It’s Sunday morning – my favorite morning of the week.
Two newspapers, online news, Sunday Baroque on the radio. Coffee. Pie. An extended night’s sleep.
Well, that’s the way it starts. Nice and slow. No reason to feel bad at all, especially in the middle of five days off.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter what is happening. I’ll be on the couch in the middle of reading or thinking about something and feel the crash.
In an instant, I am despondent, depressed. I tell my wife my mood “just fell off the table.”
That’s the only way I can describe the phenomena.
I try to analyze it as best I can. Sometimes, it could be something or things I’ve just read. Sometimes, I think of something out of the blue that might do it. Other times it seems like some kind of weird chemical reaction (it happens very fast and hard). Sometimes it could be purely existential – there’s a reason (perhaps a combination of the above) but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.
Hmmm. I look out the window and realize I have nothing to do today if I don’t want to. And I feel weird about that. I’ve worked my ass off the last two days to get to this point but now I feel guilty about it. I’m. . . having unproductive time. I know this must sound nutty and it is because I know how important rest and relaxation are but tell that to my brain.
When I was in the Army, and out in the field, there was no such thing as downtime. It was the same at my first job at McDonald’s. There’s an old saying which is true – your foxhole can always be improved. When I was in a foxhole and heard that I thought that eventually my squad would build a foxhole that would look like the Winchester House – with turrets and battlements and a moat perhaps. But it would never be finished.
At McDonald’s God help you if you ever stood still. Everything could SEEM to be gleaming but you still had to grab a towel and wipe something down. In other words, you’re getting paid $2.20 an hour – look busy.
And then there comes the realization that no matter how many days I have off, I have to go back to work at some point. Work is a place where it seems I’m either fighting off some adverse action directed at me, or I have nothing to do. For that I get paid an amount I’m to embarrassed to mention here because I like to feel like I earn it when often I really don’t.
To me, it’s always about proving — through work — that I deserve to be alive.
There’s always an memory from my childhood. I’m sitting in my bedroom fortress watching cartoons on my black and white 11-inch TV. I can even remember the cartoon I’m watching when it happens. Suddenly, my mom bursts in to my room and starts yelling at me about what a mess my room is and how I need to turn off the cartoons and get to work.
This happened when I was 11, give or take a year either way. It’s what I call an imprint. Like the oil bucket crisis I wrote about earlier, it’s a memory that stays with you – a tiny snapshot in time – all your life no matter how much you try to forget it.
Without wandering too far afield of the subject – things we remember, not just in the middle of the night, but at any time, contribute to the floor giving way under us. Those that know what I mean, of course.
I think that it’s a general fear I’ve had all my life that at any moment, I’ll be judged for not being worthy to draw breath. So I find ways to ‘be busy’ with something, anything, that might make the judgment pass over me.
Another part of the feelings that come with the phenomenon is the sense that time is marching on and what are you doing about using what’s left to maximize your potential? Sitting on your couch fucking around on the Internet. Why aren’t you working out, creating art, indulging in a hobby, going to a community service meeting, volunteering, bicycling in the park, etc.
At one time or another, I’ve done all of those things. I’m still overweight, still working in a job I hate (but pays extremely well, so I’d be a fool to leave it), still depressed, still averse to social interaction and, frankly, tired of trying over and over to get life right.
But I do feel guilty about it, so that’s good, right?
Existential fear. The worst kind – because there is no one right thing to banish it.
So I get up, take the meds and come back here to write it all out. Despite hating my own writing (and now it’s your turn), it does help. There is something to be said about writing yourself through a depressive period. It just took me around 16 aborted blogs through the last 15 years to get one that feels right.
So do I feel better now? Yes, marginally. I have created! it may be shit, but there it is, right in front of you, dear reader.
So if you deal with a depressive disorder and fall off the table, maybe this will inspire you to over self-examination. Perhaps, like a light, the solution will be suddenly apparent. Or perhaps it’s organic and your brain just decided to screw with you.
Because I’m ollllllld, I can say that it’s like being ambushed by Allen Funt.
“When it’s least expected – you’re elected. You’re the loser today . . Shit! You‘re on Morbid Camera!”