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

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Seeing out, Seeing in

Perspective is an interesting thing. Suppose a friend of mine and I were struggling from two very similar problems, each dressed up in different scenarios, making the similarities less than transparent. Each problem can be solved with a similar solution, as the problems themselves are similar. My friend asks me for advice with the problem. As I listen, and think about my friend's problem, a solution will easily pop into my head. I will offer my sound advice, my friend will thank me, take my advice, and be happy with the way the situation worked out. So what do I do? I sit down and continue grinding my mental gears, completely unable to come up with a solution to my problem.

I just gave my friend the solution to my problem, but I can't accept it. I know of a solution that worked, but I still can't bring myself to take my own advice. I just can't see the connection between what I'm going through and what they are experiencing.

It's so easy to objectively see what other people are going through, and provide reasonable and sound advice. When we are standing on the outside looking in, it's as we can see the whole situation at once without any emotional attachments or feelings, and it seems it becomes much easier to provide an objective, logical solution. An acquaintance of mine, a girl, was in a poor relationship. Her boyfriend was too attached, emotionally abusive, and insecure. I knew she needed to end the relationship, and I said this to her. Another acquaintance of mine, a guy, was in a poor relationship. He knew he couldn't provide the love and support he needed to provide in order to treat his girlfriend the way she deserved to be treated. I politely advised him to end the relationship. Both friends admitted months after the fact that I had given them good advice. I was in a poor relationship. I was emotionally detached and dead inside (this was back when things started going down hill about six years ago or so). I had no idea what to do.

It's easy to objectively see other people's problems coming from an outside perspective. When the problems are our own, when we are on the inside looking out, suddenly the answers are not so clear, the objectivity disappears, and what was a situation we should know how to deal with now becomes a murky conundrum filled with variables and gray areas where there is no clear solution. What you feel and what you know aren't always the same (in my case they are almost never the same).

Someone doesn't necessarily have to be "smarter" than you to give you good advice on how to handle situations in your own life. Many times all it takes is a different perspective. Considering that, what's more is sometimes it helps just to have someone tell us what to do, even if we already knew exactly what we needed to do in the first place.

What's ironic is I'm terrible at asking for advice; I'm too independent, too proud, and unwilling to divulge my problems. This almost feels like a letter to me advising myself on how I need to be willing to ask others for help sometimes. It does not feel like anyone can help me, yet when the tables are turned I know I can help others - and I know I'm not brilliant, I'm just a different perspective.

Friday, August 7, 2009


It's frustrating; perhaps one of the most loathsome questions someone can ask me (and in my opinion ask anybody) is, "What's with you?". If it's a sunny day, and I just want to run around outside, if I have energy and I'm in a half decent mood (a fairly uncommon event) and it's showing, one simple way to ensure I stop feeling good is to ask me, "What's with you?". For me, it is as if the person asked me, "Why are you acting weird? Why don't you just go back to being yourself?"

At that point, I won't lose the energy, but I will lose the sense of freedom I had just been experiencing, and that combination only leaves room for active anger.

The problem here is it feels like no one wants you to be anything except the person they believe you to be; if you are not matching the profile they have constructed of you in their minds, there's a problem, and that is a problem. I understand people being upset with a man who is known for being gentle and calm then suddenly demonstrates violent behavior. I have no qualms with that. The problem is how difficult this pigeonholing effect makes it to change your behavior for the better.

I don't like the person I am. Every day I want to be someone else. Now, even though I make attempts to be something different, something better, playing 21 questions every time I do something out of character does not help. The fact that the people grilling me have no idea who I am does not make the situation any better. The fact of the matter is, I am not the person they've built me up to be, however their is a facade I've found easy to maintain. Neither the person I am, nor the person I pretend to be is someone I want to be. Many actors mix part of their own person in with the character they play; I do this as well, hence me pretending to be someone I don't want to be.

I'm getting off track; the point is this: let people do what they want to do and be who they want to be. Questioning the motives behind good behavior hardly facilitates positive change. If anything, the questions corrupt it. When someone starts applying themselves at school or at work, don't ask them, "since when were you so ambitious?" If you see someone start volunteering at a soup kitchen, don't ask them, "since when did you care about other people?" They don't need to be reminded they are changing, they already know. It's not unreasonable to be self-conscious about it. I feel in many situations, if the person changing were to respond honestly, he or she would say something along the lines of, "I don't like the person I am, and I'm trying to change it." That's not a message everyone wants to preach to the world.

As for being on the receiving end, now I usually just respond with a quizzical look and tell the person, "This is just what I want to do. What's it to you anyways?" At this point they'll usually get slightly offended, believing me to be disproportionately mad at their seemingly innocent inquiry, and walk away. Granted I may be angrier than the situation justifies, but I really do hate that question and the discouraging, reproving society it represents.

PS: I'm not saying people actively discourage each other from change, but we hardly promote it as much as we ought to.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Act I, Scene III

"Life's a stage." I feel I live that phrase. My life is an act, a show. I try so hard not to care what people think of me, yet I live my life ensuring they don't know the real me. My performance is good, though it is not perfect. Those closest too me know there's something different about me, but no one is able to put their finger on it. Most people are unaware of my issues. I'm able to cover them up. Even my social ineptitude I'm able to cover up by feigning a strong presence, confidence, and interest in others. Few people, if any, would look at my interactions with people and say I lack social skills though much of what I do has been researched, studied, and is based on imitating behavior I see in others. None of it is real.

Now, looking at the true me, the facts become clear. I have no true friends, only social acquaintances, and they are all "group based". When I spend time with people, it is only within a group which I have managed to attach myself to, however there exist no personal connections within any of these social groups. I have been single since I was a freshman in high school (before I began to lose my sense of self). Place me in a room full of people and I will sit silently until it becomes absolutely necessary to talk with someone, and then on the other side of the coin, force me to spend time with someone, even a "friend" (as opposed to an enemy), hours on end for months on end, and I will still feel no personal bond or connection between us. Quite simply, I am incapable of being true friends with anyone.

(My phone just rang... it was a wrong number)

I'm blaming it on my inability to be a genuine person, and of course the paradox is if I was truly genuine I would not even be able to retain acquaintances. I've been nick named the "Lone Wolf" by those who know me because they see I don't keep anyone's company. They see I will sit in a room, alone, for hours and they interpret that as me not needing company, because they believe if I wanted company, I would make company; someone with my self-confidence and sense of humor has no problem talking to people and making friends, right? The truth is I sit in my room alone because I don't know what else to do, talking to people is a chore, and I don't even know what it feels like anymore to be someone's "friend".

I used to have lots of friends, real friends, people who's company I actually enjoyed; I didn't just spend time with them to keep up appearances. Then I changed and I stopped making friends, I forgot how, and the friends I had began slowly drifting away.

The tragedy isn't that I "have no friends". No one would say that. The tragedy is that at some point I lost a big part of me that made me human. Now I'm trying to figure out what it was, and I'm trying to figure out how to get it back. Until then however, it's back to the act.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Strange encouragement

I've been in an odd state of mind lately. I can't really feel anything at all. It's as if my mind is taking emotional pain killers. It's a relief from stress and anxiety, but it's also just empty. I'm in a state of mental purgatory. It's not really good or bad... It's just nothing.

I spent a large portion of tonight reading other people's blogs. I teared up while reading the blog of an abuse victim. It has been six months since I shed a tear, and that was after a mild rage attack (I was angry at myself, I'm very good about not getting angry with others). I read her story and my heart broke. What was odd however, was after reading through her anguish and torment, knowing that she was still here, able to articulate her pain and express it on the internet was actually inspirational.

My problems did not seem so insurmountable after that. My insecurities, my inability to function properly in social settings, my incapacity to experience joy or happiness, my self-loathing and sincere hatred of my life, my constant stress and anxiety, my utter and absolute failure to become the person I have spent the last 20+ years trying to become, my hopelessly permanent loneliness, the constant aura of misery eroding my mental and emotional being that never seems to go away, these things all seemed to pale in comparison to the atrocities some people are forced to endure.

My life certainly has not been a fairy tale, but at the same time I have never been raped, molested, or abused. I would say the absence of joy and goodness seems preferable to the presence of evil and terror. It seems better to fail to be human than to be crushed by humanity. If it's possible for them to live after the hardships they've endured, certainly there is a future for me.

My readings have also called to mind the possibilities opened by our sufferings. Suffering is never a blessing, however the growth that comes from our sufferings may certainly be used to bless others going experiencing what we have already experienced. In this way, it almost seems necessary for someone to suffer, that they might help someone else. Truth be told, I would not trade all my suffering in for a normal, happy life if my experience can be used to help someone else.

For those of you who read the Bible, the verse Hebrews 2:18 came to mind.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


It seems humans were designed to improve what was given to them. Give a human a block of wood and it will be carved into shape or figure. Give a human a patch of dirt and it will be made into a garden. It's something humans do very well. What we don't do is create, and what we don't aspire for is destruction. In the technical sense, everything a man does is an improvement, not a creation. At best, the improvement will be a manifestation of an idea, but the improvement itself will still only be a modification of provided tools. Painters paint on paper, with oils. We do not create from nothing. To an important degree, a builder is only as good as the tools being used. Great men do much with little. Weak men do nothing with much. There is no blame for the man who was given nothing and produced nothing.

A person can partially measure himself/herself not by what has been created, but what he/she has done with what he/she has been given. What's hard for me is to see how little I've done, while it seems I've been given so much. We wonder why suicide rates are higher in America than in some poverty stricken countries. I'm sure it partially has to do with Maslow's hierarchy of needs and failing to meet key aspects. I think another part of it is that they've been given so little, they aren't disappointed when they struggle to bring home food, they are too proud when they finally acquire food to worry about how easy it is for us. However, maybe Americans (I am particularly guilty of this) see how easy everything is for us to get, and when we see how little we've done with our opportunity it leads us to feel like failures. This is just a thought.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 28... is not about me.

July 28 is the date of my birthday. You probably noticed that July 28 is also today's date. When I was a child, birthdays were big celebrations where I had all my family and "friends" (so everyone I knew) over and there was a big party with cake, presents, and events. Now there's no cake, there's no party, and today there won't even be any friends, because the closest one lives about an hour away. There won't even be any family, because my closest family member lives 7 hours away. This year there will be only a drink at a bar, sitting alone, toasting myself to getting through one more year.

Here's the thing, in every situation an individual can either find something good or something bad. Being who I am, I naturally see everything what's wrong with the situation. One of the things I do that has allowed me to make it through to another birthday is forcing myself to see what's good, even in a bad situation. I may not feel it, I may not naturally notice it, but if I force myself, I can always find something. I don't enjoy doing this. I never want to do this. Sometimes I despise doing it, but I force myself to because I KNOW it helps me retain my sanity. It's not what I feel, but what I know to be true that sustains me.

Here is the good, the positive, the reason to keep on that I have found today, in the bleakness of my birthday:
I have driven hours to visit friends on their birthdays. I have rallied up groups to take kids out on their birthdays. At the very least, I have always at least forced a person out of the house, and celebrated with a drink or meal as a reminder to them that it was his or her birthday. These things are difficult for me to do (I'm not naturally the most energetic person in the world, and I almost always spend the whole time pretending to be in a good mood), but I do them because I know everyone appreciates being appreciated. So here I am, on my birthday, with no one else around, and no one is coming. After celebrating so many birthdays, it's easy to get down when no one comes for yours, but there is an upside. This event does remind me of one of life's truths that has helped me make it this far: It's not about me.

When my life revolves around me I notice my misery snowballs out of control. Sadness begets sadness. When I can only focus on myself, all I see is sadness and anger, and that does nothing more than fill me with a dark, frustrated rage. However, (this is what my birthday has reminded me) when I focus on other people it has a two pronged effect. First, it takes my eyes off of myself, and the rage that is born from seeing my hopeless struggles is transformed into empathy for others. Second, helping others gives me a reason to be. I don't care about myself. In fact, sometimes I hate myself for who I am and what I've allowed myself to become, but I do care about other people. I am not a reason for me to keep going, but other people can be. Sometimes, on the worst of days, the only thing keeping me going is knowing somewhere out there is some person that I might be able to help, and without me they may never see that help, even if it is as small as taking them out for their birthday. I may not feel these things, but I do know them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Suppression: A Ticking Time Bomb or a Strong Defense?

I've been accused of repressing my emotion, bottling it up. I've been told I should express my true emotions, if not to the whole world, at least to a close friend (the cynic in me wonders if these people telling me this wish to be "the close friend" I choose to disclose my emotions to, if only to satisfy their curiosity and develop a deeper understanding of me; it is a paranoid thought, I know, but it is at least grounded in personal experiences from the past).

These people will ask, "Are you TRULY happy?" To be honest, I can't remember the last time I could honestly answer "yes" to that question, however, saying "no" merits at least a thirty minute conversation with someone about one of my problems which they can do nothing about. Is it really such a bad thing to say no? Is it my responsibility to myself and my emotional stability to answer "yes", and pour out my heart? I feel like it's not.

What's more, having such discussions only reminds me I'm not the person I wish I was. I am blessed in that I am not always consciously aware of my misery. It is similar to physical pain. A broken leg will cause a consistent, dull pain, all the time. It is possible for the owner of such a leg to take his mind off of that pain through other activities (or other forms of pain). Asking him how his leg feels makes him focus on the pain again. Trying to use the leg will amplify the levels pain he is feeling by several orders of magnitude. In the same way, when someone asks me how I'm feeling (on a good day), it reminds me of the constant, never ending, dull misery that is always around me. However, having a conversation about my emotions and trying to work through them is about as pleasant as walking on a broken leg. It only aggravates the injury, and I will continue to feel the effects from the freshly opened wounds for several days.

Can I exist in the superficial? Can I survive on ignorant happiness? Is it not better to let sleeping dogs lie?

If I've found one thing to work, and another to fail; it seems reasonable then to go with what works. Choosing the lesser of two evils is never ideal; however, neither is life. Suppressing emotion is not the answer, I know this, but at the same time, what's the point of poking a bruise if it only reminds you that it still hurts?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No Medications

It's been about six years now that I've been "different". Not every day is unbearable, but happy days are few and far between. I had hoped when I left for college that I had outgrown depression, but now, years later, it does not seem to be going anywhere. Some days, the mere hopelessness of the situation can be overwhelming. However, I have made the decision not to take medication.

In high school, I figured I could push through depression to the other side and get to happier days, and so there was no need to start medication. Now is different. Now I'm beginning to see there may not be another side to this. It might never completely end. So why am I not taking medication? There are multiple reasons, but one in particular is that I don't want to spend what could potentially be the rest of my life dependent on a drug. I want to beat this myself.

I know I've been dealt a shit hand. Feeling emotionally numb is not a good thing, yet I welcome it; feeling nothing is better than misery. I know I have to do something. However, I don't want that "something" to be relying on drugs to balance my moods, and, as time moves forward, I've noticed I'm slowly learning how to deal with this on my own. Grueling exercise (within reason), a healthy diet and vitamins (particularly vitamin B), studying my problems (I'm minoring in psychology), constant human interaction, forcing myself out of the house (even if there's nowhere to go). All these things help me suppress the constant misery surrounding me. I might never beat it, but I just might be able to live with it. Some might say suppressing misery is bad, but I'll save that for another post.

The down side to this is that I'm now more susceptible to using and abusing illegal drugs, the constant stress and anxiety that come from a life of depression is hard on my heart, and then there's always the depression itself constantly sitting on my shoulders with its icy fingers wrapped around my heart. This is my life...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A First Time for Everything

Everyone has to start somewhere. I'm starting here. If I've learned nothing else in life, I've found one of the most important skills for a person to have is to be able to remain steadfast in his/her endeavors in the face of difficulty and failure. I have tried many times to come to grips with my current situation, my depression, my anger, my hopelessness; though I have failed before, I have hope in my ability to rise from my failures and try again. This is what sustains me.

Though we may not always succeed in our efforts, we haven't lost until we lose the will to try. We can only lose when we allow ourselves to lose. This is the one thing in my life I do have control over.