Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Empty Nest Symptoms?

Someone once said she appreciated how "real" I am.
I told her I'd prefer to be a little less real.
Last week I had one of my worst emotional breakdowns in 15 years. For anyone who's struggled with depression, you know that these episodes are terrifying. You can't breath, you can't stop crying, and you're paralyzed with the fear that you're never going to get better. Suffice it to say that depression sucks.

I've been in a pretty lousy place for about six months now and I'm starting to wonder if I'm ever going to feel like my old self again. It's not that my old self was anything awesome, but I liked her better. She laughed more easily. She made others laugh. She cried at happy things. She wrote funny blog posts and Vacation Bible School skits.

I'm not entirely sure what prompted last week's meltdown, but my guess is that it had something to do with being lonely. Honestly, loneliness has taken me by complete surprise. I craved alone time for most of the past 15 years, and now that I have it, I'm miserable. I never thought I'd be the mom who falls apart when the kids leave the house. I thought the whole empty nest syndrome was a bit ridiculous and only applied to moms whose entire lives were their kids. But here I am, the mom who paid as little attention to the kids as possible, now hates the thought of them leaving. And it's not like Ian's going to college across the country, for crying out loud (no pun intended), and I still have Abby for a few more years (though she's constantly busy). Woe is me! I've turned into my mom. Time to stock up on those guilt-inducing comments.

What concerns me most about this loneliness thing is that it's not as if I have nothing else to do with my life. I go to the gym (and as an aside, a meltdown post-workout is truly adding insult to injury. I exercise because the freakin' endorphins are supposed to help my mental health. It's totally uncool for them to not hold up their end of the bargain); I make dinner (it's been known to happen when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars); I play with the dog; I watch two episodes of my new favorite show Jane the Virgin (no more than two, because I want to make them last); I write, read, or pay bills or practice an audition piece for a play I may or may not have the nerve to try out for; I drink wine; and then I have mini panic attacks when I allow my mind to wander for more than a minute.

Most likely I'm overreacting. It's only the calm before the storm. Life will pick back up again and I won't have time to be looney lonely. Soon school will resume and I'll be chauffeuring Abby to and from soccer practices and games.  And did I mention we're taking in an exchange student from France? (His name is Gautier; he's 16. What could go wrong?) And I'm taking a Voice & Movement class at Villanova, returning to the theatre program. I also think I'm going to try out for a play, which would keep me busy six nights a week, at which point I'll have a breakdown because I'm overwhelmed. There's no keeping me happy. Aren't you glad you're not Rob?

Thanks for listening/reading. I know this isn't a particularly uplifting post, but I figured someone out there would be able to relate and might have something to say to make me feel better. Or, I'll make you feel better knowing that you're not half as crazy, lonely, sad, etc. as the girl who writes the Freakin' Angel blog!