When You Can’t Find The Words — Cathartic Music Video

April is quickly becoming one of my least favorite months. Besides tax time; which already sucks; it also marks the anniversary of my divorce. As my marriage ended I thought filing shortly around tax time would be a good choice, we’d have filed the last set of taxes we would need to jointly and then that was it.

All that doesn’t make April any easier though. Oddly I’ve been reluctant to listen to much in the way of music this month as often music triggers pretty strong memories for me. Gave it a whirl though, mostly listening to older rock tracks and I happened upon a band that I first listened to a few years ago on YouTube.

Preemptive warning — The lyrics to this song are not kind in the slightest but the emotion and anger are connecting with a part of me that I need to just sort of get out there. Stop here if you don’t feel this is your thing.

I Prevail/Love, Lust and Liars
http://iprevailband.com/

Sometimes you can’t find the words, and I appreciate that musicians are out there belting out finger numbing riffs and throaty emotion laden lyrics. The band’s name is also a reminder to me that I have to keep moving forward, so thanks I Prevail. If this track was something could relate to, please be sure to check the band’s site and considering supporting the band with a purchase (available on iTunes and Google Play)

 

 

 

Perspective and Priorities in Divorce

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/06/health/divorced-couple-photos-trnd/?iid=ob_homepage_deskrecommended_pool

I thought this was a really interesting article¬†as I’m a child of divorce myself. My folks separated in my teens and divorced right around my HS years. Their divorce wasn’t pleasant at all and honestly I can say that I don’t really have a relationship with my father. Seeing how this couple has tried to keep something of a family structure for their son was heart warming.

There’s a fairly common saying that you divorce spouses not children. Thankfully for me my ex and I didn’t conceive. Honest truth is I doubt I’d have been able to survive to even make it to therapy if we had children. One thing to lose a spouse, quite another to lose a spouse and children. I understand a bit better the extent to which my father likely experienced his own depression but I also realize that like my mother he made choices too.

I think it would be great if other divorced families tried to be as civil as the couple in the article. Even amid divorce you have to understand the need to prioritize things. The truth is divorce is a loss it isn’t a clean cut, there’s pain, there’s resentment that can creep into every word, every image. It isn’t easy but you have to work past it and focus on the the things you need to do over the things you want to do sometimes. Legal separation of assets, finances, liability, all those things are critical, but you must also not lose sense of things like insuring your kids aren’t caught in the cross fire.

Feelings of Toxicity — When You Dislike the You In the Mirror

One of the difficult things I’ve struggled with amid my divorce has been a sort of looping self-hate. It isn’t easy when you look at the failure of marriage and one of the immediate things you factor is yourself.

These days I look back and I feel very toxic, as though I was simply something that a spouse would want to get away from. The rational side of me understands that’s only part of the equation. There were many factors at work. Some that I contributed, some that she did. Knowing that however doesn’t make waking up and looking in the mirror any easier. It’s a weird feeling, wanting to avert your eyes from yourself.

Little by little I’ve tried to find ways to be comfortable in my own skin but that has been the longest road of all in this journey of recovery. There’s days I drift off the road and into the bramble, days I’d rather punch the mirror than go through my morning shave. Every day, a small step away from the things that happened, the things I can’t change to something I can try to change.

For anyone else staring down that insufferably long road, I know how you feel. Sometimes you just want to stop moving forward, stopping on the side and letting everything else pass you by. It’s the easiest route, but it doesn’t change anything to get stuck there. Every step, every day is a little progress to something different, even if you don’t see it now. Sounds like an over idealistic bit of drivel doesn’t it? I know, that sarcastic snap back is almost reflexive for me too but the idea isn’t wrong. If you’re having a hard time on the road right now, give it time. I’m not looking for fast changes any time soon myself but I’m going to keep trying to take those steps forward, because the alternatives don’t appeal much to me either.

Tax Time and Looking Back

You wouldn’t normally think of tax time as being a big trigger but this year for me at least, it is. It’s been almost a year since my divorce was final and having to see the name of my ex-wife on old-tax records hasn’t been an easy thing to get through.

Wish I could say “I’m doing great” but that would be disingenuous. The reality is “I’m surviving”. For now at least that’s the most important thing I can do. I rarely pick up a camera these days, I’m almost certain I won’t be doing portrait photography for the foreseeable future. Anhedonia and art doesn’t aren’t very conducive to one another.

I’ve focused on trying to find activities that I can still sink my teeth into and those have been admittedly few and far between. My only real hope is that come April the last of the legal and financial matters will be done with and I can focus purely on working on myself and my future. It’s a long road but I’m turning the first major corner I hope.

The Least Fun Anniversary

There’s some anniversaries you look forward to, then there are those you dread. Next month will make a full year since my divorce was finalized. To say I was in a low place during the process would be an understatement and while I’m not out of the woods by any stretch I think I’m better prepared to deal with the things that need to happen to get better these days.

The last few days I felt the onset of a depressive episode forming and tried to cut it off at the pass so to speak. I dropped my sugar and red meat intake, I began eating more oatmeal and fruit. In a previous post I likened depression to seeing an oncoming train. The metaphor has a bit of another layer that I thought about recently. While you might be able to side-step the tracks, there’s still the force of the train going past (wind, noise etc) that you still have to deal with. The same can be said (at least for me) to what happens when an episode hits. I may not be able to avoid all the affects but I’m able to keep myself from sinking too far and lessening the symptoms.

During a conversation with a friend we discussed the somewhat rough feeling of the extra burden of knowing when an episode is coming and the cognitive processes and work effort to not let it harm you. While most folks only periodically need to reflect as much, those of us prone to depression/anxiety are on almost constant watch. There’s a mental drain that comes from that vigilance that I’m still trying to reconcile.

Be it S.A.D. or other things that are triggering an episode for you, don’t lose heart, don’t give in. Every bit of fighting it helps.

Physical Signs of a Depressive Episode

In one of my last posts I mentioned feeling the physical onset of a depressive episode and how I’ve tried to stem the tide when that happens. Diet has helped considerably (less sugars, more vegetables and yogurt/oatmeal). Exercise has been a bit harder to come by as it’s been stormy these last few days.

The most difficult part of trying to counteract the early onset of an episode is that you literally want to do exactly the opposite of what your body is telling you. Fighting insomnia for days on end, having nightmares every night, I feel the urge to sleep longer and longer to make up for lost sleep. That doesn’t really fix the problem though, and has it’s own host of side effects.

Several stress factors have weighed on me heavily. April will mark one year since my divorce and while some things have improved for me through therapy the road ahead is still a long one. There are still a few legal matters to tend to which I am worried about, most of which I can’t change at all. Work stress is always there, that’s perhaps the one constant. Fighting to keep my health level from back-sliding and feeling unhappy with my stalling progress. Rationally I understand that I have to find ways to work through each of them in my own way but emotionally the pressures and strain take their toll on a daily basis.

I’ve taken to target shooting more as the focus allows me to step out of my own mind for a bit and focus on the task at hand. Some of it is muscle memory and regimented discipline as safety while at the range is paramount to me. There’s still also a sense of fun that helps me unwind. It isn’t a hobby I’d recommend for everyone struggling with depression or other forms of mental health, but find that thing which let’s you step away from the negative things affecting you when you can.

The Difficulty of Valentine’s as a Divorcee

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and for me it will be a doubly difficult time. Besides being the second Valentine’s since my marriage ended, I recently lost an aunt to cancer. A lot things as a result have weighed on my mind.

Being single and without someone is hard enough on Valentine’s Day for anyone, for me it’s a painful shot back to a different time of my life. I’ve tried my best to keep busy, reading, the gun range, anything to keep myself engaged in other matters. In many ways I suppose I gravitated immediately towards anti-Valentine’s things such as catching a very non-romantic movie (John Wick 2), reading various sci-fi novels such as Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse) and Netflix binge watching with shows I hadn’t considered before such as Canadian mystery/drama series Murdoch Mysteries.

http://www.refinery29.com/2017/02/139949/single-on-valentines-day-depression

A lot has been written upon the subject and admittedly most of the suggestions tend towards treating the day as just any other and letting it go past. My first Valentine’s post-marriage occurred in the midst of my divorce. She had moved on and was with someone, making the whole prospect of Valentine’s day that much more unpleasant for me. I buried myself in work and the tasks I needed to address. This time around work isn’t the best option in terms of distraction and so I endeavor to find other releases. Each person has to find something to anchor themselves with. The one thing I can speak upon is that the activity should be something beneficial and not something of a more vice like nature (no drinking to excess etc).

If you find yourself having a difficult time, speak to your health care provider or mental health professional, find something that can engage you and remember to care about yourself as best you can. Hang in there and remember it is a day, one that will pass in due course.

Article – Break Up Pain Felt Differently By Men/Women

http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/breaking-up-feels-different-for-men-and-women

I happened upon this article and thought it an interesting read. For myself breakups have always been pretty painful and lingering in nature. Most of my relationships have always been for longer than a year, even just dating. I can attest that be it an issue with putting aside emotional pain or similar, that some of the points of the article may have some merit.

My divorce has definitely hit me unlike anything else, it finds ways to creep into my consciousness more often than any relationship in the past. As noted in the article, sometimes the end of a relationship stews in men. Unhealthy as it may be, I sometimes wonder if it’s due in part to how critical repetition is with men and learning things.

The article gave me pause to think of my own coping tools and the ways that I’ve tried to put the failure of my marriage behind me. Moving forward, particularly while battling back depression has often felt like the emotional equivalent of a mud bog. You charge through but sometimes you get stuck and it takes a while to extricate yourself from the muck.

It was a sobering reminder that recovery can be a drawn out process and that there aren’t really shortcuts. So hang in there if you’re working your way from the fallout of a breakup or divorce.

Cleaning out the Old — Divorce/Moving

One of the hardest things I experienced through the process of divorce was having to pack up all my memories. We moved into my ex-wife’s home so the transition was easier for her. Having to reverse that process in my case was a difficult memory trigger.

As I find myself again moving (of a short) I realize that I have to get rid of a lot of things. It hasn’t been the most pleasant thing having to retread through my memories. Seven years of being a couple permeated through a lot of my life. Among the most stressful things in life are moving, an audit and divorce. Hopefully I never have to make it three for three.

There is a silver lining I suppose. As you get rid of things that you no longer need or use there is a catharsis in it. The bitterness of having to decide to memories to keep isn’t easy, progress rarely is. If you find yourself having a hard time with it, you can always have a friend along to help wade through the things and provide you a sense of perspective. Take it a bit at a time. It isn’t easy but it helps.

Divorce and the Death of Art — By the Numbers

A lot changed for me from 2015 to 2016. My marriage was over, my ex-wife and I filed for divorce and any drive I had to pick up my camera died off. In part because I met my ex through art and because in some ways I lost her to it too.

Most of my footage was to help others, rarely for myself in the last few years of my marriage. I went from capturing anywhere from 500GBs of data through 2015 to less than 8GB for all of 2016.

I don’t photograph people anymore, it’s a little hard to get people to smile when you don’t. This isn’t the first time I’ve sunken this far and I doubt it will be the last time. Though my photography has been a source of decompression and therapy, it is done with a laser focus and purpose. Gone are the days of photographing for happiness’ sake. There are small projects in my head, darker ones that I want to express but haven’t found the full extent of what I want to say. In some ways the death of one art can be the birth of another. The journey to get there however isn’t always a pleasant one.