Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do? An Introspective.

It’s been awhile since I was writing regularly. I suffer from severe anxiety and chronic severe depression. (If anyone has read my parenting blogs, you’ll know some of the triggers.) I hate being depressed. Being a passionate and compassionate person, I hate not caring. Being someone who finds many things funny and enjoys laughing inappropriately, I hate having no laughter. I also hate the medication but I endure because feeling depressed is far worse.

I live on my ideas, enthusiasm and feelings. We all do. The meds dampen all that. This must be endured until the light is seen again. (I once wrote a very bad poem called The Abyss which describes my descent into depression. It’s on this blog because good judgement goes out the window when depressed.)

We humans need to think of mental illness as an injury from which one has to recover. However it is triggered, falling into any episode requires healing time. If we would only treat mental illness as an illness, we could recover more easily, as individuals and community.

I am currently off meds, for the first time in ten years. How awesome is that? Some pretty hairy things have happened (see Parenting blogs) and I have coped. How fabulous is that? I am wondering if this period is petering out? It followed the break up of my marriage, my father’s death and a rad hysterectomy due to years of suffering endometriosis. All of that is enough to plunge anyone into depression. Add to that caring for foster children on my own and dealing with their birth parents on my own plus permanent caring teens, while working full time to provide for everyone. However, my bouts go back a long long way. (My story about my growing up is elsewhere on this blog, I won’t re-tell it here.)

I wonder if there is a period as we transition into older middle age (I am 52) where the rites of passage no longer exist and we suffer accordingly? Obviously my anxiety and depression were exacerbated by surgical menopause and the other things that happen in life at middle age. How curious is it that most women and many men go through these mid life crises? How strange is the radical increase in diagnosis of mental illness, particularly for this age group?

What have we lost here? Is it like teens, where the rite of passage to adulthood has been lengthened and made impossible? Is there a rite of passage from your younger adult to middle-aged self to older middle aged? Will we go through this again when we become seniors? I don’t want to.

I will have to think on this. If you have thoughts, let me know. I am wondering, when my working life is finished, how will I transition to senior? The transition to single, older middle aged working woman/ mum/ grandma has been excruciating. What will the transition be like in another 18 years? I assume I’ll have to work to 70, as you know, money.

Do we need a rite of passage for menopause, for middle age? Do we need to define this period of life as …. something. I am still working, running a house, caring for kids the same as I did through the past two decades but I am different. I am different. I am not the same.

What do you think?

3 thoughts on “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do? An Introspective.

  1. There is an article in the latest Guardian Weekly about menopause, and how it is so hidden and not talked about. It is such a significant change for women. I think many women see it as something sad, because it involves acknowledging that we are getting older, there are sometimes significant challenging symptoms associated with it, and it is seen as a loss (the ability to have children). Perhaps we find it challenging because there isn’t such a definite transition as there is for puberty. We sometimes don’t know we have reached it until some time afterwards. I have either reached menopause, or am passing through it (I am also 52). I have been reflecting on it quite a bit because of my personal experience. I see around me that many friends and acquaintances are breaking up with long term partners/spouses at this time of life. Although this is for multiple reasons, I wonder whether there is some biological basis to it in heterosexual relationships: there is not the same biological imperative to stay with a partner when the children are already born and growing??? Just a thought. I see it as an opportunity to embrace my lived experience and my strength as a woman, not something to be sad of. An exciting opportunity to enter this next phase of life. Jenny xx

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    • Thank you for your thoughts, Jenny. I agree that as a transition time, it is what we make it. Interesting comment about relationships breaking up as I have observed that as well. I continue to ponder. 🙂

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  2. I just want to comment about YOU..about the impression you made on me when I first met you and how that impression has lived on. I love you. I love that you are funny and enrich others.I love your talent. I still hear your stories in my head. I love that you are off your meds and are victorious and if you take your meds back..I love you for that. I love the difference you make to this sore and tired planet. One day we will meet again and we will hug for a long time. xxxxx Mary

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