i lost my temper this morning. Even though i am a pretty terrible Buddhist/Christian, i do make a serious effort not to say mean things or be snappish and today i failed miserably. If i am honest, i can give you reasons – mitigating factors of feeling miserable, crushingly alone and overwhelmed – but to this studio member, i was bitchy. Either i will be forgiven or not, but the words came out of my mouth and – much worse – in that exact moment they were true. My problems loomed so massively inside me, my cognitive overload crushed me so badly, that i did not have room to care about anything other than the task at hand. Once it was done, i apologized and said i was in a place to care about other things again, but i don’t know if those words did any good. They certainly failed to evoke the same power as the original utterance. As the hours have ticked by, i have been recriminating myself over my vocalized irritation. Because i am a poet and a navel-gazer in general, this has lead me to start pondering four things: free will, faith, stubbornness and depression. And you’ll need a paragraph of background to understand why:
For a few months, life has been growing more and more challenging. In early October, a second neurologist confirmed what the first has thought since October of 2011 – that my nervous system is being slowly digested by my immune system. Alas, that is as far as i can get with a diagnosis because my health insurance won’t cover any tests. Indeed, i have to find a way to pay the nearly $300 bill for the second neurologists’ time, since that was not covered because he’s a specialist. These problems have been around for a couple of years, but they have gotten much worse over the past six months. With some horror, i watch the situation get worse while i frantically try to make it better. The failing of my body includes massive pain, problems walking, unpleasant confusion, issues with manual dexterity (a real blow for me, given the art i make) and constant headaches that have made even the most basic thinking difficult for the past two months. This is not the first time i have struggled with hobbling ill-health, but this time i lack the support structure i used to have. Not to mention the wonderful (pre-divorce) health insurance that i still dream of fondly. All in all, being so unstable physically makes me feel much more vulnerable and alone generally. Then, about three weeks ago, i found out (in a failed attempt to get life insurance) that my A1C was terrible. Either i have lost my genetic fight with diabetes or the stress from running a business with all the health issues has gotten to me. But, again, i cannot afford any actual doctoring for this. Nor can i afford any prescriptions (which are also not covered by my health insurance) so other than cutting out carbohydrates from my diet i am on my own. Which, truthfully, gives me some stress.
Which is where the musings on free will, faith, stubbornness and depression all come in. Being sick is depressing. Being this vulnerable to financial and physical instability is terrifying and depressing. Being so unrelentingly single is depressing. Feeling like i am not enough to get done the things that need to get done is depressing. Every day that i am not able to throw or paint leaves me agitated, wondering if these problems are permanent, which in turn is depressing. i wish i could say that i have blind faith that things will get better and be awesome, but i don’t. Free will can mess me up – both my own and others. i cannot make people buy pots. i cannot force them to support my kickstarter. i can beg for help, but that does not mean i will get it. i can argue with the insurance company, but they do not have to bend to my will. i can go on healthcare.gov but that does not mean the site will work. i can develop crushes, but that does not mean i will be going out on a date. Moreover, as i have written before, my own free will matters more than i can say. Do i choose to eat as well as i can? Do i choose to move my body much as possible, even if it’s just walking, bent like Quasimodo, in circles in my studio? Do i choose to snap at everyone i meet, or do i try to be friendly and kind and act as though nothing is wrong as much as i possibly can? Do i forgive myself when i am bitchy? Do i drag myself out of bed when every cell is screaming in pain? Do i face my depression down – spitting in its face as i wrote in a haiku the other day – or do i crawl into a hole and cry? (Both might be the answer to the last question.)
Faith, when i look at it on days like today, becomes a hard, cold choice rather than an effervescent feeling of belonging or certainty. i have to make the choice to believe that things will get better even though i know there are no guarantees, even though i am close to tearing my clothes and covering myself with sackcloth and ash. i have to gird my loins and believe in myself and what i’m doing enough to open the studio and start writing (throwing is way beyond my abilities today.) I have to be stubborn in my faith, forcing it to stand like a breakwater against the waves of vulnerability and despair. Even more, i have to do this when everything inside of me – every emotion, every sensation – screams that life is too hard, too unfair and too lonely to bear. Today, i do not feel faithful; i feel forsaken. Optimism has drained out of me these past three days of intense physical wretchedness. Friday and yesterday, i barely wrote, only drew a few melancholy sketches and drained myself to nothing working on pottery. There is no way to be kind to myself when there is so much that i have to do. Kindness would be huddled in bed with a heating pad, under covers, cuddling with the animals. Stubbornness requires me to sit here at my work table typing away. Right now, all i can do to keep myself going is to act like what i do, what i am, matters and then ground myself in this determination.
And now we have come the synthesis, how all these four pieces fit together in my heart right now:
i use my free will to stubbornly choose faith to fight off the demon of depression.
And, God, i hope tomorrow is a better day. The prayer is so fervent i lit three candles for it.