Battles With Depression

By | June 5, 2019

The last seven years have been very bad ones for me, mentally speaking. I’ve been so depressed for much of that time that I’ve done a lot of stupid things, from procrastinating on things that matter, to putting on weight and not getting enough exercise, to spending money unwisely, to taking people for granted, to not saying “thanks” where thanks are due.

In that time, my father died and that didn’t help with my depression. My wonderful cousin Anne took on the vast, vast majority of the work involved with settling the estate, and I basically just let it happen and periodically wrote to say “Any word from the attorney?” And I’m sorry for that — for taking her for granted and for not doing more to help.

I have an aunt in Putney, Vermont that I grew up not knowing (my mom’s youngest sister Eva) but that I made connection with when Carole and I moved up here back in 1998. And even though Putney is only three hours (at most, depending on traffic, weather, and moose) away, I never, ever get around to reaching out to her. And I’m sorry for that.

Carole and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary last fall but I can’t say that things between us are great, partly due to my travel schedule having been extremely busy in 2018 (I was basically never not on the road) and partly due to communication problems. Carole loves to interrupt and talk over people and I’ve gotten so sick of that that I don’t even try talking to her some days. I kinda wish we could go to couples counseling, but one requirement of counseling is being able to attend counseling sessions and when you consider how much I travel for work, well, that’s a problem.

I’ve had a much harder time mustering the same balls-to-the-wall enthusiasm for the Susan G Komen 3-Day, and that’s sad too. I used to be so utterly gung-ho; raising money for the fight against breast cancer was practically intoxicating. And now I’m just mailing it in. I still care deeply about the fight against cancer, but I find myself going “I’ll compose a cool fundraising letter tomorrow. Maybe.” And now, today, I found myself thinking “Maybe I’ll take 2021 off.” And that’s especially sad, when you consider that I’ve … on so many occasions … sworn to never stop.

Some people drink when they’re depressed. Some people smoke. Some people binge eat and sleep a lot. I’m one of that last group of people. I’ve started working on the weight and have gotten myself down to the high 220s from a high in the mid 250s, but with the rainy weather we’ve had lately and everything else going on, I haven’t gotten in as much exercise as I’d like, and my weight loss has slowed somewhat.

I also have the problem of thinking that buying stupid-ass stuff off Amazon.com — usually books and things, sometimes food items that look particularly tasty but that I certainly don’t need, sometimes really impractical stuff (I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the 8′ Olmec stone head I ordered one day. It’s taking up half the garage1no, I didn’t really buy an Olmec stone head, although they do sell them.). I went kinda berserk recently buying new birdfeeders and stuff to put out on the front porch for the cats to look at. I didn’t need more birdfeeders, but as Carole has so often noted, one of my guiding principles in life appears to be “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.” I also went seriously berserk this year on gardening supplies: new planters, new raised bed setups, lots and lots of tomatoes and pepper starts, you name it. And I’m sure it’ll all look marvelous for a month or two along about August when everything’s bearing, but did I really need all that stuff? Did it make me happy long-term? Answer: not so far.

One thing that cheers me up — temporarily — is taking fun vacations. We just had a mini-vacation to central North Carolina to revisit old haunts from when we lived there in the mid-1990s and to see friends, and that was fun while it lasted… but now that it’s over, I’m back into my funk. We’re taking another mini-vacation over July 4 weekend to go down to New York City to see a couple of Broadway musicals that have been on Carole’s bucket list for some time, and I’m looking forward to that… but at the same time, I’m absolutely not looking forward to all the frustrations involved. (Carole is sort of the human embodiment of inertia; it is very hard to get her organized and out of a hotel room in under two hours.) And while I hope that the balance of accounts on that trip is weighted toward the fun and away from the “OH MY GOD WILL YOU STOP DOING THAT” I tend to do my share of the squabbling and sniping. It’s wrong of me to do so much finger-pointing and not look in the mirror from time to time as well.

Bad habits are hard to break and depression causes me to do a lot more bitchy, petty stuff than I have any right to do. When a computer doesn’t work reliably, you reboot it or power it off and back on, and a lot of the time, everything starts working just fine. I wish there was an equivalent for the human brain.