Tag Archives: depression

ten books

One of the current things spidering its way over the social networks is what I assume is meant to be a quick challenge to name your 10 favorite books or similar. I read entries by a few friends but avoided commenting on any of them because I knew I’d lose a few hours if someone asked me for my list.

It’s no secret that I like books. My wife and I own entirely too many of them – probably 1/3 of the weight involved in our last move was made up of books or book-like-objects (this is down from over 1/2 back before we had children or much furniture). We’re actually on a slow campaign in my family to reduce the physical mass of books in the house. So now we only have a half dozen bookshelves and a really long list of digital books 😛

After my sister got tapped for the challenge and only passed it on to my wife and one of my brothers, I thought I had avoided this round of the asynchronous party game that is Facebook. Little did I notice that she also tapped my mother – who promptly turned around and grabbed the rest of us. Pretty sneaky, Sis.

You see, when I was a kid, I didn’t earn a traditional allowance. There was no regularly scheduled pocket money, and chores were simply mandatory. At a very young age, my parents decided to pay me for reading books. At first, it was 1 cent per page of completed book.
Continue reading ten books

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.

happy pills

Well, after an entire week of failed attempts at visiting the doctor to discuss problems with my medication – and to get a refill – I was able to drag myself down there fairly early on friday morning.

We’re going to up my dose to the regular level. Most people on Effexor are on 150mg/day. I was only taking 75mg. So, the next two weeks will see me on a halfway dosage and then the following two will be at the full level, at which point I’ll go back in. Of course, if the stuff makes my brain explode, Penny will drag me in aforehand.

I also got the news that we’re too rich for the manufacturer’s assistance program. This doesn’t really surprise anyone, but it was worth a shot since the pills are about $3/75mg pop. Thankfully, since we’re changing the dosage around and all, the doc gave me samples for the whole 4 week transition period.

This works out to about $150 in anti-depressants that I was carrying around campus in a brown paper bag this morning. It felt silly.

whyever would i want to specify my subject in advance?

My, how time passes. Multitudinous things have changed in the several months since I last posted here. Again, the thought occurs to me that I should be hosting this on my own site, but I’m bored and it’s a good enough contact tool for now.

My stomach is killing me. I was not feeling horribly wonderful this morning, so when I took my pill, I was not able to accompany it with anything solid (as per doctor’s instructions). I hoped that milk would be solid enough, but I guess I was wrong. Eight hours later, I am regretting this muchly. I ate some salad a bit ago and got northing more than a serious case of the gurgles as a result. Oh well. Maybe the gut will melt off and float away or something.

Pill? Yeah. Pill.

I have recently finally convinced myself to seek psychological attention for my sleep problems. My friends are all well acquainted with the situation – I have never really been able to sleep at night. The two counsellors and one psychologist that I spoke to were all in agreement that in addition to the sleeping issue, I have also had some variety of low-grade depression for the last many years. Whether the sleep is causing the depression or the other way around, nobody knows. But helping the one will probably help the other.

I have been taking anti-depressants for just over a week now, am finally on the full dosage. It is not supposed to reach full effectiveness until next week some time. I am feeling good results from the stuff mentally – I am able to concentrate on things again and am generally able to get things done at work. However, they’re doing a number (a big number) on my body. We’ll see who wins out, ne?