Depression, and Dancing-Induced Mania

There are some mornings you wake up and for whatever crazy reason, real or imagined, you just don’t like yourself very much. This is something I’ve struggled with since I was nine and our dad left. It wasn’t my fault, of course, but it created a phobia of abandonment and self-loathing that still manifests during times of stress.

I’m stressed because of the commitments that are still unfinished. I still haven’t gotten our 2011 taxes in to our tax person, and gotten this anthology off to the printers, and a few other things too personal to share (even for me!) Tracking down all our receipts for multiple states is overwhelming, especially when we’ve lived in 3 places this year and I’ve toted tax boxes and paperwork back and forth to each. Partly it’s because while some people make their OCD work for them, mine often puts my brain in a state of immobility. It’s a wonder I complete anything sometimes, let alone day to day life.

On Monday night I was listening to a lecture by Jeffrey Eugenides at Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh, PA. If you’ve ever been in the hall, it’s hard to stare ahead at the speaker, because you’re often busy craning your neck to look at the gilding on the ceilings, the walls, at the massive organ barely hidden behind the curtain. Everything around me is plush, ornate.

I was thinking about gilt and then thinking about guilt. An aunt once shared a book about shame and the ways we let things from our childhood inform our adult life. There are a lot of things I feel shameful or guilty about from my childhood, which a healthy person lets go of and moves on. I thought it was my fault that my dad left, and my fault that he died 7 years later. (I know, I know, I have a huge ego.) There were several things that happened during my teenage years and college years, and a rocky relationship with my mother, and each of those left me feeling an exponential burden of guilt and shame. Letting go of things you really had no control over is part of ridding that poison from your body. Accepting responsibility and moving forward from the things you did have control over does as well.

I’m also stressed lately because of this chaotic life we live. We are torn between houses, away from family and friends, and each new town, while it comes with the adventure of exploring, it also comes with knowing I will be alone 12 hours a day while Kurt works his ass off, and in those 12 hours I become hyper-aware of that I have to start over making friends, settling on a routine, setting up a house, figuring out where and how I fit into the community and trying not to let my writing be overwhelmed by crybaby blogs about how hard it is to be alone.

One thing I have figured out about myself since I first began blogging is that the loneliness, as a good friend of mine in Los Angeles kept trying to help me understand, has nothing to do with the physical. I can feel lonely with someone just as easily as when I’m alone. I have been avoiding that subject, the same way I avoid listening when each counselor gets to the point in our sessions when they say I’m OCD and begin leading the conversation toward just how often I cycle between periods of happiness and periods of depression. Then I find a new counselor.

I’m not bipolar. I have a friend who is, and there is a difference between her legitimate illness and my intermittent bouts of grief and happiness. The difference is control. My friend cannot control her changes from manic to depressive. It is a chemically induced shift that is crippling in depression and euphoric in mania, and requires a chemical to keep her safe.

Sometimes I get into a funk I can’t seem to get out of for a long time, sometimes months. But for me, these can be traced to life events, traumatic experiences that I never fully grieved when they happened, and that resurface in between. It’s depression, but for me it’s not clinical.

And an overly energetic, bubbly personality (sometimes carrying an over-the-edge craziness confused for mania) has been mine since birth and I consider it my set-point, and that my body and mind are always trying to settle back into it. I call it green energy, snce my kettle seems to be powered by something ethereal and the energy feels limitless. Plug me into music, or babies or fluffy kittens, or love, and I’m recharged. This is why it’s easy for me to let conflict drop away, to forgive all trespass and to seem like I have a truly blessed and lucky life. Because I do. Because this insanely happy state to which I frequently return seems to be able to overcome anything and everything in a matter of time. I see it like my own personal filtration system for trauma or sadness.

It’s why my favorite places to volunteer are hospice and hospitals. I feel like having this isn’t something I’m allowed to keep to myself. I might not believe in many things, but I do believe that we can pass energy to each other. Call it love or aura or karma or whatever you want. I just call it energy, restock it and move on.

Sometimes though, like today, it wasn’t kicking in on its own. So like with any system that isn’t resetting itself, I made a manual reboot. I decided this morning to just allow myself to be overwhelmed for awhile. The house was empty so I closed the doors and windows and had the loudest, longest cry I’ve had in awhile. It felt amazing. It felt like toxins emptying from my system, both emotionally and physically. I let it run its course until nothing was left except those stuttering yawns of trying to get the oxygen back into my system. “Cry like a baby” will never lose its meaning for me.

After that purge, I got up and pulled itunes up on my laptop. On it I have a playlist called “Marla’s Motivation.” It’s what I use when I need to get my mind in another place. The only thing they all have in common is that they leave me feeling, well, “motivated” – whether it be empowered, upbeat, world-changing or just plain freaking silly.

Here is my list (and note that when I say “by” I’m just meaning “my version performed by…”:

“Fireflies” by Owl City
“So What” by Pink
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
“Waka Waka” (This Time for Africa) by Shakira
“Bullet With Butterfly Wings” by Smashing Pumpkins
“Dynamite” by Taio Cruz
“Tennessee Flat Top Box” by Johnny Cash
“All Summer Long” by Kid Rock
“It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons
“What’s Your Fantasy” by Ludacris
“We Speak No Americano” by Yolanda Be Cool
“Honey Honey” by ABBA
“Get Back” by The Beatles
“Rhythm of Love” by Plain White T’s
“This my Shit” by Gwen Stefani
“Lump” by the Presidents of the United States of America
“Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous” by Good Charlotte
“Built this City on Rock ‘n Roll” by Starship
“La Tortura” by Shakir
“Footloose” by Kenny Loggins
“Tainted Love” by Soft Cell
The Way You Do The Things You Do” by the Temptations
“I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas
“Gangnam Style” by PSY
“Daydream Believer” by The Monkees
“Gives You Hell” by the All American Rejects
“Crazy In Love” by Beyonce
“Womanizer” by Britney Spears
“Old Time Rock ‘n Roll” by Bob Seger
“Roll Out” by Ludacris
“Viva la Vida” by Coldplay
“I Like it” by Enrique Iglesias
“I Don’t Care” by Fall Out Boy;
“Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey (okay, okay…I kinda love the Glee version)
“Flashdance”  by Irene Cara
“Single Ladies” by Beyonce
“”Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
“Jackson” by Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
“Black or White” by Michael Jackson
“Party in the U.S.A.”  by Miley Cyrus
“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
“Little Lion Man” by Mumford and Sons
“Firework” by Katy Perry

So I blared my motivational songs and danced until I was exhausted. My mojo is back and I feel focused again. Now to get these damn taxes done…

Love, Sasquatch

Do you have a playlist specifically to put you in a better mood? What do your playlists represent and what are you favorite songs?

10 Comments on “Depression, and Dancing-Induced Mania

  1. Pingback: What DOES the Fox Say? | Traveling MarLa

  2. Marla I love your playlist – may borrow it as I’ve been unmotivated since returning from Turkey and feeling guilty that I’m not more upbeat. But I’ll get started on this tomorrow! Afterall, there’s nothing like a bit of Enrique to get you going

  3. I’m too electronically challenged to ever create a playlist on anything but listening to the 70’s music channel on my tv makes me feel alternately sad and nostalgic, and disco dancing ( badly but with lots of energy) always makes me feel better no matter what life has thrown at me.

  4. Nothing gets me feeling better than “Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane, “Front Porch Lookin In” by Lonestar and most of all “Danny’s Song” by Kenny Loggins. Glad I only TEXTED about the Pokeweed this morning and you didn’t have any nearby!

    • I know, right? Death by pokeweed, haha. Do you know that after I read your comment I went to the local coffeeshop for a green tea latte, and the friendly guy who works there started talking about a Kenny Loggins song? I thought that was just too weird!
      Ohh! I love Life is a Highway! I need to add that to my playlist. I don’t know the Lonestar song but I’ll check it out. Thanks Michelle!

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