Temperature

IMG_1633

It’s 8.15 am and the temperature in my office is already 32 degrees C.

I don’t know what that would be in Farenheits, but let’s say it could be classed as reasonably pleasant if you were to sit on a beach, with light wind and ice-cream coktails as company, yet reasonably unpleasant first thing in the morning in your airless office.

I am childless, and most of my friends have wisely deserted the heat-struck city.

So I spend my days stewing in the office for ridiculously long hours, and my evenings watering my dessicated garden, picking raspberries and blackberries, which I then turn into jam – wearing nothing but my underwear – because it’s just soooo hot. Not me, the temperature.

I have become a woman of simple needs: A meeting in an air-conditioned room is a treat practically on a par with eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Diving into the local outdoor pool at lunchtime is the highlight of my day.

Meanwhile, it has been a year since things brutally went haywire with Mr Nice, who has turned into such a  world-class jerk  since, that I remain incredulous about spending 2.5 years of my life with such a moron.

It has also been a month since Mr Xmas dropped me like a hot potato, and he recently seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth himself.

And you know what? I cannot be bothered to truly give a hoot about it.

I do really hope he keeps his promise to water my garden next week. Other than that, whatever.

Maître Gims – Est-ce que tu m’aimes ?

Another Summer chart-topper in France. Get your sparkly hot pants out!

Criss-cross

IMG_1595_2 I sit on a train, slicing deep into  the Provence countryside. Orchards, cypress hedges and lavender fields, still in the brutal Summer heat.

Another intense week at work is over, and I am heading South to see my children for the weekend, feeling numb.

Over the last few weeks, work has been manic, and Mr Xmas and I have been criss-crossing the no-man’s land between being exes and being friends.

At first, he came around occasionally to look after the children (as he had said he would). We exchanged minimal parcels of information, minutely wrapped in defiance and fear.

As the days wore on, Mr Xmas kept helping with a few practical things, and things somewhat relaxed into a neutral stance. I even asked Mr Xmas for hugs, which he oblingingly provided after a couple of gruelling days.

Finally, last weekend, I dropped my children off at their holiday destination, before coming back home to work, effectively removing any practical excuses to see each other.

This is when Mr Xmas offered to pick me up from the station… And so we have seen each other a couple of times, chatted about work, the children, the heatwave, carefully skirting around the elephantine mass of bruised feelings and broken hopes in the room.

From the outside, it could almost look like we’re back to our years of easy, open friendship. From the inside, something is missing…

The train has stopped, and Montpellier greets me with its powerful smell of sea breeze, oleander, and heated sewers. At the end of the road, my children, their joy, and the certainty that life is beautiful.

To my son, who loves this song.

Youssoupha ft. Madame Monsieur – Smile

Once a scientist…

Dusk stretches for an eternity.

Birds circle overhead, the scent of jasmine wafts around the garden.

This is my favourite time of year.

I feel tired, pretty sad, and very hollow at times. But all things considered, I haven’t stopped sleeping and started losing 10% of my body weight (a shame really, because I would look better in my bikini for the Summer ), which is what I normally do post-breakup.

Ok, I am snappy with the kids, have low energy and trouble concentrating at work or feeling optimistic about the future. But somehow, I still kind of function, and hey, I can even smile at times!

Importantly, I don’t feel as much of the physical, ripping pain of heartbreak.

For the first time in my life, I accepted to take a course of lightly-dosed antidepressant to get me through the emotional shock. It tastes revolting, but let me tell you what, it is like getting an epidural when giving birth: Why on earth did I ever do without before?

Anyway, my mind wanders…

If you were to consider the period 2008-2015, and plot my breakup trauma intensity with T, Mr Nice#2, and Mr Xmas as a function of time on a log scale, I guess you’d get something like this:

log scale

First, that’s an average of one major break-up (I’m not placing Mr Nice #1 in that category, let’s just call it a minor rehearsal) every 1.9 years.

Which I guess, may even be a respectable performance, if Major Breakups were an olympic sport.

Now, if we were to plot a regression line, and hypothesise that I will keep on the same trend, we could basically extrapolate that somewhere between 2021 and 2022, when I experience my n+3rd major breakup, I may perhaps check my nails, before carrying on writing the shopping list… regression curve Hmm

It’s not you, it’s me

Dusk rainbow by Lady E

Dusk rainbow by Lady E

“It’s not you, it’s me” says a tearful Mr Xmas.

No shit, Sherlock.

I, for sure, am not the one currently in the depth of the worst bout of depression yet,  whose clarity of mind probably stands around 0.3% of its normal average, and who decides that, wohey, isn’t this a great time to wreck the most significant relationship of my last few years?

Let’s all pause to give Mr Xmas a round of applause for his truly outstanding judgement.

Mr Xmas is honestly the sweetest, most loyal and supportive companion when he is not depressed. It’s not always easy when he feels down, but he readily admits that overall, our little family is a positive help in his fight against the funky kind of unipolar, bipolar depression that’s been plaguing him for the last 27 years. I love him. The children love him.

But the abysmal bits of the funky unipolar bipolar thingy turn him into someone else, someone tortured, who oscillates between abject self-loathing, guilt, sadness and anger. Someone too scared and hopeless to give medications a real go. Someone who believes that the demands of family life cause, rather than help his depression, and that he is better off without it.

I am out of fight. I sit on the sofa and look out at the moutains, rain clouds shifting in the evening sky. I wish I could be somewhere else, perhaps the other side of the world …

Emily Loizeau – L’autre bout du monde

Worlds collide

Petals by Lady E

Petals by Lady E

A baby I don’t know is sitting in my daughter’s buggy. A red-haired little boy, who dribbles on the straps, looking content. His mother smiles, hands me a few notes, and walks away.

A little piece of my heart tears.

There is something really odd about standing in the sunshine on a perfect Saturday morning, selling chunks of your children’s babyhood for a few euros.

I look at the new mums milling around with newborns strapped to their chests, at the collection of baby-bumps cooing over minuscule onesies and ridiculously cute pyjamas. I remember being one of them, walking around NCT sales, oblivious of the middle-aged mothers selling their wares, absorbed in my own present of moses baskets and muslins.

Today, I have a son in middle school and permanent bags under the eyes. There will be no baby number 3.

As the sale closes, I stay behind with a friend who is expecting her first, and shows me her loot. As she beams and talks animatedly, I lose myself in the rush of pregnancy and newborn memories. The hopes, the worries, the excitment.

A man is walking towards us. I automatically look the other way and carry on smiling, but my pounding heart muffles all other sounds, as recent, painful memories in France collide with the bittersweet flow of UK pregnancies.

A year ago, Mr Nice and I walked down the same road, hacking out the menu for our evening barbecue with friends…

He walks past us, a stranger.

My friend doesn’t even notice.

Love it or leave it

The last threads of daylight hang suspended above the mountains, birds have gone to sleep, leaving the muted hum of city life take over.

I too have been quiet lately… Muted, but not gone. Sometimes going under in the storm of Mr Xmas’s depression, but soon bobbing back up and carrying on with a steady stroke.

After years of practice, I am a master of resilience. I can juggle a demanding new job, tax returns, play dates, and still think up ways to cheer up a miserable Mr Xmas. But there are also the times when I feel worn out, and so lonely I could cry…

Bless his heart, Mr Xmas is trying, and I am touched by his efforts be there for me and to help. He truly loves me.

But most of the time, he just isn’t really there, lost in the private hell that has become his mind.

He is so far from my reach, I feel so helpless, so unable to help.

Or to answer any the nagging questions: Will he get back to being the Mr Xmas I loved? When, for crying out loud? And anyway, how often will these depressive episodes happen? Is this the life that I want?

Asaf Avidan (who happens to be a hugely talented, generous and good-looking -if slightly tormented, fellow)- Love it or leave

Lifebuoy

LifebuoyDepression.

This is what Mr Xmas’ gradual retreating from life has been down to. We’ve had big conversations over the last few days, and have been friends long enough for me to know that he occasionally suffers from bouts of depression. But the thing is that neither of us thought it would return… Not now that he had gotten his life to where he wanted, and bagged the girl he’d been in love with for years, surely ?

However, there’s no denying that after a gradual slow-down over the last couple of months, Mr Xmas is now stalled. Unable to make plans, withdrawing from existing ones… for crying out loud, even the idea of booking a train ticket currently sends him into a tail-spin!

On the one hand, it’s an immense relief to know that none of this is to do with me, that his love for me is intact and that leaving me is the very last thing on his mind.

On the other hand, fuuuuuuuck!!!

What am I supposed to do?

I am currently living with someone who essentially wants to be left alone, retreat inside a cave and stay there until he feels able to cope with life again. Err…, fair enough, but what about me, and the kids who have come to rely on him to be their rock too?… Am I supposed to just grin and bear it, wait until he emerges again? Is this what love and accepting someone wholly is all about?

Don’t get me wrong, I do feel for Mr Xmas, because what he’s going through is just awful, and I know he is crushed with the disappointment that despite all the work he’s been doing in therapy over the last few years, his depression has returned.

Now, having seeked medical advice, my opinion is that anti-depressants are the lifebuoy he needs… But he just wants to wait it out, as he has more or less always done and resents the pressure I am putting on him to resort to chemistry. After all, it’s his lfe, and why should I dictate what he should and shouldn’t do? When can you make someone take a lifebuoy they don’t want?

Meanwhile, Spring lavishes its usual flowery splendour, I have been given a promotion after six weeks on the job, and feel like celebrating, making plans, whooping… But can’t do it with the man I have undoubtedly grown to love. I could cry with frustration.

So, internet friends, have you ever lived with someone affected by depression, and if so do you have any coping tips? How did you limit the damage on your relationship? Where did you draw the lines?