When Depression Marries Your Body

When depression marries your body – stream of consciousness writing.

Depression is the boyfriend that tells you you can’t go out with your friends, you need to stay home with him. Depression is the boyfriend that tells you you’re worthless and no one else will have you. He might make you miserable but he’s never going to leave. Depression is the boyfriend that gives you bruises then tells you he loves you. He doesn’t touch you just long enough for you to let your guard down before it happens again.  Depression is the boyfriend who ignores your “no” because he needs to be in control.

When depression marries your body it’s more like a parasite. The two become one and I become lost. A host trying to cling to my faculties but being shut down from the inside out.

When depression marries your body, it’s all in your head. The same way asthma is just in your lungs and cancer is just in your cells and arthritis is just in your joints so you should get over it already.

Stop asking me why I don’t leave this abusive relationship. When depression married my body, I was a child bride. I don’t know who made this arrangement but I wish they could spend in a day in the cell that they sentenced me to. This marriage put metal bars behind my eyes and gave him the key.

Depression is the husband that lays dormant and then retreats. He’ll leave for a week but you know he’ll show up drunk and disorderly without any warning and it starts all over again. Depression is the husband who tracks you down when you change your name and leave town, who ignores the restraining order because he’s not looking to get out of this alive either.

When depression marries your body, you personify civil war. You are both sides of the fight and the battleground. I didn’t know muskets could leave stretch marks but I’m red and raw, a striped warrior, a wounded worrier. You are a prisoner of war with nowhere to go because you carry your captor inside of you.

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Poem – My Depression Tells Me

My Depression Tells Me

by Carly Suzanne

When my depression speaks, it’s in third person.
I don’t know whose voice it is, but I think it’s the same voice I used to call God that haunted my childhood,
the one who knew when I was sleeping, who knew when I was awake,
you better not doubt, you better not cry,
he knows when you’re sinning and he knows all your mistakes.
The voice I used to call the Holy Spirit who swallowed me whole, who wallowed in my being alone.
The voice I used to call the son, who set but won’t rise,
who ignores my cries for help and taunts me for my helplessness.
When my depression speaks, it’s in third person.

My depression tells me to rest on this metal shelf, no pillow, no blanket,
and it expects me to thank it while whispering, “you’re nothing’s” in my ear.

My depression tells me I could make use of this shoelace before the guard walk by with a cheese sandwich I choke down the same way I choke down my disgrace.

My depression tells me I could hang
faster than the guard would learn my name.
It tells me that six feet by eight feet by two feet that won’t take me to where I want to go are the dimensions of my reality: stuck.

My depression keeps me holed up in this cell when I should really just be holding myself.

I try to insist this relationship isn’t serious, but my depression shows me a map, spotted with all the times I stopped for it.

My depression tells me I take three steps back for it whenever it asks for it, but my depression doesn’t know it’s not consent if there’s an absence of a yes.

My depression overstays its welcome; it don’t know how long a season supposed to last;
it leaves so slow and comes so fast.

It shows me a barren field and asks why I never harvested that potential.
It tells me the illusion is real but keep it confidential, your suffering is inconsequential, and no one will believe you.

My depression tells me that I don’t have love, I receive pity; I don’t have beauty I have, “you’d be pretty—IF.”

My depression wants to keep me isolated, a lymphedema of the soul, weighted to keep me home, cracks in my skin that spider web and take over again.

When my depression speaks, it’s in third person. I don’t know whose voice it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Therapist Shopping, Part 2

Wherein I wonder if you can casually see two therapists at once without them finding out about each other.

After the disastrous consultation with Frog Number One, I decided to tweak the truth a bit with the other frogs and not tell them about my current therapist but about “my last therapist.” On one particular Tuesday, I had a phone consultation during my lunch break and an in-person session that evening.

Frog Number Two’s Psychology Today biography says that she will “use a combination of cognitive-behavioral, strength-based, and trauma-focused treatments to help adults, children, and families get unstuck and recover from their emotional wounds, with a focus on feeling stronger, building resilience, and growing as a person – as well as growing closer in one’s relationships” which all sounds quite appealing to me. Her online biography also states that she “can handle scary thoughts and feelings – the ones we bury just under the surface – and will teach you proven techniques for managing them in a safe and supportive environment.” I love the specific reference to scary thoughts and feelings. I have a lot of those. For these reasons, I suspected she might turn from a frog into a therapist.

When I called her for our scheduled phone consultation, I was immediately comforted by her voice. Something about her tone and the way she spoke made me feel comfortable and confident. She understood what I was saying and what I need. She practices Cognitive Behavior Therapy (which is totally my fave) and she has incorporated art into her therapy practice before and would be happy to do so with me. She recognized the need for me to get to the root of my unhealthy coping mechanisms in order for me to get healthy and keep moving forward. She seemed straight forward but understanding, willing to call me on my bullshit but kindly.

That evening, I went to see Frog Number Three. Her online profile was equally attractive: “[Her] sessions are interactive and framed to provide a safe supportive and compassionate environment in which to create experiences, receive guidance, gain psychoeducation and explore new options and healthy coping skills for change, self expression, increased self-awareness and a renewed positive self regard. Although sometimes forgotten, all of us have the ability to relearn and heal from life’s challenges.”

The physical space of her office was lovely; overstuffed couches, big pillows, soft earth tones, quirky artwork, the usual pamphlets asking if I need help with depression or anxiety or if I would like to anonymously meet. I am definitely big on feeling comfortable in their actual office as well so this was a good first impression. We ended up doing a full session instead of just the usual 30 minute consultation. She too made me feel at ease right away and really understood what I need right now. The major point of difference between Frogs Number Two and Three is that Number Three is not into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at all but rather into meditation. She said essentially that she believes CBT is just sugar-coating shit whereas meditation reframes your relationship with your thoughts and with yourself. She asked if I would be comfortable and then took me through a quick meditation tutorial before doing four minutes of meditation together. She told me that it seemed my most immediate need is managing my anxiety and that if we’re not able to do it effectively enough through therapy and meditation, then we can look at medication. Everything about her was great.
I went home that night torn between Frogs Number Two and Three. I wondered if you could casually see two therapists without the other one finding out. Can I have a main therapist and a side therapist? Can I have my Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and my Meditation therapist? My friends suggested a rose ceremony after a month of seeing both of them. I cancelled all my other scheduled consultations so I wouldn’t make this decision even more difficult.
I wrestled with the decision for a couple weeks and ultimately made the decision based on scheduling–one’s availability was better for me than the other’s. I have my first appointment with Frog Number Two, aka the human therapist named Stephanie, next Thursday evening. I haven’t let Frog Number Three down yet so if Stephanie doesn’t work out, I’ve got my side therapist waiting in the wings.
I’m a huge proponent of therapy and feel that everyone would benefit from finding a therapist that fits their personality and needs–but that’s not necessarily an easy task. Here’s a great article to help you if you’re getting started on a therapy journey: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2015/11/how-to-spot-a-bad-therapist-10-major-signs/

Adventures In Therapist Shopping, Part 1

I have been seeing my therapist for around two years now. When I first started seeing her, the biggest thing happening in my life was the end of my relationship with The Ex. It was about six months before the end of our relationship, right after I stopped talking to The Almost Affair, and feeling the loneliest and most alone I’ve ever felt. I knew, deep down, at that time that things were going to end but I wasn’t ready to accept it. I wanted to ensure that I did everything I possibly could to try to save the relationship so that if it did end, I would know that it was 100% the right decision. I also knew that I needed to start building my own life. All of my friends were The Ex’s or our roommates, I was neglecting the hobbies and activities that I’m passionate about and enjoy, I was not taking good care of myself emotionally. Building my own life was obviously important whether or not The Ex and I stayed together. I wanted to make sure that my unhappiness was in our relationship and not in another area lacking in my life and I needed to have a happy, vibrant life/relationship with myself regardless.

During these first therapy sessions, I talked a lot about my feelings about The Ex, about The Almost Affair, about my New But Still Lacking Life. More than anything, I needed a sounding board, I needed validation, I needed an outlet. My therapist is good for that. She’s a great listener. She is, frankly, a pretty passive therapist, however that worked for a time. Once I got through the breakup and those first few incredibly difficult months, I knew there were a whole host of other things I needed to work through. For the past year or so, I’ve realized more and more that I am not getting and will not get what I need from my current therapist. I need someone more actively involved in the process, someone who is willing to call me out on my bullshit and hold me accountable, and someone willing to ask the tough questions and join me on the journey to digging deep.

Since one of my top issues is debilitating and dysfunctional avoidance, I have put off the new therapist search for this past year. It’s been hard to wrap my brain around starting over with someone and having to re-tell so many things that were so hard to say the first time. It’s been hard to wrap my brain around all the phone calls and consultations and possibly first-and-only sessions, telling my nutshell story over and over, kissing all the frog therapists until I find The One. And I’m worried that I’ll end up in the same situation I have found myself in with both therapists and romantic partners so very many times: once I get started with you, I stick around for far longer than I know I should/want to because leaving is hard and staying is “easy.”

For the last four or five months, I’ve been in one of my “awesome,” re-occurring depressive states and I’m about to turn thirty and I am in desperate need of some dream-chasing and life-changing. And I am seriously sick of the cycle of 3-9 good months wherein I take care of myself mentally, emotionally, and physically and lose the weight I gained in my last depressive episode and then, quite suddenly it seems, having 3-9 bad months wherein I sabotage myself in a variety of ways and gain back all the weight I just lost. And then it starts over. Again. And again. And again. I just feel that I’m at this critical point where action needs to be taken.

I’m seeing a light in the tunnel for the first time in awhile right now and while I’m back on an upswing and moving into a happier, healthier season, I need to use this time to learn how to minimize the damage for the next downswing so I started researching new therapists in the area (who take my health insurance.)

As of now, I have four consultations set up with potential therapists (a couple in person, a couple over the phone) and a few other voicemails and emails out there for others.

Today I had a phone consultation over my lunch break. It lasted ten minutes instead of the scheduled thirty and my hackles are raised.

She started out with the expectedly vague, “So, what’s going on with you right now?” Having taken the time to write down all the points I wanted to make on this quick introduction, I fairly confidently explained why I am unsatisfied with my current therapist, what areas I feel I need to focus on and need help with, and how I envision my new therapist’s role in that.

We’ll call this therapist Frog Number One. Frog Number One then asks me if I have told my current therapist why I am dissatisfied. I said that I have not, but I’ve felt this way for quite some time. Frog Number One tells me, “Oh, well, you need to tell her. A therapy relationship is a relationship and you’re going to have times where you don’t like the person as much or where communication isn’t working as well. You need to give it a chance.”

Um, Frog, I just told you that I’ve felt this way for over a year, that her therapy style has been consistent the entire time I’ve seen her, that one of my major issues is avoidance, and that I feel very much in need of help right now–I don’t want to try to “work it out” with my current therapist who has been consistent for two years. I need to find something new.

Frog: “Well, you need to at least have a closure session. If you were dating somebody, wouldn’t you rather they sit you down and explain why they’re breaking up with you instead of just disappearing? If you don’t have a closure session, you’re just going to end up in the same situation with every therapist you ever have.”

Me: “Okay.”

Frog: “You don’t sound too pleased with what I just said.”

Me: “Yeah, I’m not going to do that, but thanks for your insight.”

Frog: “You’re not going to do that? Well, let me condescendingly reiterate what I’ve just said to explain to you why you’re wrong.” (I may be paraphrasing here.)

I thanked her for her time and hung up. Just, like…really, Frog Number One, really?

Frogs: 1, “Princes:” 0

Up High – Poem

I just “finished” this poem yesterday–it will definitely change over the coming weeks as I’m not satisfied with a few parts but I’m still digging it right now.

Up High
A Poem by Carly Suzanne

You asked me what it’s like to feel high
And I struggle to find words for my click-clack-clawing to the top,
I implode into stardust, static blurring reality between my ears,
shooting my heart from a canon to a planet with duller pain.
Abandon their whispering campaign
Today is an audience; you are an episode
I don’t know how to sleep; I can’t close my eyes,
way up high.

It’s like the fireworks that spark from two arms rubbing against each other on a couch
Like how you’re disarming; you take my limbs from me with a knife-like glance,
like how when we hold hands and make beautiful music with our piano key fingers – black and white and black and white and black and white.

You asked me what it’s like to feel high
And I forgot to answer; we can talk about it later or we can talk layers
because now I am a translator of the universe, flying
beneath that surface level, way up high.
It’s not that I can’t remember, it’s that I want to forget,
it’s wanting to be above the bullshit because, oh man, I was taking life seriously.

It’s like when you put your head on my shoulder for the first time and asked if
I was vibrating, my heart was beating so hard,
like I’m battery-operated but I can’t just keep going, going, going
Like when you purr from all the love we’re creating, on top,
way up high. It’s like when I’m glowing, growing, showing,
shining from the inside – pause.

You asked me what it’s like to feel high.
It’s like sitting underneath a tree, staring up at the clouds,
sun beating down,
both grounded and soaring, ignoring memories of anything that are not of this present moment,
like when you own it, being here now.

Flashback Friday Poem Circa 2006 Re: Prison/Freedom

Holiness Stands Behind Closed Doors

by Carly Suzanne, August 2006

silenced saints disaffected between four walls

while truth remains trampled beneath
stained glass, as incarcerated as your young men.

a captive audience at your disposal
blindly trust baffling conclusions or faulty
interpretations cleverly masked as god’s.

incompetent with(out) fault,
a prophet of propaganda, sullen:
silently absorbed by stainless steel
woven through stark pages of opposite hues—

devout lovers discover curves among pleasures
while “abominations” sneak feels under sheets
and wrath-waters rise beneath window panes
painstaking kisses condemn a generation,
dangling, collapsed over your edge, self-defined.

judgments stamped (read: pounded) one.  two.  three.
smeared visibly on foreheads then ordered to the left
knowing thee not.  goats galloping to the rhythm
of love, ridden for selfish deception and
profane the name: “evangelism” spelled with four letters.

stagger under weight of sin with a literal
heal of the holy spirit, resuscitated to pulse
with a single-minded view.  belittle the way of the
wide, necessitated by hatred from the narrow.

quickened hooves approach the doorstep,
repossess the faithful and under the rug,
hurry, hide the dead—those at your hand

who, reverend, believed a title outside their
confinement might contain a capital letter.

My Time in Prison or Finding Freedom, Part 2

These are a few of my strongest memories from my time in juvenile detention centers and Freedom. (See Part 1 if your reaction to that statement is, “Carly was in prison?!”) 

1. The first year I was there, we put on a Christmas play with our boys. They had a Holiday Program for the parents and family members to attend at the facility. One of the guys who volunteered with us wrote a Christmas play that, if memory serves, was basically Jesus’ life in reverse, ending with him being born instead of the usual cross-to-tombstone climax/resolution. At any rate, we had an Adult Jesus in the play. We did rehearsals with them, put together the costumes and props, and got to be backstage on the big day. There were several other groups doing different skits, songs, etc. during the program. Right before our portion, a gospel group was singing, “Go Jesus, go Jesus, go!” And my Adult Jesus was doing the running man backstage asking me if he could go out on stage like that. I told him I wish he hadn’t asked as I was obligated to say no, but I still love that image in my head. Running Man Jesus popping out from backstage while they chant for baby Jesus.

2. Also while backstage for our Christmas play, one of the boys had to go to the bathroom and the correctional officer there let him out the door that led to the hallway.  When he came back, he cop-knocked on the door to be let back in and one of my favorite boys jumped three feet in the air. Someone said, “Had some bad experiences with that knock, huh?” Sheephishly, “Shut up.”

3. One night, I was eating dinner with three of my favorites: Matt, Mark, and Adrian. One a poet, the other a lover, and the last a lover of all cultures (well, his goal in life was to have a baby of every nationality. He was well on his way at 16.) The number one rule in juvenile detention centers or prison is that you don’t ask someone why they’re in there, but if they bring it up and tell you, that’s their decision. One of the boys started telling the story of getting his nine felonies. I don’t remember all the specifics but they were all contained within one incident that had something to do with a car that wasn’t his and then attempting to evade being apprehended with said car. He definitely thought, or at least hoped, this story made him sound badass. The next, bragging, told me he only had TWO felonies. Lastly, the third told me, puffed up and proud, he only had ONE. I tried to politely suggest that maybe wasn’t a thing to brag about in most settings.

4. There was a boy named Tim. I’ll always remember his strength and his leadership and the way he carried himself. The boys all looked up to him. He was one who was going to make it. One Sunday we got there and the boys told us that Tim had been put on suicide watch. I remember just weeping through that whole church service. Weeping and praying and wondering what the fuck was going on in Tim’s head. I begged god to comfort him, to let him feel our presence. I raised my hands in petition. We never saw Tim again. I desperately hope he’s okay.

5. Obviously part of the boys’ new religious education involved learning about the “sin” of sex and lust and masturbation. (They really could have just used actual sex education since so many were fathers already.) But now they, like so many of us raised in church, got to feel shame and guilt surrounding their desires. One time, one of the boys in my Bible study class pulled me aside and apologized to me for lusting after me and told me he had asked God for forgiveness and hoped he could have mine too. One of the most awkward but weirdly endearing moments of my life.

6. One of the correctional officers was an awesome dude who helped out with Bible study if he was off-duty. One time he was carpooling with us after he had gone to the eye doctor. He realized on the way there that his pupils were still extremely dilated and the guys would tease him that maybe it wasn’t from the eye doctor. As a sheltered (at the time) Christian kid, I learned a lot of new drug slang that night.

7. One Sunday morning, one of my boys spent the entire service weeping because he just found out his ex-fiancee died of a heroin overdose. I just remember thinking, “Why was she alone? I wish I could’ve saved her.”

8. We got kicked out of The Male Juvenile Detention Center for being women. A couple completely (I’ll just say it) insane white male pastors decided the teenage boys couldn’t handle the temptation. We weren’t even allowed to say goodbye or explain. If you work with at-risk kids who have been seriously abandoned a million times in their young lives and you rip away some constants from them with no explanation, you’re a dick and I hate you forever. The same chaplain later kicked me out of teaching the girls’ Bible study at The Female Juvenile Detention Center FOR TALKING ABOUT GOD’S LOVE TOO MUCH. Fucking dick. Not that I’m still bitter. But more on that in Part 3.