lifting weights

this started out as a personal note, but i think i’ll just send it out into the ether, and you know who you are. if it fits, accept it, with love from a well-meaning but not always insightful mother.

just thinking out loud here, don’t know that it will help. maybe you were right about inheriting depression. i hate to think of it that way, because there’s little i can do to change that, if it’s the case. i know that the weight and despair and frustration you describe are very familiar to me, but i realize in your case, you feel the added pressure of feeling you have to accomplish things before it’s ‘too late’. otherwise, what is life for? (rhetorical.) whether it’s great, extra-ordinary things, or at least the goals and standards you’ve set for yourself within a certain time-frame, you feel the time pressure and limitations acutely, and feel like you’re just not making it or accomplishing what others seem to be able to do easily, while they’re young. it’s a vicious cycle, sometimes paralyzing you into less energy or incentive, that you feel like you can’t break out of.

i may not be capturing it all accurately, but i still understand your feelings of urgency, slipping, discouragement, inertia, disillusionment, despondency, or even despair. it probably doesn’t help to say, don’t compare yourself to others, or imagine that others are all that successful, where you’re not. i also would never want to suggest to lower your sights or high expectations of yourself, and end up feeling like you sold out or compromised yourself or became unremarkable. you are remarkable, and so you feel like you’re failing or being crushed when you seem to be losing your momentum or grasp on your vision. it also doesn’t help you to point out that you are accomplishing exceptional things in your personal journey, family dedication and resolve, professional trail-blazing, and inspiring influence on everyone you touch. you probably feel like you haven’t come even close to who and what you wanted to be by now.

no, you should never lower your sights or give up, but times like these are sometimes an urgent message from your inner self, to stop and re-evaluate or readjust some self-demands or expectations that no longer quite fit the situation. it’s called resilience! you may not be able to totally change the circumstances, but don’t feel ashamed or less of yourself if you need to adjust and adapt in the face of stone walls. banging your head against it will just give you a very bad head injury! for which there is no coverage!

probably all the above totally misses the mark, but i do feel for you, more than you know. if i knew how one climbs out of that bottomless pit of despair, i guess i would have done so by now, and maybe even become a tour guide! all i can do is be a proud, if misguided, mother who wants you to find peace and answers that i haven’t yet. life is so short and complex; you want to use it to the fullest and not just become another casualty. but life makes it so difficult! you want there to be meaning, not merely survival. you want people to look back at you and feel like you made life on earth better in some way. but sometimes all you can do is get through another day, and feel like it was a waste. i do that a lot here, and i hate it, and don’t know the way out. so all i can do is tell you that if nothing else, someone loves you and admires you and will never be the same for having been privileged to know you in some small way. please don’t give up on yourself. i know i never do!

‘death panels’

if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition, possibly six months to live, and informed of all your options, including hospice or palliative care, wherein you are kept comfortable and in less pain in a secure environment of your choosing, how is that a ‘death panel’? no one is forcing you to choose euthanasia. i know firsthand how when a family member is old and dying, some procedures are considered more risky than effective, and the dozens of drugs they are on are no longer prolonging life. even physical therapy is absurd if they can’t even move or stay lucid. in fact, trying to whip a frail, dying person into shape with costly therapies is more like a death panel for them, to use that disingenuous expression. people who use terminology like that have obviously never been in that situation, trying to help their parent or loved one find the most appropriate care in their final months or weeks. if someone is worried about some hypothetical situation in which they will be forced to choose palliative care vs. extreme heroic measures, that is what advance directives are for. doctors and family will respect your wishes in any way possible. not only does it make sense to be able to choose for yourself how you want to spend your final days, but it’s compassionate to give people that choice. and if you’re only concerned about taxes and government spending, consider how much money is saved by not forcing someone to be kept technically alive, or in extreme misery, for your own biased motives. calling informed choice ‘death panels’ indicates misinformed hysteria, not compassion.

deathbed regrets, just for laughs

i read a revealing article on the top five deathbed regrets. obviously when you reach that point, it’s too late to resolve things. here in my VOE imposed exile, surrounded by death and dying issues, i spend a lot of time thinking about life choices and regrets, both my own and others’. most people are too busy living and surviving to think about morbid subjects like that, but i have a lot of enforced empty time to dwell on them. i don’t expect anyone to find this fascinating, but just for laughs (?) here are the five, for future reference:

1. courage to live life true to yourself, not what others expect of you. pretending to be what you’re not is emotionally taxing. which can lead to chronic illness, at which point you no longer have as much freedom to make choices, good or bad.

2. working so hard that you spend less time with family or trying new opportunities. again, this involves choices made at each step along the way. you can often find ways to simplify your lifestyle or reduce your perceived material needs.

3. courage to express your feelings. sometimes we suppress or hold back our honest feelings, in order to keep peace. this leads to a mediocre existence, and to bitterness and resentment, which can also contribute to illness, limiting your freedom to change. honesty is a win/win, because either it raises the level of a relationship, or it weeds out unhealthy ones. the catch is, it needs to be expressed in person, even through physical affection, not just via virtual social networking. it’s just not the same.

4. staying in touch with old friends. again, this means actually, not just virtually. it’s easy, but shallow, to ‘like’ or ‘poke’, vs. physically talking or doing things together. (yes, i realize this is easier said than done in our dispersed world. virtual connection is often the only option. but sometimes it’s just the easier one.)

5. letting yourself be happier. again, choices at every turn. clinging to familiarity, and fear of change or what others think, keeps us from risking new experiences that might afford enjoyment or humor or reaching your potential. again, these choices can affect your health, which will affect your ability to freely choose.

amazingly, i’m not even going to comment on these right now. i think they speak for themselves. implementing them is the hard part. i’ll just say that these just happen to also be the possible reasons i don’t just go and kill myself! too much work to do, choices to make, while i still can.