depression is

So, I can’t sleep again tonight. No news there. I can’t remember a time when I could sleep like everyone else apparently does. I know the insomnia was with me 10 years ago, 12 years ago. I remember being 14 and remembering that I had always had trouble sleeping. Meta memories 🙂

The sleep comes and goes in cycles. Some times it’s better than others. Last fall, I remember having good luck with sleep. But things are back to “normal” and I must be averaging 4-6 hours a night again.

The head shrinkers agreed with my guesses and diagnosed me with some sort of low grade chronic depression. They also agreed that it was probably related to (possibly either cause of or caused by) the insomnia. I guess it has pretty much always been with me. I’m fine right now. But I can feel it out there. It’s like a bad back or an old injury, like the knife wound on my arm that shimmers when the light falls across it and acts up when it gets cold.

I know plenty of people have written on the subject. I know I’ve written about this before, but my options right now are to type or to lie in bed and fire the words off into a different sort of ether.

People who’ve never felt it are often confused by depression. They think it just means sadness. And that’s a part of it. They suggest you to just try to stop “being sad”. They blame you for it. Even people who should know better, who should at least have an academic understanding that clinical depression is a chemical condition in the body.

Just as easy to tell the criminally insane to stop “misbehaving”. Just as easy to tell a sucking chest wound to stop “hurting”. Just as easy to tell the Arizona sun to stop being so stupid headache-inducing hot. 😛

I’ve not had a great deal of medical treatment for my depression. In probably 15+ years with a problem, I’ve mostly held things at bay by alternating between concerted willpower and conscious distraction. For the half year I was under treatment, I needed it. It was as bad as I’ve ever been, and I doubt I could have recovered without help.

I’m not “cured”, it’s still there. And, mostly, I just… cope. Right now, I don’t know what sort of juice I’m running on to help me ignore it. Anxiety, exhaustion, responsibility, frustration. They all kind of wash through me and wind up being channeled into a weapon against the real “sadness”.

Creative energy is another great weapon. I burn myself out designing games and solving problems at work. And I do it in the best interest of my own health. It distracts me. The problem is that I have to constantly shift the energy to stay in the creative mode. Once an idea is fully formed, I have to form a new one or lose my momentum. I leave too many projects half done because of this.

The reason I finally had my breakdown two years ago was because the depression had managed to cut off my ability to create. I was literally incapable of writing anything longer than my name.

About the only thing better than creative energy is catharsis. It’s like a chemical reaction where the poison is rendered inert. Actually… it probably is exactly that, in a very literal sense. This is why I actually play games and read books and watch anime. I absorb the creative energy of other people and adapt it to kill my own poisons.

The energy I create myself is often like a poor synthetic. I wonder if and hope that it is able to sometimes act as an antidote for others. I should sing more.

I said I can feel the depression. It’s an intensely real physical sensation. It’s like a thick blanket of energy that follows me. It trails after me. It’s an aura brushes up and down my spine. It rests on my shoulders and traces down my arms. It’s a cloud that finds aches and bruises to seep into. It’s odorless, tasteless, and dissolves instantly in liquid. Seriously, water’s amazing that way.

If you’ve ever held a sword or a gun, you know that the physical object radiates an almost tangible aura of power. Of potential concentrated ability to act. Knives have this same energy, as do hammers or any other tool. Physicists teach about potential energy. This is more than that.

Pick up a rock the size of your fist and separate the pull of gravity from your senses and you’ll feel the other potential of the rock. Hold the rock over a glass ornament. Set it on top of another stone. Throw it into a pond. Feel the energy released when it breaks the surface.

Depression is more real. Hold it over a delicate situation. Stack it on top of a migraine headache. Read Les Misérables. Feel the shivers rush through your arms and chest and into your face and brain when you finally read the inscription on Valjean’s tombstone.

Take a bath. Take a shower. Read Dune. Read Stranger in a Strange Land. Go to the beach. Build a castle.

Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. If You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be like water, my friend.

— Bruce Lee

Catharsis is water. Creativity is water.

Depression merely is.

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