A few days ago, I was struck with an unfamiliar sensation. I was driving home from the gym, mentally mapping out my morning - the shower, the groceries, laundry, lunch, picking up the kids. This practice, even this plan, was not unusual. What was strange was the energy with which I contemplated it. For the first time in two months, I wasn't viewing what was in front of me from the smoldering pit of anxiety and depression. Indeed, I was anticipating my day with relish.
I've had many moments of laughter, of silliness, of fun, even, in the last long months of depression, but I haven't, for what seems like an eternity, felt okay. Always there has been the nagging feeling that things are not all right, really not all right, that at any time, everything could fall apart - from the world to my family to just my own mind. In the last few days, that feeling, for hours at a time, has ebbed.
Two weeks ago, my new psychiatrist, after much gathering of history and weighing pros and cons, put me on a new medication. My family history, even my own, is complicated. There are shades of bipolar right and left as well as touches of OCD to add to the general palette of major depression and anxiety. Finding the right drug for me was challenging. Some work for depression and anxiety but aggravate bipolar and OCD tendencies. Others manage bipolar symptoms but don't do much for the rest of it. And some, god forbid, cause weight-gain, an absolute deal-breaker in my book. That alone would make me depressed and anxious.
And so finally we reached a compromise, a drug that could, hopefully, quell the symptoms that bother me most without precipitating a mania (something I've only tasted but have witnessed full bloom in my mother). I took the pill and I waited. Days went by, some better, some worse. Anxiety would hit and and I would be anxious that it was back. Depression would take hold and it would make me depressed. I have been trying to pull myself out of these self-perpetuating whirlpools for so long now.
And then, for a number of days, I've felt well. Not manic, not speedy, not hyper-joyful but well. I have energy for something other than trying desperately to feel okay. A couple days ago I cobbled together a sweater-coat out of recycled cashmere sweaters. It's comprised of four sweaters, big patches and small, purple and brown and green argyle. It is a big garment; it reaches past my knees, I can wrap it around me to create a nest of layers of soft wool. Ben has termed it "Big Crazy". I was working on at our weekly stitch-and-bitch and when I was polling my girlfriends about how I should patch a moth-hole on the back, my friend, Ann, suggested the letters "LC" as in Liz Capron. I've been half-heartedly searching for a new nickname because there are suddenly so many Lizs in our parental sphere. There followed a discussion where I referred to myself in the third person as we laughed about how LC rolls. LC is tough, it seems, and decisive; she tells it like it is. And maybe, well, a little out there. A little crazy.
There's something about this article of clothing that speaks of this whole experience. I took apart something that wasn't working - old sweaters in one case and my mental health in the other - and pieced it back together into something that is strange but beautiful and very me. It's a giant, wearable, baby-soft blanket, a form of comfort I've created for myself. This depression has been different than the others in that I've been very public about what I've been going through. I have refused to hide. I've taken what's wrong and I've worn it and made it right. With a big "LC" emblazoned on my back, an emblem of the new me that has emerged.