Friday, March 25, 2016

Fat Girl On A Bar: Fringe Benefits

When I first started therapy, I talked to the therapist about how I sometimes felt like I had bipolar disorder. I explained to her that sometimes I had these intense highs that made me also feel out of control. She said, "Maybe normal feelings feel so intense because your lows are so low." I thought about what she said and I saw some truth to this observation. But it wasn't quite the whole story. I carried her words with me because I felt like there was something there; right beneath the surface.

Enter trapeze.

Talking to a couple of the teachers about the pain, I realized I sounded nearly giddy. I did that embarrassed head duck thing I do when I realized how I sounded. One of the teachers just nodded and said "You're like us. You like the pain."

And the thing is I do. But let me back up a little now that I've likely caused a great deal of pearl clutching.

When I'm in the deepest pool of depression, I can't feel anything. I'm in an apathetic fog. Before kids those were the times when I couldn't get out of bed or shower. I just couldn't bother. At some point, when I felt like I couldn't take the nothingness much longer I sought out intense experiences. Usually ones that were not very healthy for me. As life progressed and I realized depression would be my constant companion, I started to seek out those experiences at the start of a depression. I could stave off the blankness for a bit of time if I hid inside something intense. Unhealthy intense. New relationships. Sex. Drinking. Sometimes even drugs.

For a long time after being married, most of my depressions proved short lived. But looking back, I can pinpoint the moments when I sought out breakthrough experiences. Starting my MA for sure was one of those things. I started going to shows during that time as well and live music definitely fit the bill. But the MA ended and anyway had worn thin as an experience by the time I finished.

When we moved here, and I started the journey to one of my longest depressions to date, I freaked out. Let me be clear. I wasn't in a continual fog. It was just long stretches of time. The love I felt for my family always lay so close to my heart but sometimes I felt like I could sense it but not touch it. Those days sucked. I felt worthless and unlovable. I thought they'd be better off without me. I didn't want to do anything intense either. I was scared of seeking it out to be honest. During one of my lucid moments, I decided to try antidepressants again.

This has been me since April, I think.  Things have been good and well okay. No I no longer feel apathetic. Most days I want to do things.But as always with antidepressants I am starting to feel like something is absent. I stopped writing my fiction. With a push I can churn out the blog posts and articles for the Body is Not An Apology but I the novels? It's just not there. I have all these ideas and zero ability to put them on paper. I can edit. But I can't create new things. It sucks. Before trapeze and after NaNoWriMo, I found myself feeling really down. The choice before me was be functional or be creative I hated that these were my only two options. I wanted to be creative but I need to function. Like I have to be a parent, a partner, a friend. That shit is important.

Enter trapeze.

Trapeze is my healthy intensity. This is what I mean when I say I like the pain. I do. But it's not as sexual as it might sound. I promise. Let go of those pearls. I've had rope burn so bad on the top of my feet that it hurts to wear sneakers. The bottom of my knees are speckled with dime sized bruises. My hands burn with calluses that eventually heal only to be reopened with more bar work. I wake up with sore muscles and aching joints. I love it every minute of it. Leaning into this pain is not as masochistic as it sounds. I've always been sensory seeking and sometimes I need something tough to cut through the emptiness.

Trapeze is that bit of sensory push I need to jolt me away from the gray tendrils of depression. But it doesn't make my black dog go away either like antidepressants. I'm companionable with my depression after nearly thirty years of having it beside me. I don't like the feeling of having it muffled. Like I know it's there but I can't feel its fur beneath my hands. Trapeze gives me something that keeps the apathy away but also lets me channel my depression into my art. And trapeze I think at some point will even give me a new way to express that art I feel inside me.

Last night's class was not one that looked successful on the surface. We started with a sub which always makes me feel tense but she was great. She lead us through some demanding conditioning moves that at first glance seemed impossible. But I managed to do most of them and felt pretty strong. Of course that all ended when I immediately failed at doing spear (which I have done before), and thus not even being able to attempt the new moved we learned called Harlequin. I didn't do much better with a move called a back float, and by the end of the class my arms just refused to do anything hard.

But I didn't feel bad. Some of that has come from all the shit I worked through last session but a lot came from my new perspective. In some ways trapeze has saved my life. I've heard this sentiment expressed by a lot of other people in only a half joking manner. No I wasn't suicidal but I was feeling like I was about to lose something. And now I feel like maybe along with therapy and keeping up with my vitamin D, trapeze might be what I need to keep myself functioning without the meds.

(I just want to note that I am not by any means knocking meds. I think they are life saviors for a lot of people including me. I also feel totally comfortable knowing that I might have to take them again someday).

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