Category Archives: Depression

The Denial Dial.

It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This week sucks, traditionally. The days are short, the air is cold, I’m often feeling less than healthy, and the blues ensue. Always, always, always. Why would this year be any different?

In some ways it’s worse. We’ll be saying goodbye to the best president I’ve known in my lifetime and ushering in the era of Trump. God DAMN it. That is just wrong. Every time I think of it, my mind starts to desperately backpedal. I’m looking for the UNDO button, and when I can’t find it and don’t want to linger on my despair, I instead hold the DENIAL dial in place. It produces a soft shhhh noise. Sometimes I have to put it on high, but it is never off. Maybe that’s unhealthy.

SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Reality is unsettling. I’m on the verge of possibly (probably?) being laid off, which is equal parts terrifying and exciting. It’s long overdue and forces me into action. I can’t stay in this apartment in Somerville without a regular paycheck – that is for certain. So, once I hear about the job officially, I’ll move in with Max in Providence. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to do that.

So. I’ll have a warm, safe place to live with someone I love. I’ll have an opportunity to throw myself into writing, to finish some big projects, to start some new ones. Maybe I’ll make it happen this year.

Or maybe I am about to fail at life, epically, and maybe I will never-

-SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

It’s Winter in Boston. Time to Crack UP.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 1.20.36 AMThat special time is here! Bring on the Netflix and red wine! It’s time for the cold and snow of winter to finally push me to my breaking point.

The end of my driveway is marked on either side by an 8-foot hill of frozen, dirty snow that extends 7 feet into the road. The driveway mounds are massive. There could be people in there, in all honesty. In order to get out of my driveway, I need to maneuver carefully around those monsters with a 12-point white-knuckled blind turn.

What is the rational response to this frigid claustrophobia? I don’t know, but my irrational response is impotent rage. I’ve kept it under wraps so far, but my inner monologue goes like this: “Ngahhh! Beep-beep! Whores!! Hatehatehate!”

I want you to find a recent weather map. Got it? Ok – Is it just me or does some angry god have a vendetta against the Boston area? It just keeps coming, and every storm is aimed at us. Also note that we have a charming historic transit system that breaks down in the cold, just like it did in 1897. History comes to life!

There is nowhere to put this snow. Nowhere. This much is clear. You can shovel snow and throw it on top of the nearest snow mound, only to have it roll off the mound and back down to your feet, as if to mock you. I waved to my elderly neighbor yesterday as he essentially poked weakly at the end of his own 8-foot driveway mound with a shovel. I felt sad for him. For all of us.

It’s cold. It’s going to get colder, somehow. And the weather people show open disdain for commoners like me . I read headlines like “Think It’s Cold? Just Wait ‘Til You See What We Have in Store For the Weekend!” Fuck you, cheerful weather man. Right in the eye. Right. In. The. Eye.

Also, I’m trying to write a screenplay that tells the story of a depressed, recently divorced woman and her miserable winter in Boston. It’s a dark comedy. Write what you know, they say.

I apologize for the rant. And for the weirdness. I stand by the weather man thing, though.

The Murderous, Boring, Beige Moods Of January

I want to say something about the bleak days of January. But damn it, that’s a hard thing to do when all you want to do is lie on your couch in a fleece space suit watching Investigation Discovery and tossing Trader Joes’ Cheese puffs into your food hole.

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Winter Solstice: Celebrate Another Year of Not Going Postal (Yet)

It’s the day after the winter solstice, which — if you’re anything like me —traditionally represents the height of your winter madness and the rock-bottom of your deeply-dug “I-Hate-People” hole.

But I feel pretty ok. And it’s not because something particularly glittery or exciting has occurred in my life. Life keeps pooping along like it always does. And I’m not feeling joyous or running through the streets of Boston throwing tinsel and anything that can be tinseled. I’m still anti-tinsel. It’s not holiday mania, in other words. But I feel ok, and that is kind of remarkable.

For the last few years, I have faked my way through the holidays like a champ. I was still working on getting myself settled and divorced and yes, probably hoping that by the next Christmas my cup would run over with joy. And now I’m here. My cup runneth over with “just ok.” Or maybe my cup just runneth not with misery. My cup is legitimately fine, thank you.

Enough about my cup.

This perfect little illustration describes how I feel right now (Not mine, but borrowed from Hyperbole and a Half — a wonderful blog that I can’t recommend enough).

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I’m feeling empowered by my state in life. Which is weird because I don’t have a lot of the stuff I’m “supposed” to have locked in. (relationship, mortgage, kids, clear sense of exactly what the rest of my life will look like, an unbroken door handle on my car, etc.) I feel like I either:

A. Accidentally stumbled upon the secret to happiness, which is to fail at life and figure out what you want.; or

B. Hit my head and am in a drug-induced coma, so none of this is actually real.

Either way, I’m just going with it. Next week, life will probably kick my ass just for being so damned cocky.

How are you all? Doing ok? 

This Train Has Jumped Its Track

dynamiteI’ve never been a great planner. No that’s not entirely true. I did plan one hell of a great wedding. After 2 years of planning, my wedding day went off beautifully, and without a hitch. Tah-DAH!! And then things fell apart. We both went to grad school, bought a house, money got tight, we disagreed about what to do with our future, he had an affair and problems with drugs and alcohol that I could not plan my way out of. I did try for a couple of years. But I finally had to conclude that I could not control everything, and I certainly could not control the actions of a person who seemed determined to self-destruct. I had to light a stick of dynamite under my plans and run.

I’m glad I ran. It was absolutely the right choice.

Even before everything in my marriage fell apart so spectacularly, I already felt as if I were marching forward mindlessly according to someone else’s plan. Whose plan? I don’t know. My ex-husband’s? Our family’s plan? Society’s plan? Married life for me was simultaneously surface-comfy yet terrifying, like a hug that from a reformed convict that continues for 2 beats longer than it should. I felt “on track,” and that was satisfying. I had checked off most of my shoulds, including college, job, marriage, mortgage, grad school. The whole world shouts “hooray” for the person who is on track. We love a track. Here comes the Predictable Safe Life Train! Choo-choo!

But, at the same time, the whole thing felt surreal. Like I was acting out a part in a children’s show. Absurdly wide smiles and choreography, and everything dumbed down. “Heyyy, Kids!! Let’s play with matches and LSD in this abandoned refrigerator!! Wheee!!”

When you fit into a comfortable, vanilla, predictable story — when you are “on track” — the world assumes all is well and smiles upon you. You make people comfortable by fitting in. You realize that making everyone comfortable is your job — and you do your job. You put on your uniform and smile for the camera. You bury your dreams if they aren’t Pinterest-ready. Your job is to shut up and be grateful for the nightmare wrapped in shiny paper.

Leaving my marriage put me off track. It was scary and interesting and weird. I could sense a discomfort from others that wasn’t there when my life was going according to plan. I went off-plan. Derailed. I blew up the happy narrative.

So, now I’m at a new crossroads. I work a day job that may no longer be a good match for me, though I don’t dislike the company or the people I work with. The job description has changed, and I have not. Or maybe I have. I’m feeling less comfortable in the corporate environment than I did a couple of years ago. Shifts in management have changed the landscape significantly, and I just do not fit in there now. I was always a little bit of an oddball in the office. Now I am just an anomaly. I do not belong.

It’s no one’s fault. I am this. They are that.

I’ve felt this before: this disconnected feeling — this need to be out of the confines of a school building or an office. It’s uncomfortable, and potentially self-destructive, because surely my days are numbered. It’s just a matter of how I want to handle it. Do I take a leap and leave of my own accord? And to where? Another corporate job sounds like a terrible trap, and I’d like to avoid it if I can. But I live in a world of commerce, alas. I need things like shelter and protein and coffee and wine.

This is your Life. This is it. How do you want to remember it? Do you want to regret not taking a chance? What does that chance look like? What do I want, exactly? How do I want to get there? What do I need to do it? Do I need a day job? Do I need this day job? What am I afraid of? (Failure. Poverty. The perception of others. Making the wrong choice and regretting it.)

Interesting. It mirrors the thought process that kept me in the marriage for so long, up to a point. I remember feeling desperately afraid of taking the wrong path and regretting it. I was afraid of what people would think of me. I was held back by the comfort of “the devil you know,” because the alternative seemed so unclear, so scary. And I stayed on the safe path, despite hating myself for it. Until finally I decided that I would rather take the leap than live a lie.

I’m afraid of my own mind. What if this is madness? What if this is the story that I tell myself while in caught in a temporary down cycle, and I later come out of it –filled with regret?

What if the fear and the lack of funds and the depression keep me from being productive with anything? What if I’m back to the state of mind I had in high school, in my marriage, in my last job? What if being on track is the key to everything, and I’m just a rambling, bumbling idiot with nothing to say — and I only realize that AFTER I throw myself off the track?

Let’s put that all aside for a moment. What do I want?

I want to write. I want to get off track in my own good, semi-controlled way. I want to be caught up in my work. I want to wake up each day excited to get back to work.

I want to collaborate with other creative people in a supportive environment. I want to be in a position in which I feel I have something to contribute. I want to help people achieve their goals and feel good when they succeed. I want to be at peace with my life as it is, and not feel the need to defend it.

Whatever track I’m on, I want to know that it is my track, and not some ancient trail that has been laid out for me. The new trail is difficult, it may lead me off a cliff, but at least it is my own.

offtrack

Ok, I will stop talking about tracks, now.

 

 

 

And when she was bad, she was HORRID

horrid

When I was about five years old, I had a book of illustrated nursery rhymes. A favorite was The Girl with the Curl :

There once was a girl, who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good, she was very, very good.

And when she was bad — she was horrid.

Imagine that rhyme read by a child in a creepy sing-song whisper. Gives me chills as an adult.

But at five I found that word — Horrid — fascinating for some reason. I think in part because I was unsure how it should rhyme with “forehead” in the rhyme. But also because it had a delicious mouthfeel, a sort of woody British caramel of a word. Horrid. Horrid. Oh, that’s simply horrid. Horrid.

Here’s where my actions become less clear to me.  I made the decision to pick up a black ball-point pen and write the word “Horrid” on my pillow. This was a one-time event. The only thing I have ever written on a pillow was the word horrid. Maybe I wanted to look at the word each day when I went to bed? I don’t know. All I know is that when you scrawl a word on a pillow with a ball-point pen in a child’s handwriting, the result is terrifying, especially if the word is Horrid.

My parents must have been secretly petrified of me.

The End of My Mind Comes Not With a Bang, But a Bad Pun.

I think maybe I have had all of the ideas that I will ever have about anything. I’m fried. The cold is getting into my brain, and I’ve become stupid. I drew this doodle in my sketchbook. Change is a foot. Get it? (I know. I feel bad about it, too.)

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Sigh. I really hope this mental cold front passes.

Tuesday was a Carnival of Suck, and It’s My Fault For Getting Out of Bed

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Misstep #1: Waking up

I wanna shoot the whole day down. It just got off on the wrong foot, and then it stumbled awkwardly on that wrong foot from hour to hour like a drunk in an old-timey picture show.

First, I woke up in a crap mood. I had a dream that was vaguely boring and vaguely annoying that left me feeling equal parts bored and annoyed when I woke up.

It was cloudy outside. My pajamas felt all twisty. I could have used another hour of sleep. I was thirsty for juice, and I had no juice. What smells like onion? Everything was wrong, but it was just a bunch of inconsequential little things.

It had been foretold. Even my horoscope has been warning me to just sit this month out. Mercury is retrograde and something about eclipses forming a kind of Bermuda Triangle of unremitting badness and blah blah blah. Basically, I need to lay low until everything is done eclipsing.

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My actual horoscope.

But I don’t believe in astrology. I believe in science. So I said “to hell with this,” took a hot shower, put on a black dress and my black knee-high boots, pulled my hair back in a pony-tail and started my day like a champ.

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Ready(ish) to face the day.

Things begin to fall apart. I got in my car and noticed I was low on gas. No problem, I thought. I’ve got this. I pulled into the Hess station and filled the tank. Paid with my debit card. While I was filling the tank, I put the debit card on the trunk of my car. I distinctly remember thinking “Don’t forget the debit card. Boy would it suck to lose your debit card. Ha ha.” (We all know where this is story is headed at this point, right?)

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I got back into my car and drove in to my office. Found a space – filled the older meter with quarters. No problem! Attended a couple of meetings, got some work done, and headed back out to move my car when the 2-hour meter was up. Found a new space, parked, pulled out my wallet to pay the meter with my debit card and…IT WAS GONE OH MY GOD, YOU NEVER EXPECTED THAT, DID YOU?

I searched my car. I searched my jacket pocket. I went through every card in my wallet multiple times. I looked in every likely and unlikely place for the debit card. I knew on some level that it was gone forever — that the triangle of celestial doom had cast it’s evil hoo-doo on my debit card as punishment for my hubris.

Every stranger that passed me on Boylston Street seemed to be laughing at my woe like a Greek chorus. Taunting me.

The wind. It’s important to note that it was a particularly windy day in Copley Square. Back Bay tends to be windier than other areas of town, so on a gusty day, you can find yourself walking into the wind at a 45-degree angle, screaming — but producing no audible sound.

When I finally accepted that the debit card was gone, I fished out some quarters, fed the meter, got my little meter-sticky to attach to the inside of my driver’s side window. Just when I was affixing the meter sticky to the window, a great gust blew up from under my legs, sending my dress up, up, up and into my face, exposing my undercarriage while I struggled to hold onto the very important sticker (bought with the last of my available funds).

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The universe conspired to make this happen.

I don’t understand why Marilyn Monroe seemed to enjoy the gusty up-skirt experience. I guess she didn’t have the meter to contend with, or the astrological admonitions. All I know is that I did not look or feel glamorous in any way. I hope to Christ nobody caught it on camera.

Minutes later, a plastic shopping bag came flying toward my face as I crossed Copley Square to go to my bank. I punched it away with the grim resignation of a hardened soldier.

Kicking My Own Dopey Ass Off a Cliff (In a Good Way)

I attended a talk earlier this week – a dialog between a Buddhist shastri and a Unitarian Universalist minister. The talk itself was funny and lovely and interesting. They touched on their personal takes on human nature, spiritualism, and community and ended with the reading of the Mary Oliver poem “The Summer Day.” The poem ends with a question, which we were asked to ponder:

 What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?winding-path

It’s interesting how this question was raised for me right now, given my state of mind. I’m feeling a lack of motivation that I need to overcome. I need to need something. Maybe that something is not love. Maybe it’s achievement. Maybe it’s creating a positive change in the world. But something. Something that starts a fire in my belly and puts a spring in my step.

I’m bored and unmotivated and I’ve been sort of passively awaiting inspiration. It could be that this is the wrong approach, that I should be acting despite my instincts, here. Fake it ‘til I make it, so to speak.

What’s more – come to think of it, I believe I am actively avoiding or ignoring inspiration. I was invited to join an advanced screenwriting class by a teacher who taught my last class in the spring. It’s been bothering me – this half-written thing. I’d really like to finish it. But for some reason, I am making excuses for ignoring his email. The class will cost money and funds are a little tight. I signed up for a comedy skit writing class that starts in mid-October. I’m in a weekly discussion group that requires reading. I’ve committed to some volunteer work at the meditation center I attend.

These are all good things. They are. I just need to locate my give-a-shit. I seem to have misplaced it. I am this little dopey bird, and I need to be booted off the cliff immediately:

I don’t want to be the dopey bird forever. So does that mean I should sign up for the screenwriting class, finish my screenplay, submit a cartoon to the New Yorker, jump headlong into work, revise some old essays and start submitting them, pay to set up my blog properly, buy some knee-high Doc Martens and just hold my breath and do it all? To hell with the expenses and never mind how many hours are actually in a day. Just fucking do the stuff that you want to do because honestly you do have the energy, you just need to get your ass into gear and find your get-up-and-go.

Just decide to kick ass at everything. All of the things. Enough of this sitting on my ass and hiding in plain sight. If I fail, at least I will fail spectacularly.