George’s Tree

Photo: Jenny Bristol

Photo: Jenny Bristol

Today I got to see some of George’s family. His sister and her family were here visiting George’s mom. Jenny and I swung over to say hi before they left town again, and to see the new addition. George’s mom and step-dad had a beautiful Sycamore planted in his honor on their terrace. (Pictured above)

This culminated in us all standing around a beautiful (if late-seasoned) sycamore tree, with tears in more than one set of eyes. In the end, grandkids and crew were being swept up the path to the house, and I found myself saying, “excuse me, but I’m going to be silly for a moment.”

I then tried to hug a sapling. It didn’t go so well, at first, because the trunk is about 2 inches across. I ended up with my arms stuck through branches, and my head poked in through the most convenient gap. I felt very silly indeed as I felt some not-quite tears fill up my eyes. It felt good, though. Really good.

I came home and celebrated life with a friend (whose birthday is Thanksgiving Day), and played D&D until the kids called it off for the night. It was nice. In the growing quiet, I found myself sitting alone in the living room, half-heartedly playing Spider Solitaire, quietly crying.

I miss my friend. I miss seeing him every week, and I miss talking to him. And partly, I miss having another person I could trust completely. Life can be hard when you carry too much alone. Thankfully, I have a wonderful wife. I don’t carry anything alone, not really, not anymore. But it was nice to be there for George, and for him to be there for me. His friendship made life feel a little bit bigger, somehow.

Now, it’s smaller, but that’s okay. I met a beautiful shade tree today, and I remembered that life goes on.

Un-press My Depression [The Computer Analogy]

No Easy Button

Today, I feel the weight of Depression holding me down. My vision, typing speed, communication skills, and focus are all diminished. My emotions sit in a pile in front of me, and are like a bizarre abstract sculpture, disorganized and baffling. But more than anything, I feel like I’m in Sleep Mode.

You know the drill. You don’t want to shut down your computer, so you don’t lose your work. You also don’t want to pay for the power and bandwidth used by a computer running all day. So you put it to sleep. That’s where I am today.

I’m still plugged in. I still have a place to be. I’ve got power, and can access all my software. I’ve got processing power, and all my hardware is perfectly functional. But, for some reason, I’m unable to do my stuff. There is this undefined filter between me and my world. I’m connected to my router properly, and I can access the internet, except that I can’t.

Just as a computer is perfectly useful before and after sleep mode, I am in great shape when I’m not depressed. But that button is pressed. I’m down, but not out. I’m on, but not up. I’m in this limbo where I can’t do my job because something is there, keeping me from loading my drivers and sending my packets.

If your friendly neighborhood IT guy (or doctor) were to check things over, they’d say everything works fine. All the tests in the world will say there’s nothing wrong, except that nothing is happening. Thankfully, a computer can be woken up with a click of a mouse, or stoke of a key.

Unfortunately, there’s no equivalent for Depression. No way to un-press the button. No “wake up” protocol. At some point, I’ll wake up. But I won’t know when, and I won’t know when that button will be de-pressed again. All I can do is run when I can, and rest when I can’t run. It’s that simple.

Sometimes the Sun is Bad for Depression

Bad Sun

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been busy with work, but mostly, I’ve been too depressed to care. I’ve been using my energy on what matters in the end: My wife and kids. Yesterday, we drove around a little more than usual, and I had to fight a losing battle: staying awake while the sun was shining on me.

You see, for most people (often including myself), the sun can help depression significantly. The light, warmth, and natural light add up to be a wonderful boost to mood and energy. Unfortunately, the sun can have another, stronger effect when I’m exposed too long. The heat and light drain my energy. My eyes are sensitive to the harsh Arizona sun, and my body thinks the only answer is the make me close my eyes. The longer my eyes are closed, the sleepier I get. On the other hand, the longer my eyes are open, the harder it is to keep them open. It’s a vicious trap.

When I wake up, I’m groggy and it takes several minutes to regain my status as a human being. My energy is gone, sapped by the light and heat. I’m a pile of noodles, which sucks. Thankfully, this isn’t a problem when I’m driving, because my body is really good at fight/flight/freeze management. But it can make me a terrible passenger, and goober up my mood. Bleh.

Thankfully, I have an understanding family, and the ability to pretend to be a human being, even when I feel like Chewbacca. Thank God for coping skills.

I Love You, Andre.

For many of us, it is hard to love ourselves because we feel unloved, unwanted. Indeed, I believe self-love is the most challenging task a person can be given. But you’re worth it. I’m worth it. We are both worth it. You are amazing, that is all. Enjoy this clip, it’s beautiful.

Letter From the Jailer #4—You Aren’t Creative

I'm not that nice.

I’m not that nice.

In a sluggish progression, your creativity drains away. No muse, no love, no inspiration. Writing, creating, building, making, nothing is there for you. Find meaning in trivial tasks. Obsess over nonsense.

Passion is nonsense, and trust is a weakness. Open yourself to pain and ridicule; you deserve it. the loss of your drive is a natural consequence of your sloth.

There is work to be done, but why bother? Work makes you money so you can eat and sleep and wake up and work. Life is a donut on a string hanging from a pole on your head. You’ll never reach it, never embody it.

You’re alone, friendless. Those who love you do so from a distance. Those who hate you keep it to themselves, so you’ll never know who they are. Judgment and ridicule are the sum and total of your docket for entertainment.

Go. Try to create. Embrace yourself, and love yourself through it all. It’s all pointless. You’re still under the wet blanket of failure, behind the bars of despair.

Ignore me as long as you can. You’re not going anywhere, and neither am I.


As ever, Letters from the Jailer are a summary of the things my brain tells me. Thankfully, they don’t often translate into real-world problems. Thank God. But yeah, my brain is really good at hating me.

You Can Get Ready for Christmas Now

halloween is over

Thanks to the miracle of time, the harvest festivals are over, and the witches’ hats are hung. A chill is in the air (we had our first freeze last night to celebrate), and winter is well on its way. Now that Halloween is over, you officially have my permission to celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the Solstice, or all of the above.

I’m getting ready, too! We’re learning new Christmas carols, I recently made a new stocking, and making plans for Christmas, because it’s after Halloween, and it’s now time for these shenanigans. As ever, we had a blast on Halloween, supporting our kids as they quest for treasure. We picked up a kid-friend, went out to eat, and then let them loose on a local neighborhood. And by “set loose”, I mean that I became a cruise director for the evening, jovially pointing out all the houses they are missing, and making sure they don’t eat any glass. You know, normal parent stuff.

We then had a sleepover, and I’ll be making egg-nog waffles for breakfast. Because it’s holiday time, folks. Huzzah!

Mental Illness is Not a Halloween Costume

Damn. Don’t you think she’d have made a killer Cruela Dent? Or a nasty Bellatrix Lestrange?

This isn’t cute. It’s not funny, creative or original. It’s a cruel jab at a part of the population dealing with serious issues. Seriously, someone give this woman a prize for awesome make-up, and encourage her to find an appropriate costume.

Oh, and here's how she dressed her kids. 'Cause why not?

Oh, and here’s how she dressed her kids. ‘Cause why not?

Do anything else. Those kids would have been great zombies or something, you know, actually scary.

I don’t want to go off for hours on this, but I could. It’s just too damned exhausting, and I have work to do. Please teach your children about the difference between the criminal and the insane. There really is a very small crossover there.