December 2011

As I look at my 2011 Humane Society calendar, knowing there are no pages behind December, I am flooded with relief. What is it about closing out a year that makes us feel we can put our missteps and blunders, regrets and sorrows, behind us? Why is there such heft that comes with beginning a new year? Whether we make resolutions or not, every one of us feels the sense that the new year brings new beginnings. We all feel hope at the chance for something different. Something better. Some of us hope for new love. Some, financial success. Others are going to run that first marathon. Or 5k. Some of us simply are grateful to close the door on painful events that occurred in 2011.

2011, like most years, was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the changes at my law firm that brought new energy and life to my practice. While my family presented the usual trials and tribulations that come with alcoholism and other forms of dysfunction, nobody died. We went through an extreme drought in Austin, but for the past couple of months, we’ve had rain. Mack was in my life, there were some good times, but he was very, very bad for me. Not to mention, a complete and utter douche.

It occurs to me that if I had written this blog two weeks ago, before I started the antidepressants, this would have been a very different blog. Now, I see a bit of hope peeking through the clouds.

2012. I don’t care what the Mayans say, I’ve got a strong feeling it’s going to be an exceptional year. In a good way. True, I’ve always liked even-numbered years better, but I think it’s more than that. Or maybe it’s just the antidepressants talking. Either way, I feel so relieved that in a matter of hours, 2011 will be behind me. In the words of our not-so beloved Governor Goodhair a/k/a Rick Perry:

Adios, MoFo.

Today is day 5 of my Wellbutrin (Buproprion) XL/Deplin cocktail. I suppose it’s too soon to notice a difference in my mood, but I am feeling physical side effects. Some of these side effects are fantastic and I hope they never subside. Others are less tolerable.

The good side effects: I have very little appetite. For anything. I don’t feel like eating (even though I can feel physical hunger). I don’t feel like drinking alcohol. I’m not craving sweets. I spent the past two days at my parents’ house, which was filled with sweets, cookies, pies, and candy. I wasn’t interested in any of it. I did eat a few cookies, before Christmas dinner, despite my mother’s warning that I was going to spoil my appetite. How freaking annoying is it for your mother to tell you, at nearly 50, that you’re going to spoil your dinner by eating cookies? I often want to throttle her. She’s such a meddler. (Irritability: a symptom of depression? Or just a normal reaction to my busybody mother?) Anyway, I told her to mind her own business (actually, I think I said, “shut up”), ate a few cookies, and enjoyed them. And that was that. Back to my appetite: As it turns out, I did not spoil my dinner. (So there, annoying mother.) But still, I wasn’t much interested in all the delicious food I’d cooked, either: turkey and stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, and some of the best gravy I’ve ever had (for which my nephew gets credit). It tasted good, but just didn’t hold the same allure as it normally does. I didn’t even do any taste-testing while cooking. (And yet, it all turned out great.) I brought a pumpkin pie. Normally I would have cut a piece and taken it home for later. I didn’t touch it and left the entire pie for my niece to take home. Who is this woman? I adore pumpkin pie. One thing I did bring home: the turkey carcass. (I’m still looking for the motivation today to make soup.) So, lack of appetite: a terrific side effect I’ll take. I hope it never wears off.

The bad side effects include constipation (something I’ve never had trouble with, except when caused by medication), a bit of dry mouth, hot flashes, pounding heart, and insomnia. The dry mouth is no big deal. The hot flashes, on the other hand, were reminiscent of the days and months following my hysterectomy. It happened Christmas Eve, and again Christmas day. I was cooking and it was a little warm, but everyone else said they were comfortable. Even the normal people who (unlike my parents) do not enjoy the house being 85 degrees. It’s always an epic battle with my parents, but I had succeeded this year in getting them to turn the thermostat to 71. I had won the battle by arming myself with a strategic Christmas gift for my father: a heated throw. He sat in his chair, the throw covering him from head to toe, with the temperature on the highest setting. Even with the room cooled to 71 degrees, still, I could not cool off. I stood outside from time to time in the 50 degree drizzle. But when I came back in, after a few minutes, I again could feel the sweat dripping down my back. When my family hugged me goodbye, they probably were a little grossed out by my soggy top. I know I was. On my trip home, I didn’t turn the heat on in the car until I’d been driving for nearly two hours. It was 45 degrees out. Finally I cooled off, and there hasn’t been a repeat today.

The pounding heart, especially whilst lying in bed at night, also a problem. Already I struggle with insomnia, so the insomnia worsening is not good. It’s causing me to stay in bed even longer, trying to make up for the hours I lie there awake in the middle of the night. Today, I didn’t get out of bed until almost 11:00 a.m., despite turning the light out at 10:30 last night. Before all this started, I woke up with the sunrise. As I lie awake last night trying to not worry over the pounding of my heart, I felt acutely aware that the new sheets I bought are scratchy and awful. I don’t know if heightened tactile sensation is a side effect, or if the sheets are really that bad. I’m a firm believer that it does pay to invest in a top-notch set of sheets. I’ve decided you just can’t get a good set of sheets at Bed, Bath & Beyond, no matter how much you spend. Good sheets and a good set of knives are two very important items. Oh, a first-rate coffee maker and freshly roasted beans are important, too. Speaking of, I’ve gone back to drinking my coffee black and enjoying it immensely, rather than adding half and half and honey. I wonder if my need for a sugar jolt in the morning was related to my mood issue. In fact, I’d been craving lots of sugar of late. Odd how the brain behaves when it’s out of kilter. But now, coffee, strong and black, thrills my palate. I wonder if there’s been a shift, already.

Was that whole sheets/coffee digression above a symptom of depression? Inability to focus. Lack of concentration. You’re seeing it here, in real time, folks.

Ah, but still I have my sense of humor. That bodes well. Or do I? Maybe I’ve lost it and I can’t tell. Maybe this entire post is gibberish, and I’ve no idea. Then again, many people suspect that genius and insanity are entwined. Edgar Allen Poe wrote:

Men have called me mad, but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence . . . whether much that is glorious–whether all that is profound–does not spring from disease of thought.

Grandiose delusions? Fodder for a future blog, perhaps.


I went to a shrink yesterday. The real kind with an M.D. after his name. He looked like John McEnroe. Or maybe I had John McEnroe on my mind because he was on the cover of the Men’s Journal I was perusing in the waiting room. The cover also contained the headline: How Antidepressants Ruined My Life. I couldn’t read it without my glasses and I didn’t have the energy to take them out of my handbag and put them on. But I’m guessing the guy was whining about the limpness of his member or the weakness of his orgasms. Frankly, when I’m depressed, I’ve got more important things on my mind than hard dicks and orgasms; things like getting out of bed in the morning and going to work.

I’ve noticed a steady decline over the past year in my general well-being. I thought it was just overwork, stress, fatigue or even flat-out laziness. I knew a contributing factor was the absolutely asinine relationship I was in with Mack that I’d allowed to continue well past its shelf life. Actually, the fucking thing had expired before it ever left the shelf. Whatever it was, I found it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning, I didn’t want to be around people, and I couldn’t muster up the energy to get consistent exercise, which I knew would help. When I started wearing workout clothes to the office every day, I should have been suspicious. When I found myself putting off getting a fresh pedicure for two months, I should have known something was terribly wrong. Last weekend, I didn’t leave the house except for a quick trip to the grocery store. I didn’t leave my bed until after 11:00 a.m. And that was only to move to the sofa. I was tearful. I felt weighted down. I made excuses to not attend a single holiday party to which I’d been invited. I just wanted to be alone in my home with the shades drawn.

On Sunday evening a bit of clarity seeped in through the fog. I recalled a conversation with my office manager the Monday before.

“I need to leave early and get some rest. I’m just so tired.”

“But you just told me you didn’t do anything but sleep all weekend. How could you still be tired?”

How could I still be tired? It finally dawned on me that I don’t sleep ten hours a day. I don’t stay at home in bed all weekend. I love holiday parties and being social with my friends. I love getting pedicures. Getting outside on the weekends and getting fresh air and working up a sweat is one of my favorite things. What was going on? I knew what was going on. I’d been there before. It had just been a while. I’d forgotten how depression feels.

John McEnroe, M.D. listened to me tearfully attempt to convey my situation over the phone and decided it was best to get me in right away. I saw him yesterday. I told him of my family history, their current health issues, and the details of my relationship with Mack. I tried to read him as I told him of my life, which is worse than any stupid, overly-dramatic, maudlin movie I can come up with. It’s got everything: alcoholism going back generations on my father’s side, which gave me an alcoholic abusive father, alcoholic brothers (one functional, one who’s been institutionalized more than once), alcoholic (but functional) sister who’s married to a man (still) who sexually abused their youngest daughter (my niece) and who was inappropriate with me when I was 15 and he was 29. So you’ve got alcoholism, pedophilia, incest, and an abusive father (both physical and verbal). I watched him for a reaction as I went through my history. He raised an eyebrow here and there but mostly kept his poker face. I watched him closely as I told him about Mack being broke and expecting me to support him, about him living with Corinne and bouncing back and forth between us. About Mack telling me it didn’t work because I was afraid to be close. He looked up then and snorted. Biggest reaction of the day. He followed the snort with, “Well, he wasn’t ‘the one’.” Thank you, Dr. McEnroe.

After John McEnroe, M.D. and I had talked for about an hour and a half, with me wiping away my tears with the backs of my hands the whole time (what kind of shrink doesn’t have a box of tissues on his desk, for fuck’s sake?), he said he was putting me on Wellbutrin and Deplin. I’d never heard of Deplin. It’s a medical food; apparently a super-dose of folate that helps the absorption of the Wellbutrin. He sent the prescription to the pharmacy electronically and suggested I pick it up straight away. He wanted me to start immediately, and not wait until this morning. I went straight from his office to the pharmacy and picked it up. I took my first dose yesterday around noon, and another this morning. As with all antidepressants, it’s going to take a few weeks to work, but the Deplin is supposed to speed the process. Let’s hope so.

So back to the title of this blog. I don’t know if my stupid farce of a relationship with Mack is entirely responsible for triggering the depression, but I do know it at least is a contributing factor. Now that I’ve put that behind me, I need to focus on getting back to normal; whatever that is. And once I’m there, when it comes to men, I vow to use better judgment. Lest I find myself in this vat of quicksand yet again.

I feel like I’m writing the same thing over and over. And over. I’m tired of looking at the words I’m typing. Mack and I broke up. I’m so sad. I’ll never have another boyfriend. I’ll be alone forever. And on and on. Ad infinitum. Makes me want to vomit the piece of banana nut bread I just ate. Which isn’t a bad idea.

I had a great-grandmother on my mother’s side. She was short and had black and gray hair she wore in a thick long braid, which she’d coil around her head. She was from Croatia. Only it was called Yugoslavia back then. She would say to me, “Pamelita, whenever you have troubles, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it; do something about it. Worrying is wasted energy. Use that energy to do something.” I’m paraphrasing here. Maybe she just told me to quit whining about whether the tomato plant we were digging a hole for would grow, and just dig the hole, put it in, and cover up the roots.

Here I am, whining about whether the future holds anything good in store for me. Whining about whether I did the right thing letting go of Mack. Whining about whether I’ll ever run a mile in under fourteen minutes. (I said I was slow.) I need to quit whining and just do something, for fuck’s sake. But what to do? What thing do I want to do to get me feeling like I’m moving toward something? I need a goal. I need a new passion. I need a reason for living. (Yeah, I’m a lawyer, and that’s not cutting it for me.)

There’s something I want to do. But apparently not badly enough, since I haven’t done it yet. Still, I think the perfect way to bust out of this straight-jacket I’m wearing is to get up every morning when it’s still dark and “run.” It sounds so romantic and passionate. And it appeals to the loner in me. I would feel very smug and self-satisfied if I accomplished this. Not to mention I would slim down and maybe break a ten-minute mile.

I wouldn’t have to get up that early. I could get up at 6:00, be out the door by 6:20 (I must have one cup of coffee!), and be back and in the shower by 7:30. I could get in a full hour every morning. Or I could start small and commit to just thirty minutes.

So what’s stopping me? It’s dark. And sort of cold. And there are two purring kitties in my bed. Purring. And fluffy. That’s much harder than getting out of bed when there’s a snoring man next to me. Also, I like to sleep. But often I have trouble sleeping, and so I may have just gotten back to sleep after lying awake for a few hours, when it’s time to get up and run. Of course, regular running should improve my sleep, so upon further examination, that excuse is bogus. I thought I had more excuses, but that’s pretty much it: I want to sleep; it’s dark and kind of cold; and there are purring cats.

Now, why would getting up be a good thing? It’s a test of my mettle. I can drag myself out of bed and be one of those people who’s serious about their running. If I do this consistently, I’ll undoubtedly get faster. Won’t I? I’ll be working toward a goal. I’ll overcome this inertia that has a hold on my ankles and is pulling me down into the black gooey muck of despair. My clothes, which have gotten quite ill-fitting over the past year, will loosen up again. And I’ll get into the goal jeans, buried somewhere deep in the back of my closet. I will be in charge of me. Instead of being a whiny little bitch, I will be back in charge of my life. Which now feels out of control. I’m so damn tired of feeling out of control. (Yeah, I’m a control freak. Any surprise there?)

So when do I start this little experiment? It has to be a real commitment. Otherwise, I’ll just set myself up for failure and self-recrimination. I have to start when the time is right and I’ve got a good chance of achieving my goal. Last week would have been bad. I worked until midnight two nights in a row to meet a deadline. I can’t get up and run at 6:00 a.m. when I’ve been up until 1:00 a.m. the night before. But that’s rare, and I’m just making more excuses.

Do I want to whine about being stuck, or do I want to do something about it? Why is it so difficult to find the motivation to pull myself out of this pile of steaming dung? Damn it! Where has my mettle gone?

Quit whining, put the tomato plant in the hole, and cover the roots.

Can you ever really get free of past relationships? I had it in my head that once I broke things off with Mack for good, I would remake my life and everything was going to be grand. Here I am, nearly three months later, and still I feel terribly stuck. There has to be a trick to overcoming this inertia, but I can’t seem to make any real progress. Is there something I could be doing, or is the trick simply to let time pass? Or maybe even the passage of time won’t do it. Am I doomed to be forever haunted by Mack?

What have I done to get free of Mack? I’ve signed up with a personal trainer, with whom I meet two days a week. I’ve started “running” more consistently. I’ve been drinking less and eating better, although both still could use additional improvement. I’ve cleared my home of most of the reminders of Mack. I did keep a bird statue. I really like birds. I did, of course, toss all things connected to our sex life. Yes, there were quite a few of those. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, good sex was one thing we had going for us. I’ll probably never have sex like that again, but what can you do?

This morning I went a step further and cleared out the hundreds and hundreds of emails we’ve written to each other over the past year and half. I didn’t delete them, I’m not ready to take that step yet, but I did move them to their own private little folder. I read a few of them as I went along, and was reminded that things with Mack, since the very beginning, were a struggle. We were constantly arguing. About everything. It was exhausting. (One of his favorite topics was my ex-lovers. So apparently, I’m haunted by them, too.) It seems my entire relationship with Mack was one long argument. Followed by make-up sex. Even now, post-breakup, we argue. Only now, there’s no make-up sex, so what the hell is the point?

Oh. Now I see now why getting free of the ghost of Mack has been such an arduous process. It’s because I’m still not post-Mack. He’s still a huge part of my life. Even though I haven’t seen him in months, we’re still email-arguing (followed by make-up email) regularly. It’s almost like we never broke up. This has to stop. Unless I stop communicating with Mack, I’ll never be free.

How do divorced couples with children, who have to continue to communicate, free themselves from their exes? Maybe they don’t. Maybe they’re trapped forever. Maybe we’re all trapped forever, whether we continue to communicate, or not. Maybe, no matter what we do, we are forever haunted by the ghosts of lovers past.

My single friends, male and female alike, without exception, do not like mid-November through January 2. For six weeks out of the year, we feel lonely and achy and annoyed. Why is this? And is there a solution?

Last year Mack and I began cohabitating on November 29. We put up a tree, decorated, played Christmas music, and went ring shopping. He proposed shortly before Christmas, and I took him to Houston on Christmas Eve to meet my family and announce our engagement. We slept in my old bedroom on Christmas Eve. There were shenanigans. It was a great night.

This year, my brother is being treated for mouth cancer (he starts radiation next week), my father was admitted to the hospital on Friday (he’s 82 and his health has been deteriorating over the past several years), and of course, Mack and I are no longer. Oh what a difference a year makes. Of course, I remind myself that it works both ways, and next year might be terrific. I might be in love again. I might be in the midst of some other grand adventure. It doesn’t take being in love, does it?

One year, the year I learned my brother-in-law molested my niece, I checked myself into a spa from December 22 to December 25. I got massages twice a day, did yoga, tai chi, hiked in the woods, ate healthfully, took lots of bubble baths, and got lots of sleep. I was still achy and lonely, but it was a nice few days. What’s better: achy and lonely amidst my dysfunctional family, or achy and lonely at a top-rated spa? Exactly.

The trouble is, with aging parents who are not in good health, I tell myself every year that this one could be the last, and I need to spend the holidays with them. I feel like I’m in purgatory until they’re gone. When they’re gone, I’ll be back at the spa, or a beach in the Caribbean, or a photo safari in Africa.

Which reminds me: I need a real vacation next year and I’m going to plan one for myself. Yes, I’m going to vacation on my own. I’m thinking Tuscany. Why not? Why wait for a man? Also, I’m going to get out of this condo and buy a house. Not that I’d wait for a man to buy a house. I was looking before I met Mack, but then got a little side-tracked when I started looking for a house that suited us both. Now, I get to go back to looking for a house that suits me. I need to hurry and do this before I meet another man and get side-tracked yet again. So, dream vacations and houses, coming up. I’m not going to wait for a man to do these things. If I did, I could miss out on all of it.

Now that I’ve stopped with the Mack post-mortem, these are the daydreams that help me through the holidays. Thoughts of adventures ahead. Thoughts of moving on. Thoughts of doing all the things I want to do, and not waiting for a man to do them.

But I still don’t want a tree this year. And I’m still wishing for January 2 to hurry the hell up.


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