Treading (Cold) Water

In my most recent round of climbing out of the rabbit hole, I’ve read and listened to lots of people with lots of ideas about self improvement. In my interpretation, the most useful advice all stems from the exact same core ideas.

Not that I’m going to summarize them for you here. If you ended up on this blog in hopes of the answer to life’s mysteries, that’s unfortunate and hilarious.

I just finished two weeks of tech rehearsals for my new show. For you civilians, that means I haven’t slept or done the shit I need to do to be less crazy for a while. If you’re a parent, it’s a lot like having a newborn who doesn’t like you. I’m lucky to remember how the coffee maker works, I’m constantly checking to make sure I’m wearing pants, and my head is most definitely not my friend right now.

So core self-improvement ideas may be the same, but unless someone presents them in a way that resonates with you, they don’t hit. I’ve read innumerable versions of these same ideas over the years that didn’t make a dent.

The fact that I’m even attempting to write today comes directly out of what Scott Adams says when he speaks of Systems vs. Goals.  If you have system in place, you can fail at specific goals but still win. Putting out a blog post on Sunday is a system. It forces me to create something, connect, think about something other than work, practice writing, and do something scary that pushes me outside my comfort zone. It isn’t a goal to have x-number of comments, garner a book deal, or get more people than my immediate family to read it. Doing it is the system, and that’s enough.

Tim Ferris says that when you’re struggling, share the thing that you’re struggling with. Let it be embarrassing. Let it be honest. Let it be.

I can do that.

So we’re working ridiculous hours. It’s temporary, it’s part of the gig, and we’re making overtime.

Stupidly, we had a conversation about what we were going to put the extra money towards.

In the past month, the washing machine broke, was repaired, then finally had to be replaced. The next week, the garage door went. After that, #3 suddenly required a housing deposit for college that was inexplicably three times what it was last year.

Then the door fell off the minivan.

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For fuck’s sake.

This was after the snow storm (By the way, stagehands don’t get snow days. Although if you’re super fortunate, your show may get you a room in the city, which mine did).

The door on the minivan was a conundrum. CC and I stood in the parking lot at eleven o’clock at night, with a combined total of six hours of sleep between us, completely baffled. We couldn’t get the door all the way off, and we couldn’t get it back on. Plus, all our tools were at work. It was towed to our mechanic. Then towed to the dealer. Then to the dealer’s body shop, where it remains today, ten days later. It might be ready tomorrow. It might not. CC leaves for Toronto on Tuesday.

And I’m still in production. Someone I love is in the hospital in another state and I can’t get to them yet. My dreams at night are of destruction and trying to solve problems that don’t have answers. I’m sure I’m going to be fired any minute, and convinced that this is the last job I’ll ever be hired for. I hide on my meal breaks and try to regenerate enough energy to finish the next session. I’m embarrassed how hard it is for me, but this is what happens to me when I don’t sleep.

Sleep deprivation is an exponential power added on to every single flaw and concern in my life. I just keep trying to remember that not all of the things in my head are true, and that all of the things both in and out of my head will pass.

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It’s okay. Just take a nap.

 

Saturday morning I chose sleep over a shower.

Last night our hot water heater went. The plumbers come tomorrow, well after I’m at work. Once again, our overtime has other plans. And now it’s been a little while since I’ve been clean. I’m currently debating the merits of going to the gym to take a shower, taking a cold one here, or just simply not giving a fuck.

Right now, the latter is winning. It has a high chance of still winning at 5am tomorrow. I’d apologize in advance, but it appears I’m all out of fucks to give.

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Red

Oh, hey. I’m glad you came by. Been a while, huh?

Well, you know how it goes. I get quiet when life is busy, when CC is out of town or I’m picking up extra work or cleaning the house. Heh. Heheheheh. Cleaning the house. I can’t even keep a straight face when I type that.

I’m also quiet when things blow up: We have a hurricane. We have a blizzard. A kid goes in the hospital. The Puggles get hives.

But this time I’ve been quiet because my depression took a joy ride.

Depression: Hey. Nice ride. Is this a 289? V-8? Sweet! I’m gonna drive for a while, mkay?

Me: Ummm, that wasn’t really what I….

Depression: WOO-HOO!

Hope you fueled up!
Hope you fueled up!

This round wasn’t terrible. I got up every day at a reasonable hour, I still went to work. I saw the kids, talked to my husband, walked the dogs, and ate my meals. If you deal with depression at all, you know that particular flavor of it is like winning the Depression Lottery. The jackpot this week is up to Functional Depression? Ten thousand tickets, please!

It’s been more of a constant emptiness. A lot of not being at capacity, and not being able to change that.

Two things I’ve not been able to do are talk to my family of origin (because they always see through that shit and I couldn’t talk about it), and write. Well, scratch that. I did write. I just didn’t write well.

Every time I put a pen to paper, I felt like I was recovering from a stroke- or at least from one of those nights with a case of Little Kings and that guy from high school you never really liked but hung out with because he always had the good drugs.

I assure you neither of those things happened.

Forming complete sentences was a real challenge. I’d get overwhelmed or angry or deeply sad or else totally ambivalent before I finished a thought. Sitting at the keyboard was even worse because typing is faster, so there was more time to hate myself in between words.

I can fix this, I told myself. This, too, shall pass.

Except I couldn’t, and it didn’t. And it hasn’t. And I’m getting through this post because I’ve sat down to do it nine times in the past two weeks and I have a playlist full of Iron Maiden, Queensrÿche, and Perfect Circle and I’m drinking too much caffeine too late at night and have given myself permission to suck. Out loud.

The lapse, the silence, the withdrawal from society is unfortunately timed because there are a lot of great things happening in my writing world and I sure would like to support them with a strong blog presence. My friends, too, have amazing things happening in their writing worlds and I want to support them as well. I overflow with blessings. But I’m all tap tap hate. tap tap hate. tap tap sigh. tap.

I always think I have a stronger measure of control over the big D than I actually do, and every time it ebbs away I convince myself it’s gone for good. I’m always surprised when it hijacks me again.

Depression: {knock knock}

Me: You again? I kicked you out, you sonofabitch. Go away.

Depression: C’mon, baby, you know you missed me! Let’s ride!

Me: Asshole.

Allie Brosch’s interview on NPR (which my husband, my source for all useful and interesting links, turned me on to) is fantastic, and if you haven’t heard it, here’s the link. She’s one of my favorites. She had a year and a half gap in her blog because of her depression (of the nasty, big-ass variety) and she said this:

“I think there’s a common misconception that depression is about something or depression is sadness or some form of negativity. It can represent a sadness or a self-loathing, as the first half of my depression did. It sort of circled back on itself and made me dislike myself more because I was so sad, and I didn’t know why, and I felt like I needed a reason. … It took me a long time to figure out that something was broken on a fundamental level. There was no reason behind it; it was just the way things were.”

I’ve had the I don’t think I’m pulling out of this kind of depression twice in my life. This isn’t that. I do live in fear of it getting that bad again, though I no longer believe that I am broken. I have promised that I will consider medication if it gets that bad again.

Meanwhile, I fight it. Have you ever heard the phrase: What you resist, persists?

How about, Surrender to win?

So after weeks and weeks of losing battles, trying to find the reason for it and fix it, I gave up. I accepted that it’s just the way things are right now, and there’s no real reason for it. I quit fighting it.

Me: Okay, big D. Let’s ride. Don’t wreck my goddamn car.

My inbox is in the hundreds; I’ll answer a few of them and eat a cookie if I can’t. There are seven unheard voice mails, some of which are two months old, and it’s highly probable I will delete them without ever listening to them. I’ve missed deadlines and I’m about to miss more, but I’m still writing. I’m plugging away, but in quicksand, with molasses, in a straightjacket.

Little things in my arsenal make me feel better. I always considered them weapons against the bad feelings coming, but it turns out they work just fine if you’re already down: Doing something decent for someone even if it’s in a teeny-tiny way; A good story and a strong-ass cup of coffee with cream (not milk, not half & half); Laughing, which this madhouse that I live in gives me ample opportunity to do; Chocolate and heavy metal; A brisk walk under the fall canopy amongst the dead (in our cemetery, to clarify) with the Puggles.

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Oh, and red. Red lipstick in particular. Red lips always make me happy.

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I took this ridiculous selfie when I got to work a couple weeks ago after my writers group told me I looked glamorous, which I thought was hilarious and sweet.

Because I look crazy.

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Does anybody hear Patsy Cline?

I don’t mind; looking like a whack job comes with a tremendous amount of freedom. Especially in New York.

Does the big D hijack you, too?

Where do you find freedom?