The Middle-Earth Blues

I’m at that point of my depression that I’m realizing I have become the worst version of myself.

Of that, I am absolutely certain.

I’m self-involved. I’m angry. I’m negative. I’m not being thoughtful of others. And the thing that really, really hurts is, I know it, and no matter how much I know it or fight it, I continue reverting back to this Steff I’m not too glad to be around.

And that’s the kicker, because I usually really dig being who I am. No matter how fucked life gets, I can usually make myself laugh pretty hard a couple times a day — in private, even. These days, no. This isn’t recent. I’ve been sort of moving in this direction for three weeks now, and I fear I’m hitting bottom with it. Well, I don’t fear that; I’m aware of it, and grateful. I want this to change. Wanting it is a good start. The ability to do so is probably not far off.

I have emailed a woman I once received counselling from. I haven’t heard back, but hopefully she’ll drop me a line, and if not, then I’ll call tomorrow. I figure four or five counselling sessions would be good. Any time I’ve had troubles in the last seven years, when life just got to be too much, I’d visit her a couple times, and she just created this ability in me to find the reserves I needed to fight a little harder, a little longer. She’s this really down-to-earth woman with a strong but inoffensive personality, warm eyes, and a brassy laugh. It’ll be nice to see her again.

I don’t know where this anger’s coming from, but there are a lot of things that have been said and done to me in the last six or eight weeks, and a lot of adversity and drama and craziness, and I just kinda need to lay it all down for someone who’s objective. Counsellors can provide a lot of guidance. Like, you tell ’em what’s stressing you, and they’ll generally take you through it so you at least begin to understand why. Anger and depression, to me, are like mysteries I’ll simply never understand nor solve. If I can at least have a concept of where it’s coming from and maybe even why, it gives me the ability to find a way to shift things so that the invading negative mental state can be better managed until it’s eventually simply overcome or ousted.

Climbing out of depression is like trying to climb the spiral staircase up the Statue of Liberty or St. Paul’s Cathedral, and you’re half-way up, gasping, out of breath, and you look down and think, “Fuck, I’ve come a long way!” and then you look up, your heart falls, and you silently groan. “Fuck.” Just gettin’ this baby started, honey.

Yeah, well, I’m gasping, groaning, and my heart’s all shrunk down. I’m a little worse for wear primarily because PMS has hit with a vengeance. I’m being logical about it all, though. Intellectualizing my angst and trying to find a way to make blame symmetrical so I can at least remain objective about what it is I’m angry about, and not just start finding Evil Bastards to lay all the blame on. That is the kind of action that merely results in leaving me feel like a victim. Heh, this course thingie I went to last summer was talking about self-victimization and just said, “What would you rather be? A victim or a warrior?”

Call me Conan.

I’ll tell you the worst thing about depression. Are you ready? The worst thing is that you’re a fucking hero, the way you’re fighting this mysterious fucking beast of a thing. I mean, truly, it’s so damned hard. If you’re up and out in the world, you’re winning. Any day you’re breathing and not lying in bed is a good, good day. That’s all it takes to beat depression: Do not let it win. Just keep going out, tell people, be real about it, you know? But the bitch of it, this clinical illness, the bitch of it is that no matter HOW WELL you are doing, you will always, always feel like a loser. It’s so fucking Catch-22 it hurts.

So I was conscious today, all day, of just how much my self-esteem is suffering right now. Holy SHIT, batman. It’s just subterranean, it’s so low. I got the subterranean blues, I do. And believe me, I know what I offer, I know my talents, and this is not how I should be feeling about myself. I should have a little mojo, man.

But I am doing everything I can to keep it going. I am reducing my hours of work — working more was a big mistake. There’s no sense making more than what’s paying the bills if it’s just taking me to the edge of a breakdown, now, is there? I didn’t realize how exhausting depression is until I began to challenge it. Now I know there’s a limit to what I can do, and I’m working within it. I’m optimistic I’ll be at a more even keel in a week or so. Plus, my social life is going all right. I have more plans. I have a major tech-geek weekend at the end of the month, going to this… oh, I dunno, indie sub-culture tech-conference type weekend dealie-thang. Should be interesting. I’ll network for connections. I’m at the stage now with this blog’s readership that there has to be something I can do to make money off it. It’s just ridiculous to be in the top 8K on Technorati and not have a dime off it, you know? Maybe I’m just totally clueless (and I suspect that is indeed the case) but I’m hoping to learn a little.

So, I’m going to be social, but only, say, a couple nights a week. I need to keep a limit on my social activities and try to focus on the things I need to do for myself, for this place and the podcast and all the things that make ME feel accomplished. I got shit to prove to myself, you know? It’s time.

Once I get my grasp back on all this shitstorm whirling around me, and I suspect that’s in the next four to six weeks, actually, I believe I’ll be in one hell of a different place. I hope this to be the case, and I’m doing all I can to make it happen. I don’t know if my output on here will be all that great during this time, but we’ll see. But when it’s done, I’ll be in one of the best headspaces in my life. I know there’ll be a change coming. I just do, I know it like I know my social insurance number. Etched.

Anyhow, I have wanted to be more open about my depression, but there are days lately when it’s winning. And they’re hard. Hard fucking days, man. But, like I say, I’m fighting. It’s just painful realizing I’m acting in ways I don’t particularly like, feeling ways that I absolutely hate, and wishing like hell time could pass a little faster. It’s difficult KNOWING just how fucked up my perception of the world is right now. The logical, intelligent, articulate part of me tells me I’m getting it all wrong, and this is the way it oughta be, but this nutbag alter-ego of mine, she’s a persistent little bitch, you know? God. Frustrating to KNOW this much about depression and to be able to understand every bit of it, but to have it be so damned dominant nonetheless.

It’s times like this that one could really get to doubting the old adage “Knowing is half the battle,” you know?