Tag Archives: depression

Winter Blues

WARNING: Rant Alert!

Sometimes maintaining the eternal optimist stance is exhausting. Today I feel…depressed. I hate it when people talk about their depression. Everyone is constantly sharing their ever-changing moods on Facebook — along with their plates of food, pet antics and other annoyances — from elation to thoughts of suicide. Instead of making those emotions more immediate (or at least important) it merely minimizes them. How serious can your suicidal thoughts be if you’re broadcasting them to a thousand of your closest friends? Seriously depressed people don’t blather on about it. They just…are.

And yeah, no one wants to hear it. I certainly don’t. I don’t even want to hear about my own depression. Don’t want to feel the feelings or write about them. Yet here I am. So let’s try and turn it around, shall we?

The weather has been depressing. Dark and cold. But I love winter. Rather, I love seasons, as in the changing of. The same old sunny days, day after day, is maddening, which is why I find California so intolerable. But it’s the actual change that I enjoy. When all of a sudden you need to throw on a jacket. Or you can take out that awesome scarf again and rummage around to see if you still have gloves that match. A few weeks into winter and those gloves have gotten grimy. The scarf has been snarling your hair. And you’re ready for the next season. Well, I am. They have. And it has been.

I don’t have a stereo. So I turn on the TV for background noise. After a while the “Tena Twist” ads and the incessant insistence that THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU implied by all these commercials really wears me down. I need a drug to get up and move, another to go to sleep. One to cure my depression and still another to augment that, since those damn antidepressants apparently don’t work all that well. My lack of need for prescription pharmaceuticals is a disadvantage in the random surveys I fill out, hoping that I’ll be called in for a paid focus group. Have I been diagnosed with this, that or the other? No. I am perfectly healthy. And evidently the only 53-year-old in the world who isn’t taking anything for…anything.

OKCupid has become a necessary evil, one populated with smiling, shriveled old men who “are lovin’ life” and “enjoying a good glass of wine” clicking on my profile. And not even emailing me. Is this what it’s come to? The emails that do come? They’re either from a 23-year-old who wants to live out his mommy fantasy, a non-entity with a grey heart where his photo should be or some walrus mustached truck driver from Montana. I. Just. Can’t.

Over the weekend I worked a checkpoint for the Idiotarod. It was the warmest, fuzziest shopping cart race ever, with the added feature of assisting businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy. There were dozens of adorable 20-somethings, possibly a few 30-somethings, all of whom I would’ve been seducing in my younger days. But, uh, yeah. I ran into a gentleman who friends have intimated “has a crush on you” and…nothing. After a few words in line for the toilet, he seemed far more interested in chatting up someone else, someone…younger. A week ago I was speaking with a woman who had spoken to a professional matchmaker. The most depressing part of our conversation? This quote from the matchmaker: “Women in their 40s don’t get many dates because men in their 40s, 50s, even 60s all want to date women in their 30s.” Uh-huh.

I am not happy being old. NOT. HAPPY. I do NOT WANT to be old. I know everyone says it’s better than the alternative but I’m not so sure it is. When I think like this I try to remind myself that I want to be around to see my sister’s kids get older. But do I? The eldest is already distancing himself. Will the next three do the same? What else do I have to look forward to? My High Holy Days? Let’s see: I can’t afford to fly to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Santa Con has become such a nightmare than no one wants to participate anymore. The Mermaid Parade seems to be moving in the same frat-tastic direction. Halloween was cancelled this year. And Burning Man has become nothing more than a job.

I’m working on an event and booking people is so problematic that I’m not sure I even want to bother. All for what? Being a nervous wreck the entire night, worrying about making enough cash to pay people. And maybe making, like, 20 bucks. Bah.

I have a job. One day a week. I barely make $200 for eight hours of work. I was hoping to land a shift at another neighborhood bar but I guess they went with someone else, someone…younger. I go 48 hours without leaving the house on a regular basis. The only thing that’s been saving me is a glue gun and battery operated tiaras. Ack. And fuckety-fuck-fuck.

Blue Monday

Well, as I noted months back when I was in a similar funk, readers most definitely prefer “Despair” over happiness! Over 100 readers! I should always use such emotionally charged titles for my blog. Thanks for the kind words and concern, and for the few of you who kinda kicked me in the ass. May I say, however, that everyone has their bad days? I mean, I can’t be chipper and chirpy all the damn time! I’m gonna have to update my dating profiles or something because I haven’t received any hilarious correspondence in ages and I know you people are hungry for more of that! But back to being depressed…

Watching the local news I learned that today is the “gloomiest day of the year.” I could’a told them that. Seriously, the third Monday in January is supposedly the darkest day for people due to three major factors: post-holiday blues, low feelings of motivation and debt. I can certainly attest to experiencing all three! Add in the cold temperatures (though I’ve actually been enjoying the winter chill), the lack of sunlight (SAD, anyone?) and my own personal bullshit and it all adds up to becoming one with the couch. I managed to resist the complete bon-bons and bad movies thing, though, and ventured out to see friends and bands. No, I didn’t fulfill all my daily obligations, but it was better than staying home and feeling sorry for myself. (I did all that in the blog post, apparently!) What I’m kinda caught up in now is that blogging about my progress is becoming too much like a diary. I want to get back to actual topics. Yet the process does bring things up for me, as the past few days have shown. I’ve also spent too much time on the blog and not enough on my “real” writing. Or in the case of my erotica collection, proofreading. One day at a time… I truly don’t know how people manage to have jobs! I wouldn’t get anything done! Okay, so I’m gonna go write a post about something other then myself…specifically…

Day 5: January 15
1. 20 minutes of meditating
2. 30 minutes of working out.
3. No blogging or writing. Just football, beer and punk rock!
4. I watched football. And some Gold Globes red carpet…
5. Wasn’t in enough for any home maintenance.
6. Socializing: 5 hours of football and beer followed by a few hours of more beer and live bands.
7. Personal upkeep: Again, none. Well, I took a shower, at least… Maybe I shouldn’t be including personal upkeep unless I dye my hair or something of note.

Despair

Yesterday became all about socializing and I wound up spending way too much money. Between brunch with the ladies and drinks in the evening, all I managed to accomplish was conversation. And drinking. And spending. Gah.

I also came to the conclusion that I’m not really achieving anything with all my newfangled goals. So I sit for 20 minutes and try to think of nothing. I’m about as successful at that as I am at everything else. At least it offers me a few moments of opportunity at epiphanies. Which I do actually have. Guess that’s a situation where it really isn’t better than “nothing.” I feel like I wind up wasting my days. My cousin wrote a song about wasting days. Called, coincidentally, Wasting My Days. Fuck, she was (is) so talented.

I gotta say, sometimes it is a constant struggle not to feel bitter and disappointed. Yesterday, between bloody marys at brunch and spiked milkshakes after dark, I was telling my friends about my first two jobs, creating graphics for what became the internet. I wasn’t just in on the ground floor, like the way that guy pitches plastics to Dustin Hoffman’s character in The Graduate; I was in the fucking BASEMENT! I try not to think about what my life might’ve been like if I’d stayed on that course rather than coming to New York City and pursuing a career in advertising. (We all know where that got me.) While flying home on Virgin America, without the complete selection of TV channels (grrrr!), I wound up watching BoingBoing TV (or whatever it’s called) and saw Xeni Jardin co-hosting. I could’ve been her. A decade earlier. No, two decades earlier. If anyone had been even remotely interested in the “internet” back in the ’80s. Or ’90s. Reading “in 2002 she began contributing to Boing Boing after Mark Frauenfelder met her at a party and invited her to be a co-editor” made me a bit ill. I’ve been waiting forever for someone to meet me at a party and invite me to be a co-editor. I feel like I’ve been a decade ahead of just about every trend. And am now too old to be trendy about anything. Nerve has an opening for a Managing Editor. The job posting blathers about how their readers are “a group of more than a million smart, culturally plugged-in men and women in their twenties and thirties.” So they’re looking for someone who is a “rising star”: “We’re not kidding about the rising-star thing. Maybe you’re toiling away at a big media company, and you’re ready to make your own mark.” This is a job I would be absolutely perfect for. But how do you convince a 30-something that you’re just as “hip” or “with-it” or whatever as they are when you’re over 50? I doubt it is even possible. Because how could I possibly be? In their eyes, I am OLD. OLD OLD OLD.

Okay. I’ll stop feeling sorry for myself now. I’m gonna go put on some clothes and get outta the house and drink. DRINK, I tell you!

Day 4: January 14
1. 20 minutes of meditating
2. 0 minutes of working out. It’s Saturday! (Not that it isn’t like every other day of the week for me.)
3. No blogging. No writing. Just brunch. And booze.
4. I think all I watched was Saturday Night Live.
5. I unpacked a box of crap that arrived UPS, having sent it to myself from California. It contained a bunch of new clothes I didn’t need, couldn’t afford and probably won’t wear. Plus a box I packed up of stuff to bring home almost a year ago: a few things I bought in Africa, clothes I wanted here (and obviously didn’t need too badly, since they’ve been in a fuckin’ box for 11 months), a few lady head vases (one of which is now in pieces). Bah. Plus antiques my aunt bought on her visit out there. A good deed.
6. Socializing: 9 hours of brunch, chatting and then a bar. Anyone notice where my true talents lie? And where my priorities actually are?
7. Personal upkeep: None. Seriously. Aside from getting dressed. And putting on a bit of makeup. I’m a lazy slob.

Suicide & Glee

A guy I know killed himself recently. We weren’t close; I worked DPW with him. He wasn’t the first, either. I don’t mean to sound callous but I can’t say I’m surprised. And I say this, not due to any reflection of his personality or mental state, but because what I find surprising is that more friends aren’t offing themselves.

I know thousands of people – to varying degrees of “well” – and it’s fairly accurate to say that a large percentage of them could be considered “creative types.” From writers to musicians, dancers to designers, photographers to crafters, painters to performers, many are artists of some sort. And the 21st century simply doesn’t embrace artists.

Years back, when Big Pharma first introduced mood-altering anti-depressants, the press was all a-tizzy about prescription substances that could, essentially, change one’s personality. My friend and fellow fanzine publisher Selwyn Harris  bemoaned these drugs, postulating that most “good” artists are tortured in some way and that with these brave new drugs, art would suffer, as artists would all be medicated and, therefore, happy. Would Van Gogh have painted his wild night skies if he’d been spaced out on Celebrex? Would Bukowski have penned as much anguish if he’d been comatose on Zoloft? And if the Merry Pranksters had been weaned on Adderall, then progressed to Prozac, would they have been so eager to experiment with LSD?

Selwyn eventually partook of these substances, if I recall correctly, and now he is, actually, happy. Productive, sober, married to a nice girl and…happy.  The question is, of course, how does his current work compare with his output while he was gloriously tortured? And is it worth being a tortured artist? Self-medication on alcohol and illegal drugs has fueled a number of “magnum opi.” And resulted in an equal number of “accidental” suicides.

But I digress. (And to even further digress, a recent study finds High Childhood IQ Linked to Subsequent Illicit Drug Use. Not surprising. All my creative friends are also quite clever.)

Today’s world is not kind to artists. It favors the “entrepreneur,” the businessman, the schemer, the shyster. It isn’t easy for the freak, a category into which, again, many of my friends and acquaintances fall. Sure, there is “Glee.” The zeitgeist has never been so “freak positive.” Sarah Jessica Parker was once a “Square Peg,” now she’s the queen of “Sex in the City.” “Blossom” star Mayim Bialik is currently the wry wit of “Big Bang Theory.” And could there be a more unlikely leading man than Zach Galifianakis? Okay, yes, as a matter of fact: Michael Cera.

“Glee” glorifies the loser – the creative, talented, late-blooming loser – who we all know will eventually get to college and flourish. Yet there they are – corpulent or queer, band geek or wheelchair-bound – experiencing – GASP! – gratification! Happy, positive high school experiences! Acceptance, even! Who’da thunk it?

But again, I digress. Yes, “Glee” and other products of mainstream media have come to recognize the inner beauty of the odd kid out. Yet still, life isn’t easy for those of us who just feel “different,” in whatever way we each define different. It’s difficult for us to find – and keep – jobs. We struggle to relate to our relatives. We flail in our efforts to find a place in society where we can freely express ourselves, find reason to get out of bed in the morning, live one more day. Well, at least I do.

I’m not looking for affirmation here. I don’t want pity. But I would like to acknowledge that, while I recognize the stultifying beauty in every autumn leaf, full moon or falling snowflake and appreciate everything life has to offer me, I also find myself depressed, disgusted or discouraged on an almost moment-to-moment basis. So when someone opts out, I actually understand.

Ow! Those M&Ms Are Killing Me!

Last week, while I was laid out with the flu, I was watching a lot of television and one particular news story really grabbed my attention…by the heart strings: Researchers from the University of Michigan, Columbia University and the University of Colorado conducted a study that shows our brains register physical and emotional pain in almost identical ways. The results of their research were published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The story aired on all the talk shows and TV  news outlets and appeared in print everywhere from the LA Times to the Daily News to The Brain Health, many with the headline “Love Hurts…No, it REALLY Hurts.” It proves what anyone who’s ever experienced a painful breakup already knows: rejection hurts.

In the study, the researchers scanned the brains of the recently brokenhearted and found that pain inflicted in the lab and looking at pictures of their exes registered almost identically in the brain, notably in an areas previously associated solely with physical pain. I don’t even need to see a photographic likeness! I can attest to wincing every time I see my ex’s screen name. In fact, here’s a whole list of things that give me the same heart-wrenching twinge:

Peanut M&Ms
Arizona Green Tea Iced Tea
Full Moons
“Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol
Miller Beer
Beignets
Mexican Dresses
Sand Dollars
Kayaks
Ford F-450s
Old VW Bugs
Cords
“Do You Realize,” or just about anything by The Flaming Lips
Anything by Portishead
“Umbrella” by Rhianna
“I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry …”the taste of her cherry chapstick…”
“Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake …”take it to the bridge!” …
“New York” by Jay Z. and Alicia Keys
“Chasing Pavement” by Adele
“Paper Planes” by M.I.A.
(I’ll keep updating this as these occur to me…)

Sigh. This list could go on… Obviously, I’ll be looking forward to further findings, like drugs that might suppress those feelings of pain in the brain!

Cookies Aren’t Good Company

I think cookies and I are gonna need to stop meeting “like this.”

I don’t have problems with my weight anymore. In fact, I’m thinner than I’ve been for most of my life. (With the exception of a brief span that seemed to be a confluence of depression and menopause, in which I deteriorated to a size 8.) I’m not sure why; I eat whatever I want and no longer believe in counting calories or restricting my diet. I don’t denying myself anything, ever. Sometimes I’d rather eat a bag of cheese popcorn than a meal. What? I’d rather spend money dining out than buying groceries or cooking. In the rare event that I do bring groceries home, they inevitably wind up wilted, moldy, sour or otherwise spoiled. I don’t enjoy preparing food, especially for myself.

But that may need to change. I’ve been relishing my time alone lately…more than I think I ever have in my entire life. And though solitude within the walls of my apartment has become preferable, I don’t believe that pleasure will easily transfer to a restaurant experience. So I’m anticipating the need to eat at home more often.

I’ve always been one to snack; cheese and crackers can be a complete meal for me. I suppose that could be supplemented with a microwaved can of soup. I’ll pour some dressing on lettuce if I anticipate a case of scurvy coming on. If I’m feeling particularly ambitious I may whip up my one culinary creation, if you can call it that: ramen noodles with an egg scrambled in, a can of corn niblets (if I happen to have one in the cupboard), with melted cheese on top. Yeah, I know; we won’t be seeing that dish on Iron Chef any time soon! But I like it! It’s a steaming hot pot of all my favorite things! Except for chocolate…

If one is to believe the women’s magazines, like so many others I reach for chocolate when I’m feeling blue. Research has shown that the carbohydrates found in chocolate lead to an increase in serotonin, a chemical in most anti-depressants. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a stimulant that is released when you interact with someone you love. Make mine a double!

My chocolate delivery system of choice is Pepperidge Farms‘ Nantucket Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are crunchy and yummy and positively packed with chocolate! But lately I’ve found that I’m simply not enjoying them the way I once did. Or at least as much as I should be! Could it be that they leave crumbs in my bed? Or has my relationship with them run its course? Our assignations are, at this point, primarily out of habit. I drop them into my shopping basket almost without thinking. I can’t imagine what will replace them. But I think it may be time… Perhaps I can cultivate a similar “thing” with detox tea?