Tag Archives: Depression

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.

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She’s Done Chasing Happiness

Today, I have a treat for you. A darling girl (who I took to prom once, full disclosure) reached out to me, and asked if she could share something on Terminally Intelligent. I hope you enjoy Brittni’s stirring words as much as I did.

I am Still Fighting

I live my life in a fluid discontentment between anxious and depressed. My anxiety stays around a 7-8 on a 10-point scale (with very few spikes and valleys) until my body and my mind can’t handle it anymore. When this happens, everything shuts down, and I get really depressed.

I think when my anxiety is an 8, my depression is a 4. Even when I crash, my anxiety is still a 3, and my depression becomes a 9. The worst part is that I know it’s coming. It always happens this way. This means that in my brief moments of happiness, I still feel the looming of depression about to set in.

I’ve chased happiness for as long as I can remember. I played softball. I thought winning would make me happy. I tried to impress my parents, thinking that would bring me happiness. I was the first in my family to go to (and graduate from) college. That brought some happiness to my parents, but not a lot to me. I found a man I love. At this point, I have to distinguish that while I am happy with him, I am not truly happy. We moved across the country, and while he did this for work, I thought this would be just the transition I needed to finally find ‘it’. Guess what. In New England, the days are short, the winter is long, and this southern girl hates the cold.

I have a hard time making friends. Exercise isn’t something I enjoy. I don’t feel at home here. There is so much that I’m missing out on from so far away. These are the thoughts that come to me every single time I start to enjoy a fleeting moment. I forget that I am loved. I forget that I am brilliant. I forget that I have never set a goal that I did not reach.

An outsider looking in says, “You seem so determined, ambitious, and kind. I really thought that you were such a joy to be around. How could you be so sad?” My burden is so much to have to bear, I would hate to impose it on anyone else. I don’t ever want to bring anyone down. So, I “fake it till you make it.” That’s all I know. I open up to very few.

My first real “bout” of depression began when I was a senior in high school. I heard a preacher say, “You choose to be happy.” I went home and read Ephesians, and decided it was true. To this day, I have no idea how that book brought me so much peace. I’ve re-read it again and again, but the peace is gone.

There are things I’ve done to try to gain some sort of contentment. I lost a hundred pounds, then gained 30 back. I have a list of my “favorite things” (which includes The Sound of Music) that I reflect on when I stop seeing the positive side of things. I try to move, and go outside, even when I don’t feel like it. I make an effort to eat real, whole foods, because being Paleo Primal “will save your life.” I talk to my mom. I talk to my shrink. I write notes to myself to pick me up when I’m down. I am telling you right now, if you could choose to be happy, none of us would ever be sad.

I still have hope, and hopefully it’s enough. I’m trying this new thing out. I’m going to try to teach myself to be happy. Let me break that down into a more doable task. I am going to make an effort to combat every negative thought with a positive one. I may start off reusing the same positive thought over and over. I may need to start out small. Maybe one positive for every two negatives. The important thing is that I’m still trying. I may need to take breaks, and when I do, I know there are people there to help me through. I want to find happiness, but I’m not chasing it anymore. This time, it can meet me here. Right where I’m at.

I’m still fighting.

Summer Sadness, or Autumn Apathy?

Rory Bristol

Rory Bristol

Ah, Fall. Bright colors all over the world. Except here. I live in the desert. No pretty leaves for me. Also, shorter days, colder nights, and the dread ascension of the Christmas season. To say it shortly: Autumn beats me into submission for Winter. I find myself disconnecting slightly. I don’t want to be sad, so I disengage. I’ve been doing this for years. It gets dark before I eat dinner, so I feel like I wasted my day, despite many hours left in the evening. I feel my heart shrink up in its little parka, my emotions gladly packing up their bags to sun themselves in the warm world of denial.

Not this year. Not today, not tomorrow, not next week. Not this year. Continue reading

Writer’s Block and the Jailor

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

Some days, I sit down at my computer, see that blank page, and have no idea what is going on. It’s like walking into a room, walking back out, and walking back in, hoping that your brain will remember what the hell you were doing. Just like that, except with writing.

Most of the time, this isn’t a problem. I’m guessing that my hundreds of posts have shown you at least that much. The real problem is when I need to be writing a particular thing. Say, GeekDad and GeekMom. I have regular deadlines. I have to produce content on a schedule, or I lose my job.

But when it’s time to write about parenting and geeky awesomeness, I end up wanting to write my fiction. Other times, I will have scheduled time to work on my fiction, and I feel compelled to write about my shitty childhood. It’s like my brain thinks it’s funny to jerk me around.

It’s like planning your day around two cats and somebody else’s erratic toddler. No matter what you had planned, the situation is going to take over, and leave you in the dust.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve rushed to my computer, fingers crossed, ready to put the perfect words to my thoughts, and I’ve got nothing when I sit down. It all leaked out before I could get it out of my fingers.

It really takes the wind out of my sails, I tell you what. Writing is what I do. The keyboard is my job, which is why there aren’t letters on half the keys. When I can’t even do that, how am I supposed to do anything? It triggers my inner Jailor. I feel crushed under the weight of what I can’t do, and it takes everything to put up and shut up. I still have to work, because eating is good. I still have to be a parent, and a partner, because my family deserves that.

But that little voice in my head gets louder every second I stare at the blank screen.

You can’t do it. You’ve got the fortitude of a hamster. You’re going to fail, and die, and everyone will know how failed and dead you are. You suck.

And then I remind myself, “The Jailor isn’t the boss of me.” I take deep breaths. I close my eyes, mash my fingers over the keyboard until words are coming out, and I pray that I can use anything I’m about to type, and it won’t end up saved on my desktop amongst the myriad orphan articles. Taking deep breaths, this morning. Taking deep breaths indeed.

Getting Back to Real Life

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

Getting back to “real life” while depressed can be fucking difficult! Yesterday, my dad was released for the physical therapy/rehab center, and he got to go home. First, though, he came over to have chipped beef on toast, because delicious food is delicious food. While we hung out, I organized my Magic: the Gathering cards. It was nice.

Sometimes, the best way to deal with grief is to commune with the person who passed. I do not mean sitting with a Ouija board and candles. I mean spending time doing something you love as if that person were there. George had a large chunk of my card collection, which came home last week. They were all out of order, and some were sleeved at random, and stuff. It was a task to organize it all, but I got to think about George the whole time.

No crying. No sadness. I did something I enjoy doing, and I got a little more closure. Part of closure is accepting that someone is gone. Putting my cards back in their proper boxes felt like coming home. My collection was reunited, and my (rare) annoyance at my collection being split up was finally put to bed. It was good.

After I thought about it, I realized that I had some old D&D character sheets that George and I had made together. I got to go through them, and remember how odd his choices could be. He wanted to play something fun. Not overpowered, not too weird, just fun. Of course, that man could out-strategy Gen. Patton in any game, so he didn’t need crazy tricks to win games.

It was good to get some of that into/out of my system early in the day. After lunch, dad and I looked at a house nearby that he’s considering renting (with much bullying and encouragement from our house). After that, I was happy to see him off on his adventures with his new bionic knee.

Then something neat happened: Normal life just took over. I didn’t have to convince myself to finish my assignments. I didn’t have to agonize over what to submit to my editors. I just did it. It was like a weight had been taken off of my brain for the day. It was kinda great.

Of course, I ended up working well into the evening, because I spent most of my morning with my dad, and my ever growing collection of all things fantastic. But I didn’t feel guilty about crap work. I felt like I was doing my work well. I accomplished enough to spend some time with the kids before bedtime. I also managed to give myself a blister, and tear it off before noticing it, while playing Rock Band. I’m still bad at the drums…

Yesterday felt oddly normal, and I’m thanking God for it. I am also hitting up our DM for some more D&D action. I want to blow some stuff up. That’s normal, right?

Resting Bitch Face

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

There’s this thing I do. I do it all the time. Whether I mean it or not, whether or not I want to. I smile. I smile all the time. It’s an old habit. When I was very young, my mother coached me to smile. It probably started with the normal mom-impulse. She wanted to see her kid happy. Later, it changed. If I looked unhappy, maybe I would be taken by the police because my life was bad. Did I want to be split up from my family? Shit like that.

So I started smiling. I smile by default 99% of the time. Mostly, I think of myself as also being happy all the time. For the most part that is true. But recent events have reminded me that when I am 100% out of fucks, I look like I’m pissed off. It’s actually just a matter of not forcing myself to smile.

People keep thinking I’m mad, or grumpy, or something. The truth is, I just don’t feel much right now, and that’s okay. Just remember that I’m not angry, or mad at you, or thinking bad things. I’m not upset, or suicidal, or anything. I’m not feeling much, and that’s why my face looks like this. I have a resting bitch face. I don’t mean it, it’s just how I look when I don’t try to look any other way.

Three Very Mature Adults Play a Game

Last night was a blast. We had fun eating too much pizza, eating ice cream, and playing games with the kids. After they had adjourned to enjoy the last week of summer break, we busted out Cards Against Humanity. We all dreaded playing without George. It was one of our favorite games to play together. Preferably while drinking. We decided to get it over with, and start feeling like normal, horrible human beings.

At some point, we nearly gave up. We weren’t having fun, and it just didn’t feel right. We decided (by lack of decision making) to keep going. God, I’m glad we did. All hell broke loose with this combination:

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

Guess which answer was mine?

It broke the tension so hard. So hard I thought we’d all laugh until we split our sides. Later, another card made Jenny and our other friend laugh really hard. I loved the card, but gave them this quiet are-you-done-yet look until they settled down. Then I whispered, “bad, bad girl.”

That was it. The tension was so damned broken by that point, I wondered if I’d ever stop laughing. It felt good. It felt really good. Sitting down with two amazing people, playing an intimate game of horrible everything, and laughing at how horrible we actually aren’t. It was great. I was still depressed, but I felt like my soul had seen some of that magical stuff called “sunshine”. It was just what I needed.

The tears came back later, but they came with a smile for the red-faced laughter that George would have been wearing for twenty minutes after that card had been played. It wasn’t quite so terrible, somehow.