Unfolding Odyssey

Thalassophobia

I haven’t posted anything for a while because I haven’t written anything worthwhile. On bad days I wonder if I ever have.

I’ve been in the doldrums in the purest sense of the word, with no wind to push me out. In part, this is a post about my mental health challenges, and how they have eroded the last 12 months. Lapping continuously at my heels they ebb and flow, always under the surface – even when it’s calm up top.

photo credit http://geminisunset.space/

When the COVID-19 lockdown hit Canada, I took it like a blow to the head. A rogue wave, if you will. All the structures and routines we’d worked to put in place since we arrived here were obliterated as the whole country, and world, scrambled to Figure Shit Out in the pandemic.

Like everyone else affected, I grieved for the normalcy we’d worked so hard to maintain. I felt the shock of a double whammy, because after immigrating we’d had to rebuild our world in an entirely new pace. In our first six months here I broke my leg, and our house was flooded. Settling in was hard; it still is. And hitting Reset again so soon is pretty daunting for this cushy cruise liner.

For me, the biggest challenge is being a mother and Keeping It Together. Our eldest kiddo is an energetic, high maintenance human who struggles with social cues and transitions, so the sudden severing of all his relied upon activities and interactions pushed him into a very difficult space. He basically lost the plot and was a writhing wretched tantrum for the first month of lockdown.

I am still Jenny’s shivering nerve.

Not being able to go to gym is such a privileged person problem, but I’m still going to complain about it because I was born into privilege and I have a problem with not going to gym. I miss my Barre and Body Pump classes, I miss the instructors who were so damn encouraging. For a few priceless hours a week I could zone out on muscle tasks. No children needing me, no decisions to make, just me, the mirrors, and my hard-earned sweat.

I’ll gloss over adjustments in medication, binge-drinking, Letting People Down, ongoing insomnia and many, many hours spent in dark corners hiding from my family and anyone else requiring something from me.

Oddly enough, something that has helped me to center myself is watching videos of cargo ships facing gigantic waves. When I see those towering water walls, and the depths of the drop below, my heart beat speeds up and I’m exhilarated.

I also go for pictures of people free diving into dark deep waters. Enormous fish swimming under tiny boats? Yes please. Bare feet paddling over a watery abyss? That’s a Texas-sized 10-4. It’s become an obsession of sorts. Thanks a lot, Reddit. I’m listening to a storm recording from an offshore oil rig right now and it is sublime.

Thalassophobia refers to the fear of deep waters, but here’s something in the rhythm and noise that I find very comforting. It’s too vast and powerful to even try control. Hah, deep calls to deep.

A thing that particularly sucks about depression is guilt it fosters. I feel bad most of the time, because of something I said, or did, or didn’t do. I’m unreliable, I let people down and I rack up the ways that I’m failing my kids and my husband. If it were as easy as getting up and slapping my face with a smile (everyone’s in the same boat, Jenny) I’d do it, but there are days when I cannot speak without crying.

On those days I’m a wound without a scab. I keep my glasses on and my hat brim low so people can’t see how raw I feel.

Sandwiched in there are atmospheric heights when I cannot believe my good fortune. I have a husband who just gets me, who gives me all the space I need, and precious kiddos who disarm me with their kindness and insight. I’m up and I’m down and I’m soaked to the bone in feelings and it’s exhausting yet I can’t sleep.

I don’t even know why I’m posting this. It’s an overshare and it’s awkward, but it felt important to put it in words.