Colorful cognitive dioramas.

Looking for a job while experiencing depression illuminates how thick a slice of self-confidence gets hacked off. Just like that. I’m not talking about the run-of-the-mill insecurity, the “normal” kind that reminds us we’re human. The kind that well-meaning friends, family, lovers point to in an effort to bring you some calm, to help you feel not so alone because, “Everyone feels insecure at some point. You’re not the only one who feels this way.” But you feel so desperately alone.

  • Items on bullet-pointed lists of job postings that interest you sum up requirements that seem improbable for you to fulfill.
  • Colleagues you imagine you would work with already dislike you and wonder why you were offered the position.
  • You’ve fallen behind on your task list for a project that you’ve not yet been hired to manage.
  • Your resume is a sheet of neatly organized words spelling out accomplishments and trainings you somehow completed.

Depression is a creative jerk. It creates colorful cognitive dioramas, falsely foreboding failures and fissures. It’s fucked up fantasy. Paralyzing bullshit serum. It’s a snake with three heads. A tiger with tentacled talons. A shade of black too dark for the human eye to see.

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Besides feeling that way sometimes — fearful, hesitant, twittered, jittery — I also do the things I enjoy (like record silly raps for potential employers and Vanilla Ice covers) and have meaningful interactions with people. I’m not always depressed or anxious but sometimes I am. Sometimes my mind feels like a cognitive stew with a side salad. Sometimes my mood rides out pretty smooth an entire day; sometimes my body and mind course through multiple moods by noon.

Do you have days when you wake up feeling irritated? Does your mind go blank and your limbs buzz with adrenaline when you hear a loud noise? Do you remember how your stomach felt in the moments just before your first kiss when your lips met hers/theirs/his lips?

We all are affected by our environment. Some peoples’ responses are standard, expected, predictable. Behaviors are conditioned, but for people with mood disorders (e.g. Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder/rapid cycling, Schizophrenia), their internal and external experiences can be 10x as intense as yours (persons who don’t experience a mood disorder first-hand.) Can you imagine that? I know some people are more “sensitive” or empathic than I am, and their experiences can be 50x as intense. I can only imagine.

 

This about forgiveness.

I was talking with a friend last weekend about the experience of looking through things you’ve created (photos, songs, poems etc.). The process gives you flashes of your past. Of where you were when… Of how you’ve grown. And of the wisdom you’ve acquired. Or are still gunning for. It’s a fantastic exercise to re-assess. To re-calibrate. To remember a you that maybe you forgot. To put time into perspective. To put your ‘now’ into perspective. And consider how you want your future to be.

I wrote this about forgiveness a year ago.

What were you thinking about. doing. hoping for. dreaming of. working toward. … this time last year?

Alone in love, again.

I’ve shared this song before. In an earlier post. shortly after I wrote it. The older post has the lyrics and a link to a draft – the original – recording of Alone in Love.

Here’s a more filled-out version I recorded after I had settled into the song more. so it sounds a little different than the original recording.

I love the fluidity of creativity. How little alterations drop into place the more you play with something. It’s a lovely lovely process. that never gets old.

 

Little moments.

A few of my recent posts have been heavy so I thought I’d lighten things up and share something warm and fuzzy.  Though I wrote this poem seven years ago, long before we met, posting it now was inspired by a most amazing conversation I had today with my infinitely wonderful and dear friend C.

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(untitled)

surprising little moments
when things feel OK
I’m connecting
we’re feeling
we’re thinking
together
like a carefully placed pile of stones.

Written Sunday, 8.22.04.

I want my sense of humor back.

When I decided to write about depression, I made the conscious choice that part of the writing process would include sharing my experience with it – past and present.  Writing is such a powerful tool to use when dealing with depression because it allows you to emote, yes, but it also gives your future self a frame of reference and a way to track your moods.

As I read through past journal entries – some written not long ago – the symptoms pop out of the page.  It’s a powerful exercise and one I highly recommend.  Write, write, write it out.  And read, read, read it over later.  I believe this to be a critical step to help you to navigate through and out of the dark and serpentine halls of this disease.

I endeavor to bring to light the parts of depression that are hidden from the public or that the public doesn’t see.  William Styron reminds us in his memoir, Darkness Visible, “it should be kept in mind how idiosyncratic the faces of depression are.” So true.

It’s important to me to share my experience honestly and openly – unashamedly.  It doesn’t get much more raw than journaling, when you allow yourself to pen uninhibited thoughts.  Journal entries are usually written for private use, but I open up my pages to you.  Hopefully this bare-bones approach will help to dispel any misconceptions about or misrepresentations of depression that you may have.  Or, at the very least, give you a clearer understanding of how a depressive and anxious mind thinks.  Below is the first of many unabridged journal entries to come.  I look forward to hearing your comments, observations, and questions.

Thank you for reading my words.  I cannot tell you how appreciative and thankful I am.

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:: Journal entry ::

The Wellbutrin is starting to kick in – I think?  I went to see Dr. M on Monday to increase my dosage to 300mg, so it’s been 3 days.  I’m having trouble discerning whether the depression is playing tricks on me or if I’m naturally this insecure, unsure, anxious, lazy…?

I talked to A this morning about taking a formal leave of absence.  I didn’t go in to work all week.  Instead, I slept, watched TV on my laptop, ate, ate, ate, slept…procrastinated.  I had a test in Abnormal Psych this morning – I crammed for about 2 hours – about 4 chapters worth of material, and ended up with 70-something – 72%.

My thoughts still feel scattered but they’re leveling out – I think?  Tasks still feel overwhelming.

How long will this hold up?

I feel self-absorbed.  I mostly think about me – how people view me.  Am I doing this right?  What will become of me?  Who am I?  I know this is a symptom but maybe it’s my personality?

I don’t feel as negative, jealous, or angry as I have been.  Is this because my contact with people has been next to null?  The more I reach out to my family, and the more they reach out to me, the more I realize that I haven’t allowed them to be supportive.  My anger and perception that they don’t understand me, perhaps my resentment that they aren’t experiencing what I am – all of these things have kept them at arms’ length.

My dad called me from Kabul last night.  He said he was sending me a book and that he wanted to know how I was doing.  He said he’d try again, but he hasn’t.  Which is OK.  That he called at all is a step.  A mode of support.

I’ve obsessively been thinking that my life is hopeless.  I’ll always be needy, feel anxious, uncomfortable, and alone.  I won’t come to trust someone enough to sustain and nurture a long-term relationship, let alone have a kid.  I’ll always hide from life.  I’ll always fear judgment.  I’ll always give up or slow down.  I’ll never feel grounded, comfortable, whole, passionate, confident.  Shall I go on?

My memory is still a problem.  I obsess about it.  T thinks my faulty cognition is temporarily affecting it.  Oh, and the pot.  The many years of smoking weed.  That may have something to do with it.

Another thing I’ve noticed lately is how much I take for granted.  Or.  I guess it goes back to feeling selfish.  I haven’t called a number of my friends back or hung out because I fear how they will view me.  And who wants to hang out with Ms. Melancholy Grumpy Pants, anyway?

I want my sense of humor back.

Scattered, scattered.  My thoughts are scattered.  I want to be authentic with everyone and not say or do what I think they want.  It keeps me from penetrating the jelly-filled donut, where the good stuff is at.  I want to taste the good stuff, if just for a moment, to keep me going.

Order up: a big ol’ bowl a crazy.

Table for one?
Yes, please.  Table for one.

Written Thursday, 12.9.10.