Raw honesty

One of the ongoing challenges for me in my life right now is working out the balance between doing things and talking about things. I am striving to live more transparently, but it’s a process that I often find really painful. My mom tells me that even as an infant, I would practice new skills privately before I used them in public, and I still have that instinct. Add to that the 18 formative years I spent in a town where my discomfort was a prime source of entertainment for my peers, and you kind of start to get the picture of why I’m so cagey and reserved.

In particular, I have an instinct to go underground when stuff is hard. I imagine that people won’t like me when I’m down, and I hate sharing my pain, and I also hate admitting that I have uncertainty. Yeah, even though I know that other people also have plenty of uncertainty, and that they can be of help to me in my time of discernment, and also, sharing my own discomfort helps other people find comfort in their own.

Even knowing all of that, I still want to hide. But hiding isn’t an option. So here it is:

I am in a really bad mood. I am angry, frustrated, tired, and full of uncertainty. My body hurts. My heart hurts. I am the cause of most, but not all, of my problems this week, and the difficulty I am having getting out of them is also pretty much entirely my problem. I am unhappy, I am the one with agency to find my own happiness, and I cannot find the beacons to get myself back on track.

I acknowledge and believe the platitude that “happiness is a choice, not a destination,” but that doesn’t seem to help me here. I feel lost, and I don’t know what actions will get me back on track, and I deeply fear getting further afield than I already am. I already had a significant depressive episode this year, and I am fucking tired of them.

Also, I realize the irony of not wanting to share my bad mood when my whole personal brand is “Grumpy.” One of my favorite professors in college told me that I was at my best when I was grumpiest, because it was when I did the best cutting through BS. But here’s the thing: I don’t really like being mad at the world. I like being able to say “that’s nonsense,” but I feel like I lost that power somewhere along the way. What happened to me?

I feel like, at 32, I shouldn’t still be in this place where I’m struggling to find my place in the world. I’m mad about it. I am mad that I don’t know how to fix it. I am mad that I’ve let it get so sideways. I am scared that my decisions will leave my kid feeling this way as an adult. I’m scared people close to me aren’t going to like the choices I’m going to make. I’ve spent my whole life looking for approval, and it hasn’t done me very much good. I need to let go of it, and I’m scared. And mad.

Falling down

Oh, hey, it’s Thursday already?

Time really flies when you’re… well, hiding, I guess.

This week, I fell down, metaphorically speaking. I over-extended myself last weekend, somewhat unavoidably. I guess I could have skipped the part where some people came over to watch UFC 159, with us, but honestly, that social time was really important. It came in the middle of kind of a rough patch for my general functionality, and that’s where the problem arose. I didn’t feel good. Things were just kind of rough, for no real reason. (It’s been super windy here, which grates on me, but that’s not really a reason.) That’s fine – these things happen. What wasn’t fine, though, was how I dealt with it, or rather, didn’t.

Instead of saying, “Hey guys, my shit is weird,” I kind of just went into hiding. Because I hate saying “my shit is weird.” It’s exhausting, and makes me feel like I’m broken, especially when my shit breaks down at a bad time. Doubly so when there’s no good reason for it. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety for a long, long time; long enough that I know some things about it, and how it works in me. But even knowing that isn’t always enough to keep me from falling into its traps.

I am a person who holds myself to high standards, much higher than I expect of anyone else. I’m infinitely more kind and understanding of other people’s struggles, even though I know better. Not only do I know better, I have practices in place to help me remember to be better to myself. But I still feel like a shitty failure of a human being when I get tangled up in my own stupid depression.

Now, all this is pretty harsh, and I should say, it’s really not as bad as it sounds, I think. This week was a little stumble. It was something I could have (and should have) been able to see coming. And while I just used the phrase “shitty failure of a human being,” I mostly don’t feel that way this time around. I’m frustrated with myself, and angry, but this is far, FAR from the worst it’s been, even recently.

I hate to be that blogger who writes a “so sorry I haven’t been around” post, but here I am. You’re my team, and went off the rails, and I’m sorry. Today I’m doing some stuff to take care of me, including, hopefully, scouring the last of the icky stuff from inside the Chinook so we can start rebuilding the interior. And getting a serious massage, for this first time in a million years.

While I’m doing that, why don’t you enjoy this Janelle Monae video:

The Depression To-Do List

Depression is like having a to-do list where almost everything is marked “Lowest Priority.” It’s not so much that you don’t want to fix things so much as you just don’t ever get around to doing anything because literally everything else gets in the way. So, by the time you get home from work you just flop down into a pile of unfolded laundry and contemplate which episode of Archer will make you laugh enough to dull the crushing weight of the fact that you still haven’t folded your laundry and it is almost time to stick it all back in the washing machine to make it clean again. Lucky for me I only own two pairs of pants, so the cycle is pretty short.

I think one of the most difficult parts of depression is that for most people it goes away pretty quickly. They have a bad day, they feel like some alone time, and then they get back to the regularly scheduled program. It’s a commercial break of depression. But, for others it is like everyday everything gets an ounce heavier or an inch further away until the door is a mile from your bed, your toothbrush weighs five pounds, and you have to squat-press your laundry basket. At some point you need to start taking medication, which is like a mental weight belt that makes sure you don’t blow out your metaphorical colon while doing your household chores.

And to make it just that little bit harder, no one is ever congratulatory of your accomplishments, because you are the only one that sees the invisible weight and distance–it’s like being the kid from The Sixth Sense and all of the ghosts are sitting on top of your stuff and trying to trip you while you walk.

Having a community is incredibly important when you find yourself pinned under this massively mixed metaphor I have created. You need to kill your pride and show your love for someone by confiding in them your dark secret.

Get a depression buddy (or buddies):

  1. Text them when you take your meds.
  2. Tell them the thing that you did today.
  3. Tell them what you eat.

If you eat well, hold yourself responsible for taking at least one productive step a day, and you take your meds, you can dust of the ounces and push back the inches. It might not be fast, but it will be real, and it will become a habit. Even if it has to be cultivated as a rote habit, eating well and taking your meds is crucial to winning your battle.

Ultimately, depression is a very personal experience. Your mileage may vary; this works for me, and if nothing else, it’s a place where you can start.

I want to thank my buddies that help me with my PTSD.

I don't know who to credit for this image. YAY DEPRESSION. Thanks Loading Artist!