Day 35: Area 6, Ease on Down the Road

Angela puts on some music, I don’t even know what the heck she picked in terms of genre but what I do know is that she must love the sax, because that’s what’s playing again, and it’s one “Fausto Papetti”. What is a Fausto Papetti? Fausto was an Italian sax player who was kind of a big thing in the 70s and he liked to put sexy ladies on his album covers, which was also kind of a big thing in the 70s.

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He’s playing some sort of mambo. Next up is “The Blob”,

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so I guess we’re going for a sax-heavy co-opted Latin American Flair today. Unfortunately, “running” from this music is not an option for me while I’m in the chair.

What else, what else. Well, I kinda come out and tell a lot of people that I’ve been doing TMS. Of course, folks are pretty supportive and all but, it still makes me anxious to come right out like that. It definitely puts me in a state of vulnerability, which often seems to get me into some sorta jam, as it’s veeerrry difficult for me to stuff down and it aaaaalways lends itself to a craving for intimacy…

Oh, vulnerability. Oh, you.

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Because vulnerability is kinda problematic when you don’t really have anyone in your life to be vulnerable with, doesn’t it? Like I mentioned before, my closest friends have done a bit of a drift and my family either worries their well-meaning faces off (which makes me want to keep things from them to protect them), and/or steamrolls me with advice. So, guess what happens.

I mean, you have no clue if you haven’t been reading this blog all along. But if you have?

Then I bet you guessed correctly.

Enter LT!

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Yep, my not-boyfriend, LT. My not-so-healthy option. But you know what? He’s there. He’s more there than anyone else is or can be, and he is strong, and so this happens. If there’s nothing to eat but chips, you don’t starve, you eat the damn chips. And so when I am aching to connect, I find myself in the arms of LT.

Listen, I don’t want to say the guy’s just a bag of Doritos. He does care about me. Genuinely. And we have a reciprocal relationship. I’m just saying that…I don’t think this one is in it with me for very long, realistically. And so I have to be very, very careful with getting invested. Unfortunately, being open and disclosing things about yourself often leads to emotional bonding. So I tell myself that I just need this for now, and I’ll create some space later, to balance it out.

Because I’ll totally be safe, and totally do that.

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Anyway. I want to ask him these stupid questions. Questions like, “Now I know you said you aren’t going to up and run if you know what the deal is with me…but now that I’ve revealed this thing, is that still the case? Is it different now? Or are you still not going to run?”

I know, I know, that sounds sad and why would I care? I guess because, when you have this thing with so much stigma attached to it, the last thing you want in a vulnerable state is for someone you do care about to confirm these fears that there’s something wrong with you

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and you’re not worth being around, because of it. So, they’re not so much stupid questions at all, because it’s not about the general idea of it ending. It’s based on very real fears of it ending…because of that. If he’s gonna bail, I want it be any reason other than this thing I already feel insecure about. Make sense?

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Oh, sidebar: despite these worries, on this day I feel…pretty good. Not wiped out. For no good reason I can think of, really. Is it TMS working? Something else? Sometimes I just get these good days, and I don’t know what the determining factor is, which makes me annoyed. What’s even more annoying is people who are still like “Just Enjoy It!”

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which I understand is meant to be supportive, but in its way…it’s kind of dismissive. It doesn’t take into account the big picture at all, and so I then know that the person doesn’t really know what it is to have MDD. “Just Enjoy It” doesn’t quite cut the mustard, because the depressed person knows that the unusually good, well-balanced feeling probably won’t stick around, when they don’t know what caused it, and therefore, how to replicate/extend it. One knows that one will be sinking back into, at best, a dysthymic state sooner than later. A state that is, for all intents and purposes, one’s unfortunate normal.

“JUST ENJOY IT!”

I love you, non-depressed person but, this is another one of those teaching moments in the blog. If a depressed person feels unusually good on a particular day and is anxious about it, because they know from their history that it won’t stick…please don’t say the above. It’s a conversation ender, and makes the depressed person feel like their valid concern…isn’t. If you were starving for 2 weeks, and found food to eat, you wouldn’t love it if someone waved their hand said

“JUST ENJOY IT!”

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to you, if what you were trying to do was figure out how you could continue to get said food in the future, because being hungry doesn’t feel good. Be happy for them for having the relief of a good day, but maybe also listen, and empathize, and/or help the person sort through what might’ve been different about that day (although don’t get super frustrated if you can’t figure it out; brain chemistry is not an uncomplicated thing).

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Anyway. Even though I don’t know if the good feeling is TMS related, as my sessions wind to a close (the final session is next week), I know that this process will always have been important to me. At the very least, it helped me do my little part against stigmatization, by starting this blog. Which, in turn, helped me “come out” to people close to me.

So, back to LT… now he knows. He knows this is who I am. Intellectually, I am aware that there is nothing I can do about the fact that he could bail over the condition I manage. And that if he walks because of that, that’s on him. It doesn’t make me a defective joke of a human. I couldn’t have gotten this far in this project- a project that takes a shitload of time and heart and apparently helps people, that I do for free- if that were true. I would be a total societal non-contributor, which is not what I am. I’m actually a pretty incredible human being. If he fails to recognize and value this…his loss.

I know these things. Intellectually.

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But I suppose that doesn’t help my heart, that feels that sting of rejection, that is more sensitive to Maj, that believes her when she says that if she drives everyone away, I deserved it.

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This is the back and forth I go through. What I know vs. how things irrationally- yet convincingly- feel. I try, though. I try to lean into letting go of what I can’t control. To say, let him come to his own conclusions. Let him sort through what I’ve laid on the table, that which most keep hidden away behind bulging closet doors.

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Let him decide if he’d rather know who he’s dealing with upfront, or if he prefers a tidier picture with the imperfections not showing. He will do what he does, he shall choose how he chooses.

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(I know that’s the third time with this guy, but I love him, all Getting It and shit).

For me, I choose to continue to be vulnerable and brave when I can stand it. If that puts me in a place to where, worst case scenario, I get attached to LT…I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. Because I choose to be relatable, instead of present myself as some sort of ideal human. I have to be open and real in order to continue to help people who suffer from depression feel less alone and ignored.  To do that, I choose to continue to tell my story and give my take on what it’s like to live with this condition, and what it’s like to love someone who has it. With or without LT…or any other man. Yes, I crave intimacy. Yes, I want to be loved. But for who I am, not a false version of me. And if I can’t be cared for romantically the way that I am, I’d rather be alone than modify myself to where I can’t serve my purpose anymore. Because while the men seem to come and go…the purpose sticks. It is always there.

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How could I turn my back on something that has been so faithful to me, for the comfort of a man, which may be transitory (no matter how much of myself I give to him) due to factors beyond my control? I can do my best with my purpose, and it doesn’t abandon me. And it’s my mark on this world…that I did something worthwhile when I was here. So I guess, the journey comes first…and then, Dream Guy and I can walk together on our respective journeys, or not. It’s not my job to determine who, if anyone, will walk with me. The right people will do so, in their way…all on their own.

Area 6, Ease On Down the Road.

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Day 34: Area 6, Let’s Tell Them What It Feels Like

I’m writing from present day- notice my fancy italicized text- which I don’t usually do, unless it is to give context to a post. What I don’t normally like to do is write about how I’m doing right now, as I’ve found value in some time having passed to give perspective in the way I craft a post. But I’m reaching the end of Part 1 of this blog and, readers, I will confess, I am having a low moment tonight.

It’s never been enough for me to work to make some money so I have it to throw around to have a good time when I’m not working. I’ve always felt that I must have some sort of purpose, and I’ll say that, ever since I fell into crisis a year and a half ago, it never became more important to feel like I have a reason for being on this planet. My blog became that purpose. I hoped it could help people, both depressed and dealing with the depressed. Indeed, there have been some signs that it does; one particular reader spurned me on to continue when I was having difficulty with a particular topic, to where I didn’t write for months. And yes, I’ve been reblogged and linked a few times. I see the validation in this, and no, I don’t need validation constantly.

At the same time, I cannot dismiss the fact that in this arena- that of an unknown blog- the validation is…hardly even regular. Mostly, readers are what I call “ghost followers”. Moreover, writing a blog is a solitary activity; the clarity of your audience’s reaction that you get from a performing art is not there. In writing, no one is obliged to clap when you have finished, and even if they did, you wouldn’t hear it, of course. You can see people have read, but unless they comment or write to you, you can’t tell if anything resonated or if they just skimmed over a couple sentences or what. The whole business is rather lonely, to where the idea of putting in the time for Part 2 (spoiler! I went back for more TMS a year later) seems goddamn overwhelming. 

I hit 50 posts today, and I think back on the countless hours I’ve spent not just writing, but finding the right gif’s and sourcing them and going back in to reread and edit and etc. etc. and there is this part of me that is like, “Was this the right choice? Was this the best use of my time to help people? Was it one giant waste of time? Did this really fulfill any sort of purpose, or is it just one big dead end?” It’s Friday night y’all, and everyone I know is either out or in having a good time, and I feel really, really fucking lonely over here. I could go out, but truth be told, I feel like I haven’t earned it. I feel like I haven’t worked hard enough, churned out enough content, it never feels like enough, and so here I am. Here I am, about to write a post that will be quite different from the others in that it lacks any depth (or any real topic of substance, actually)…with no idea how to proceed.

Here I am. Where are you? Are you a follower or did you stumble on me and are reading out of boredom while you wait for your date or friend or your ride or sleepiness or whatever to show up? Does any of this mean anything? In a world of memes and puppy pictures and listicles and funny articles…where does this stand? It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of that which is easily mentally digestible…is the time I put into this blog vs. the impact it makes disproportionate? Because at times it feels like it is. It feels like going on stage, night after night, with a piece you poured your blood, sweat and tears into, to have 3 people politely clap, and that includes the bartender. And then promptly forget about you and your complex, mind-boggling, in-the-weeds work. Except for those rare occasions when someone shows up and claps enthusiastically- and you never know when they’ll be there- so you keep showing up, keep doing your bit, even when the weather is bad outside. 

Seeing as I only have 3 more days to go, I’m definitely finishing Part 1, and maybe I’ll write a follow up. But doing another 30-something of these…man, I don’t know. Maybe this blog just isn’t made for popular consumption, and while I was never trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator, I also hoped that it could reach beyond my friends and this one guy in Slovenia who seems to catch every post. I wanted to serve as a guide for a wider audience- to deliver more material than I can in performance. And if I give it up, well..I don’t know where to go from there. To someone like me, letting go of what you thought was serving your purpose- with no Plan B-is maybe more frightening than the notion that it may not be exactly what you hoped. 

To be honest, I’m not totally sure why I’m even writing this present-day portion…maybe it helps me justify potentially quitting this blog when the 36 days are up, instead of continuing to cover Round 2 as I originally planned.

Or maybe speaking from my present, from where my heart is at this very moment, just helps me feel…less alone tonight. Back to the story.

I basically have no material today. I can tell you this much. Angela forgot to give me earplugs today, and I forgot to ask, and the result of this is that the TMS machine is

VERY LOUD.

Like it’s

VERY

VERY

LOUD.

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Like I can’t even figure out the source code to make that font any larger to tell you how loud it is.

There is no music today either, but it wouldn’t have made a difference because all I hear is

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And we’ve been over that that’s basically what it sounds like with no earplugs. Like a jackhammer, right next to you, or woodpeckers in your ears. In a neat sequence

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of 35 pulses, every 12 seconds, 55 times.

And it blocks out everything

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And my thoughts get jumbled

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And I get so confused

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And I start a thought in the 12 second gaps, but then I know that next sequence is coming,

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and here it is

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and I lose my train of thought as that train zips through my brain, and eventually there is nothing to do but

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(and in all my time writing, I never thought SpongeBob could so well illustrate a state of being that I’m having difficulty putting into words).

It wasn’t pleasant.

Back to present day: Not every post is going to share eye-opening truths featuring deep self-exploration. Sometimes, it’s so quiet around here, it makes my mind go quiet, when I get to where I’m not sure what the hell the point is in deep diving to extrapolate meaning from my experiences. And other times….Things

Are

Just

LOUD.

Day 33: Area 6, I See You Making Changes

I can’t believe I have written like, 50 posts on this topic. How I am still not famous I don’t even know.

Anyway I have 4 more sessions. And I’m feeling A-MAAAAY-ZING AND ON TOP OF THE WORLD!

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Just kidding. Don’t worry. TMS does not turn you into that type of person. Certainly, you can have moments like that, but you’re not walking around like Pollyanna 24:7, unless that’s what you’re aiming for. In which case yeah, you can probably eventually get yourself there, and you do you. Personally, after what I’ve been through and seen and given the state of the world, I find acting that way somewhat delusional. But if I wanted to? Well…I’m seeing that I maybe have the tools- and therefore, the choice- now. Whereas before, I simply had no chance…not even for a moment.

Unfortunately, TMS does not automatically make me the kind of person who jumps out of bed all ZIP-BE-DEE-DOO-DAH with a ton of energy. It didn’t go that far. I’m still super tired, and I know I say that in every goddamn post, but I’m here to report a truthful experience, and the truth is I am still not a morning person. So there you go.

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Today Angela and I both muse about how nice it would be to be lying on a beach somewhere. We are both summer people and both can’t wait for it to get here already. She sets me up.

For whatever reason- maybe it’s because I’m tired- the first sequence hits hard.

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My hand twitches something fierce, like Thing having a seizure.

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(This is a more chill Thing).

But the rest of me doesn’t jump, because I suppress it. I don’t like Angela seeing me jump. She worries, and then is all like, “You take your medication today? Try to relax.” Then I feel like a pussy. I mean, I’m on session 33 for fuck’s sake, I shouldn’t be jumpy.

Today, Dreams by Fleetwood Mac on the YouTube. Perfect.

When I am done, I feel pretty good. I realize it’s the third session in a row for this, and I make note of it. Again, external, environmental factors help; there is an Americana singer-songwriter on the train that lifts my spirits, who I am surprised to see this far down the subway line. It seems like he’d be too cool to be down this way- I didn’t think any hipster came that far out on any subway line unless it’s The Great Gray Corridor.

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Perhaps he just came in from Portland and doesn’t know where the cool areas are yet.

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I catch my reflection in the subway window. I look casually cute today. No makeup, but the hair is pretty alright. That’s a step up, considering I usually look rather beat this time of day.

I do ok until lunch. Then I find myself sitting near a woman on the phone with someone or other- I think it’s her man- talking about her lunch and what kind of sandwich she’s having. At first, I am irritated. Who wastes phone minutes talking about bullshit? Who does that? Who is it that gives a flying fuck about your sandwich?

But the anger doesn’t stick today. It comes to me…it’s not about the damn sandwich. It’s about human connection. She’s just connecting with someone and the truth is, this one ain’t exactly changing the world right now and the sandwich is the only thing she has to talk about at the moment. And someone cares enough to hear her talk about her mozz and pesto on a roll. I think, given the context of the conversation, that other person actually asked what she was eating.

I laugh about the idea of not only texting LT about my sandwich, but also blatantly stating the I-Want-To-Connect subtext, as I have a habit of doing when I think he doesn’t get something (he gets things more often than he lets on…he just sometimes is very good at pretending not to). LT would probably find me to be a wacko or a loser or both. And I realize.

I miss having someone who gave a goddamn about what I’m having for lunch. Or if they don’t care, who will pretend they do, because they know I just want to connect with them, just want to hear their voice, just want out of the isolation that a job that encourages limited social interaction lends itself to. And I’m not sure I will have that again. This kinda thing always results in X resentment. I hope X doesn’t take for granted that he was able to jump straight from one person who cared about his lunches to another, without ever having to feel the loneliness of examining his own sandwich, not that he ever ate sandwiches because GRAINS ARE BAD, but, you get what I’m saying.

Anyway, for now, I guess I better get used to talking to myself about my damn sandwiches.

Area 6: I See You Making Little Changes.