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Black Holes and Other Close Personal Friends

Month three of climbing my way out of my depression. Yay.

The meds seem to be working, but we bumped it up a notch this month. I can get out of bed in the morning, set a goal and meet it [ish], and I have been less likely to Hoover my way through a chocolate cake, magnum of pinot noir, or fifth of bourbon. I’ve even managed to drop a couple of pounds.

I am, however, just as easily distracted by shiny things, internet cats, and, well, pretty much anything depending on the time of day and phase of moon, yadda yadda. I have less patience for bullshit and stupidity than ever, too, which makes things interesting/hazardous at the day job. I’m told I’ve gotten “snappish and mean.” I think that’s part of the lowered tolerance.

At times, my brain tantalizes me with flashes of things I should be writing, but then snatches them back. I can hear the big dipper scraping hollowly at the bottom of the creativity barrel, and the echo which follows is deafening. I’ve been saying [for what feels like years] that the well has run dry, and I need to let it fill up before I go hauling big ass buckets out of it again. Part of the process of letting it fill means tantalizing my brain in return: reading writers who inspire me; drawing from other wells [acting, visiting galleries and museums, even blogging like this]. Holding pretty things before my mind’s eye and saying, “see this? You could do that. And better, maybe.”

This isn’t writer’s block, this is the mental equivalent of rotating my crops: I’ve beaten the crap out of the land, and now it must lay fallow and be allowed to return to a wild state, or grow other things to replenish the soil, before I can try to pull anything else from the ground. If I don’t, I’ll be left with scorched, lifeless earth. It requires self-care and mindfulness, but it’s really a simple, straightforward process: 

But “easy to do” is easy to say. The rest of the world doesn’t give a shit about your process or your depression. Your job certainly doesn’t care, nor does your spouse or significant other. Artistic friends might, but their needs and coping strategies could be different than yours and counter-productive [the self-destructive artist and alcoholic writer are stereotypes for a reason, kids].

Once other people swoop in with their own needs, demands, and [god help us] “advice,” your very simple A to B to C plan starts to look like this:

scribble

And they all think that’s just fine as long as their wants and needs are being met. I imagine it’s especially hard if you’re generally a caretaker of others, and suddenly stop taking care of everyone else to take care of yourself. But, hey, fuck’em. You can’t take care of them if you’re immobilized by depression.

pigpen
I’m Snoopy in this scenario.

Another part of the process is keeping other people’s shit from getting all over you.

There are people who fling their own feces [problems, worry, obsessions, crazy, whatever] around faster than macaques in a monkey house–just rattling off litanies of death and destruction and how the world is going to end for whatever reasons. These are the same people that can’t have a thought in their heads without out it coming out of their mouths. You can’t get within flinging distance, or you’ll wind up covered in it, whatever it happens to be, and it doesn’t take much [for me, anyway] to get tipped back down into the black hole of despair. Because depression is like a black hole in that, not only does it want to suck you in and spaghettify you, it’s more than happy to suck in all the misery around you and bury you in that, too. Nothing escapes, not even light. Well, Hawking radiation, but that’s it.  

On some days that saying, “Not my circus, not my monkeys,” runs through my head on a loop. If you can’t get the howler monkeys to understand and just shut up for a while, you have to avoid them. Sever ties, if needs be. Like a friend of mine from college who just up and disappeared–he entered AA and had to get away from the people and situations that triggered his drinking. For the sake of his sobriety, he cut a lot of people loose. As someone who frequently brought beer and/or vodka to his house, I was was one of those people. I was hurt, but I understood. Eventually, I understood. In a couple of years. Okay, 20 years, tops. [I’m not pouting, you’re pouting.]

Anyway. Triggers. I haz them. I won’t bore you with a list, but I have them.

Here’s the thing: if I ask you not to do something that acts as a trigger for me, and you continue to do it, you have no one but yourself to blame when I am no longer available to you.

If I ask you to not do something that is a trigger for me, and you maliciously continue to do it, you can fuck off. Seriously, fuck off right now. Bye, Felicia! Don’t let the doorknob hit you, etc. etc. It’s not funny, it’s not just kidding around, it’s a dick move. Dick.

Getting a depressed [or recently depressed] person to do anything is like trapping a feral cat. You can’t be loud. You can’t make sudden moves. Do NOT try to jolly us into anything. You can use a humane trap, but we will claw and hiss and scratch when we get the chance. Be warned. Your best bet is to make kissy noises and wave treats at us. Preferably chocolate.

Mmm. Chocolate.

I should gather all these blog posts together into a Handbook for the Recently Depressed. Hopefully, it won’t read like stereo instructions.

handbook

You can read my other brain droppings here, here or here, at your own peril of course.

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Published inAutobiographicalBrain Farts and others