Menopause

Down the Rabbit Hole and Back Up Again: Part One

Alice pool of tears

A post by writer Patti Winker:

“The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.  Down, down, down!  Would the fall never come to an end?”

Let me start off by saying I’ve never been a fan of Alice In Wonderland.  It was always kind of creepy to me, both as a kid and as an adult.  Although, as an adult, I can appreciate the twisted dark thoughts and innuendo.  Or am I reading more into it than I should?

Anyway, I digress.  For whatever reason, the whole story is just weird to me.

That said, Alice In Wonderland has felt like a familiar friend to me at times… times in which I fell down the ‘rabbit hole’ of depression.

I know, I know.  The commercials all say that this is supposed to be the time of our life.  We’re all supposed to be happy as skylarks, singing glorious notes as we fly off into the azure shades of early evening on our way to our vineyards, sailboats, horse ranches, and fat retirement checks.

We’re supposed to all be planting seeds for our sunset years, while enjoying the vim-and-vigor of this quasi youth.

It doesn’t always work that way.

I learned from a counselor many years ago (during my first marriage) that I had what he called “situational depression.”  Sometimes this is referred to as “adjustment disorder.”  It is covered in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), so I guess I can accept that.

Okay, I don’t like to think I have a “Mental Disorder” but, hey, something was terribly wrong.  With or without a diagnosis, I was falling down the rabbit hole.

“Situational depression,” by its very nature, comes and goes.  Depending on, well, the situation.  Coping is possible, but there are times when it becomes difficult to face even the simplest challenges.

For me, those times are tied to anniversaries, seasons, and memories.

At our age, we have all suffered trauma – loss, abuse, pain, and illness.  At some point, all those issues converge and create a palate that colors our life.  Someone or something at some time will most likely trigger a reaction.

There are times during the year that I ‘re-suffer’ some of my most difficult losses. There are birthdays, wedding anniversaries, holidays, death anniversaries, more birthdays… and the list goes on.  Every date on the calendar that has memories attached gives my heart another opportunity to suffer.

I am not alone in this.  What happens to me isn’t uncommon.  As we reach a certain age, as I mentioned, we are bound to have some sort of loss, some trauma, that can send us into that downward  spiral.  For people who deal with any form of depression, these unavoidable dates on the calendar can loom large.

For baby boomers, this time in our life can be great, but it can also provide some of the biggest challenges we will encounter.  These challenges can cause severe stress, sadness, illness, and depression.

And, just as Alice worried that she would be “going out altogether, like a candle,” I have moments where I struggle with believing that things will ever be okay again.

The good news is, there are things we can do to keep from pulling the covers over our head and disappearing from the world.  I know I don’t want to waste even a couple months out of the year, hiding in the dark, away from all the people I love.

In Part II, I will share a few thoughts about climbing back up and out of that rabbit hole.

Stay tuned…

About the Pool of Tears:

 “Things are worse than ever,” thought the poor child, “for I never was so small as this before, never!”  As she said these words, her foot slipped, and in another moment, splash! she was up to her chin in salt-water… in the pool of tears…

Depression can feel this way; beginning with hopelessness, then a sinking feeling. Some people describe depression as a feeling of being over your head in a pool of water, unable to reach the surface, or to even see the surface. I can feel the struggle, the hopelessness in this illustration.

“Alice in Pool of Tears” – The Tenniel Illustrations for Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel    

Alice pool of tears

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About the Author :  Patti Winker writes about topics that she and others of “a certain age” are concerned about.  In her blog, RemarkableWrinklies.com, you’ll find thoughts and information on aging well, health and fitness, having a bit of fun, a few debates, and some nostalgia thrown in.

She likes to cook and eat good food, spend time with her family, including two grandchildren, ride her bike, walk, swim, go to the beach, and enjoys simple living surrounded by nature, but also appreciates a big city.

Patti is a contributing writer in our Tangerine Tango collaboration, and you’ll often find her here joining in the discussion and guest posting from time to time. To read more of Patti’s guest posts, click these links:  Pushing Fifty or Pushing Puberty and These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Patti