Friday, December 5, 2014

Let me play you a song...

I sit and play the piano. I play until I start to get it right. I'm not nearly where I want to be when it comes to decoding those black lines and dots on paper, but I tell myself that there's always someone worse than me, or someone older who is just beginning.

It is at this point that a hard knot forms in my stomach becuase this is when I would call my grandma and ask her if I could play her a song. I would tell her that it needed a lot of work but she would happily listen anyway. I would set the phone upright on the piano and it would be as though she were sitting right there with me, watching my fingers play on the keys, tapping her human metronome. 

Just as she was in the photograph of her and 11-year old me squeezed together on the piano bench months after my biological dad had suddenly died. Beauty for ashes. Always. I hadn't seen her in years and there I was in her living room playing Nadia's Theme from The Young and the Restless. It felt like I had found home base.

Just as she was in my living room, two babies crawling through our legs as we played one last song together, her fingers trembling from the years of fighting Parkinson's. She looked at me and said with a shaky smile, "I think that's it for me." And we never played together again.

It's nights like tonight that the achey missing settles in...because no matter how fragmented your song is, you still want to bang it out, and even more than that, you want someone else to share all of the broken pieces with.

Friday, November 28, 2014

When we were poor

On the days when we were poor without yet knowing it, the firemen came and released the water from the fire hydrants. Heavy bursts of water cascaded out into the alley and we jumped in and jumped over them for hours. The crabapple trees that grew along the concrete dropped hard, marble-like fruit and we rolled our feet over them until the skin was broken and bruised.

We never saw the firemen themselves. Or at least our eyes never perceived their presence. They opened up the floodgates like benevolent gods bestowing mercy on their beloved. The kids on the other side of town had well-manicured yards and pools, but we had a wonderland of chaos! Kids everywhere, water spewing out, it was pure joy!

Those summer days were hot. Our hair soaked with sweat from playing outside, from running between houses as though it were our mission. We had so much to accomplish! We were so important!

And all of the pain and confusion we experienced behind closed doors seeped out through our pores. Not in words or fears, but through tireless distraction under the heat of a burning sun. We toiled--gathering non-edible red berries in bowls, playing on pavement, bandaging cuts and scrapes. The stolen childhoods were given back for an afternoon and we opened our hands wide and gave thanks.

That is the way I remember the days when we were poor without knowing it...

"It's lovely to know that the world can't interfere with the inside of your head." 

-Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes

Monday, August 25, 2014

Writing As Healing

The ink from this pen draws out the deadly infection that festers in me. As a poultice is placed on a snake bite to draw the venom out of the blood, the pen grabs and pulls out all of the ugly and spills it out on to the blank page. My canvas.
It is my catharsis, my own form of homeopathy. It is amoxicillin for the soul.
When my heart is heavy, my fingers ache to roll a pen between them. Like a sleep-deprived man craves the quiet of night, or a crying child longs for the hushing and cooing of his mother. Like the charcoal that's administered to a patient who has guzzled a bottle of pills, my heart whispers to me that all I need to be well is to write. Words are the agent that purge my soul of impurities.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 
― Ernest Hemingway

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 
― Maya Angelou

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Quotes About Depression

There are so many great quotes here regarding depression and the struggles that go along with it. I share these not to encourage you or myself to wallow in the struggle, but as a reminder that other people have felt what we feel. We are not the first and we certainly will not be the last. Before the link, however, a couple of my favorites:

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.” 
― C.S. LewisThe Problem of Pain

“Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?” 
― John KeatsLetters of John Keats

“It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” 
― Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot

Which ones resonate with you?

My Too-personal Relationship With Depression

In the wake of Robin Williams' passing, depression has been on everyone's tongue. Is it really that bad? Is help available? At what point does a person decide that life is no longer a good option for them?
I have not been blogging lately. Still writing, but not blogging. But I've been thinking about blogging...when I could and would be forthcoming about my struggle with depression.
My friend, Janet, sent me a link yesterday:
In this candid talk about depression, the speaker talks about how he would come home and see his answering machine blinking and instead of being grateful that he had friends and was cared about, he was overwhelmed at the thought of having to call people back. In my own experience, it's not only the act of picking up the phone, but the act of feigning happiness and contentedness with life.
The toothpaste falls off the edge of the sink and there is a pit in my stomach that I will never have this house picked up.
The kids are fighting and I want to hide under the covers.
The kids are laughing and playing and I want to hide under the covers.
The sun rises and I grieve the turning of night in to day...the absence of sadness that sleep bestows on me is my only respite.
Noise hurts...physically pains me.
I isolate. Friends tell me they are hurt by my lack of reaching out to them, making plans with them, breaking plans with them.
I fold up in to myself.
I wake up in the morning and count the hours down until the day has finally passed and I can climb back in to bed. “I didn't want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that's really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you're so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.” ― Ned Vizzini
If I had to give a visual image of what each minute feels like when I'm battling depression, I would tell you that it feels like I'm lying on the hard ground, barely propped on my elbows, army-crawling my way from one moment to the next through the gravel of life. There are days, where I see that picture of myself in my head and wonder how I will make it through the day.
I feel like a buoy in the water being thrashed by the waves. And every damn thing feels like a tidal wave. Every. Damn. Thing. A buoy is an object that floats in the water to show areas that are safe or dangerous. The water feels dangerous...when I desperately want it to feel placid.
For years, I did my best to present myself as flawless. Happy always. Constantly trusting in God. Accepting difficulties with grace. And it was exhausting. Because I am anything but flawless. And the more I grow in to myself, I'm okay with that. I would much rather be authentically broken than inauthentically perfect.
SSRIs have been helpful during the hard times and I have no shame about saying that I have needed the help. Therapy (frequently) has been a tremendous help. At one point, my therapist said, to me, "Y'know, Kendra, you need to get off your high-horse. You seem to have this perception that you are supposed to be perfect. Do you think you're perfect and not allowed to struggle? Do you think you are set apart from the human race? And more than that, do you think that you are above God's grace?" And that metaphorical albatross was set aloose.  
All of this to say, that I don't have the answers. I don't know why some of us suffer with depression and some of us don't. But I will say that I am certain many suffer in silence and complete isolation...never confiding in anyone about how painful life feels. And if you are one of those people, you are not alone.

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” 
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dealing hope...

I am so inspired by this man's story of struggle and redemption.  Take a few minutes to read it and be encouraged by the promise of renewal.