Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The suicide post

It's been over a week since Robin Williams committed suicide and everyone on the internet with any sort of opinion on the subject has already written on it. I so hate reading, hearing, thinking, or talking about suicide that it's taken me a week to get around to adding my two cents to the interwebs. And it's not going to be eloquent or poignant; I still struggle mightily to address this stuff without sinking into the panic that wraps itself around my throat when I think back to my darkest days.

My best advice for dealing with someone who's depressed is to love them. They can't and won't get better until they've hit their bottom (however low that may be), but they'll need your love and support to help cushion the fall a bit, and then to help haul them back up off their asses. They might act indifferent or hostile to you love, but they still need it and appreciate it (even if they can't express their gratitude to you). You know your friends and family members. You know how best to show that you love them. And that's all the really need. Well, that, and therapy, and medications, and, and, and...but the love. That's what they need that you can immediately and freely give.

I was with a friend when I heard about Robin Williams, and he expressed a (seemingly common) sentiment:  how could someone kill himself? I still don't have good answers to this, but I've plumbed these depths before, and I still agree with everything I wrote two years ago. I'm going to repost it in the hopes that it sheds a little light on the suicidal brain for those who are fortunate enough to never have experienced it.

Originally posted November 28, 2012

At lunch today, I learned that a woman I knew peripherally killed herself last week. She had a son who is a senior in high school and the conversation turned - naturally, I think - to how a mother can do that to her kids. One woman couldn't understand how it was possible for a woman to think ending her life was the best thing for her children. I don't think anyone who hasn't been there can really comprehend such utter madness.

Unfortunately, I know exactly how a mother can think and do such things and because it's important to me to be understood, I tried to explain. I tried to explain how your brain gets so twisted that the only thing you can see is how miserable you make everyone around you and how everyone, especially your babies, would be better off if you weren't there any more. I tried to explain that you don't necessarily think you're hurting your kids in the long run, and how that thought makes sense. I tried to explain that the need to get out - of your situation, your brain, your life - can drown out all other thoughts, including those of your children.

I don't think I did a very good job of conveying the agony of a suicidal mind. I mean, it's an agony that can smother all motherly instincts. It must be pretty strong. But she remained skeptical.

I suppose it's good that my friend couldn't wrap her mind around being able to leave your kids through suicide. If people who haven't lived through it understood how "easy" it is in the midst of a serious, deep depression to determine that you're as worthless to your kids as you are to the rest of the world, well, there might be more mothers like the one who sparked this conversation.

I've been doing well lately. I feel like all of my chemical issues are finally balancing out and most of my stressors are now external instead of internal. But today's lunch talk has churned up all the ugly darkness that surrounded and nearly swallowed me not too long ago. These feelings are horrifyingly familiar and seem like they could easily make themselves comfortable in my life again.

But I'm stronger now than I have been in years, and I think I can banish those feelings back to whatever circle of hell they came from and tell them to stay there. And I need to. Because even though my depression has taught me how a mother can kill herself, I've promised myself that I'm never going to be a mother who teaches that heartbreaking lesson to her children.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dorm life

Guess where I'm sitting right now.

Go on, guess!

A dorm room.


My dorm room!

The class I told you about offered students the ability to stay in campus housing instead of getting a hotel room. Because a week in the dorm cost about the same as a night in a hotel (two nights, if you stay somewhere shady), and I'm not made of gold, I opted for the dorm room. And for five whole days, I got to relive my youth.

After this experience, I can authoritatively tell you that sleeping in a dorm room is not nearly as fun at 31 as it was at 18 and 19. Let's explore the reasons why.

1. The bed. Holy hell. Dorm mattresses are TURRIBLE! I woke up feeling fine after the first night. After the second night, I woke up feeling like I slept on a pile of boulders. After relaying this to a friend (shortly before bedtime on night three), he wished me luck and told me my back was going to be fucked in the morning. The first thing he asked me today is if I needed a cigarette. I told him no, it wasn't that kind of fucking. That pretty much sums up my feeling on dorm beds.

2. Communal bathrooms. There are two other girls staying in this suite with me (both of whom are about 23 and probably have a combined weight of like 98 pounds), so we had to have a chat about shower schedules on the first night. I'm not sure whether it's my Type A personality or the inherent momness that I just can't seem to shake, but I had to make sure there weren't three of us trying to use two showers before class the next morning! Speaking of showers, the shower curtains are about six inches too narrow for the shower stall openings, so no matter how you do it, there's a good three inch gap through which a poor, naive suite mate could accidentally glimpse your pasty flab if she happens to need to pee while you're showering. Good times.

3. The (lack of) climate control. Each room has its own little HVAC unit (like you find in hotels), so we're each theoretically able to control the climate in our room. Well. All of us have ours turned off (and have turned off the units in the hall and living area), and it's still freezing in here. I forgot to bring a blanket with me, so I decided to turn on the heat the first night. It only blew cold air at me. (I went to Target after class the next day and bought a blanket. Best $15 investment EVER.)

4. The noise. Not only is there a constant dull roar in the background from whatever the other girls are doing (talking on the phone, watching TV, listening to music...I can (muffledly) hear it all), but there's all all of the door slamming. These doors are SO. LOUD. Every time a door opens, there's a loud thunk. There's an even louder thunk every time a door closes. I can tell you exactly when someone enters or leaves the suite or their room. It's obnoxious.

Despite the less-than-optimal accommodations, I'm having a wonderful time at this class. It's engaging, interesting, and informative. I've sat in that classroom for six hours a day without getting bored or feeling the need to let my mind wander too much. Plus, it's practically like a vacation for me - no kids to take care of, sleeping in til 7:00, meeting friends for dinner without having to arrange for a sitter, LEARNING - it's great. I'll gladly complete the roughly three hours of nightly reading for some uninterrupted time away from life. I love being a student (I use that term loosely) again. I had a brief moment of insanity today when I wondered if the professors would let me take the exam (the thought process went something like this: "It's a take home! It's not due until Tuesday...I could get it done after the boys go to bed the next few nights. I could ACE this!"), but I think logic has prevailed, and I'm not going to ask for a copy. Probably.

I have more to say, but still have 24 pages of law review articles about parentage of embryos to read, and I want to get to bed at a decent hour (I've gotten almost eight hours of sleep EVERY. NIGHT. here! This no-kids thing is magical!) Fake Law Student Emily out.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I don't write about happy things here nearly often enough, so I'm going to (very vaguely) talk about some of the happy in my life right now.

First, I've been given the opportunity to attend a week-long, intensive class on a topic that really interests me. Even though I'll be getting CLE hours for it, it's not at all related to my job, so I'm guessing I'll have to use a week of vacation time for it, but I think it'll be worth it. And it might actually double as a sort of vacation. I'll be alone in a city (in my very own dorm room!) for a whole work week; no kids, no house, no work, no responsibilities other than doing my class readings. I plan to visit with friends in the evenings and enjoy my time away. I'm thrilled to be able to do this, and (nerd alert!) I'm really looking forward to a week of learning. I mean, I bought a case book today for the first time in about eight years and was nearly bouncing up and down in my chair when I hit the purchase button, if that gives you any idea how excited I am for this class.

R and I have made it something like 36 hours without having a knock down, drag out fight about something! This is a major cause for celebration right now.

I got what I consider a great (though probably backhanded) compliment today from a colleague: "If you ever get into litigation, you're going to be so good at it! I couldn't even tell [you were lying]!" I should probably take offense to that, but I think it's hilarious (I know it wasn't said in a mean-spirited way, and the person who said it genuinely meant it to be complimentary). And it's one more thing that makes me think I'm doing something right as a lawyer.

I also have some of the most amazing people in my life. My mom, for one, who's taking over the childcare duties and making my week at school possible. I have great friends who are always there for me and give me support and encouragement and a place to squee whenever I need it. And I've got some new people in my life who are cause for happiness in other ways, which is new and exciting, and something I hope to continue to explore for a while.

So that's it. It's just been a cloud nine kind of day. I like feeling this floaty, and wanted to share my happy with my internet world.

What's your happy today?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Raining and pouring

The ol' blog was brought to my attention again recently, and I realized just how long it's been since I wrote. I didn't mean to stay away for two months, but apparently life takes up a lot of your time when you're actually living it. Who knew?

You know that tired old "when it rains, it pours" line? That's kind of how life has felt lately. A ton of stuff has been happening, and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. BUT I'm not feeling overwhelmed in the "to defeat completely" sort of way, just the regular "to affect very strongly" sort of way. Progress!

Let's hit a few highlights.

Work has been freaking crazy lately. Absolutely insane. I've commented several times over the past couple of weeks that I feel like I have a real lawyer job. I've been working longer hours, taking work home, staying up super late to get projects with "OMG, get it done NOW!!!!!" deadlines done the night before I absolutely need to have them on the boss's desk, working every night for two weeks straight, running around like crazy at work, and still barely staying afloat. I think things are starting to settle, so I'm hoping my work life will slow down a bit in the next week or so.

I've had a couple of good things in my professional life. I just finished a program through the state bar association that was fun and probably sounds far more impressive than it is. It's given me a lot of good networking connections, though, and I'm pretty sure I met a woman who's living the Biglaw version of my life, and her happy outcome gives me hope for mine. The state has a fairly new mentoring program for newly-admitted lawyers that I signed up for (though the idea of me being someone's mentor seems completely ludicrous to me...I'm not even a real lawyer!), and a former intern in one of the other offices in the building chose me as her mentor. I was so flattered when I got that e-mail! I had no idea she thought that highly of me (alternate explanation:  her options pretty much sucked and I was the best of a bad situation. You see how quickly I still revert back to that? Don't worry, I'm spending many good therapy dollars on fixing this). A good friend of mine bilked 1.5 billable hours out of me reached out to me the other night to help write a completely hopeless long-shot motion to file with the state Supreme Court, and actually used the argument I came up with as one of their primary ones (I'll be SUPER proud of myself if the motion is actually granted). None of this stuff is big, but it's nice to get some validation that I'm a good lawyer and doing good things in my career.

The boys are still boys. They've pushed me to the end of my reserves this week (which is far more likely due to my work stress and extreme lack of sleep than anything they're actually doing). I am very much looking forward to them going to Daddy's this weekend. Overall, they've been good, though. R is going through a major, major, makes-his-terrible-twos-and-threenager-stages-seem-appealing behavioral stage that's testing my parenting limits. I didn't know this was a thing at four. Maybe it's not and it's just how he's coping with the stress and life changes he's had going on? I don't know. I just know I need to make it stop. W got his kindergarten assignment and we know his first day of school (sob!). They took swimming lessons the past couple of weeks and loved it. This, coupled with the super awesome city pool here, likely means we're going to be spending more every-other-weekends at the pool for the next month or so.

The divorce...has stagnated a bit. Ugh. And sometimes things that were supposed to be happy for us as a couple and a family make me horribly sad about the way it all turned out. But discussing this causes feelings, so that is all I have to say on the topic.

My social life has picked up considerably in the past few months. It's so nice to go out and do things again, even when "things" consists of coffee or a quick beer and some good conversation. I had no idea how much I missed having friends until I started having them again. Now, if I could just get my friends who live hours away to move back...

I think that about covers it. I'm hoping this will help launch me back into my online life. I've decided that I suck at life multitasking; I can't handle writing here, reading blogs, doing social stuff, actually spending quality time with the kids and doing things with them, keeping up my house, and sleeping all at the same time. One (or more) of these thing had to give, and apparently writing and blog reading were what went this time. I'll figure out this whole "being an actual person who's involved in her world" thing eventually - give me a bit of a break; it's only been seven months! It's just going to take a little more balancing. And maybe a little less pouring.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The lost inside joke

After being single(-ish) for four or so months now, I've found that there aren't a lot of things I miss about being in a relationship. I like having the freedom to (mostly) make my own decisions and flex the independence muscles that I didn't use much over the last decade. I like not having to be accountable for my whereabouts. I like never having to watch anything sports-related on TV.

As to downsides, there are a few. My biggest issue is not having someone around to fulfill my need for physical touch (I'm not talking sex; that I can take or leave most of the time. I'm talking about getting the physical affection I crave - hugs, kisses, hand-holding, etc.). My second biggest isn't really a relationship issue. It's that I miss my washer and dryer. Stupid, but true.

One thing that hurts more than I expected is the loss of my partner in crime. For years and years, B and I, like any two people who have been together for a long time, built up our repertoire of inside jokes and stupid couple things that cause a look to pass between us before we dissolve into laughter. These things are gone now, and I'm mourning them as much as anything else I've lost by tearing apart my marriage.

In the past when inside jokes come up in a conversation I was having with someone who was not-B, my first reaction was to look around the room for B or start composing a text to him telling him about it. And that's still my first reaction. Now, however, a split second later, the realization that I can't do that any more washes over me and fills me with a deep sadness. Now who am I going to tell that "Hey Cow!" is a real thing and not just a guy trying to jump from a moving vehicle? And who's going to care that I met a guy whose daughter's nickname is the same as the nickname of a guy we knew in high school? (For those who might, her nickname is Vanny...buuuuut I guess you had to be there.)

What this has taught me is that I miss the idea of B as my companion more than I miss B as a person. The loss of that person in my life causes a deep ache in my soul, even though I don't miss him, per se. This probably doesn't make sense to anyone else. I'm just processing over here.

I'm sure this is just another of the long list of adjustments I need to make as I move through the divorce process, but it really sucks that all of the fun and the good that was part of our relationship for so long gets buried by the bad that built up at the end.