Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Snag

My Third Third has hit a snag.


When I am terribly depressed, I still go to social events, fulfill my commitments, wash my hair, and do laundry. I volunteer. I get out of bed.

Unfortunately, I do that while dragging grand pianos around on my feet. Everything takes an enormous amount of energy, and I’m oomph-less. Which mostly you probably wouldn’t ever know because I am so very high-functioning and well-trained not to ever be oomph-less in public. Mostly, I look and sound energetic.

 What I can’t do is write.

I do get inspired and energized by art and theater, a good book or movie, and good conversation. My curiosity still works. But lately, that only lasts for the nanosecond in time while I’m in the theater or the conversation or the activity. Joy doesn’t linger. Mostly, it only makes rare appearances.

Writing happens at home when I’m all by myself. I don’t have to ratchet up for company, and I’m not distracted by the brief interlude of fun. I’m just sitting at my computer with just me.

And my lack of motivation.

And the whirling thoughts that come with that.

And the grand pianos.

I feel a need to explain (to you? to myself?) where I’ve gone in my head for the last six weeks as the blog went quiet. The blog went quiet; my mind went noisy. Bad noisy. This post is a fight to the light, a reach for interior quiet.

Unwritten rule: Never blog while depressed. Because then I end up with posts like this. But maybe, if I get this one out of my system, the pump will be primed and I’ll be able to write again.

The thing is, if you know me, you’d think of me as my funny stories. Well, yes, I still have lots of funny stories. But they travel with my sad heart. They’re a team.
I can’t just jump in and tell you about the probiotic soda class I took and the bottles of ginger beer and carbon dioxide waiting to explode in my pantry. It would seem so fake. So here’s this big sad thing hovering over me … and I’m going to tell a funny story?

We’ll see.

Two months ago, I took a class on “Design Your Energy (and your life).” Instead of trying to manage our time, we were asked to manage our energy. We had to list our top energy giving or energy draining activities in a week and then make a graph with energy going up or draining down.

I realized that all my things took lots of energy to make them happen so they could give energy afterwards. In order to go on a refreshing and exhilarating camping trip, for example, you have to pack, organize, plan, make arrangements. That takes energy. So my graph had activities going up and down, but they mostly went up. That was a surprise to my energy-drained self, reminding me that any energy drain yielded a reward.

Three months later, my graph looks much different. Things take a lot more energy to get above the line. Staggering and paralyzing energy. And sometimes I ruin the reward by crying. It’s those grand pianos.

Why would I ever tell you all this? Why would I subject anyone to the pathetic whining of a self-absorbed crazy lady? I think it goes back to why I even started this Third Thirds blog: to understand, to maybe connect with people going through the same passages, to gain some clarity about ups and downs and detours on my Third Third path. Sometimes there’s a restless unease, a disturbance of the spirit before creativity strikes. If I can verbalize, I can move on. Maybe if you’re in this place, too, you will feel less crazy.

Because deep in my heart, I believe that crazy is valuable. Stigmatized and painful, but valuable. Within limits.

And maybe your reward is a funny story I can tell tomorrow.


  1. I'll just post this now, as I'm working on a lengthy and thoughtful reply. You wanna know how some of us deal with death bearing down (or what you call the Third Third?). I'll tell ya, but in a few...

  2. Thanks for sharing, Barbara! I appreciate your openness. So many are struggling now and it helps to know we're not alone.

    1. My little baby hope is that it helps others feel less alone, so thank you for sharing. When you're in the midst of it, it feels so isolating.

  3. Be still, my worthless me!

    After years of internalising shame as a person without a university degree, I am finally leaving the struggle without one. That degree has been ‘something’ I had to do since forever, like yearly thank-you notes to my aunt for her Christmas sweaters that never fit. It was something one did. Far more than that, for nine years, it gave cover to my last bit of self-respect after becoming unemployable moving countries (without that degree).

    Premature work retirement might as well be oblivion for guys like me. Call it luck, but I did depression before and I really, really don’t need to do it again: becoming immune to hope, caring, even smiling at kitten pics and butterflies flitting about in the sunlight. Gads, it was horrible.

    Funny enough, adjustment to retirement brings a good many of us to have another go at depression. It did me. Or maybe it’s the last kid leaving Alaska, a long love dying, that fading eyesight. It’s Third Third tough to me, to you, to everyone a bit too much like teen spirit. I’m having to find out once more what I need to do with my life now I no longer have career.

    Yeah, I know. I have to find and then grab some new purpose in a bear-hug, and like my first journey to purpose, discover how to mix equal parts hope with shit-happens and just live with it as well as we humans can muster.

    At least, I think so.

    1. The tyranny of the to-do's (and not just the little ones, the BIG ones). Don't erase this one; I think I'll read it over and over again.

  4. I’ve missed you. You help me get through my own doldrums. Thank you!

    1. I've been missed! You can't believe how wonderful that sounds! Thank you.

  5. I agree with you, "crazy is valuable". Crazy I can handle, chaos, on the other hand, not so much. A year ago, I was homeless and living out of a friend's car, followed by living in a tent after being evicted from the friend's car, and not sure where to turn, feeling I had lost control of my life...chaos. That experience gave me several things, including a new perspective on homelessness, friendship, and purpose. Oh boy, the envy I felt, sitting in a car with no place to go,no purpose while watching others who had places to go: jobs, homes, school... Anyway, after I gained some stability, along with a job, I found your blog. Since I am getting closer to turning 60, reading your perspective on life has been inspiring and has lifted my spirits quite a bit. So thank-you for sharing.

  6. Oh, no! I just found this and saw that I hadn't responded. A voice in the wilderness ... and I didn't let you know I heard. Terrible. And yes, thank you for the explanation: crazy might be okay, but not chaos. I can stand so little chaos, I don't even move my furniture around.


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