If you are at all curious or concerned about the experience of actual clinical depression, read this:
It’s one of those weeks. People with serious depressions know them, they’re the ones when you get nothing done and don’t care because it really doesn’t matter anyway, does it? They’re the ones where you sleep way too much because if you get up, nothing’s worth doing. They’re the ones in which anger swims in your veins, disguised as anxiety and stress and frustration, ready to cut you when people do things that annoy. They’re the ones when you realize just how few friends you truly have, and how little you feel you can look to the ones you do. It’s mostly the depression talking, and a broken psyche in pain. Mostly.
Here’s our song of the week, from Ryan Adams…
Kim Richey performing her haunting “A Place Called Home,” which was once used to heartbreaking effect in an episode of Angel.
Strugglin’ on…always laughing…
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Yeah, I know. Electroshock therapy? A good memory?
I’ve struggled greatly, for years, with chronic, terrible depression, and I’ve done therapy and all sorts of self help and multifarious concoctions of antidepressant meds, but nothing actually worked to any significant degree. I finally got desperate and started looking into electroshock, or as it’s known these days, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Continue reading
Some days, no matter the sunshine or time with friends or shards of productivity, I still mostly feel the corpse waiting in my skin, the creaking bones of my soul. It’s been a year of loss.
It’s late and I should be in bed. So what better time to update the couple of people out there who’re interested in what’s been going on with me.
Previously On Under An Outlaw Moon…
Tim struggled with deep dark depression. Tim underwent ECT, electroconvulsive therapy, aka electroshock treatments. It was pretty cool, and helped a lot.
Tim started a plan to get his life in order, calling it “On Track.” Among other things, he was writing every day, and exercising regularly, and he posted his progress online so people could see if he was doing what he was supposed to. This went really well for a while. Then, it didn’t.
Depression returned. Inertia set in. Tim floundered…
So, what’s happened since then? Continue reading
Not for the first time, Brandi Carlile sings my soul.
And though the footage is nicer in the above, this one has the end of the song, so I’m putting both…
In this video, an 18 year old woman tells us her story, and it is a very moving story indeed.
It’s been a while.
Partly this was due to a very enjoyable New York vacation (thanks again, Phil & Angie, with a drunken shout-out to Ross), partly due to a general psychological crunch brought on by a major health scare (which proved to be false, thank the gods) and the last radioactive traces of the break-up I’d been trying to fix for way too long, partly due to what seems to be a normalization process in my brain after the giddy trauma of electroshock therapy.
I’ve been out of town and off my game. And most definitely off track.
But, I’m back. I’m healthy. My heart is healed, if still grieving at the loss of someone who would be a fine friend (but who, in truth, I think was right about our romantic incompatibility…the signs were there all along, I just chose to ignore them). And the worst of the crazy brought on by my ECT treatments seems to have receded, leaving me still better able to deal with my demon depression, but not an emotional basket case. It’s like my spine has returned from sabbatical. I am again myself. Mostly. I think.
Now it’s time to get back to work. I’m renewing my commitment to my On Track program, formally beginning this coming Monday. And I’m going to be fine-tuning it some, based on my earlier experiences (for instance, I’m upping my daily minimum word count for writing to 1,000 rather than 500).
Also, I should be on here more again. I hope you’ll join me.
In the meantime, here’s the first Song of the Week in a while, a haunting and lovely piano cover of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind” by Maxence Cyrin.
Great song by the Derailers (perhaps the perfect theme band for my weeks “off track” of late)…
Another mile, another memory
of a love I’m trying to forget
There’s no cure, for my misery,
or I haven’t found it yet
Can’t stop a train, can’t stop a heart;
I’m feeling pain when it’s falling apart
Can’t keep the one you love from changing;
When it’s rolling, can’t stop a train
Our love is a raging fire that consumes my heart and soul
It ran hot right down to the wire when it burns out of control
Where is our love, was it just a sweet dream?
So good while it lasted, now it’s gone, moving on,
can’t stop a train
When it’s gone, moving on, can’t stop a train, can’t stop a train
If you need a bit of perspective on life…
After many travails, my second column at Inveterate Media Junkies is now finally online:
Severe heartbreak. Deaths of old friends. A resurgence of depression. My son outta town for a couple weeks.
And now…drumroll please…cancer scare!
What the fuck, is it sweeps week?
[UPDATE: After the tests, it turned out I was okay.]
Turns out, my digestive trauma/internal bleeding back around the turn of the year, maybe significant. Turns out, dropping twenty pounds in a month and a half and not being able to regain any of it, maybe significant. Turns out, a few warts and an odd bump in my skin, maybe significant. Turns out, uncharacteristically major spikes of stress caused by minor upsets, maybe significant.
So today was day 1 of tests. Friday’s day 2, with a specialist, and this morning the doc pointed me to another specialist who I’ll likely see next week. Today was all about blood. Friday is likely to be a biopsy. And day 3 will probably entail a full-on colonoscopy.
For some reason, I’m tense. And sad. Well…I was already sad. But now, really tense too. It’s hard to focus on anything. I hope to get my writing done today, at least 500 words, but will at least make sure to get my pushup regimen done.
When fighting demons, you gotta stay in shape.
This week has been full of pain.
After weeks of successfully managing my time and energy on my “On Track” plan, my energy and motivation started a downward slide and my old demon depression reached for me from the darkness below. This was inevitable. I knew I wouldn’t maintain a perfect run for the rest of my life, and it was only a matter of time before I failed. Even my confidence that the electroshock therapy I underwent gave me a solid edge against the demon didn’t make me think it was gone for good.
But I was determined to get through any darkness, absorb whatever failures and accept them, stay on track as much as I could and get all the way back on as soon as able. I was changing my habits, my life, my world, and I wasn’t going back to the cycles of depressive failure and despair I went through for many years.
The darkness washed over me, but I held to hope. Saturday I still managed the most important goals on my list, my writing and exercise. Sunday is my day off, but I got in a good swim with my son. But by Monday, the depression had me firmly in its grip, and it wasn’t helped by the news of death I was hearing.
Clarence Clemmons died. Now, I didn’t know Clarence, but as part of the E. Street Band he was a bright star in the firmament of my musical dreamscape since I was about sixteen. Part of music itself died when he went, and it made me sad.
Later in the week, Gene Colan, one of the great comic book artists, died. I grew up on his work. Batman, Howard the Duck, Tomb of Dracula, and countless other books over the years were graced with his very distinctive and beautiful style. (And Howard the Duck was a shitty movie, but a witty and really sophisticated comic, just so you know).
A short while ago today, I got up from a nap and saw that Peter Falk died. And yeah, didn’t know him, but loved his work my whole life.
The most painful death, though, was that of Linda Dubler. Linda was the curator of film at the High Museum of Atlanta, and she died of bone marrow cancer. She was also a friend, who I enjoyed many films with over the years before I got married and fell out of touch (with her and most of the world). But Linda wasn’t just good people, she was wonderful people, and hearing about her death really got to me. I’m tearing up even now as I type this.
All this death this week. By Monday I knew about Clarence and Linda, and the knowledge was an extra claw for depression to rake me with. I managed to do my pushup regimen and stretching that day, but that was it. Tuesday, I went for a swim with the kid.
Also, in my state of depression and grief, I lost control of my emotions long enough to get belligerent with Kate, who was having a bad day herself, and I seem to have ruined our chances for any sort of future. This isn’t really an overreaction on her part, because she’s forgiven several similar (and worse) eruptions as I’ve adjusted to the neurological changes brought on by the electroshock, and I was sort of on probation.
We were getting along. We were getting close again. She was coming to see me next month for a few days.
Now it was all over. And my heart ripped.
This of course hasn’t helped. The axe fell yesterday morning, via email, and I collapsed. I felt I’d destroyed one of the two or three things in my life that really matter, and to be honest I still feel that way. A good friend came over to make sure I didn’t drown myself or anything, and I talked with him a few hours. I also had never gotten around to my pushups on Wednesday, but had promised my son I’d do them, so I did those in the late afternoon. By the time my friend left, I had my equilibrium back and felt some hope about my life again…
I’m not back on track, but I will be soon. I’ll do the next day of pushups tomorrow, and be back on M/W/F next week, and maybe today, maybe tomorrow, but certainly by Monday I’ll be writing again. And I’ll be posting my On Track updates. And I’ll be me again, I hope, at least in the sense that I don’t spontaneously start tearing up at the drop of a fucking hat.
My heart is a wound. I miss Kate. I love her. I want her. But I know I don’t need her, and I’ll endure, even if I may not be as happy.
The worst of it is I hurt her. I let her down. One of the saddest moments I experienced yesterday came when my friend was talking about how good a person his boyfriend is, and how his boyfriend had done nothing but make his life better in every way. And I was sitting there about to crumble into myself, thinking how very much I wish I had been that for Kate. Through that realization, and other tiny epiphanies during the day, I came to see matters between Kate and me with new eyes. Just in time to be too late.
But, deaths and heartbreak and depression aside, I’m battered and bruised and perhaps kinda gutted, but okay. And I’ll be On Track and moving forward.
Tune in next week, same Byrd time, same Byrd channel…
My depression is rearing to tell me it hasn’t been vanquished for good, but I’m not gonna let it take over things anymore. This Owl City song reminds me of a really happy time, and it makes me hopeful. Plus, it just makes me smile and want to dance.
When I first discovered that depression was pretty much the source of most of my troubles, the reason I hadn’t been able to build the life I wanted, and sought professional help, my MD referred me to a beautiful lady shrink at Emory (let’s call her Susan Silverman, for those in the know, because she would have been perfect). I met with her a couple of times, and she explored my history then referred me to another shrink in the program she thought would work well with me.
One thing she told me before I started working with the other doctor has always stuck with me. Continue reading
My first “grown up” romantic relationship was with a lovely German girl I met the day I arrived at my Army post in the village of Treysa, West Germany. She was smart and funny and sexy, and we were together for something like four years. She was a good girl friend.
I was a good boyfriend too. Mostly.
I’ve been remembering certain things the past few days, as I’ve dealt with the after-effects of my electroshock therapy, tossed around like a cork on a sea of emotion churning, chaotic, and deep.
Then, I was young and passionate and immature. I had some anger issues. I lacked a certain measure of self control. I know this sounds like I’m about to launch into some darkly revelatory reminiscence, but the truth is (mostly) a lot goofier than that. Continue reading
I’m thinking it may have been a good thing that Kate broke up with me back in April. Continue reading
It’s been an interesting week. Largely in that “Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times” sorta way, but interesting.
And this post has been a pain in the ass. The main idea is to talk about things I’ve done this week to get my life back on track, and the plans I have going forward, and also to ask for some help.
But I’ve started several times, each time digressing as I tried to establish context and discuss what got me to this point, until the post becomes more a rehash of recent history than a plan of action. If you need such a rehash, I’ve covered most of that ground here already and you can easily catch up. In the notes below, I will briefly cover some pertinent details.
I don’t want to make the mistake I’ve made at times in the past and cook up a huge plan of action that is too much to take on, only to inevitably (and quickly) falter. So I’ll focus on certain areas, and commit to a few definite tasks in those areas, allowing for the plan to grow more complex over time as appropriate.
And, as I said, I’m asking for help. I want friends to help me stay on track by holding me accountable. If you’re interested, I’m looking into ways to post my progress day to day (probably on Facebook) so you’ll know if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and you can alternately cheer me or badger me. I think it’ll help me a lot. As I figure the tracking system out, I’ll post more info.
Now, the foundation… Continue reading