Asleep by 3:30 a.m. and up again by six. Evidence of a dogged commitment to my duties despite an unfortunate inability to achieve a timely state of slumber, or the consequences of a pathetic failure to exert enough self control to terminate an impromptu Netflix series binge? I would like to boast the former but it is far more obvious the latter. Either way, the result is the same and I will more than likely be face down on my keyboard by noon. Copious amounts of embarrassing drool and barnyard worthy snoring a most likely conclusion.
Onwards into Friday.
A tune for workplace zombies: Violent Femmes "Blister In The Sun".
You think a person chooses not to commit suicide because they don't want to give up on life? The truth is, it often has more to do with being too afraid to fuck up and end up worse off than you already are. It's about fear, not faith.
So why not go to a hospital? Go get the help you need. Great idea. The world will stop while you're in there. Bills will no longer need to be paid. Employers will still want to pay for work not being delivered. Customers will no longer expect the work you promised, but they'll pay anyway. Relationships won't be strained. Everyone will wait for you and they'll never doubt your competency again.
Or you'll never need to leave the hospital. A place where you are sheltered and protected. Somewhere you can focus on yourself and not feel weak or selfish. Not a failure.
Or maybe you will.
Eventually you'll be shoved back out into the world and then what? Someone else will have been paying your bills, of course. Someone else will continue to make sure your bills get paid while you get your shit together, right?
Psychiatrists are covered by the province's health plan, so that's good. Except for the fact all they do is help with administering and monitoring medication; and that's if you can get one. Seven years of constant referrals and requests should get you one. Or not. Not enough professionals to go around, apparently. Anyways, why are you relying on medication? You just need a positive attitude, some exercise, and some time with nature. Works for everyone else, what's your problem with it? Maybe you're just not trying hard enough?
What you really need is a psychologist. Someone who will listen and help you unscramble that mess you call a brain. They're not covered by a government health plan but the average cost is only about $180 an hour. Not so bad for someone who finds it difficult to function well enough to hold a regular job, right? Of course not. You're lucky if you can afford one fifty-minute session every few months to handle issues that need at least weekly attention, but it will need to be enough.
Or you can try getting a social worker/counsellor who works on a sliding scale. $70 per hour. Still can only afford a session a month, even though your brain shifts gears several times a day, but it's better. Then they reach the limit of their comfort zone. They're happy to keep meeting with you but sadly advise that your issues have exceeded their abilities so they submit a referral to a specialist, which works as well as usual. Not even a phone call or email to acknowledge the specialists have received your referral. I guess they're too busy. I guess your life isn't worth that much.
Meanwhile bills need to be paid. Support payments need to be paid. Children need to be raised, and relationships need to be nurtured, while you're fighting yourself constantly, trying to keep your shit together just long enough to make it through one more day.
You call help lines, visit walk-in centers, consult your family doctor. You receive the same sheet of paper listing the same website addresses and phone numbers you've seen time and time again. Government support. Two words that have no business occupying the same sentence.
I envy the gladiators in ancient Greece. They may have been slaughtered but at least they knew someone was watching while they fought for their lives.
I grow weary of the relentless tide which drives my life, its unpredictable and erratic current denying me any potential of peace. Fragile fingers sustain a tenuous grip on the ridge of reality made slippery with tears. An invitation to be swallowed by silence - a suspension of pain and disappointment, of expectation and failure - delivered by a solicitous hand, lies cast upon the table, waiting only to be opened and accepted. A black tie affair where clothing is optional, left piled on the floor, next to guilt and regret. Earnest guidance carried aloft by recycled mantras of hope are served like sunshine, assumed previously unseen, when in truth, they have been witnessed and dismissed for the ethereal platitudes they are; permeating the air but never penetrating the skin. Heavy with righteous intention, they lack the weight required to pierce the armour of grievous experience and offer no brilliance to pierce the shadows cast by an unforgiving mind turned upon itself. Amongst the densest crowds, we stand alone. In the end, I can share my thoughts, but I cannot share the way they shape me. I can open myself to hope, but not hold the key to unlock it. I am heavy enough to drown in a puddle and not strong enough to climb a ladder. I look in a mirror and I only recognize that I'm lost.
It's Tuesday morning people, so let's get Tuesday-ing. I am currently up and working hard so I can save up for a haircut and become a real person again. When my hair gets this long, I feel like the only thing differentiating myself from Bob Ross is that my grey hair isn't a burgundy/brown afro. That, and the fact that I can't paint worth shit and I couldn't be as calm and relaxed as he was, even if I took all my anti-anxiety medication at the same time. But mostly it's the afro thing. Winter will be kicking around for a while yet, but eventually spring will arrive again and walking season can begin. I am counting down the days to getting back outside. In the meantime, let's all do our best to to do our best and above all, don't be a dick.
Song for a winter Tuesday: Modern English "I'll Melt With You".
Today was the first time in ten I didn't have a panic attack. My mind is a little sluggish but it's a welcome change from the prolonged hyper sensitivity I've been enduring. Things may be in the sky or under water tomorrow, but for tonight, I'm taking things slow and easy. And yes, I do realize just how much I need a haircut, but I'll worry about that another day.
My entire life I have transitioned from one thing to the next based on what was presented to me, what was safest, and what came easiest. I rarely challenged myself; often getting As and Bs in the majority of high school classes I found easy or enjoyed, while settling for Fs in those I didn't. There wasn't much I wanted badly enough to put myself on the line for it. The closest I came to commitment was my goal to one day be a cartoonist. I drew steadily from childhood until I was in my early twenties, always convinced that someday it would be my career. Still, I never followed through. When it counted, when bills needed to be paid, and other options were placed in front of me, I folded and I haven't returned to it since. I could have put in the time, stuck to my passion, and refused to give up - even if it meant doing so at 2am while the rest of the world slept. I could have fought for my dream, but I didn't.
I think its time I started living my life differently. I think its time to commit and put myself out there. Take a risk and stick with something I want as opposed to going with what comes along and is easiest. I've decided that I want to be a writer and I want to experience University, something that I never allowed myself to seriously consider in the past because it seemed too difficult to make happen. I have taken the first step and passed the first first hurdle. There are more hurdles to come but I am in the race now and I aim to finish. Who knows? Maybe I won't, but at least this time I'll know it wasn't because I never tried in the first place.
Today has been a challenge for me. Depression crept in last night and I found myself ill prepared to defend against it. These are the days I struggle with negative and intrusive thoughts which, if not diffused, can prove to be potentially fatal. I'm not oblivious to the sensational nature of that statement and would not be surprised to discover some who believe I'm being overly dramatic. I don't blame or begrudge them their incredulity. In a way, I envy them. Patience and reserving judgement when dealing with others who struggle with personal challenges are not qualities reliant on direct experience, and although I value the first two concepts, I would never wish the third on anybody. Instead, I forgive them this modicum of ignorance with my blessing.
The thing about depression is that it doesn't limit itself only to thoughts about personal situations or circumstances. It isn't the sole domain of self-pity and self-absorption. The trials and tribulations of the world - the injustices and cruelty, the absence of basic rights, and evidence of man's inhumanity to man - all burrow into my consciousness. I take them on as an integral part of my existence, things which cannot be separated from my own personal responsibilities. It exposes my impotence in the grand scheme of things. I feel unfairly and unjustifiably guilty over my misplaced perception of inadequacy. The inherent empathy I carry, which cannot be ignored, becomes almost unbearable - bordering on painful - and I find myself yearning for any kind of escape. It makes me question whether I want to exist in a world capable of such rampant cruelty, inequality, lack of reason, and selfishness. I question the very concepts of hope and possibility. I lack the strength to face the onslaught of negativity that bombards me daily and leaves me blind to the positivity that also exists, but is rarely heralded.
Indigenous rights and persecution over land and broken promises. Years of murdered Indigenous women and white, male indifference. Global warming. White privilege. Black Lives Matter. Religion. Territorial fueled hostilities. Child casualties. Wild fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and landslides. Lost homes and lost ways of life. Homelessness. Hunger. Lack of education. Gender inequality and self-identification. Gay marriage. Freedom of expression. Self-righteous oppression. Violence instead of dialogue. Fear silencing reason. Trump. China. Russia. Minimum wage. Small business. Big business. Money over people. Politics. Faith over science. Anti-vaxers and flat-earthers. Greed. Animal cruelty. Misogyny. Sexism. Rape. Abuse of body, power, and trust. Scandal. Cost of living. Body shaming. Slut shaming. Lack of shame. Mental health. Suicide rates. Funding. Intolerance. Immigration. Refugees. Understanding the difference.
These are some of the things that currently fill the void where my happiness and optimism would normally inhabit if I was in a stronger frame of mind. They threaten to drown me in a well so deep and dark that no light can guide me and no rope can reach me. Depression opens the door and I become vulnerable; overwhelmed as I lose the ability to filter the flow of information or the feelings that come crashing in with it. I want to fix everything and I can't even fix myself.
As counter-intuitive as it may sound, I have discovered the key to my surviving depression is to surrender to it. Not to the negativity that threatens to end me, but to my own frailties, my own flawed humanity. Instead of fighting to be something I'm not, I have to accept what I am. Someone who needs time for myself. Someone who sometimes can only function well enough to make it out of bed (if I'm lucky) and certainly not someone who can help anyone else before I help myself. I have to recognize when I'm weak at a time when I yearn to be strong and I have to forgive myself when I fall down. When I break. When I cry so hard and for so long that I can no longer see and my head hurts so much that it makes me ill. I have to let go of what I think I should be and allow me to be what I am.
An important part of actively battling depression is to have a plan, or at least things you can turn to that bring you some peace and inspiration. For me it is listening to eighties music, taking walks outside, taking a shower, focusing on one thing that I can accomplish and ignoring all others. Interacting with those who know me well enough to understand they can't fix me and don't try, gets me out of my own head without having to explain myself or act like I'm better than I am. More and more, I write.
So today, after a slow start, I let myself down and began the journey of once again picking myself back up. I took my shower, I strapped on my favourite red Converse shoes (puddles be damned), and took advantage of the temporary break in winter weather to walk my new neighbourhood. After a lunch I didn't want but knew I needed, I cried and then I sat down to write this post.
I'm not standing yet but I'm on my way up and that's good enough for today. I'll deal with tomorrow when I get there.
A song for a restart: Elvis Costello "Veronica".
Up at six, half a coffee, then out to shovel so Cheryl could get Daniella to school. She made it clear of the driveway only to sink into the unplowed street - much to the delight of the eight or so vehicles that lined up behind her. Ten minutes and some assistance later and she was finally on her way. Creeping at a snail's pace as her tires fought to grab hold every few feet, but on the move none-the-less. The best part, the yellow patches left behind where her engine had been positioned. Have to get that looked at soon, I suppose. Already waiting for a call from the garage this morning about my recently expired car.
Things are shaky as I attempt to determine where the next few months will take me. I want to believe I'm laying some solid ground work for the long haul but it will be some time before I discover how successful I've been. In the meantime, I have to focus on a possible shortfall in income soon and what my options are to rectify it.
2018 is not starting as well I'd like but how often does anything go as well as one would like? One thing I know is that you can only move in one direction, so satisfied or not, forward I march. At this point, life is unsettled, unsure, and underwhelming but I want to make sure I remind myself that I have made it this far, I have supportive family and friends, and for as many pitfalls that lay hidden in the unknown, there also exists just as many possibilities and potential. So all that's left is to put on some music, get some work done and do my best to stay positive. Here's to Monday, that first step closer to Friday and one step beyond the trials of yesterday.
This morning's track: Supertramp "Give A Little Bit".