On Inaction, Depression and the Way Forward

My favourite image to represent insomnia.

My favourite image to represent insomnia.

As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer from depression. I’m lucky enough not suffer to the same extent that I know others do, but I am also aware of the effect it has on my life. It affects my relationships, habits, diet and any number of other things.

I’ve just returned to Mexico after a pleasant if uneventful visit ‘home’. I’ve spent more than my fair allotment in my three days back being utterly inactive and catching up on my TV-viewing and video gaming.

Beyond external stimuli (including but not limited to workload, dating dilemmas and familial guilt) there’s one thing that’s murder when it comes to depression, and that’s inactivity. Your body doesn’t work off any energy, your mind has the time to roll and roll through your mind, and you get the opportunity to spend 18 hour days watching TV and getting very little sleep. I expect that to be my situation tonight. So, I’ve decided to come up with a few “New Week’s Resolutions”* with which to occupy my mind:

  1. Finish typing up my novel so it’s all electronic. I’m at a stage now where I’m between half and two-thirds finished on the project and I’ve completely lost faith in it. I realise that when it is finished it will take so much editing as to make it a new book completely. Nonetheless, I’m determined not to give up on it. This is stage one in getting back to work on it.
  2. Write 3 new things. That’ll either be fiction or blog posts, I think. Today I dug up some old dabbles I can play with if needs be. Whatever I write,  they need to be of significant length and should hopefully get me back into the habit.
  3. Stop angsting about dating and stop acting on my angst. This one is a little more difficult and much less measurable, and therefore shouldn’t really be a resolution. Nevertheless, it’s mind blog and my head so nyer. 😛
  4. Lastly, I’m not going to sit in the house all day next Friday. What with the friends I have here, I’m sure this won’t be an issue as we all return to the country and get back to the work. That said, I want this to be my last weekend of inaction for a while. I’m giving myself tomorrow in response to the insomnia I’m anticipating for tonight.

So, yes. These are the thing’s I will and won’t do this week.

In other news, isn’t Jenna Louise Coleman cute and charismatic?! I can’t wait to watch the new half-season of Doctor who come my birthday.

Jenna Louise Coleman AKA Clara Oswin Oswald

Jenna Louise Coleman AKA Clara Oswin Oswald

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“Sexy Beast” or Just “Beast”?

Couldn’t not reference this pun. Source linked. It’s a t-shirt!

I was going to begin with a Miriam-Webster definition of attractiveness, but that’s not terribly helpful, is it? I guess the truth is, I want to vent about my self-image frustrations.

The thing is, I’ve never been all that attractive. Back in the days of being 20 stone (300 pounds/136 kilos) I look an awful lot better, but I’m never going to be Brad Pitt, however much I work. See the picture at the bottom for a comparison.Even with all this in mind, I’m hurt when a woman says that my body is not her favourite thing about me.

Let me give you a for instance. At a party I met an absolutely beautiful woman with whom I began to talk, flirt and mock. We fooled around and I bullied her a little about a guy who was following her around like a puppy.

Weeks pass and we chat occasionally on Facebook. One time while drunk-messaging, she lets slip that she’s had a crush on me since the party. I utterly disbelieve her and CCQ her about three times before I’m willing to allow for the possibility and agree to a date. The date was wonderful – she was clearly really attracted to me, and wanted to pursue the relationship further. Nonetheless, my body image issue got in the way later and could have seriously messed things up had she not had experience dealing with the crazies.

Unfortunately, my mind seems to see attractiveness (with relation to me, anyway) in a very binary kind of way. Either you think I look good or you don’t. There’s no grey area. Of course, that’s not how I’m attracted to people. I can be attracted to this element and not that, and come to an overall “yes please” conclusion without the bad things being the be all and end all.

I think I need to find some sort of middle ground. I know I’ll never be a swaggering, self-confident fat guy like James Cordon or Gnarles Barkley (yes, random. They’re the two that came to mind, okay?). I also don’t have to believe that I have the looks of a cathedral grotesque. There has to be a middle ground and I need to find it. I need to come to terms with the idea that someone can be attracted to me despite rather than because of my body. I need to come to terms with the idea that that’s a good thing.

Before, after and "as if"

Before, after and “as if”.

30 Days Challenge: Day 29: Future plans/goals

I find myself in the mood to whine and winge at be generally depressive at you. Instead, I’m going to do the next 30 Day question, which is much more cheerful.

Career

Professionally, I want to continue to teach – particularly adults or small groups of children. I’ve become rather jaded towards school teaching and I don’t think it’s really my wheelhouse. Teaching adults and business English, on the other hand, is really something I can see myself doing for the rest of my working life. I’m not a perfect teacher; I have a lot of personal development and growth to do, but that is something I really want to put my time and attention into. Long-term, I see myself going into academic management and/or teacher training.

Career 2

I want to publish a book. I’m about halfway through some British urban fantasy (being that I’m British and I like urban fantasy). Even if it’s not this attempt or the next or the next, I’d like to see a book with my name on it in a mainstream bookstore (assuming they still exist in twenty years’ time, of course). This is a goal I’ve held unwaveringly since I first held J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit at around age 9. Maybe earlier. It won’t change until it happens.

Geography

This is the big question, I suppose. I have no great desire to return to England permanently, and as I begin to lose family members, that need or want will grow less and less. I also have a strong desire to live in  more countries before (and if) I decide to set down permanent roots somewhere. Unless something significant happens in the next nine months or so, I think this will be my last year in Mexico.

Romance

Well, I guess that’s kind of affected by the previous paragraph. I want to be in love again*, but I also know that it makes me make lots of stupid mistakes. It might make me stay in Mexico longer, but not forever. I want to see the world. Whoever I found would have to be okay with that as part of what they’re getting when they say ‘yes’ to getting me.

So far as marriage and kids go, I think they’re things I want in the future, but I’m not there yet. Marriage I could take or leave, but I’d love to have kids one day. I’d love to have polyglot kids one day. The romance thing has to come first, though. And last.

Anyway, those are my plans for the future. I’d also like to further my Spanish and at least one other language. I want to be the kind of man with the kind of life that 12 year old Andy could be proud of becoming.

 

 

*On some days I want it a little too much.

30 Days Challenge: Day 25: How you found out about Blogger & why you made one

Yeah, this isn’t Blogger. Let’s say this is a question about blogging in general.

I blog for a couple of reasons. One is to keep my hand into writing, since I’m often too lazy to plug away at the Great Swampy Middle of my novel. A piece of advice I once read was that writing every day was one of the most important things. So that’s what I try to do. It’s not a form that’s exactly applicable to fiction, but it’s satisfying just to get some words down on e-paper.

The second reason is as an outlet. I don’t know if it’s because I’m depressed, or just because of the kind of guy I am*, but I think and feel all the damn time. Sometimes it helps just to whine about it on here, or to talk about the ways I come to cope with it. It just helps to make a noise and believe people are reading it (even when they’re not). And, hell, if one of my self-indulgent posts on depression help one other person, then I think I’ve done okay as a blogger, really.

A friend of mine (Ceri – her blog is here) said that there’s a level of narcissism about keeping an online diary. I think that’s probably true, too. I think the trick is to know the difference between posting to update family, talk about things, whatever and in trying to get attention or cause a reaction. I’m sure I’ve stepped over the wrong side of the line once or twice, but whatever. It helps to talk to you, imaginary reader. So thanks very much. 🙂

And here’s a kitten picture to wrap up:

*That’s assuming you can separate one from the other, of course.

Depression: Blockbuster or Indie success?

A disclaimer before we begin: this post is based on my own experience and how it has affected me. I’m well aware that many people have it better, worse and different to me.

Okay, with that out of the way and before we begin, I’d like you to image what a depressed person looks like: how they dress, what they’re doing, what they do for a living…

Got it? Good. Now, I’m not going to be all preachy about how anyone can be mentally ill, just like anyone can have the flu. Not only is it obvious, but it you’re searching on a tag that gets you here, you’ve heard it all before.

VincentThat said, you’re probably picturing someone middle-aged, drink-reliant and you might throw in ‘artistic’ if you’re feeling generous. You’re thinking of someone who can barely function when Churchill’s ‘black dog’ hits, but who is otherwise brilliant. If you’re one of my Doctor Who fan readers, you may be thinking of Van Gogh in Vincent and the Doctor. In truth, depression can be like that. It can also be different.

I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve come up with another wafer-thin metaphor to describe it. I can divide my own depression into two horror movie themed categories: Hollywood blockbuster and low-budget indie flick.

In a blockbuster, you have a big, terrifying monster. It might be an immortal serial killer or a clown-dragon-nun from Mars. Whatever it is, it’ll be terrifying, loud and impossible to escape; SFX coming out of its ears.

This is the kind of depression that’s easy to identify in the street. It’s the guy railing or crying at the lack of cinnamon in Starbucks or the lateness of his train. It’s hard to battle when you’re in the midst of it, because it’s such an all-encompassing tsunami of emotion. That emotion is everything there is, and everything feeds it.  Once it’s over and normal service resumes, however, it’s hard to imagine what got you so upset in the first place, and the opinions therein can be filed under ‘depressive’ and never considered again. This is if you’re one of the lucky ones like me, for whom this state itself isn’t ‘normal service’.

The other kind is that one movie you’re cinephile friend told you you had to see. It’s low-budget, slow-paced and was probably filmed in a language that isn’t your own. It’s a movie where the guy you fell in love with in the first reel was the monster all along; the one that makes you slide your eyes over to whatever potential-murderer you happen to be watching the movie with. It’s the kind of movie that feels like it could happen, and sticks with you longer than you’re happy to admit.

This the kind of depression I get most frequecanntly, though unmanaged it can turn into the first kind faster than a bad American remake can hit the screens. It’s the insidious kind of depression that sneaks into your thoughts without tripping your internal alarms. It creeps in an begins to colour your thoughts about anything and everything. It’s the kind that makes you know for a fact that that girl could never be interested in you, that you’d never get that job, or that your family are utterly ashamed of you. It’s like that feeling of waiting for a text after a first date multiplied a thousandfold. This is the kind of depression that really has the potential to undermine your well-being. If you don’t identify it as the malign presence it is as early as possible, you never know how many thoughts or decisions it could have effected in the interim.

One also finds that the holes that are already there in the psyche can invite in this monster. Just like going to see Stephen King’s It with a pre-existing clown phobia* will leave you more afraid that you might be otherwise, so too can pre-existing neuroses allow in the Indie Depression DemonTM.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Hollywood BreakdownAlso TM, but the Indie Bastard is constantly on my back, threatening to find a hole in my defences. I think he found one earlier, but I was expecting it (from prior experience) and I’m fighting it even as we speak. My guard’s up, but the little twat is behind it. Now all  I have to do is take the blows and wait until I can give him a taste of his own medicine.

Anyway, yeah. Back to silly challenge questions tomorrow. 🙂

*Coulrophobia if you’re interested.

On Starting a Course of Anti-Depressants*

To catch up those who don’t know, I was diagnosed with depression a year or two ago after I took a breakup particularly hard. I’ve always been emotional, but I was starting to hit some dangerous lows, so I was started on a course of drugs.

A few months ago, I made the decision to stop. I actually felt better off the drugs. My head was clearer, I was enjoying unfiltered emotions and I thought I was good to go.

Then, this last month, I hit a low I was really struggling to get out of. Everything with my new girlfriend, my job and my ex-girlfriend was a deep personal slight, even when not meant as such. I figured it would pass. I was wrong.

After self-harming during a fight with my gf, I decided it was time to go back onto the drugs. Since they’re available here in Mexico like candy, I chose the drug I had entered the country using, rather than the ones I had experimented with since. I guess I’ve decided that the mental clarity is not worth the difficulty I’ve been having in dealing with my lows.

The thing is, as it’s been explained to me, it’s not a massively understood science. One drug will affect different people in different ways and levels of intensity. They also demand a week or three for the body to get used to them. This means that right now, my brain is muddy, pessimistic and more than a little nihilistic. The second death of my laptop last night kept we awake for two hours I really needed for sleep. The best emotion I can manage at the moment is distraction. I’m not even sure that is an emotion.

I’m having difficulty concentrating or working (the latter more so than even my usual lazy self gives me), my always-irritable digestive system is being very angry and political at the moment, while I wander through life in a half-awake daze.

I really need this drug to communicate with my body soon, or –

Something moved in the corner of my eye and I lost the end of that sentence. The thing is, I’m feeling kind of numb, which means I’m less likely to self-harm. I’m also less likely to enjoy anything right now. Just ticking along is a bit of a struggle at the moment. No, not struggle. It’s just so slow. Everything seems snail-like in both speed and importance.

Ew – let’s leave the emo-imagery for the moment, shall we?

Since my laptop is dead again, I’ll be spending the weekend watching videos on YouTube and reading “Kushiel’s Dart” because Felicia Day told me to. I’ll try to do it in the sun at some point, since conventional wisdom is that the sunshine helps. It’s one thing that’s certainly not in short supply here in Mexico. I just wish my mood matched.

 

 

*The next post will be based on something entertaining. I promise.