For the better part of 15 years now, I’ve dealt with mild to severe depression. It comes and goes seemingly randomly. I haven’t been able to pin-point the triggers and haven’t made much progress in controlling it. I don’t deal well with medication and I’m not big on talking, so the counseling angle is never very appealing. Usually, the episodes are around 2 weeks long and then fade and everything goes back to normal (which is probably still depressed, but manageable). For the last 8 months or so, however, it’s been more of a constant weight with some time-spans dipping into the severe range for extended periods. I think it’s time for me to get some help, but taking that first step is the hardest part.
What the last 8 months has shown me, however, is that most people in my life don’t even notice, or at least don’t get what is going on. And that makes it worse. Am I really that much of an asshole on a regular basis, that when things get really bad in my head, outwardly I’m not all that different? Those that do notice, tend to say the worst possible things that they could to a depressed person. I’m sure it stems from misunderstanding and a feeling of being unable to know what to do, but these are a few things that, at least from my perspective, should never be said to, or around, a depressed person:
- “Cheer up!” – That is one phrase, above all others, that makes just want to punch someone in the throat.
- “He’s grumpy today” – Grumpy? Talk about trivializing. Ugh.
- “He’s just being a dick today” – Yeah, while I had headphones on at work (nothing play on them) and a coworker (who is also a close friend) said that to a bunch of folks (including my boss) who were in his cubicle (next to mine).
- “What’s your problem?” or “Why are you so miserable?” – I’m not going to answer with “I am depressed”. So, my non-answer will just lead to the statements above anyway by my avoiding the question.
- “Focus on the positive” – If I could do that, I wouldn’t be a depressive. My brain doesn’t allow that.
- “I’m praying for you” – Just…don’t.
Some suggestions of things that might be somewhat helpful, or at the least not hurtful:
- “Is there anything I can do to help?” – Probably not, but at least it’s a non-accusatory thing to say.
- “Sorry that you’re dealing with this.”
- “I’m here for you if you need anything”
- Say nothing at all
So, I guess I just wanted this to serve as a reason (not an excuse) for the way I respond (or don’t respond as it were) to the various things that life throws my way. Take it for what it’s worth, or don’t take it. Either is fine. When it’s bad, I internalize. I don’t talk. I don’t want to talk. And trying to make me talk makes it worse. But saying stuff like what is on the first list above should be the very LAST thing anyone should do. But…they still will.
My family is insane…and they are starting to make me insane too!
The below image is just a VERY tiny snippet of my mother’s Facebook page. Click on the image to see it in all it’s full-sized glory.
So tell me…what the fuck am I supposed to do with that? It’s every day. Very VERY rarely is something posted that isn’t of this nature. I can’t have any interaction with her. What am I supposed to say? Should I just continue to try to bite my tongue and ignore it? On several occasions I’ve been mere microseconds away from de-friending her. But, of course, that would cause all kinds of problems. I really have no kind of relationship with my parents anymore. Would it really be any loss? I can’t believe that I grew up in this world! No wonder there are days where I feel like I’m nuts.
Seriously…what do I do with this? My family is insane!
I’m not really anti-gun. I’m certainly not pro-gun. One thing is for sure with me, though, I do NOT get this country’s love-affair with the all-mighty gun. I just don’t get it. But it’s become obvious to me that SOMETHING has to change. There have been far too many mass-shootings and horrible gun-related tragedies in our country lately for us to just turn a blind eye to the issue. And it sure seems like we can’t even come together and have a discussion about it.
I don’t know what the answer is. I’m just some middle-aged guy in an average city just trying to do what I do to survive in this world and take care of my family. I don’t have any kind of deep insight as to what the answer is. All I know is that there are statistics to be had that do not lie. Compared to other affluent countries on this planet we are leading the race in gun violence. Frankly a race I would be happy to finish last in. And what is different about those countries? MUCH stricter gun laws.
A Recent announcement by the NRA advocates putting even MORE weapons out there. I tend to think this is a bad idea. We want LESS bullets flying around our society, not more. And if the advocates think that more guns in the hands of the general populous is a good idea, I really have to disagree. “People” aren’t able to drive their cars properly. How are we to expect “people” to handle a gun properly in an intense situation like we’ve had lately. It’s my belief that there would have been MORE casualties as a result.
Look, I don’t propose a ban by any stretch. But I also don’t think that regular civilians have any reason to have high-capacity, rapid shooting assault rifles either. I also think that psychiatric screenings would be a VERY good idea before one can get a weapon.
Do I think those things will prevent the awful events we’ve seen lately? Not really. I try to be realistic in these situations. A deranged person is most likely going to find a way to do the evil he or she’s been contemplating. However, I really think we need to have serious discussions on how to start moving in the right direction. Right now each side is just digging their heals in deeper, and as always, we will get nowhere.
Can we at least talk about it? Probably not, but it was a nice thought anyway.
(actually…a lot of days have been UN-days lately)
In our annual travels around the sun each year, we humans mark milestone occasions with celebrations of all kinds. The timing of these events are often the same (if not very close) for all of us, but the content of the celebratory phenomenon vary wildly. Most have some kind of religious origins. Even if those origins just served to explain some kind of natural occurrence that our ancestors were too primitive to understand.
Most of these ‘holidays’ are opportunities to unite with family, relax with time off work, and generally just blow off steam. And as a secular member of our species, there are generally ways to enjoy the day without having to acknowledge the religious implications that most of the rest of humanity projects onto the day.
Then there’s Easter. Oy…Easter! I realize that the origins go back to the spring equinox celebrated by pagan civilizations far back into antiquity. However, in fundamentalist America, there’s little one can do to avoid the seemingly endless poundings of “He is Risen”. Or “Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice”. Or “The powers of Hell are defeated”. Yadda yadda yadda!
In my atheism, I’ve grown more and more weary of this day each year. I know I could just ignore it, but I’d have to nearly live as a recluse in order to avoid all that mumbo jumbo. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about living in a world where the M.O. is “To each, his (or her) own”. However, it seems the reality is that I’m living in a world where that viewpoint is very much a minority perspective. I don’t, however, want to be a grumpy old man when it comes to these things. I’m trying to find a way to leave it be, and not drive myself nuts in the same breathe. That’s the challenge. I never want to tell someone what to believe or think or how they should celebrate (and I never would). I just wish that was reciprocated more. And Easter seems to be the one holiday where that reciprocity is violated more than any other.
On that note, I’m going to send out a Happy Equinox and Happy Spring to ALL members of humanity. I will be doing my best to enjoy ushering in longer, warmer days, green and multicolored landscapes, and the prospect of life beginning once again.
The world is a slightly darker place this morning. We’ve lost a maverick, a pioneer, a visionary. Often controversial. Often combative. Always brilliant! A literary mastermind was Hitchens. He could turn a phrase like none other. His mind seemed to be a Rolodex of information and life-experience that he had the ability to sift through and access any bit of information at any time and bring it to us in fabulous poetic prose.
As a part of the free-thinking, anti-religious movement he was invaluable. Loud and boisterous and yet always eloquent. He was a bright light of reason in an often dark ignorant populous. This is where I believe he will be missed the most.
I wish I could say I knew him personally, but through his writing I feel I had the privilege to get a peek into the machinery that was his thought process. I’m sure that his close friends and family are feeling this loss deeply and my thoughts are with them.
This evening I will raise my glass (several of them most likely) to the man who helped me on my personal journey from delusion to enlightenment.
To Hitch! You will live forever in the words that you’ve left behind!