Saturday, March 31, 2012

Havin' a Do (over)...

Today is my birthday.
I've been here 52 years.
That's a long time.
Now I'm one of those people who waxes rhapsodic about how much better music was "back in the day" and the back in the day I'm referring to is the late 60s and early 70s.

The music I used to dance to like Molly Ringwald in the 80s is the "oldies" they play on K-RTH 101.

The last couple years have been rather challenging - the economy has created struggle for so many including myself.  It's been like running through molasses in January in that any forward motion has taken so much more effort.

Even more difficult has been the loss of so many friends.  They have been jumping off this mortal coil in mostly tragic ways.  Jacob, David, Jim, Dan, Caroline, Philippe, Abe, Laura...all but two of whom were my age or younger.

For a while it seemed like every time I answered the phone the news was shocking and bad.

It did a number on my psyche and I have found myself profoundly sad and depressed, as in crying all the time and thinking dark and exhausted thoughts.  I was not participating in the world very well.  Honestly I just wanted to lie down and not wake up because I was just so sad.

And all that sadness was completely appropriate to the circumstances.

I tend to be one of those people who believes that it's better to feel your feelings, even the icky ones, until you're done feeling them.  Usually I get bored with feeling sad, or in anyway bad, because, well, if you think about it those kinds of feelings take more energy.

But, something chemical happened inside of me and it was like I got caught in an undertow of sadness and I couldn't get back to feeling good.  I was getting pulled deeper and deeper into the Sea of Inertia and Numbness.

All of the loss combined with the menopause, which is like living in some bleak, soviet country where you have a personal Chernobyl every hour or two, you never sleep for more than three hours and your rear end migrates to your belly so you can't get your pants buttoned without shutting off aortic flow, has made celebrating anything feel like a chore.

About a month ago I started taking supplements that my mom recommended to help me sleep.  Nothing is worse than being horribly depressed and insomniac.  One of these supplements is called SAM-e and in limited research it's shown good benefit for depression.  I didn't really give that much thought because I wanted good benefit in REM.

Amazingly, about 2 weeks after I started taking it I began feeling like myself again.  The tired and sad began to ebb and the small pleasures in doing simple things began to flow.  I could totally feel the difference.

I still wasn't sleeping 8 straight, but I was able to go back to sleep when I woke up after 3 hours and since my glass was feeling half full I could see the blessing in that new ability.

Two years ago on my birthday I started my day with the news (on Yahoo!)  that my friend David had died the night before from a brain aneurism, and I spent the day traumatized and in tears.  Turning 50 and any feelings that I might have had about it wasn't even on my radar because Dave was 48 and he was never going to see his hemi-centennial.

A couple weeks ago my friend Heather said to me, "I'd like to be old, but when I die who will be left to speak at my funeral?", and I thought about how many funerals I've been to in the last two years and all of the love expressed for the person who died and I thought - why wait?

This morning the only news on Yahoo! is that Jerry Lee Lewis is getting married again at 76 for the 7th time - news that I find hopeful because how much of an optimist do you have to be to keep getting married when you're one slip and fall away from your last ball of fire.

Then I opened my e-mail and Justin Bieber sang happy birthday to me.

So far, so good.

Tonight I am having a do-over do for  my 50th birthday and I am going to tell everyone who comes how much I love and appreciate them.

...And there will be much celebrating because life is short and being joyful is way better than being sad.