Does this depression make my butt look big?

NaBloPoMo March challenge. Completed.

To be honest, I didn't think I'd make it all 31 days. And maybe some of the posts were little more than cheats. Then again, I don't remember there being such rules.

Whatever. I started blogging again for a couple of reasons. One was, obviously perhaps, as a means to writing more. The second reason is intertwined with the first reason: As a means to dealing with my depression.

The first reason came first; the second reason evolved within a few days.

Writing has always been a creative outlet, a solace, a means of expression--ever since I was four and wrote my first short story about a brown cow and a red barn.

So, yeah, back to depression. Writing helps. So does talking to friends and music. And pills. The right kind of pills, anyway.

I was thinking about the topic today. Partly because I've been actively trying to take stock of how I feel--to be grounded in the moment, to understand distorted thinking patterns, to obtain some sort of clarity. To not retreat into escapism. To not follow certain family members down a drunken, fuzzy-brained path.

I thought about it, too, because I read a post online called "What Depression and Anxiety Look Like."

It's an interesting, revealing list.

The author, posting on the Are Women Human site, writes:

"The thing about depression it's hard, at least for me, to explain what it feels like. What it actually does. And I think part of that is a misconception of mental illness as being literally that--all in your mind--rather than the whole mental, physical, and emotional gauntlet of misery"

So true. All of that.

The writer, who outlines the particular effect that depression and anxiety have on her in an amusing series of GIFS, is careful to point out "this is how it goes, at least if you're me."

That part is so damn key. "If you're me."  Which makes her list feel all the more spot-on and relatable.

Depression is unique to each person who experiences it.  I'm no psychiatrist or therapist or scientist or whatever, but I'm pretty sure that's the gospel truth. It's kind of like snowflakes--no two pits of darkness are exactly the same.

For me it manifests in many ways:

  • Becoming more introverted / anti-social than usual (which is not to be confused with wanting to be alone. These really are separate things).
  • Not exercising enough / eating mindlessly (a.k.a 'does this depression make my butt look big?")
  • Obsessively listening to the same songs/records over and over and over again (then again, I do this all the time, whatever the mood; but there are subtle distinctions to be noted when it comes to the songs/albums of choice).
  • Apathy
  • The exact opposite of apathy in which everything Is a Big. Fucking. Deal.
  • Becoming extremely short-tempered and humorless.
  • Working too hard as an escape
  • Losing entire days to trash TV.
  • Sleeping too much. Feeling tired all the time.
  • Loss of hope and optimism
  • Regrets. Many.

Every one of these things, of course, has its complete opposite. And sometimes we just exist in the middle.

The truth is, I don't want to completely avoid or sidestep my depression. I don't want to make it altogether disappear. I've learned a lot from it. I'm still learning from it. About myself, about the world, near and far. It can fuel creativity and writing. It can even sometimes fuel ambition. Depression is complicated like that. The point is, it's a part of who I am as much as any other feeling I've ever felt.

I don't want to give up the battles; I just don't want it to win the war.




The big (and little) reveals

One of this month's writing prompts asks the question "Do you feel like you reveal too much of yourself on your blog? Do you think you hold back too much?"

That's a tricky one. I do reveal quite a bit of myself on my blog--I've done so in some of my professional writing, too. Do I hold back too much?

I don't know; define "too much."

Obviously--at least I hope it's obvious--that I don't share everything. Some actions, memories, thoughts and desires belong only to me and the people with whom I share them. There are some out there who reveal so much more. And they do it with such skill and beauty and anger and wisdom and humor--I know I'll never come close to that kind of writing.

But, still, I strive for honesty. I know that honesty, much like memory, is subjective but I aim to make the slice of my life that I share be as true as possible--not something painted prettier (or, conversely, grittier) than it actually is or was.

Sometimes that honesty makes total strangers think they know me. I've received emails, phone calls and letters (sometimes from jail) from people who claim insight into my mind in a way that I find startling and intrusive. People--it's been both men and women--who say they know what I think/feel/do and they know what I should think/feel/do in the future. Mostly this applies to my professional writing but occasionally those who read the blog lay these claims, too.

But, really, that's OK. It's gratifying when someone simply says they liked what I wrote--that they felt kinship or it made them laugh/angry/mad/sad/happy/whatever. When they say they're glad that they read it. That I wrote it.

When that happens then all the other stuff--the emails, the phone calls, the letters from jail--that's just becomes the whatever-shit-happens other side of the coin.

Good and the bad, yin and yang and all that.




Throw my voice to Sacramento (your Saturday afternoon jam, March 29 edition)

Rainy day. We ran boring errands and then got lunch and went record/book-shopping.

In the car we listened to the new Dean Wareham record on a loop. This song came on twice.

Then we came home and napped with cats as the rain continued to come down. It was all perfect: