Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

Depression ruined my vacuum cleaner   Leave a comment

People with depression sometimes get really good at hiding their symptoms.  I guess I started when I was kid.  There is a real pressure in the kind of Christianity I grew up in to be OK. You don’t have to be perfect of course, some minor struggles are allowed, like gossip or gluttony. You can even struggle with forgiveness if something particularly horrible happen to you, but there is this tyranny of OK that must be obeyed.   It’s not OK to be depressed.  There is a stigma against mental illness in normal society, and particularly against depression.  People who’ve never been there think that depressed people need to just buck up and get their shit together.  This is unusually true about the church because so many of the promises in the Bible about the “peace of God” and such.

So I started hiding my symptoms when they started showing up around the time I started middle school. I didn’t trust my parents or my parents church to deal with me or my symptoms the way I needed (a decision I have zero regrets about 20 years later) and I just hid it.  I was honest about it with my wife and later my daughter. (I figure having a dad who answers your question honestly when you ask “Daddy, why can’t you get out of bed today?” is less scary than having one who lies to you about it or does it in the first place) but in general, mostly no one really knew, or if they knew had any idea how serious it was.  I thought I did such a great job “functioning”.  I wouldn’t call it living really, just functioning, but now I am not so sure.

Yesterday I vacuumed the living room.  As usual, the vacuum cleaner barely worked. Irritated, I took it at apart.  Low and behold, all three filters were clogged, the hose was clogged in two places, and the beater bar was so covered in hair it looked like a legless ferret. Half and hour and 2 gallons of hair, lint and funk later, it works great. When you’re depressed, you feel like everything is broken, no one cares, and nothing really matters. Because everything I did felt pointless and shoddy, those feelings about the experience of vacuuming didn’t stick out from any other feelings I had. I felt that way about the work I put into relationships, school, music, and employment…why would housecleaning be any different?

I wonder how much this is going to help me with things like college?  Instead of being surprised I’m not going to fail in every single class I take, maybe the doubts I have about that class will be uniquely meaningful, and I’ll do better?  Regardless, at least I’ll have clean floors.

The poster child strikes back   Leave a comment

Today I read this blog Survival Sex, by Holly P.

This part really resonated with me

This is the kind of thing that I’m reluctant to talk about, because I worry that it hurts my credibility as a sex-positive person and especially as a BDSM-positive person.  It fits too neatly into a narrative of “she’s fucked up and that’s why she does freaky shit.” I don’t think that’s true–I was freaky before this, I know freaky people who weren’t abused and abused people who aren’t freaky–and I also don’t think I should care so long as my freakiness isn’t hurting me now.

But I’m wary of the “damaged goods” pity-smear, of being reduced to my traumas, and sometimes it silences me.  I don’t want to make this blog into a narrative of “ex-child-prostitute/emotional abuse survivor/sexual assault survivor has promiscuous and painful sex!”  Every part of that is technically true but it’s not my story.

And this just hits me like a truck.  Why do we do this? By we I don’t mean homo sapiens, though at some level it probably is true for all people, I mean “us”.  I’m not sure how to precisely spell out what the rules are to belong to this group, I only that I know I am in it.  I know we all do this.  I know we are all terrified of being the poster child for atheism/feminism/polyamory/alternate sexuality etc., not so much because of our shitty childhoods but because of how we fear others will respond to them.  Here’s some identifiers I find that ties this little group together:

Identifier 1:

Bad childhood.

Holly’s was awful.  I was never exposed to abuse even remotely like what she talks about.  My parents were not particularly physically abusive (to me), they weren’t even, per say, emotionally abusive.  I will stress here, as I always try to do when I talk about this, that they did their absolute best.  It’s just their best was subtly destructive, like corrosion.  Religion brings out the best in some people, and the worst in others.  In my parents it brought out both.  I think Christianity served as a moderater and brake to some of their more intense craziness, but at the same time modern Christian teachings like a “personal relationship with Christ” and “end times” got all mixed up with their own delusions of grandeur and paranoia to make my childhood a terrifying and insecure place.  Teaching an 8 year old how to kill people with a garrote or that police and psychologists (the two kinds of people who can help you)  are part of a demonic new world order hell bent on controlling your mind or sending you off to the gulag is simply not OK.  (Note: I love and respect my parents. They really tried. They just fucked up on that one.)

Identifier 2

Wickedly smart.

Holly got her bachelors degree at 19.  I’m not that smart, or at least not in that way, but I keep getting smarter. As I get better I can put less and less of my energy into dealing with my emotional problems, and I get smarter.  I wonder if I had started therapy at at say, 9 and antidepressants around 20 or so where I could have gone with my life.  My ACT score was high enough to get me into MIT, but I never applied, because I knew I’d have an emotional break down sometime in the first year. (I was right, too.)

Identifier 3

Sexual different

It’s like we just can’t be hetero normal.  The sexuality of this group, whatever this group is, tends strongly towards polyamory and polysexuality with a dash of S&M thrown in.  Whatever kink there is, we have it.  Now, there are hetero normal people in this group, but they tend to be the exotic other in these circles.  I’m not sure if openness attracts weirdos or if weirdos attract openness.  For this reason there is a strong approval of feminism, and affirmation of homosexuality, transgender, etc.

Identifier  4

Religiously different

Our religion tends towards two extremes: relativist pantheism and militant atheism.  If you think about it there is very little functional difference between between saying there is a little bit of god everywhere or there is no god anywhere, because in either case, no one thing, person, or idea, is more or less sacred in comparison to any other thing, person, or idea.

Identifier 5

Freakishly high need and ability for communication.  This is acquired because being really smart means being really alone until you learn communicate with people who aren’t as smart as you.

This is my theory:

Intelligence is largely inherited, so a smart adult was a smart child. The great story of civilization is largely one of mass delusion.  Highly intelligent abused children have to confront the bullshit of society’s delusion at an earlier age than most people. In fact, some people never confront those delusions.  They pat themselves on the back for catching delusions that are engineered badly on-purpose so they can feel good about catching them, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, and never move on to the 300 level courses, like theism, American exceptionalism, and gender binary.   We, whoever we are, have the intelligence to see the strings that hold the puppets up, and the intelligence to think “Well if that treasured belief is a lie, what about X, Y, and Z?”.  That’s how we end up as feminist, atheist, polysexual, polyamorous, folk.  And we have to communicate with others about it, because we have a huge need for communication, hence…we seem to have more community with our fellows than other hobbists (like say, model train builders) seem to have with theirs.  This why so many conferences and blogs.

None of this answers the question of “Why are we so afraid to be the poster children of the movements that give our lives so much meaning?”  I don’t know.

Of Citalopram and Strippers   Leave a comment

This blog, like one I had before it sometime ago, is an experiment in honesty.  I’ve often heard people say “you have to be honest with yourself before you can be honest with other people,” but  I have found the reverse to be true.  By being honest with other people, I learn to be honest with myself. Yet, I blog under my real name on purpose, because any comment you see of mine on this here interweb is truly mine.  Its not some anonymous construct, it’s the real israelkwalker.  That’s part of being honest too, because it requires me to not do or say things that israelkwalker would not really do or say.  My real life boundaries are my internet boundaries.  I have to ask myself “Is this something I would say in a speech class?” each time I write a blog.

So I want to talk about two things today: Celexa and strippers.

I started taking Citalopram last week.  My god.  I’m going to be OK.  I didn’t know I could be OK.  I’m thinking about a time when my wife never has to deal with me suicidal again, and it’s  mind blowing.  Citalopram has a lot side effects, which can be quite disruptive for people.  I know this. I accept this.  Perhaps in 6 months, my doc and I will talk about this.  But Citalopram is making me think hurting myself is an awful idea.  Awful is interesting.  My life has been divided into feeling two ways about suicide: that it was a good idea, or an idea that might be a good idea later.  I’ve never thought it was “awful”.  That’s worth a lot of side effects.

About strippers.  I know one.  Not well. Not professionally.  But it’s strange to me they are just people.  And its strange to me that its strange to me. Why can I watch a movie like “Die Hard” and know thats not how real cops are, or “24” and know that not how real terrorist investigations go, but it is a surprise to me that strippers are just people, just like everyone else?  Just like me.

Posted January 30, 2012 by israelkwalker in Depression, Sexuality, Uncategorized

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So excited I forgot to blog   6 comments

Last time I blogged, I wrote about depression.

Let me write about it again.  I made what I suspect will be a life long change not long after I wrote that.  My dad is a recovering alcoholic.  If you hang around AA or recovering drunks, you will run into people like my dad who were at least as addicted to the double life as they were the alcohol they consumed in one life and not the other.  In a way, for the last 20 years or so, I’ve been living a double(ish) life.  Now, I wasn’t flat out lying like my dad did, but I hid the symptoms of my depression vary carefully.  I would tell my very close friends, and some members of my family because they needed to know why I acted the way I did. Whether it is in accordance with the ‘proper’ realization of Christianity or not, most of the church sees depression as a sign of enormous spiritual failure, and despite the pity, the effect of telling your church that you struggle with depression is something akin to the effect of telling your church you struggle with going to homosexual bath houses: it’s OK if you say it once, but if you are back next week saying the same thing, it’s because there is something wrong with you, or the way you are working the solution, and not the solution itself (which is, of course, more of Jesus).

One of the wisest things I ever did was really explore Christianity and my doubts about it.  I think most people who knew me hoped that this would strengthen my faith, but instead I became first became an increasingly radical Christian, then a theist, then a diest, then an agnostic, and finally an atheist adhering to the philosophy of existential nihilism.  However, disappointing this was to my friends and family,  the result for me was the peace and freedom I had always sought in Christianity but never found.  Enormous loads of my depression sloughed away over about a 2 week period.

I remember in particular waking up one morning and realizing it was the first time I could remember that I hadn’t woken up wondering if today would finally be the day that I would disappoint myself so completely that I could finally kill myself and have done with it.  So that was a great day.  Improvement, sadly, is not cure. Several times a year I still found myself struggling to go to work.  Struggling not to cry all day.  Struggling not to kill myself.  Most often the fear of making myself a quadriplegic and no longer having the ability to kill myself was what stopped me.

So, last week, I’d had enough. I was hitting a pretty dark stretch. I went to my doctor and told her I couldn’t stop thinking about killing myself, I hadn’t slept more than a few hours a night in weeks, I was having trouble remembering to eat, and I was carefully avoiding my family so I wouldn’t scream at them or start weeping or both.  She strongly recommended that I take an anti-depressant and start therapy.  So I did.

I’m not sure how much of the following is the effect of the drugs, or after a mere 5 days is placebo, because I didn’t think I would change so fast. And frankly, I don’t care. I’m not euphoric.  I’m not excited, or ‘too happy’…I’m just not depressed.  Looking back over my life, I feel like I am walking up from a dream.  How in the world was it OK with me to hurt myself?  Where did that come from?  Why did I let so much guilt from a faith I no longer hold keep me in sway?  Why did I hate myself so long?  Why was it OK with me to put my wife daughter through my symptoms?

I don’t know, but I’m glad I’m on the other side of it, even if this temporary or placebo.