Monday, December 7, 2009

Cycles and Changing the World

This is a long post... sorry

I've found depression is riddled with cycles. Chickens make eggs and eggs make chickens. Despair leads to anger, anger to destruction, and destruction to despair. Negative emotions feed off each other like a snowball rolling down a hill, collecting snow, gaining mass and energy, until it eventually hits the bottom of the hill and slows down or crashes and explodes, much like a human's psyche spiraling out of control.

Though the complex interactions of chemicals within the brain aren't truly comparable to the simple interactions of matter and gravity, the analogy demonstrates a striking resemblance between the two. Though I'm probably overextending the analogy, just as a snowball feeds off snow, so does sadness feed off anger. What's interesting is for the snowball to continue feeding it needs the constant input of energy, specifically gravity pulling it down the hill, as in physics there is no true self sustaining system. I wonder if there is some single input of negative energy I could eliminate from my life to help stabilize my mind... do I have a "gravity" sustaining my cycles? Interesting thought, but I'm getting off topic.

Recently I've been losing control of my life, and I need to get it back. When I'm isolated, I begin to focus on my life, which invariably makes me depressed as I have failed to live up to the expectations I set for myself years ago, particularly in the social sense, and I consider my life to be a major disappointment. And so the cycle begins. When I'm depressed I begin to stop my life. I lose motivation to do what "normal" people seem to do so naturally and easily. I stop talking to people. I stop even attempting to develop relationships. I stop doing work, doing only what is necessary to prevent anyone from noticing me (any noticeable spikes in school work are no good, as people begin to ask what's wrong). I essentially isolate myself in a room and avoid "doing" anything.

I tend to look down on the habit of never leaving your room, sitting and playing video games in your room all day and not talking to anyone. Obviously, when I become this I begin to despise myself even more. While I don't play video games, I do occupy my time with other fairly meaningless activities. As I look down on myself more and more, I get even more depressed, looking at how alone I am (even though I've isolated myself), wondering why I can't seem to function like a "normal" person, wondering if this is all I'll ever amount to. And so the cycle continues as I become even more depressed, I find myself wanting to run from everything, get away from my dorm which now feels more like a prison, but I can't leave or drastically change my life because I just don't want to stand out, and after all, boring though it may be, college is where I'm supposed to be... right?

One strategy is to get involved with some activity that forces me to get out of the dorm. The problem with this is I quickly get tired of the commitment of being forced to attend these activities. They're nice in the clutch, but in the long run they can be a major burden. (Note: I'm not saying it's bad for me to do these, and I'm not giving an excuse for not doing them, admittedly I should try and get more involved with more organizations like I've been in years past, but I'm just explaining why I'm not right now. This is something that needs work, like most other aspects of my life)

Another strategy is to always be changing the world. I don't mean change the entire world, I just mean change the state of the world, even if it is in the slightest manner, hopefully in a value adding manner. This is not an end all solution, but it's a step in the right direction. I realized my biggest problem was sitting around doing nothing. I have a lot more to fix, but this is step one; it is like grains on the food pyramid: you eventually need fruits and vegetables, but grains come first. Sitting around is what causes the most problems, so to always be changing the world is a good way to prevent that.

Let me explain what I mean by changing the state of the world. Imagine if the the entire world was stagnant, everyone stopped moving, nothing was happening. The state of the world would be constant. Now imagine if one person cut down a tree. The state of the world is now different. Everything but the tree has remained the same, but the tree itself is different, so technically the previous state of the world does not equal the current state of the world, as one has one more tree than the other.

Even the most minute changes we make technically change the state of the world. Writing in a journal changes the state of the world; where before there was a page with no text on it, there is now a page with text on it. Blogging changes the state of the world, as there is one more post on the internet than there was before. Painting changes the state of the world. Building things changes the state of the world. Photography changes the state of the world for where there was no photo, there now is. Watching TV does not change the world; when that show ends, nothing is different than it was before the show started. You could say you've worn out the TV a little more, and the chemistry of the brain cells in your long term memory has changed, but are those are hardly positive, and they aren't noticeable. No one will look at the television and say it looks worn out. No one will look at you and say, "You look different, have you been watching television?" Basically always be creating or altering something in a positive manner.

I've recently been trying to put this into practice. Honestly, it actually has helped. For once I kind of feel good about myself. I at least don't feel like a worthless piece of trash existing for the sole purpose of killing time, waiting and waiting but nothing ever happens. Even this post is a creation. It might feel small, but at least it is pushing me in the right direction. Doing something for an hour might not change much of anything, but you would be shocked with what 365 hours of "change" can produce.

If you find yourself low on motivation, keep it simple. Write one letter. Write one email. Draw one picture. Have a conversation with a stranger (affecting other people counts). Leave a mark. Leave a reminder that the day happened. Then go from there. Eventually you may find you've left quite a trail.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rising Phoenix

It's been a dark few months. It took a lot longer to crash then I thought it would. It's hard to bring myself to write when all I feel is sadness. I had anticipated using this blog as kind of a support, a release during dark times, and then I shoot myself in the foot by hiding away from everything when the crash finally does come. Today I finally built up the courage to "get back on the horse", if you will, and continue writing.

Right now it's 3:50 AM, I have class in 4 hours, I can hear my hall mate vomiting in the bathroom from drinking too much, and I can't sleep. In fact, I just went to check on him since he was making some weird noises in the bathroom. I asked, "You feelin' alright?" and the response I received: "Fuck you"... fair enough. This is college.

Enough about me, now for my post:

As I said before I've been going through some pretty dark times. The constant numbness that seemed to surround me throughout the summer gave way to emptiness, emptiness to pain, and pain to despair. This post isn't about my fall (I'll save that for a future post), this post is about the mindset I am trying to maintain in order to help me survive this.

I'm a person of action. I like to be able fix problems the moment they happen. I hate waiting. Say my car breaks down, I will be perpetually uncomfortable about it until it is fixed. I can't stand letting problems linger. So when I am powerless to bring a problem to a quick resolution, when there is no quick fix, you can see how this would bother me.

One of the biggest problems with depression is my inability to directly control it. I can fight it but I can't fix it. It lingers, it persists, it must take its usual path. It can be buried, it can be ignored, but in the end it's still there and I have to deal with it and suffer through it; by avoiding it I'm only postponing the inevitable. So by not being able to control it, I feel defeated and hopeless. In a sense being depressed causes me to feel even more depressed...

It is important for me to accept this truth. I need to accept that I can't fix it and that it is okay. If I can accept that it is out of my control, I can then accept that it is not my fault, and then I can begin to focus on how to work through it, instead of trying to escape my shadows.

Every time I fall down, I get back up. Every time I crash, I rise from the wreckage of my life, and, like a rising phoenix emerging from the ashes of its previous life, I start anew, standing and alive. This is what I focus on. This is what I remember. Remembering this, knowing this deep within myself, I'm able to continue through the crash, through the fallout, through the fear, sadness, and insecurity, and I am able to make it to the other side.

The phoenix is not something we need to strive to be. The phoenix is something we need to remember we already are. All we need to do is survive. Though the present may be dark, the sun will rise when morning comes. We just have to make it through the night. We have to wait. When morning comes, we will, like the phoenix, rise up again.

There are many things I can't fix right now. Worrying about them yields me nothing. There is nothing now I can do, but I have to believe things will eventually work out. I can't wait until life is perfect to relax. Life will never be perfect. There is always something to worry about. I need to relax now and accept that things will be okay.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Does anything change?

So college has started and it has been quite awhile since I've made a post. I'd like to blame it on the all the work involved with school, but that's not entirely the case. Last time I posted I made a note of an oncoming bought with depression. I've been waiting to see what was going to happen. Truth is I'm starting to sink pretty low. It seems paradoxical but the more time I spend with my "friends" the lower I feel. Between seeing their successful relationships and then pondering my inability to establish one of substance, it's like I have no choice but to be filled with a sense of inadequacy. I can't connect to another human. All my relationships exist in the superficial and nothing is changing.

This is a short post... more later perhaps.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


It's been awhile so I wrote a lot. The first portion is a non-specific rant about people in general, the second portion is about me and where I'm at right now.

People are social creatures, placing themselves in social groups, eager to categorize themselves, separate themselves from others, be able to define themselves by some form of group. Then, once they've established themselves as a member of some community, it's as if they can't wait to go over to the next community and ruin it, make fun of it, brutalize it, and return home. I'm constantly looking at representatives of certain social groups (ethnicity, religion, geography, etc) being huge d*cks to people in opposing communities, and then at first I wonder, "man, why is everyone part of group "X" such a tool?", but then I'll see people from the group that I thought was the victim, group Y, go and rip on people from group X... Till I finally realized: People are a*holes. It's not Christians, it's not black people, it's not Europeans, it's not Harry Potter fans, it's not members of PETA, it's not members of the NRA... it's everyone. Each group has people that are ridiculed, and people that ridicule others. There is no group that is to blame for bullying other people, it's simply people being people.

It's as if once someone is accepted by one group, they now feel they can hate everyone else. It drives me nuts. Part of the problem is I've spent so much of my life in my head, thinking about everything that I've seen almost every perspective of every argument so I never really think anyone's stupid for thinking the way they do, as it's easy for me to see their side of things. The problem is I'm really bad at talking to people that can't see my side of the argument. I was having a discussion with an atheist (I'm a theist) about the origins of the universe, it was a pretty good conversation, until some more atheists overheard and started calling me stupid. What bothered me when I saw the person who I was conversing with (just some person I'd met) change from someone who had been respectfully considering the things I had been saying and responding with well thought out, intelligent responses, into someone who now discredited all my arguments on the grounds that I was stupid. I had nothing left to say. What was the point of mentioning the fallacies of an ad hominem argument? In fact, there wasn't much point in saying anything at all. I believed in talking snakes and invisible dudes with beards, therefore I was too stupid to say anything correct. I would've told them what a strawman fallacy was, but apparently I was "too stupid". So I thanked them for giving me something to think about (which they did) and walked away. I guess my mother did a good job of instilling in me the habit of being nice to a*holes, because I wanted to stab them all with a fork, which would have solved even less than walking away did.

At first, I thought, "What's wrong with atheists? These people are huge D-bags," then I realized theists do the same thing to atheists. I remember an atheist complaining about Christians making fun of her and calling her names. Are Christians bad people? No, they're just people, doing what people do. Are atheists bad people? No, they're just people.

I guess the whole point of this rant is that it's important to understand where other people are coming from. We aren't better than anyone else, regardless of who they are, what they do, where they're from, or what they believe. It's easy to think someone is dumb for not thinking the way they do, but it's important to realize they are probably just as smart as we are; if we can realize that, then maybe we can begin to listen to the things they're saying, we can start giving them a reason to listen to us, and finally stop being a d*ck.

Getting back to me... I've actually suprised myself with how long I've been able to stave off this recent onslaught of depression. I haven't broken down yet. I've had some modified behavior though: It's getting harder to get out of bed and fall asleep at night, it's getting hard to get out of the shower (the shower is to me a sanctuary of sorts), at work I'm losing my ability to focus and be productive (I can tell it's bad because I'm working on a project I actually enjoy and I still can't bring myself to get much done), and my number of "emergency" bike rides/work out sessions has increased exponentially. In fact I've been riding almost 20 miles a day now (for me that's a lot).

Also I've been attributing a lot of my problems to global factors that are based on my internal, sustaining problems, a recipe for depression, ie if I fail a test it's because I'm not smart - it's my fault, it's one specific failure that points to a huge, global problem (not being smart), and it's sustaining, I can't change how smart I am. It's not that I'm bad at that subject (internal, specific, constant), it's not that the teacher is hard (external, specific, constant), it's not that I didn't get enough sleep the night before (internal, specific, changing) - it's simply that I'm not smart, a small, specific, independant failure pointing to a glaring, unchanging weakness. Granted I think like this all the time, but recently it's been getting much worse. I can't get out of bed because I'm weak. I can't focus at work because I'm bad at concentration and I have a poor work ethic. I'm not in better shape on my bike because I'm an unmotivate person, and as a result I don't push myself hard enough when I ride...

Such is life, but I move forward, through hopeless, black tunnels with white lights at the end bright enough to reveal that there is nothing there, only a nice empty patch of space for me to breakdown before I move on into the next dark tunnel.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Results

Borderline:Very High

-- Personality Disorder Test --
-- Personality Disorder Information --

I took this test about a month ago and stored the results away in a text file. For being an online test, it seems to be surprisingly accurate.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Path Before Me

I said in my last post I feel a crash coming on. Though today, surprisingly, I managed to get through without feeling much of anything (it was good), I know within a week or two I'm eventually going to have to come to face a reality I don't want to face.

This is what is going to happen to me over the course of the next month or two:

I will start to find myself in a permanent, somber state, feeling consistently down, disappointed about who I am, the things I have and haven't done, all my weaknesses (which are not few). It's going to start getting worse 'till eventually I step back from myself and examine the situation. At that point I can either continue in my weakened state of depression, or seize control of the situation by allowing myself to be filled with anger. Anger is perhaps one of the most empowering emotions which is why it's so appealing, but it's also one of the most destructive, which is why it doesn't work.

The anger actually feels good (it's strange I know) for a day or two which is why I always choose it, and then it starts to build on itself. It's important to note the energy anger provides is much like the warmth alcohol provides: You feel better at first, but all your body is doing is using the burning through your short supply more quickly. When the energy the anger was feeding off of wears away I step back and feel even more depressed. That gets worse until I step back from myself again, and observe my depression as objectively as I can. Anger then ensues.

I'm sure by now you're starting to see this cycle. I'll cycle through this anywhere from 3 or 4 times to 15-20 times. Each time the depression grows due to the toll the anger takes on me, and the anger than grows in order to compensate for the depression. It begins to turn into a very delicate balancing act, working to keep my emotions in check, not over compensate, and maintain my cool around other people. Eventually situation begins to snow ball out of control and I have a complete breakdown which lasts from a day to a week. In this time I usually try to sleep through the entire day (and consequently stay up all night) to escape from myself. I'll also take showers two to three hours long. I do this because the shower is one of the only places where no one can see me, where no one looks at me. The shower is one of the only places that allow me to escape from my

I know this is going to happen, and it seems nothing short of a miracle is going to stop it. In preparing for battle it is important to know your enemy, but by that same token, knowing today of tomorrow's pain seems to do little more than ruin a perfectly good today.

They say make hay while the sun is shining. Well, the sun is shining, and I can't figure out how to unlock the door to get outside. This is what is causing me to lose my balance.

I'm really tired. Good night.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chaos against routine

Yesterday morning I woke up in a house I'd never been in, in a city I rarely visited, knowing only that my car was parked near a street called "Dawson". The room was full of kids I didn't know whose faces were hanging over buckets and plastic bags, still asleep. It looked like they'd had a crazier night than I had. I wandered into the kitchen, drank a glass of water, and then tip-toed out of the house where I walked around the city for just under an hour searching for my car.

I realized something while I was searching: I like this. I like not knowing. I like change. I like a challenge. I remember in high school, me and a friend would put ourselves in precarious predicaments for the sole purpose of forcing ourselves to figure out a way to get out of them.

I've also noticed lately I enjoy movies that involve society breaking down. When the structure of society crumbles and everyone is left to their own devices, I'm fascinated. In that situation, when classes disappear, money counts for nothing, status becomes irrelevant, it's as if someone hit the reset button on society. Everything starts over, and everyone is in the same boat.

Super-ordinate goals, besides being one of the most effective methods for creating unity amongst strangers, provide individuals with something to work towards, something to take their minds off of themselves which is important considering persons who can't stop thinking about themselves are more likely to slip into debilitating states of depression. Humans are designed for adventure and competition. Anyone that looks deep inside themselves will realize they have an adventurous side. I don't think we are meant to reach a state of equilibrium and complete comfort. It's as if we are meant to spend our lives moving towards something, but we never actually get there until we die.

On a side note, I'm worried I may be heading for a crash sometime in the near future. My life has been in a state of emotional numbness for awhile now, and I'm starting to see the numbness cracking at the seems. Hopefully some big change can come along and help me avoid this crash, but it's unlikely. The change never comes. Even now all hope is gone, and what semblance of motivation and ambition I had is slowly waning. Where I felt nothing before, I now feel the lack of hope inside. I feel like a vacuous hole, and vacuums are always filled by something. I'm sorry