Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring = Depression

No season is waited for with such longing as is Spring. Shaking off the cold of winter, the entire world bursts forth. Trees pollinate, plants propagate, and all variety of animals bring their own fierce joy to the season by mating. Baby everything’s are born, flowers, calves, sheep, horses. After that quiet dead of winter, all is renewed, alive, awake and ready to play. All, that is, except the allergy sufferer.

I found out I had allergies last year after developing asthma; prior to that my mysterious ill-health wore many cloaks: IBS, CFS, MCS, MDI, Fibromyalgia. Because I have a-typical symptoms, not the classic rhinitis, no one was looking at my collection of symptoms as being related to allergies. It took asthma to connect the dots. My lack of ability to breathe had to come from somewhere. We looked around and found, through allergy testing, that I am allergic. I am not violently allergic to any one thing, for which I am grateful. Instead, I am low-level allergic to many things; 43 things out of the 70 tested for, to be exact. After a lifetime of mystery illness, suddenly I have a name: allergies. I have indoor allergies, outdoor allergies, pet allergies, allergies to mold, food allergies, and early, mid and late season allergies to trees, weeds, and grasses. In short, the entire blooming world is making me feel sick! Faced with those kinds of odds, late last year, I began a regime of anti-histamines. Anti-histamines are wonderful. I no longer itch twenty times a day; I do not have repeated violent bouts of abdominal pain, my knees are not swelling, my joints don’t ache and, best of all, I can breathe.

My anti-histamines brought me relief over the winter months, while closed up with dogs and dust-mites, and so I headed into Spring with optimism and good cheer, believing I would manage to skip by, unscathed, through pollen season and into the heady summer.

I did not know then what I know now. The uncomfortable physical symptoms that had plagued me all of my grown life are not the greatest burden of an allergy sufferer. My anti-histamines, gallant though they are, cannot completely quell the itching, swelling, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and aching joints that accompany my allergic reactions to the most pollinated spring in known memory. They did a pretty good job of it. Had it been only for those, I would not complain. But, allergies have an undertow, a hidden foe that lives beneath the radar, a shadow condition that no one talks about and that is Allergy-Induced Depression.

I have always hated the Spring. Each April, as the world around me bursts forth in plant life and song, I want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and sleep and until I somehow feel well enough to be alive. Over time, I came to accept this aberration of my mood unique to spring. I identified this time of year as one where I, in contrast to all else around me, wanted to go into hibernation while everything else was coming out. What I did not fully realize until this very Spring was the reason behind my desire to hibernate. My anti-histamines do a very nice job of keeping the other symptoms at bay; they do nothing for the lead-headed, mind-numbed, slowed-way-down, utterly exhausted feelings arising from allergy-induced depression. I know it is not my life. I love my husband, my children, my community, and my place of employment. I have a multitude of good things going on I wish to continue. My life is not to blame. The problem is in my brain, my broken brain, like a clock that has seasonally stopped ticking, even now, I cannot say when my brain will begin to tick again.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Secret Keeper

Secret Keeper

Will you be my secret keeper:
skeleton key
to my dungeon heart

Will you stand beside me
on the stone stair
feet shivering
awaiting
white clad phantoms
as they race by
seeking light
their faces
masks
I always know

I live in the castle
above the vaults:
sheer walls reflecting light
turrets rising skyward
noble, stony face

I pretend
there is no dungeon
no dark birds flying to roost
no screeching bats clinging to stalactites

In the inky dark,
cold is never colder
and alone is all I know

I seek to
reject those bottom layers
ignore the subterranean roar
of a waterway
in the belly of my earth

To stand atop my tower,
gossamer gown floating
eyes on every sunrise
as if only golden light
exists

I would abandon
my pale phantom
that little girl
who sits
alone

Except for you, gate keeper,
you stand
strong bones planted to the stone
soft skin smooth over muscle
five fingers linked through my own

Beside me
as the phantoms whirl
you hold
the secrets of my heart