. A distant memory of non-lined sunlight views and happier company than his own filtered to recollection.

Then; he was sure he’d laughed. Then; she had, too.

ethan-sykes-TdM_fhzmWog-unsplash.jpg

What came to me for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week: for one day.

July 25, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the phrase “for one day.” The words single out a special occurrence. What is the emotion and vibe, where does it take place and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by July 30, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit:
Ethan Sykes

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

When the Shadow of Me Returns

Last night my Other Me reappeared, the one of shadows. For, truly, that is where she always stands, lurking: the shadows of thoughts, the shadows of feelings, the shadows of anything I see or do.

It is she who colors a happy idea with doubt.

She deepens the uncertain edges of a frown in every smile.

The fear of possible failure to proposed activities? Also her.

I hadn’t seen her in a while; thought her to be gone. How little I knew. How I forgot. She does not ever go away, especially when I choose to ignore her instead of keep working to repel her. Especially, when I want her.

Last night I felt her; nearer and nearer. And, like a fool, I let her come. I asked her to grow, expand, envelop, then smother. Anything, I thought, is better than what I feel.

Because the Shadow of Me does not feel.

As I settled beneath the apathy and self-pity that I invited in, I twitched a bit in discomfort. Some part of me recognized the old, unhealthy patterns. Something deep within, in a timid voice, whispered, “I don’t think we want this.”

“Do we?”

Yet, not until this morning did I notice the source of the rain. Standing –no- languishing morosely in depthless puddles I blamed anyone but her; anyone but me for bringing her. Like a fool; I cursed the weatherman, the water, the sky, the mud. I failed to name the shadowed storm. It is Depression. And it is not what I needed.

Because, as familiar as Depression is, it is not a good solution.

As easy a solution as Depression appears, its fallout is more difficult to clean up than actual resolution.

But who wants to stand and face her troubles when Depression promises otherwise? I can tell you: not me. No, I chose fear. I chose to see My Shadow’s effects: small rocks on the trail ahead made to look like looming boulders; a few grumpy observations from my companion augmented to devastating predictions against success.

So I turned back.

Rappelled to our base camp of years ago.

And sat outside the tent, in the rain.

I’m still there, you see, but have shifted a bit. My seat felt somewhat wet so I moved to a less-muddy patch. Still depressed. It’s a new day, though; I can see the pervasive grayness is a lighter shade.

And, no, I’m not ready to climb again. ‘Tis a daunting thought.

I think I’ll start with an umbrella. From there, I just might gain the perspective I need to change into dry clothes and eat some rations. We’ll see.