27 March 2015

The Well of Depression (Or, How I Got So Thirsty)

No one cares what you do. They don't even care about you.

You are obviously a failure at being a mom. Look at all the problems you are having.

Of course you didn't do enough. Why else are you alone now? You will always end up alone.

Why do you even keep trying? You don't know anything.

Have you heard that voice before? The one in your head that keeps repeating these statements and others until you want to drown it out any way that you can? I have heard it from time to time throughout the years, but the last few months have been an endless monologue of these and many other not very nice thoughts about myself.

I have been through hard times before. I have felt down in the dumps and it would take some time to get out, but I always did. I cannot explain why this time was so much worse than the others. It just...was.

I was unhappy. I felt like I was going through the motions. I kept finding myself crying at the drop of a hat. I found myself lying on my bed not knowing how long I had been there. I looked to people for advice and cheer, but felt like am imposition. I did not believe my feelings were that valid.

I stopped eating a lot. I stopped eating most things, actually. I lost twelve pounds, but this certainly was not the way I wanted to go about it.

I started drinking more, especially since food was not appealing: more coffee, more water, more soda. More alcohol. I found the alcohol numbed me enough I could talk to people, online mostly. But it also unlocked a lot of doors to a lot of those mental closets the above thoughts sat in for who knows how long. I knew the numbness was temporary. The pain was not.

I did look for help, both from friends and from professionals. I started therapy. I started crying every day. I played a lot of music. I stopped reading.

That's when I knew there was a real problem: I have always found pleasure in reading, and now I couldn't. I just sat on the couch and stared at the tv most nights. Not to say I wasn't functioning. I could work, I could take care of my family, but I knew that I was still doing a pretty lousy job and that it was all just spinning my wheels.

Then I got referred to another doctor. I started medication. I kept seeing my therapist, kept talking to my friends, kept interacting with my social circles online, kept knowing that underneath I was still not worth anyone's time, not very smart, not necessary. I knew I was depressed, more than I had ever been before. Yet I still felt I should be able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and keep going.

Then I realized something. I admitted it out loud. To my therapist, my friends, myself.

I had no compassion. None for myself.

If I was face to face with another person with the same set of circumstances I was in, I would be empathetic and compassionate and see if I could help. So, why couldn't I afford that same feeling to myself?

The next day, I decided to take a social media break. No Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram. None of the things I looked at to see if I could forge a connection, because the connection I needed to discover was the one with myself again.

That was 27 days ago. Today is my birthday, and I went back online yesterday. I was happy to see everyone that I missed talking to these last weeks, but know that it is something I will have to keep less immersed in than I was before.

I am not perfect (never was), but I feel better. Not wonderful and cured, just better. I have been able to focus on things I wanted to take care of, I have felt calmer. I have been reading again.

I decided to post this on a day of celebration (I mean, it is my birthday, y'all) because I am coming through on the other side of this depressive episode.  I know of so many that have gone through similar episodes, and to those I don't know about -- I just want you to know you are not alone.

It doesn't mean it is over and done with. Depression is something that lurks at the bottom of the well when things start to go dry. It isn't gone, but my well is filling up finally. That is something to celebrate in itself.

22 December 2014

Upon Reflection

So it has been a while, again. I have seen a lot of talk lately from other librarians that I know that they also seem to have lessened their blog posts. With the influx of social media and the amount of people that exist there, there isn't as much to share in one contained area. Plus time! Who has had time? This, actually, is what made me decide to do this post, to kind of give myself a gathering point of professional and personal achievements to remind myself of the singularities that have happened and led my Path from January to December. So that those times I sit and wonder what I am actually doing with my Life, I can remember that things have been done!

Things that have happened, in random order:

I was honored to be nominated as a Library Journal 2014 Mover & Shaker, as a Community Builder. My library had gone through some amazing changes since I joined it in 2012, and I loved working with the staff and community to showcase it as an important part of the town.

At nearly the same time, I left my lovely library for a job with the Massachusetts Library System. Now I work as an advisor, assisting libraries with their services and designing training and workshops for library staffs. I get to work as a liaison for small libraries, and share my love for collection development and readers' advisory with the masses. I love it; it challenges me and expands my view of librarianship on so many levels.

I watched my daughter return to high school after giving birth to her son. I am so proud of her, for she has met so many challenges over the past year with her life. Not only has she gone back, but made improvements through school and is on track with making plans for the future.

My son is working with his new therapeutic school, which I am so grateful to have discovered. It has been a long year of challenges and problems in the mainstream school, no matter what we all tried, he just wasn't getting what he needed. There are still challenges, but I know he is in a place equipped to work with him on those as he grows.

I travelled to Las Vegas for the first time in my life, attending the ALA Annual Conference. Besides being involved in a terrific program about first-time directors, I got to see what I always wondered about with Las Vegas nightlife (and day life). And heat. And neon. And heat. Did I mention the heat?

I get to continue working with books even though I am not selecting in a library anymore. As a social media subcommittee member for LibraryReads and a reviewer for Library Journal, I have been introduced to SO many wonderful titles that I will never be able to keep up!

I have gotten the chance to watch my beautiful Little Dude grow and hit his first birthday in December. I never expected to have another child in my house at this point, much less a grandchild, but he is beautiful and joyous and exasperating, like any wonderful being on this planet. I also became his legal guardian this fall, as his mom settles her Path forward. I know this was the right choice at this juncture. I look forward to each smile on his face.

I have met more people online that I truly consider friends. Who would have ever thought that people you never, or hardly ever, get to see will share your joys, triumphs, sorrows and travails? I am so, so grateful to those I am connected to, who have chosen to connect to me in large and small ways. You all honor me with your presence in my life.

Watching my children get older reminds me that I am getting older (dammit). I know that I am not "old" by most definitions, but definitely feel that I have not taken care of my body the way that I should. It is easy to forget that I am not in my 20s, or 30s, anymore, and things that I took for granted cannot be handled that way anymore. So I started visiting a bodywork specialist on a somewhat regular basis this fall and winter. I totally support the place of massage in healing and care for one's self, but this practice goes a little bit further, and tunes into whatever may be going on at that time in my life. Sometimes work, sometimes nurture, but always a chance to reconnect and listen to what I need.

Along that same venue, I signed up for a six month program with a nutritional life coach starting this month. My self-care tends to go out the window a lot, and food is definitely a component that needs to be tailored for my health, and the health of those I live with. I look forward to learning about my relationship with food and nutrition, and its place in the whole of my life and how it affects so much more than just my physical self.

Life finds its balance, and not all has been joyous:

Emotional challenges with my niblets lead me to wonder how good of a parent I am at times. Entering a time when I am supposed to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I am now recommitted to another child for an unknown period of time, and I cannot deny I do not know how prepared I am for that. I was readying for the "Time of Me", but that is delayed as this new journey unfolds.

My four year relationship with my girlfriend ended. Change is always difficult on this level, and knowledge of truths and compassion can be hard to manage when things do not go as once expected.

I don't have the best relationship with my physical self as I should. Hopefully some of the changes I am starting will help with that.

I still struggle with my professional personhood: no matter what I do is it truly enough, or am I just being superficial? What is "enough"?

Friendships wax and wane and I struggle at times letting my friends hold what I cannot and trusting they are there to do that.

Winter's dark can emphasize the bleak, the aloneness, the struggle. However I write this on the Winter Solstice: the shortest day of the year, and the promise of a little more light from here on out. It is upon this that I think about what has come before, and realize that there is more to come. For all of us.

Namaste, my tribe. I look forward to our New Year.

01 August 2014

Introducing Friday Five

I have a lot of work, and a couple not-quite-work-but-kind-of projects going on, plus the addition of a now-mobile seven month child in the house, makes precious little time to get back to the blog. I have updated my Portfolio page with my ALA presentation - there were no slides, just talks - and my upcoming LibraryReads presentation for NELA in October. Content has been scarce here, but I came up with an idea which I think plays well with the work I am currently doing.

Today I will start a regular (hopefully) post about five books that I am reading, just read, read a while ago, haven't read yet but think will be really interesting. I hope some of these spark an interest in you. All titles link to Edelweiss or Goodreads.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. This is not my typical read, however Doughty's memoir of her start as a crematory assistant, the emotions and situations that she has dealt with, give an honest and humorous look at her life. I heard her talk during BEA also, and she is as funny in person. This book is coming out next month, and I completely believe it should be on the next LibraryReads favorite list. Since I cannot vote anymore - please do it for me!

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews. This just came out on Tuesday, and is a terrific urban fantasy. Set in a time where magic does not play well with technology, and both show up at different times, Kate Daniels is an investigator for hire, as well as the Alpha's mate, even though she is human (kind of). I read this in e-galley form last month, and find it to be a pivotal title in the series. I am really looking forward to where Andrews (wife and husband writing team) take Kate and Curran's story from here.

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix. I found out about this book at the BEA Librarian Shout and Share, and was immediately entranced by the stylized cover. Heavily satirizing Ikea, this story of creepy things happening in a big box store had me both feeling icky and laughing at the same time. I am not a horror reader, but the light handed prose mixed well with the ghost story and did creep me out - so I consider it a success. I brought this title up at July's Early Word Galley Chat.

Murder in Retribution by Anne Cleeland. A title I read for the August Library Journal, I was fascinated/disturbed by the relationship of the two main characters, Doyle and Acton, kind of like reading the comments - you don't want to know, but you have to know what in the world keeps these two going? Cleeland writes a tight mystery, and the characters are so obviously, well, damaged, in their own ways. This is the second of the series, so go read Murder in Thrall first.

Making a Collection Count: A Holistic Approach to Library Collection Management by Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly. (One of these things is not like the others...) I needed to mention this title as it has been on my work desk and a constant go-to the last month while planning my first continuing education course on collection life cycles. I was even fortunate enough to get my own copy from Holly, over great food in Las Vegas!