Help is just help

It’s been a while, huh? It’s foolish of me to run away from this website since it always makes me feel better but once every other year I do. It all seems useless. Blogging, I mean. The pursuit of self improvement and reflection without financial reward? Are you kidding me? In this economy?

Jokes aside, I do tend to see my website as a colossal embarrassment sometimes. Like a letter thrown into the wind or a message pushed into a bottle and left on the shore. Sometimes connections are made— wondrous email threads begin and then abruptly stop—but often this whole blogging business is hard to justify. Who cares what I’m all excited about next? My writing isn’t improving, my...

I know, I know.

The real reason I haven’t returned to this e-garden for a few months is that things have lately. With me. Food and sleep, again.

This time I’m trying something new though. Usually I just wait until these slumps stop but it’s been more than a year of unnecessary anxiety, more than a year of not being able to rest, of being constantly on edge. More than a year of distractions and not feeling safe despite all the evidence to the contrary.

So I called a doctor, told him what’s up.

I’m struggling to sleep, there’s this persistent hum of social anxiety, and then there’s this underlying terror of...nothing. I’m afraid all the time, always worried. And therapy isn’t working. Neither will eating endless garbage all day and night without end. And earlier this week I caught myself wanting a glass (or two, or three) of wine whilst at work. Not great stuff.

I hated saying this stuff out loud. First, I hate the attention and the subsequent pity. I feel like having these feelings at all is an admission of weakness, of fractured masculinity (I know, yikes). And I assume it has something to do with the fact that where I grew up even talking to a therapist was seen as this foul, disturbed thing. Only broken people do that.

The doctor said that I had really bad anxiety and then he dropped the D word on me. Depressed. I? I make silly jokes all the time! I love my history podcasts! I think about the Roman Empire constantly! I love my little walks around the neighborhood! And, sure, I can’t read a single page of a book without getting bored senseless lately and all I wanna do is eat every single thing in sight all the time until I burst but that doesn’t mean I’m...ugh...that word that shall not be named. Right?

It’s really, truly fucked up that I see “depressed” as a moniker of embarrassment and shame instead of what it really is: a malady, an ailment. If only I was a bit smarter, a bit more caring of others, a bit harder worker, then I wouldn’t have time to be depressed! But this, of all the takes, is the absolute worst.

The doc prescribed an anti-depressant, low dosage, and warned me of the side affects but was very confident it would help. We’ll see. It’s going to be at least a good couple of months until I’ll be able to spot any changes. But what am I hoping for? Less anxiety. I want to be able to hold someone’s gaze. I want the paranoia to steady down a bit. I want to go to bed and read and read and read and then sleep and wake up without feeling like I’ve just fought a wildebeest.

The other day a pal of mine shared a spreadsheet that documented his chronic pain each day, longstanding nerve damage, and you could see over time in just a glance how he had suffered and how in recent months each cell in the sheet was growing slowly redder and redder, the pain more pronounced. I felt terrible for him but it was amazing to me that this is the one thing he could control in this situation. The documentation. But it got me to thinking what the spreadsheet of my moods might look like if I plotted them out over the last few years and then I knew the answer right away.

I have good moments, great moments even. And I’m not sullen or mean, I don’t randomly cry during the day. But the baseline of my moods ain’t healthy. It just needs work though, the right nudge in the right direction.

And I’m really hoping these meds help. But this whole thing has reminded me that it’s time to stop seeing help as this embarrassing thing to ask for, a source of shame.

Help is just help.