Mental Health Monday: Janie Disconnected

by Janie Jones

Whether it’s a hallmark of the healing process, a psychological defense mechanism, or just another facet of the depression, I’ve noticed a real disconnect with the passage of time.  Sure, I know the date and I have a routine, so I’m never late or missing things, but still the greater sense of the passage of time has become very distorted.  Today is November 10.  I’ve watched the leaves change colors, I’ve felt the cold winds blowing in, I’ve woken up or left the building to snow.  The first big snow fall of the season is threatening to dump 5 to 10 inches of snow on us in the next 24 hours.  There are just 5 weeks left until semester finals.  But it still doesn’t feel real that Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner.

My new situation feels so removed from the real world.  Normally I look forward to Halloween decorations, Thanksgiving dinner, and I am a big Christmas goon.  My birthday falls in there, too.  Its a time of year I love and look forward to all the rest of the year.

But here I am, starting at it while it rapidly approaches and zips past and I feel numb to it.  I am missing out on all the traditions that anchor me in a place in time.  There was no Halloween decorating, no passing out candy to trick or treaters to start the season.  There will probably be no real Thanksgiving.  Oh, I’ll go out to the farm and we’ll spend the holiday together, but it won’t be the same and it won’t feel like Thanksgiving.  Cooking out at the farm is way too frustrating for there to be pie and turkey with stuffing and all the accompaniments.  In recent years if my enthusiasm for the holidays was dampened by stress, school or poverty, I’d have Leif or the spud to pull me through and rekindle my holiday spirit.  Once the decorations were up, the magic would take hold and all the joy and wonder of the season would start to flow even if I hadn’t been feeling centered in it yet.  Usually by now I’d be all over Christmas gift shopping, but yesterday it occurred to me I hadn’t given it hardly a moment of thought, and when I figured I’d best start planning, I immediately followed up that thought with, eh, what’s the point.  There will be no spud visiting at Christmas, no lights on the roofline of the house, indoor decorations or tree.  No wrapping stocking stuffers.  No holiday fudge.

I don’t feel like I feel depressed about it, at least not now, but it does feel very weird, to feel like I don’t care, to feel as though it can’t possibly be the winter holiday season.  In fact, a tiny little bit of me feels relieved.  I don’t know if I could handle the holidays and all the traditions in my current state.  But, with out all those traditions that give a rhythm to life, it’s no wonder I feel disconnected.  Maybe this sensation is like a protective shell, separating me from the despair and grief that would flood in if I were to dwell on what I’m missing and all that’s changed.

In the last several years I started to think I could really do something with my life.  I began to think I wanted to go to graduate school and get a master’s degree or perhaps even a doctorate.  Now, as I am in the final stretch of my bachelor’s degree, I’m just sick of having my life on hold and being broke and having to always settle for whatever scraps I can scrape together into a semblance of life.  I’m starting to think that once I finish my bachelors maybe I ought to just give up on school and try to go back to work if I can get a decent job.

Some people may go to school because they dream of being a teacher, or a doctor or to go into business or a trade.  They want to be Something.  In the end, I don’t really want to be Anything.  I just want a home.  My home.  A place that no one can make me leave, a place no one can take away from me.  A place I can fill with things that I find beautiful and comforting, and where I can live each day of the rest of my life building happy memories.  That is all I have ever wanted, to have a real family home, for as long as I can remember, all the way back to being a little girl.  Everything I have ever done my whole life I did to try and have that home.  A job, a career, a degree is only meaningful to me in how it helps me achieve a Home.  Six or seven years ago I realized I couldn’t keep relying on others to help me achieve that dream and that I had to take matters into my own hands.  To have a home, I needed a reliable, adequate income.  To get the good jobs, I needed a degree.  I don’t want to do a job I hate, but in the end what I do is really all for getting my own home.  And, I thought the better degree I could get the more likely I’d be able to have the home of my dreams.  But, the longer I’m in school, the longer I’ll be homeless and disconnected from all the things that matter to me.  School is an insanely tough road to haul when you are less interested in what you are learning than getting done, getting a job and getting on with life.

Just like Susan Walker, I want a family and a house for Christmas.  I’ll pass on the baby brother though, I’ll take my dog back instead.  But it just won’t feel like Christmas ever again, I think, until I have my own house.

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