My Melancholy

I’m depressed. At least I think I’m depressed. I’ve spent my whole life convincing myself that I wasn’t depressed, so it’s hard for me to recognize it now. Typically I run away when I start feeling trapped. And that’s what depression is for me, the feeling of being trapped.

That’s me.

That’s what I do.

I run away.

I’ve tried this on several different occasions, in one form or fashion. The problem, I’ve found, is that I always take myself with me. These episodes come with a lot of guilt as well, which makes me want to run away even more. It’s a catch 22 that has never worked for me.

I don’t really want to run away, I love my life and all that it is and will be.

The whole Bi-polar II diagnosis is still a bit “woo-woo” to me. It’s almost too convenient a diagnosis to explain away my bitchiness and/or melancholy. But today… Today, I feel like it fits. I recognized that I was being really touchy with the animals; getting upset with them for being, well, for being animals. That’s when I realized I couldn’t blame these feelings on outside forces. This is me. It’s internal.

I’m driving through the beautiful pastures located at the Ark of Serenity on Big Blue (ATV) and all I want to do is cry. It’s not because I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the land – although it is very beautiful, it’s because I feel sad… or melancholy.

Melancholy is such a beautiful word. It’s a much more acceptable word to me than depressed. I was told by a psychic once that I had a tendency to be melancholy and she is right. I was a bit pleased that she saw that, because to me it feels a bit romantic. One of the official definitions is a “pensive sadness: thoughtful or gentle sadness”. The last part of the word spells holy. I can live with that… It’s much better than being depressed, which is an overused buzzword in my opinion.

Last week, I went to the Mall of America with my family. For some reason I decided I was going to ride on the Sponge Bob roller coaster; with a name like that how bad could it be? As I was standing on line I started to become anxious. My daughter kept telling me, “Just 20 seconds of bravery is all it takes…” I wanted to show her I could do it, so I ignored the klaxon that filled my brain (Danger! Danger!) As we neared the loading gate, I thought I was going to vomit and it took all I had to ignore my gut instincts and board that coaster. But I did it.

As the harness meant to secure my safety locked in, I went into full-fledged panic mode. The safety device turned into my prison and I needed to get out. This wasn’t melancholy, this was terror. I started yelling at the attendant to let me out but she couldn’t hear me over the noise of the crowd. Much to my daughter’s annoyance, I kept repeating, “I have to get off this, no SERIOUSLY! I have to get OFF!” Finally, the young girl in whose hands my life rested, turned to me, shrugged her shoulders and pressed the button.

I thought I was terrified of the inverted and barrel role portions of the coaster.


It was the 20 e x c r u c i a t i n g seconds it took to climb 100 feet to the top of the track. That was the real horror. You don’t realize how long 20 seconds truly is, until you are trapped and terrified. The ride lasted a total of 53 seconds. When I finally escaped and was standing on solid ground, I was shaking internally, you know that fear jelly. It felt like I had to leave my body in order to survive. To get back into my body I chose to burst into tears.

This is what being bi-polar feels like. The only difference is that the other day I chose to stand on line and board that coaster. Today I did not.

I just want to live life without the rollercoaster I am involuntarily thrust on when my brain misfires. I do take medication to prevent or at least help with the frequency and/or length of the coaster. But I still feel like I am imprisoned by the shoulder harness on a ride I don’t want to be on.

Those 20 seconds of bravery in the midst of a very real terror had a significant impact on me. I am proud of myself for pushing through. I am also grateful for the awareness and connection it brought to me today. Instead of giving in to the panic that comes with the awareness of having zero control, I choose to write about what I am feeling, which is always better than running away.

This entry was posted in Life after 50, Loss, PTSD and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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