Trust and a Shuddering Pillar

So life’s good at figuring out when things are pretty awful, and punching you in the face for good measure. Just in case you didn’t get the memo Re: Awful. As I have mentioned a few times, I have an off and on affair with Depression. I mean, it’s always there, ready to come in and make itself at home whether I welcome it in or not, but occasionally I’ve been able to ignore it long enough to get things done. This isn’t a tenable solution “Long Term”, so I’ve tried medication… with Varying Levels of Success. In any event, right now I’m not able to afford medication, so I’m back to the “Ignore it and hope it goes away” stage of treatment. What this means is that beyond the normal grey haze that my perception of the world is cast under, is that for (Increasingly frequent and longer) periods of time, my perception of the world goes from “Grey” to “Black”.

No matter how well I sleep and eat, I have no energy (Assuming I “do” sleep in eat… which is not guaranteed). Everything I do is not only “Useless”, but actively “Bad”. Everyone has nothing but contempt for me, and all that I am and do. I have failed at everything I’ve ever attempted, and no matter how hard I try, I will fail in this too… and so on. These are not intrusive thoughts that can be whisked away by exercise and positive thinking (Which is what folks that do not deal with depression commonly think), but “Truths” of life (Accompanied by a desire to try and explain them… as even I don’t accept my excuses”… it took me a long time to talk to medical professionals and admit this to myself ;?). It’s like, if every so often you woke up, and your vision was gone and your muscles all refused to work beyond what it takes to move your body… but only for that day (Week, Month, Year… different folks are differently affected). It doesn’t matter how many people tell you that nothing has changed… you are not going to be able to get through your day the same way you did before. And while it seems to be impossible to convey the reality of a mental disorder to someone without one… our country has time and again proven how little facts matter… so I’ll not waste the time here trying to do so.

In any event, back to the reason I’m writing today. I’m at the low end of my mental wave pattern, and life is doing it’s Facepunch thing. Someone whom I would have considered a pillar of my life has begun to shudder violently. There are a number of reasons, some good, some bad (and none suitable for discussion in this venue) that this is occurring… but the short of it is, I can not currently rely on them the way, until very recently, I would have said I could… and while the future may end up better than it is currently, some trust has been lost, potentially forever. As I tend to keep my “Inner Circle” incredibly small… I don’t have a lot of folks I trust that thoroughly. At the top of my wave form, this would have just been an unfortunate occurrence, and I would have been easily capable of waiting it out to see what the future holds. At this time though, it’s an earthquake while I was already on shaky legs. I will press on. “This too will pass”… but this blog is an outlet for me to “Keep myself honest”… and if I’m being honest with myself… I’ve not been handling everything as well as I would like.

To Drug… or Not to Drug…

Ominous, I know. ;P But seriously, that’s the choice I faced recently… and against all my ‘better’ judgments, I decided to try drugs. Sertraline to be specific… though you’re likely to recognize it more by its ‘Street Name’, Zoloft. I’ve talked before about my personal struggles with depression, and the form it takes for me. I don’t get into it too often, as the story never gets any more interesting than that. It’s no fun, it makes life difficult when there’s no other obstacles, and I’ve dealt with it for as long as I can rightly remember. So recently I made a commitment to really do something about it. Now without a lot of money, and really… no time to commit to therapy, that was off the table (Not that I truly believe in the potential for therapy in my situation considering all the avenues I’ve already taken. Who knows… if this is unsuccessful maybe I’ll revisit it in future as I know quite a few people who have benefited from it, but for various reasons it’s a no go for now). So that left drugs.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ll know that due to my childhood asthma, I illogically grew to loathe the use medication. The short story goes that since I couldn’t even run across a room without wearing myself out and risking an asthma attack (Thus the need to carry two separate inhalers 24/7), I formed a negative association with my inhalers. I know… they provided me the opportunity not to die… I should have loved them. Hey, I’m not defending kid me’s logic, I’m just telling it like it happened. ;P In any account, that irrational distaste led to an adult that doesn’t use medication unless he has to, which is far less often than you’d think. >.>

So back to my depression. It was hard for me to even acknowledge that it existed (Due in part I’m sure to the social negative stigma towards mental difficulties of any kind), and harder still to accept that it wasn’t something I could just will away… as much as I’d tried. Heck, I’d even read up on all forms of self help, therapy studies, etc. (I would sleep through Psych 101 at this point. ;P) and have tried the lot of them. Positive Manifestations, Exercise, Directed Thinking and Breathing… and so on. None of it worked. Sure, there were moments where I felt ‘better’… but there were always moments I felt ‘better’. That’s a far cry from feeling ‘good’ though (Or really… feeling anything most of the time), and during my low points… it’s hard to get anything done that doesn’t have to be done (And sometimes, even the things that have to be done get put off)… So something needed to change.

So here we are. I’ve made a decision not to let this define me, and though in the past I would have said taking medication is doing just that, I’m coming to realize that by doing so (Or at least trying it… there’s no guaranteed success here, and I may still be working from square the first), I’m giving myself what I hope is the best opportunity to succeed in that. Only time will tell. And hey, even if it doesn’t work… it can’t be said that I’m not trying everything. I’ll be trying as time goes on to document this period (And we all know how well that tends to go ;P) for reference… we’ll see.

I got shot…

Not really (Just a Flu Shot), but it sounds better than, ‘I’ve been idly thinking’, so I’ll go with it. ;P Anywho, life has been quite hectic in the last few months. Most of the chaos (As is the usual) has been of my own design, inadvertently or no, and so of course ‘sympathy’ (Which I’m no fan of in general on any account) is in short supply. Between money issues, an ended relationship, and miscellaneous personal matters that are better off not committed to the interwebs, it’s been a bit rough. Typically I’d smirk it off and continue on as if nothing had occurred, but to be honest, there’s quite a bit piling up at once, and it’s not as easy to smirk off as I’d like. I’m handling it, and I’ve got idea for how to transition myself to a better space, but as with all frustrating things, it’ll take time. ;?

As to the Flu Shot, I scheduled it for ‘right before’ work Sunday, and even called ahead to make sure I’d have time. Unfortunately, the gentleman on the phone (The Pharmacist as it turned out) failed to mention that they’d be closing at 1800. Which was a problem when I was planning on getting there at that time. When I walked back to where I was planning on being shot, the metal grate was down, and everyone gave me that ‘Uh, sorry Joe’ look. Thankfully, when I brought up the fact that I’d ‘just’ spoken to a gentleman on the phone about coming in, the Pharmacist remembered talking to me and not mentioning the close time, so he kindly took care of the shot anyway. Which was quite awesome of him. Go Bartell Drugs! ;P

On they way home from work, there was a car stopped on the side of the Highway again. I pulled off, went back around, and came up to them to see if they needed something I could help with. Unfortunately in this particular case he needed a jump and as you can imagine, that’s a little difficult on the highway. Neither of us had a jumper cable long enough to stretch the entire car AND reach the battery of the next. Maybe I should grab a longer cable for the future. ;? Anywho, he apparently knew someone who would be able to assist him, so regretfully I left him there on the side.

The only other thing worth talking about at this point (And on this Blog) is the roommate search that is still ongoing. With my ex moving back to her parents at the end of the month, we now have a space in  the house to fill. ‘Technically’ we can handle the cost ourselves, but why deal with extra expenses when we can mitigate them by adding another body to the household. We’ve interviewed a few people so far, and have yet to find a ‘fit’ yet. We’ll see how it goes.

As an aside, I must have slept on my neck badly last night. It’s aching on the left side. 😕

Less ‘Blue’

So yesterday was an interesting experiment. I wasn’t sure if I ‘Should’ write what I did, but it ended up being both cathartic, and allowed me the chance to step back and look at my thoughts from an outside perspective once more. Granted, I’ve already done that countless times in the past, but I enjoyed not only writing it, but this time, sharing it. Also, I realized that while ‘Exposing’ myself so openly ‘feels’ like I’ve revealed myself to the world, being less ridiculous I realize that very few people ever actually see what I write, so it’s less ‘to the world’, and more ‘to my mom’.. and maybe a few other people here and there. ;P As I don’t have anything else ‘interesting’ to write about at the moment, allow me the time to delve back into my head for a bit as I indulge my narcissism.

 

Following the thread that I tenuously touched upon yesterday, it’s interesting to note ‘what’ stimuli tends to resonate the strongest when I’m under the influence of the emptiness that comes. Rationally, one would assume that ‘all’ stimuli resonates equally, and then I get to choose which to pursue. While of course the choice of what to pursue is certainly always mine, it’s ‘easier’ to pursue the colloquially ‘negative’ emotions… and I’m not sure if that’s an associative thing learned through the years, or if there’s some kind of actually connected psychology there. ‘Common’ study insinuates the latter, but I’m not convinced.

 

For one thing, the negative stimuli isn’t ‘spontaneous’. I still need to engage the world as I always do, and it comes as it typically does. So if there were ‘truly’ an association there, I would assume that it would come regardless of the way I interact with the world. What ‘does’ happen though, is that there is an increased awareness of the stimuli when I’m ‘down’ that isn’t there when I’m not. As if it’s suddenly ‘louder’. And conversely, the colloquially ‘positive’ emotions are ‘muted’. So while being depressed doesn’t ‘make’ one negative, for reasons I have yet to nail down, it’s ‘easier’ to be ‘negative’ while depressed.

 

An interesting series of thoughts just occurred to me. “What” ‘actually’ occurs when I’m feeling ’empty’. I’m describing it here as if certain stimuli is ‘enhanced’, while others are ‘muted’… but what if ‘everything’ is muted (And due to the mellow way I always see things, I’m not particularly aware of it), and it’s just those few things that for some reason escape that? ‘Could’ I train myself to not allow the rest to be ‘muted’? And even going along with the idea that certain stimuli is ‘enhanced’, could I then ‘learn’ to use that for all stimuli, and possibly use it while I’m not ‘down’? I’ve certainly learned to modify my reaction, in some cases quite dramatically in ‘other’ ways, so there’s certainly potential… hmmm… I ‘almost’ want to be ‘down’ for a bit so I can observe this now. ;P

 

That’s all I’ve got for the moment. I went and ‘refreshed’ myself on what’s ‘current’ on Depression, and of course did the ‘link diving’ that happens when you just wander into Wikipedia. It’s ‘possible’ that the specific issue I’m dealing with is outlined here. Of course that’s a personal observation, and it carries no medical weight, but it does note a ‘lack of emotions’ for those who suffer from this under the Pathophysiology heading… which would comfortably explain both constructs I’ve outlined. If that’s the case though, I’ve been under this since childhood. O.o! Or I could just be seeing patterns where there are none. ;P

Feeling ‘Blue’

[Warning: This post if full of whining, and rambling of a unproductive nature. ;? It Eventually breaks down into more of a “Ramble” (Pseudo Stream of Consciousness) than a “Post”, but now that I’m finally writing more, I can get these rambles out when they cross my mind. I do not pretend to have fully developed thoughts here. This is my attempt at putting into text ‘first’ how I was ‘Feeling` and then ‘second’ some of my thoughts on it, and tenuously related subjects surrounding that. I am ‘painfully’ aware of how incomplete some of this is, and how illogical, and incompatible with itself even, the majority of it is. ;? ]

Blue? That’s a Romanticized term for a state of being that is anything but. ;? Perhaps Wholly Incapable of Responding Positively to Positive Stimuli (WIoRPtPS) is ‘just’ too much of a mouthful, and we may need to invest some time into coming up with a snappier acronym… but yeah… “Blue” doesn’t quite cut it. I started thinking this up as my “Post” for the day on dA, but quickly realized that this wouldn’t fit not only in scope, but in size for that project, and so it’s getting its own “Real” for real Blog Post. Which is what this is supposed to be. (It’s also an excuse to set up “Live Writer” on my Laptop Finally. ;P) I don’t know how I ‘feel’ about writing about this in such a cavalier fashion, but I’m working on expressing myself better in my writing, so here we go.

Depression sucks. This isn’t a secret. What is a bit surprising, to me at least, is how insidious it can be in even the most externally ‘Okay’ people. I don’t know ‘where’ I fall on the outsider view, but the people close to me seem to think I’m ‘generally’ just fine, and I’ll take that as a fair assessment. The part of this that’s bothersome to me is that I wouldn’t use ‘Generally’ to describe how often I actually ‘feel’ okay. Heck, there are times when I wouldn’t use ‘Okay’ to describe how I feel at all. And in a completely illogical and detrimental fashion, I despise this about myself. Moreso when I’m feeling ‘Blue’. And of course, being who I am, I try to power through regardless, putting on a “Friendly Face” and all the while there is this dragging, all encompassing void that just sucks the theoretical joy out my day.

It’s so damn trite. That’s what kills me about it. I’m not saying anything new. I’m not fighting something ‘unique’ or ‘particularly difficult’. People deal with depression on a constant basis, and manage to operate just fine. So who am I to think that this is anything more than anyone else has to wake up to, and yet the world marches on, so of course so must I. Regardless of what I ‘Feel’. And sometimes, I question even that. Everyone that knows me has commented on how little I respond to life emotionally. My Ex used to call me a “Heartless Bastard” in an affectionate manner. I wasn’t mean, or cruel, the things people typically associate with that concept. I just didn’t resonate on an emotional level. As if I was muted to the sensations I ‘should’ have been feeling.

I don’t want to get out of bed in the mornings. I don’t ever want to engage the world. I’m not ‘afraid’ of anything, there’s nothing I ‘m trying to avoid… I just ‘don’t’ want to. It’s a fight to make myself go. I walk through the day, and if I let myself think about it, I just want to lie down and stop. I want to Eat Everything, but I’m not ever hungry. Maybe I’m deficient in some mineral, and eating it will fill the void. I want to Hit Everything. Not because I’m angry, I’m almost never angry, but maybe I’ll feel differently once I’ve got the energy out. Maybe I’ll get into a fight, and at the least not feel empty. I want to Cry, just sob chest wrenching, heart aching tears, but I almost can’t cry outside of sad movies or books. Even after watching someone die right before my eyes, it took months before I was able to make myself cry about it, and I had to work at it. I want to laugh. Not pretend to laugh because I know it’s socially appropriate, or because I know people respond better to laughter, but because I’m happy, even if just for a few moments. I’ve spent years perfecting my laugh, and no one any more comments on how fake it sounds. But what I would give to experience ‘joy’, as people have described it to me.

Again, I know I’m just rattling out the same old, same old trite exclamations of anyone who’s ever dealt with depression. It’s boring, it’s uninteresting, and there’s nothing new to learn here. And outside of the few goals I’ve yet to accomplish, I do relatively well with myself, so really there’s no reason to complain. But then I have these ‘Dark’ days (I hate the terminology used to describe depression. It’s meant to contextualize a series of sensations that are devoid of rational context… but it’s simpler to use the language we’ve got for now. ;?) and of course I obsessively pour over every one of my character flaws that impedes my success. And even looking at the things in my life that are objectively ‘good’, I see only the negative, and the ways in which these things ‘drag me down’, or keep me from my goals.

There are strategies to deal with this, for me at least. If I have too much time to think, I eat myself up, but  I’ve found that losing myself in my work allows me to forget to think about myself, which keeps me from focusing on the things that wear on me. It’s funny in a sick kind of way, but by working so much that I have no time for myself, I’m ‘Internally’ “Better”, but Externally worse for wear. Having such a pressing schedule wears on the people in my life, and keeps me from accomplishing the things  I want to accomplish,which then feeds into the depression when these things (Personal, and Professional) rear their heads. Damned if I do, Damned if I don’t. And always, just out of reach, is the surety that if I would just ‘Do It’ (The Super It, the things that would make me ‘Successful’ on the arbitrary scale the world has presented, at the cost of the elements in my life I’ve carefully cultivated to ensure I was living a “Healthier” existence.), I’d no longer have to deal with this oppressive sensation.

My “Every Day” isn’t as I’ve described it. This is me talking at my worst. My “Normal” day is just ‘Fine’. I don’t get too low, I don’t get too high, I just kind of meander through my day. I’m colourblind, and one of the ways Melissa and I ended up describing my “Baseline’” was by comparing it to my Colourblindness. To me, all the colors are of the same rough source. So at a distance it becomes difficult to distinguish colors. Comparing that to ‘Normal’ vision, it’s as if my entire world is a drab and muddied vista. Colors don’t “Pop” out at me the way they seem to people who aren’t colourblind, and I ‘Feel’ the same way emotionally. I cannot begin to fathom all encompassing rage, vibrant joy, deep and enduring love, endless sadness, or any of those other colorful descriptors beyond the context of “Fiction”. Conceptually, this is a ‘Good’ thing, as it keeps me ‘level’… but I do wonder at the “Chicken and the Egg” of it. Does ‘this’ cause my depression, or is it because of my depression that I am this way? I ‘think’ that it had to have been different when I was younger… though I know that it was in my youth that I ‘first’ started recognizing that I needed to ‘learn’ to laugh… ;?

Perhaps this is how ‘Everyone’ works. Perhaps I’m just ‘normal’, and it’s a sign of my personal weakness that I even feel the need to comment on it. I’ve tried engaging people in discussion all throughout my life to determine whether or not that was the case, and perhaps those that I engaged were the exception, but I’ve not found this to be true. ‘My’ truth is that I consider Emotions to be no different than any other stimuli, and like you learn from the heat of a burner to keep your hands away, you learn from the ‘Sadness’ you feel when people criticize you to keep your ‘self’ away. But if that’s true, why do people constantly discuss their choices as if they’re permeated by these unbending sensations that direct their actions? What would it be like to experience a Stimuli “So Strong” that you were almost powerless to act against it… I just cannot imagine that.

I’ve read countless psychological research papers delving into the human mind from many different angles, and I constantly encounter resolutions that just don’t seem to apply to a worldview I can relate to. I recognize my faults by now, and I am aware of my positive traits. I am not deluded enough to believe that I completely understand myself, but I do recognize that I am at least reasonably self aware. With all this, it is still a struggle to align the way I view the world with the way it is constantly described to me. To me, you receive data (Accompanied by whatever emotional stimuli may be relevant), process this, and make a decision as to how you should react to it. The way I constantly hear it described, one tends to ‘experience’ an event, flare up with emotional response, and then work to both control that emotional response while trying to react to the experience. That sounds kind of awesome. ;P But maddening at the same time. If ‘that’ is the world as most people experience it, then no wonder people have so much difficulty getting through it.

I used to intentionally ‘make’ myself ‘wallow’ in an emotional stimuli for an extended period of time. They are such little things that I figured perhaps “Prolonging my Exposure” to them would allow me to experience them more naturally. This just ended up with me behaving erratically, and did absolutely nothing for my ability to experience things more ‘naturally’. Long ago I sought “Fullness” by sampling a variety of religions. You hear from people confident in their faith that there’s a ‘Wholeness’ in ‘Faith’, but I found no stronger stimuli in a church, den, circle, than I found at the grocery store, or in my bathroom. I don’t know what I’m ‘missing’, and I don’t know where to find it either.

Then there’s the ‘funny’ exception that makes me question the ‘Reality’ of my entire worldview. The exception that lends credence to my Roommate’s occasional angry outburst that I am merely deluding myself (A viewpoint he ‘only’ shares when he’s angry at me, so I have reason to question it). Movies, Games, and Books. I can somewhat fully immerse myself in a work of Fiction like I cannot find a way to immerse myself in the world. A sad work of fiction will leave me bawling like the entire world has collapsed around me. It doesn’t even have to be a particularly ‘good’ sad work. A particularly happy/beautiful work of fiction can have a similar effect. But the oddity there is, it’s ‘only’ in the confine of the work of fiction. Somehow, the stories have the power to elicit the extremes of my stimuli… And I have ‘yet’ to figure out why.

A working theory that was presented to me is that perhaps I’m not ‘actually’ very ‘light’ in my emotional responses. Perhaps I actually experience things “Far Too Strongly”, and I’ve taught myself to clamp down on my responses, and it’s in a “Work of Fiction” that I feel ‘Safe’ enough to loosen the reins. If that’s truly the case, then why can I not ‘Make’ myself loosen up at other times, even with conscious effort. Another theory, is that I ‘force’ myself to over evaluate everything (Long since passed into habit, but originally personally motivated), and that when presented with an incomplete picture, an ‘unrealistic’ story, I turn that off, an ‘allow’ myself to respond more ‘naturally’. I just don’t know.

There’s a peek into my head. This writing began from a low point, and finished up during my baseline. I’m not sure what benefit it is for me to post this. Perhaps it may alienate people, or cause alarm where there is no reason for alarm. This is not a “Cry for Help”, I am not looking for answers by posting this (Though I ‘love’ discussion, so I’m certainly open to talking about some of what I’ve written, or really ‘anything’). A side effect of my constant self evaluation and delving into the thought processes of others is that I’m particularly good at ‘listening’ when others wish to share their personal strife (As I do not ‘judge’. It’s fruitless, and only serves to obfuscate whatever is being shared), and if I’m not being misled, I actually give good advice. So here are my words, and I welcome yours.