Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

I apologize to everyone for being a tiresomely annoying, self-centered, whiny, attention-whoring, angry, malicious jerk.

I wish I could make amends to everyone I’ve harmed.

Since I can’t, I am planning on more-or-less permanently deactivating all my social media accounts.

If, in the short term, you would like a personal apology, let me know. It’s always hard to know if a personal attempt at amends will actually make things worse, and that’s the last thing I want to do.

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Clinical Depression

cauldrons of lightly chilled mayonnaise

I don’t think I’ve ever come right out and thanked my friends and co-workers and family members for being understanding and tolerant where my clinical depression is concerned. I’ve been mostly focused on saying “Look, I know what a huge drag I am, I’m sorry.” But I do appreciate people who tolerate my periodic descents into maudlin woolgathering and breast-beating, and who attempt to understand how frustrating clinical depression can be.

Thank you all.

For what it’s worth, I am on medication (citalopram and buproprion) and I think it helps; on occasion when I forget to refill my daily pill minder and start procrastinating and saying “I’ll fill it tomorrow” I start feeling really down. But the medicine doesn’t make me feel normal; I still have days I feel so bad that I could just cry.

I am not currently seeing a psychotherapist or counselor. I have seen several in the past, and got some benefit, especially in terms of coaching me how to avoid fighting with my wife and how to avoid conflict. None of the talk therapy I’ve ever gone through has helped with the clinical depression. There are people that talk therapy helps, and people it doesn’t help. Obviously, failure to benefit from a particular therapist may mean that the therapist/patient relationship isn’t optimal, and one shouldn’t just give up entirely based on that. But I’ve seen quite a few therapists over the years, and I can’t really say that any therapist helped me deal with the maddening attacks of the blues that I get.

Reputable sources agree: talk therapy doesn’t always work, and it’s not for everyone.

It would help tremendously if I worked harder at getting a lot of regular exercise. I’ve gotten almost none for a few years now. Obviously, there’s a vicious circle there; because of the depression, I don’t exercise, but because I don’t exercise, I’m probably more depressed.

Maybe I can do something about that as warm weather comes to Vermont. Ideally, I’d go out and get some exercise this week after work since I’m in Lubbock, Texas and there’s definitely no snow on the ground here. Unfortunately, I’ve got too much work on my plate right now; I need to get out of here at the end of the day and go back to my room and just keep on working, and even if I didn’t, I’d probably just curl up in a dark room.

I feel like a failure and a loser for my inability to make inroads on my depression, but at least most/all of you seem to understand what I’m experiencing, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

 

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Two things you don’t want to get confused

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Mister Sour Mash

Remind me sometime to tell you the story of how I walked into a bar in Virginia to ask directions and two hours later stumbled out, having somehow won the title of “Mister Sour Mash”.

I hadn’t even known that there was a “Sour Mash Pageant.”

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Unchecked Power: Vermont Edition

I submit for your perusal two screen captures that you might find amusing:

This’ll be my third year as Weigher of Coal for the town of Richmond, Vermont. I haven’t had to weigh any coal yet, and since the town doesn’t have a set of municipal scales, I’m unlikely to be asked to do so, but on the other hand, I don’t get paid anything for holding down the office.

Carole got asked today to continue on as a town Fence Viewer, but in defense of that office, she actually has gotten asked to come out once or twice and rule on fenceline disputes along with the other town Fence Viewers. The town is supposed to have three, but right now has only two. If you read this, and live in Richmond, contact the town manager!

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What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen up for bid in a charity auction?

A (very) long-time cow orker of mine, Brian, is running an online auction to benefit the Montessori school that he and his wife run. Since the school is located in Essex, Vermont, and the items were donated by people in the area, they’ve got a lot of things like ski passes and restaurant meals for restaurants in our area, but if you want to take a look and/or bid, feel free — all comers are welcome:

www.auctria.com/auction/13thAnnualAuction

The auction lists the usual gallimaufry of items, from clothing, baby goods, meals at restaurants, ‘experiences’ such as throwing out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game, you name it. Go take a look, then come back.

Obviously, when you’re running a charity auction, you go around and bug local businesses and interested parties to see what you can get them to donate. Within reason, you take what you can get, trying to avoid having an auction that consists of nothing but grandparents’ unwanted costume jewelry. Sometimes you get good stuff. Sometimes you don’t. (I believe I once saw a “$1000 Off The Costs Of A Funeral” item up for bid, contributed by a local mortuary. Assign that to the “good stuff” or “not” category as you wish.)

The danger, of course, in running a charity auction is that the amount of time you spend begging businesses and supporters for donations is time you couldn’t spend on other activities, and sometimes, you lose money. I used to be on the board of a state non-profit which always held a silent auction at the annual conference. When we factored in how much time it took our development director to solicit and pick up donations, we flat-out lost money. (It didn’t help that none of the items up for auction were of the showstopper type; people rarely fight to be high bidder on lovely knitted caps). Result: no more annual conference auctions, and I don’t recall anyone complaining about the absence.

Last year I went to a bingo night and silent auction at a local school and one of the local bait shops had contributed a five pound bucket of live bait or nightcrawlers, your choice. The same auction offered a coupon good for $100 worth of taxidermy services. Carole won a certificate good for a deluxe auto detailing from a local shop (which, as it happened, really did make her car look like a million bucks) and I won a $50 gift card for a restaurant 45 minutes from our house that I still haven’t used. A different auction was responsible for my winding up owner of a wooden two-tiered serving platter/centerpiece that I have basically no real need for and a $50 certificate off services from the local wedding cake baker. (Some people will bid on anything.)

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen up for sale at a charity auction? Did it sell? Did you buy it?

 

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I’m the worst person in the world

I am mentally ill.

My mental illness takes the form of severe depression mixed with PTSD.

My depression is partly due to heredity and partly due to environment. It’s the nature of the thing that it’s sometimes hard to draw a fine line between the two.

My maternal grandmother was institutionalized in Florida off and on for much of her life; she died when I was five and I have literally no recollection of ever having met her. From what I understand, mostly she had severe depression — I’ve never gotten a detailed writeup confirming whether she also had schizophrenic tendencies, bipolar, or anything else. People agree about the depression, though. In any event, as I said, I can’t recall having met her, but genes are genes.

On the other side of my family tree, my father had severe depression that went undiagnosed and untreated; every year on his birthday and on Father’s Day he’d get his nose out of joint because we didn’t pay him enough respect and attention and he’d go climb into bed in the middle of the day and either sulk or mope, depending on your interpretation of things. He rarely interacted with others socially; generally, he’d come home, eat dinner, and then sit in a chair and read all evening. God help us if we bothered him.

He was a very emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive man who seemed pathologically afraid of giving any of his children a compliment and for whom the ultimate accusation was “You did that to get attention!” If I asked a question at a science museum, I could count on being cursed once out of earshot of the docent for “having tried to get attention”. If I got all wound up and hyper during a third grade play, you bet Dad spent the whole trip home reading me the riot act for “just doing that to get attention”. I spent my high school years going hungry when the family went out to dinner because, regardless of what I ordered, Dad would snarl that I was just ordering it to be stupid, to show off, to get attention. Finally I just stopped ordering and sat there hungry while others ate.

As for the physical part of the abuse — well, I’ll spare you the details, but I got kicked, beaten, thrown around, and more, just basically for doing the kind of things that kids routinely do. I tended to stay in my room and pray that when I heard his footsteps coming down the hall they wouldn’t stop in front of my door. I spent quite a few high school nights running a few miles from our house in the woods outside Blacksburg to a friend’s house three miles away. That is, until I finally drew a knife on him in self defense; he went absolutely ballistic, called the police, and wanted them to put me under the jail; how dare I raise a hand to him? (They talked him down; apparently they realized at a glance what they were dealing with.)

I mention all this, not because a strange whimsy seized hold of me and said “tell the whole world about your abusive father, now that he’s been dead for a year and can’t rebut” but rather because it might help explain why I am the way I am.

I have PTSD-style reactions to anger and violence. I want to go crawl into a hole and pull it in after me, especially if the person yelling is a family member.

As for depression — I have mad self-loathing skillz.

I look at everything I do from a standpoint of “oh, God, I just did that to get attention, didn’t I?” What makes that especially bad is that I’m naturally silly and extroverted, but every time I say or do something silly in front of others, I then spend a healthy chunk of time feeling hideously embarrassed, certain that they must have thought “what a pathetic loser.”

I post things to Facebook, and then, a day or so later, tiptoe back onto the site and delete them. There’s a voice inside me so full of loathing: “you just want attention, that’s why you shared that, isn’t it?” Take a look at my Facebook profile, if you like. That’s not the result of one day’s mad deleting; nothing, really, stays on my page for very long before, cringing, I sneak back in and take it down. I assume that anyone who did see whatever it was that I shared probably had the same reaction: “how pathetic.”

There’s a part of me that likes to occasionally send strange, out-of-the-blue gifts to friendsacquaintances (note: I am terrified of calling someone my friend only to have them quickly and firmly correct me) just because I like to imagine their reaction when they open the package and find, oh, a “Unicorns Are Jerks” coloring book. But then, there’s the other part of me that knows, perfectly well, why I do it: I want attention.

I was raised from birth to believe that attention-seeking is an absolutely shameful thing, and yet, like any sane human, I want attention. I am sickened and revolted by the things I do to try to get attention, even if to another person they might seem perfectly ordinary.

I work as a technical trainer for a large corporation. I spend a huge percentage of my time speaking to and working with medium to large groups of people on complicated and convoluted software and system issues relating to the hospital and physician financial flow. I’m apparently somewhat good at it. But for some broken reason, I gain very little self esteem from being good at my job. Perhaps it’s because my brain is just mis-wired. Perhaps it’s my father’s voice in the back of my mind, reminding me that enjoying attention, deserved or otherwise, is disgusting, and pathetic, and contemptible.

Either way, though — I’m sorry. I’m sorry for those of you who have to put up with my dysfunction and my self-flagellation and everything that goes along with them. I don’t know which is more annoying: pathetic attention-seeking followed by pathetic attention-seeking, or pathetic attention seeking followed by public self-loathing. But either way, in case you were wondering: yes, I know I’m incredibly annoying. I wish I’d go away too.

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