Looking for a Miracle

It’s been just over 2 weeks since I cut my hair–since my last really bad day. When I reread my post “Why I Cut My Hair” this morning, I was surprised that it had been 2 weeks already. The day still looms large in my memory. I’ve talked before about how I often talk to God when I am thoroughly consumed by my depression. I pray a lot, but when I say I talk to God, I mean that I often talk out loud angrily, outbursts of frustration and angry questions. I spout out my hopelessness and loathing. I say things to God that I wouldn’t say to anyone else about how I am feeling. He already knows the worst of my thoughts, and when I talk to God, I have no fear of how He might respond to the insanity, because he is quiet. God has never literally spoken back to me. And I’m not expecting a literal answer. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, just that I’m not waiting for it to happen. I’m also not saying that God doesn’t respond to me when I talk to Him. It’s just that he responds in His own way and His own time, and sometimes I’m too daft to recognize it.

Two weeks ago, before I cut my hair, when I was in the depths of a depressive moment, I asked God for a miracle. I felt like I needed one. I felt like the only way I could survive–the only way I could forever get rid of my suicidality–was for God to give me a miracle. God has performed miracles in my life before, at least I think they are moments of divine intervention. My one, actual suicide attempt was nearly successful. I took enough drugs to kill myself, but good luck or God–however you want to look at it–intervened and saved me. That’s the most obvious example in my life, but, being a positive thinker, I like to think that God has performed many smaller miracles in my life as well.

So I asked for a miracle 2 weeks ago. I told God that I couldn’t do it without one. I threatened that I would give in if He didn’t help me. So where is my miracle? Was it that my daughter snapped me out of my depressive day 2 weeks ago? Was it good news my husband received at work? Was it the refreshing weekend I had? Was it the confidence I regained after working on my book manuscript and being reminded of my own strength? Is it reconnection with an old friend that reminds me of beautiful parts of myself that I haven’t thought about in years? Is it a new blog idea I had that allows me to therapeutically write even more?

My dad, David O. Dykes, has a book called Hope When You Need It Most that has this wonderful acronym for hope that I love: Having Only Positive Expectations. I choose to be hopeful, despite the hopelessness that resides in my brain. When I can be positive, I am. And when I ask God for a miracle, I expect that it will come. And I love that I begin to see every good thing that happens to me as possibly the miracle I asked for. It’s all about how you think about things. My change in perspective since I faithfully asked for a miracle could be the miracle itself. I am seeing my blessings clearer, I see everything potentially as a gift from God. It is an exercise in positivity, hope, and faith. May you all see your own blessings clearly and find every miracle in your life. Stay hopeful through practicing positivity when you can. And when you have no hope, hang on. Sometimes miracles happen even when we don’t ask for them.


Ebook update

I finished reviewing the first round of edits to the ebook and sent it back to my editor last night. I am so pleased with how it is turning out and can’t wait for you all to get the chance to read the final version (with a new introduction and 2 new chapters!). It has been such a blessing to write, and you all have made it possible through your support. I’ll keep you updated as I know more. ❤️

Grey Morning

Does anyone like leaving vacation? I woke up grey–not quite blue, but definitely grey. I’m first up, outside, piano ballads on the headphones. The sun is behind the clouds. I drank more last night than I often do anymore. No hangover, but plenty of reflection. I kept thinking that I would write something last night as a part two to Good Morning–some kind of good night post written outside in the light of the fire, under the stars, but writing at night feels different it seems. Like the darkness makes me want to say more than I would normally. In American Horror Story Freak Show, the character of Elsa Mars says about her showtime, “…when the darkness moves in and speaks of mystery, the unknown. When logic loosens its vice grip and the imagination comes out to play. Night allows the stars to shine and we come alive.” I love that part–that moment because the night does still hold mystery for me. We say and do things that we wouldn’t do in the light of day. 

But I couldn’t write; I had been writing all day, but once the sun went down, I couldn’t put it down anymore. It turned into lengthy letters of regret. My mind began to wander–think about the past, the future, possibility, impossibility. If I shared what I wrote when I was free from the daily life that keeps me grounded, it would probably be ramblings of a lonely girl in love with books, music, theorists, artists, fictional characters. In the dark I can believe in the romance of my youth, in the daytime I tell myself everything is political; there is no great mystery, there is only the collective need for love and compassion. My intellect rules the daytime and my emotions rule the night. 

But today I’m grey, so my intellect and emotions are warring for control. I want to avoid discontent, dissatisfaction, restlessness. As Florence + the Machine says,”regrets collect like old friends, here to relive your darkest moments…I can never leave the past behind…I like to keep my issues drawn. It’s always darkest before the dawn.” The fighter in me wells up–tells me to shake it out. Has me dancing alone in the woods to get the devil off my back. It’s okay to feel the pull of the dark–the mystery, the romance–but the sun always comes back up. There is always a new day–no night lasts forever no matter how wonderful. 

Grey or not, my day will move forward in orderly fashion. Soon, I’ll wake up my daughter and we’ll measure out our day in finger pricks and insulin shots. It was a lovely night last night, but I still prefer the morning. I can’t handle the heartbreak of a beautiful night but I love it anyway. The sky is still overcast, but I’m shaking out the grey. One last quiet moment alone in the woods before I go home. 

Good Morning

I need to work on the ebook this weekend; I’ve got the manuscript back with comments, but I haven’t yet worked through them, so any delay at this point is my fault. But it will happen. Depression, diabetes, life got in the way. Right now, I’ve been awake for an hour, sitting outside in the woods at the cabin we’re at this weekend. I’ve done my normal routine–get up early (before my daughter), get coffee, go outside, put on my headphones, and just be. Listening to music that reminds me of the wonders of each morning. 

I love the morning. I either wake up happy or depressed–I never know what it will be–and I am very impressionable for the first hour or so. If I am happy, I must carefully maintain that happiness by spending time outside, with music, maybe writing. If I am depressed, sometimes good weather and time outside first thing can change my mood. And if I encounter something difficult first thing I can become depressed even if I woke up happy. It’s a balancing act based on consistency but flexibility. 

So mornings are wonder-filled for me; I don’t know what a new day will hold. If I am depressed, sometimes I can sleep off hours of crying; sometimes not. Sometimes I have felt wonderful for days on end but one day wake up completely off balance. It just happens, and I have to do what I can to combat it. But going outside within 10 minutes of getting out of bed is my go to technique. Depending on the temperature, I will spend up to an hour just sitting on my back stoop (not even in a chair!) listening to music and writing. If it’s cold, I’ll stay until my fingers are too numb to type. It’s the best part of my day. I get lost; lose track of time; get fully consumed in the beauty of the present moment.

As a teenager, I slept in late every chance I could, but after having my daughter, loving late nights with wine turned into loving early morning quiet with coffee. I used to get up early to watch the news, then when I stopped obsessing over 24 hour news (which was bad for my mental health), I started watching a Netflix show or two in the morning. These days, more often than not, I’m listening to music. Today, it’s all upbeat hip hop; I want to reinforce the positivity I’m feeling rather than drown in some of the quicksand music of my past. I think there’s a place for both, though. Last night, sitting in the dark around a fire, we needed acoustic, soulful music to match the night, but this morning the sun is shining bright through all the trees, and I needed to feel strong. I needed to face the day confidently, and hip hop bravado does that for me. 

I guess I could have gone the pop route, but when I write, I also want to be intellectually stimulated. So much pop music reinforces mainstream ideologies (redundant, I know), and, given my personality, I want something challenging. When I say I want to “just be” in the morning, I don’t mean just be centered–I mean be just be Laura Grace. And that means I want to think, feel, create. I jokingly say that my job is full-time Bohemianism, but, in grad school, I did personal research on British Bohemianism from the modernist period, and I do keep to some of their basic values. I want life to be about love, beauty, art, truth, freedom. I have this restless urge to be liberated and search for beauty through art. It’s probably naive, but it’s what makes me feel like living. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized how political this all is. As a teenager, these feelings felt all emotional. I wanted to be a beatnik, and experience life simply to really feel. But now, I don’t feel like a soul out of place and time, but one of a long line of rebellion against capitalism. But that’s probably a little much for the blog…

I’m not sure if I’ll get to the book this weekend or not. It’s a beautiful day, I’m in the woods. I have plenty of music, one of my favorite books, and time. May your day be beautiful, and never doubt the power of a little sun in the morning.

Unlocking the Past

You all know my penchant for hip hop, but I didn’t start listening to it much until 2005 when a friend burned me Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album–a masterful mashup of The Beatles’s The White Album and Jay-z’s The Black Album. Really good stuff if you’re looking for a way into hip hop from a rock background. Anyway, though, before I listened to The Grey Album, I was a rock and roll girl with a soft spot for alternative rock ballads. I’ve been listening to some of that old stuff recently, and I’m amazed at how formational it was for me, and how I’ve mentally locked it away in a box with memories and daydreams.

But, it all comes back at me like a wave I wasn’t expecting. I thought I had to put it away forever to be well. I thought I had to ignore everything about my depressed self to be strong. And maybe I do. Maybe I’m too fragile to feel. I love my church, but I’m too afraid to go to a service with music because it reminds me of my depression. My first depressive episode is saturated with musical memories–songs I loved that now transport me back to moments in the past, some of which I don’t want to remember. But some of those memories are worth remembering. Music and books, people I loved and experiences I had. Depression made my life tragic at times, but I’m not sure that I was ever really alone. I just isolated myself from anything that I was afraid of, and I have been terribly afraid of everything that reminds me of my first episode. I’ve never compartmentalized any other episode the way I did the first. It was more traumatic.

But that was 15 years ago. Maybe it’s time to stop being so afraid. Maybe I’m using my intellect as a defense against feeling. I tell myself that feeling deep emotion is the enemy because I only feel deeply when I cannot control it–usually on days when my depression looms large. I feel such relief when a film or tv show makes me cry because I feel sadness without self-loathing. I think it’s one reason I have had such a hard time with my daughter’s diagnosis. It is natural to grieve, but I don’t know how to process deep sadness without depression. My brain tells me it’s hopeless. So, rather than feel hopeless, I bottle it up until I lose control for a day or so.

Getting back to some of my interests from before my first episode reminds me that I used to love feeling a wider range of emotions before the negative ones were all tinged with suicidal ideation. Will I never feel them again? I feel love, I feel happiness. I can maybe grieve without a depressive episode, too.

I think it’s okay to go back. It’s certainly interesting. I wonder if the depressed woman I keep locked up inside (mentioned in my last post) is really just my 19 year old self. I did lock her away. I literally put away her music, books, friends, and dreams rather dramatically. Everything except my collage. I allowed myself that one abstract representation, but I didn’t look at it closely–wouldn’t read the text. I thought I had to put it all away. But maybe not. If we can never step in the same river twice, if we’re all constantly changing, then I don’t have to fear going back. I’ve come so far. I’m not what I’ve locked away because I’ve always been more than my depression. And I think I’m realizing that for the first time. Even when desperately ill, I just might be more than my disease. And maybe loving myself means loving all of myself. I am constantly learning by living in the present even when it reminds me of the past.