quiet revolution

Depression has added an extra cost to every­thing I do. Something as sim­ple as buy­ing gro­ceries means mak­ing sure my ener­gy lev­els are care­ful­ly paced for a few days before I leave the house, and being too burned out to do any form of inter­ac­tion for a few days after. If some­thing goes wrong dur­ing the process — a night of poor sleep, a sick cat, a loss of moti­va­tion, a col­i­tis flare-up — and I run out of spoons, the prob­lems cas­cade and I end up hav­ing to can­cel my plans.

That’s why I choose to spend time with peo­ple who under­stand what it tru­ly costs me to func­tion; they hap­pen to be the ones who are con­sis­tent­ly reli­able, very under­stand­ing if I have to can­cel, and put as much effort into main­tain­ing the rela­tion­ship as I do.1

Heather portrait

Heather start­ed taper­ing off her dose of ven­lafax­ine cause she feels sta­ble enough to take the risk2, and wants to start work­ing with­out the asso­ci­at­ed men­tal haze. Even though music is still a joy­less expe­ri­ence, the fact that she’s get­ting excit­ed about Halloween again is a sign that she’s final­ly heal­ing.

She does­n’t mind car­ry­ing more emo­tion­al labour (and I remain will­ful­ly igno­rant, for the time being), cause she knows I’m play­ing life on hard mode. My job is to make sure she feels appre­ci­at­ed for doing more than her fair share. The crises we’ve been weath­er­ing togeth­er since we met means our hon­ey­moon phase was cut short, but nei­ther of us mind, cause inti­ma­cy is what we were miss­ing for so long.3

self portrait at 35

The fact that it takes me few­er days be to com­fort­able around any­one when my inse­cu­ri­ties get the bet­ter of me means I’m gain­ing some small form of equa­nim­i­ty. I still have moments when I feel too dam­aged to be hap­py, too worth­less to be loved, or too bro­ken to be fixed, but it takes me less time to realign my per­cep­tions with real­i­ty. The lows aren’t as debil­i­tat­ing­ly deep either.

I’ve been using the momen­tum to take small steps out of my com­fort zone; spend­ing more time in dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions, learn­ing to be emo­tion­al­ly vul­ner­a­ble, explor­ing new ways of express­ing myself4, pro­cess­ing parts of the past I’ve tried my best to for­get. Even though I’m anx­ious to feel nor­mal again, I’m forced to rec­og­nize my lim­i­ta­tions and keep myself paced. I know I’m not where I want to be, but I’m mov­ing in the right direc­tion. That’s enough to keep me going for now.

  1. Also, per­haps not-coin­ci­den­tal­ly, usu­al­ly peo­ple who have deal with some form of depres­sion or chron­ic ill­ness in their lives. []
  2. I still have no idea whether mine are keep­ing me afloat, but the fact that I don’t suf­fer any side-effects means I’ll be on them for the fore­see­able future. []
  3. Finding my under­wear washed and fold­ed one day — a respon­si­bil­i­ty I’ve nev­er shared with any girl­friend — gave me the weird­est bon­er. []
  4. The only lux­u­ry pur­chase for me this year has been an Impact LX-49 MIDI con­troller. []


  1. So hap­py that you feel more able to branch out and have a caring/understanding group of friends :)

    • Positive vibes are always appre­ci­at­ed. :)

  2. Hi Jeff.

    I’ve been read­ing you for some years now. Maybe 5 already, though I’ve prob­a­bly com­ment­ed only once. A read­er in the shad­ows. I dis­cov­ered your blog just googling about the Tao and stuff, but sud­den­ly I became engaged in your sto­ry, in your life.

    I was deeply depressed at that time, drag­ging my body along me, hurt­ing every­one I came into. My teenage-years issues piled up, and my life unfold­ed in a (pro­cras­ti­nat­ing) way that when I was around 22 my first thoughts in the morn­ing were always about giv­ing every­thing up. Then love came by chance, my first true and most inti­mate love, an amaz­ing guy. Antidepressants appeared too, though Love was the most effec­tive of all the drugs.

    Calling my fam­i­ly, get­ting out of home (not to men­tion out of bed), look­ing at some­one in the eye, every­thing was hard in a way I can bare­ly remem­ber. I had been sucked up into a self-made, self-destruc­tive neg­a­tiv­i­ty spi­ral. Now, things have changed to the point I hard­ly recog­nise the per­son I was. I left my life project behind, lots of hopes and dreams I was just start­ing to grasp, to taste. Had to move back to my native island, since I could­n’t cope on my own. Even so, I now know that depres­sion is the best thing that has ever hap­pened to me. I have less dreams..less expec­ta­tions. I’m para­dox­i­cal­ly pur­pose­less, and more grate­ful. Not sure if this is the def­i­n­i­tion of Wei Wu Wei or maybe I’m still drift­ing, but I no longer care..I smile in the morn­ings.

    I don’t know why I tell you this. I guess that when months pass by with­out you writ­ing, I tend to start won­der­ing what’s been of you. I’m hap­py to see you’re not alone in your jour­ney, that you have a shoul­der, I would­n’t have sur­vived if I had­n’t had one. Believe it or not your writ­ings and pic­tures are a shoul­der for many peo­ple, too. Even if it’s for a day or two. The jour­ney is long and every day counts, you know it.

    Excuse my sh**y English.
    dont.dare.to.give.up :)

    Take care.

    • Daniel, thank you for shar­ing so much of your­self.

      I think you’re already at a place where I’m hop­ing to be. It’s hard for me to say that depres­sion is the best thing that’s hap­pened to me, and that’s how I can tell I’m still suf­fer­ing from it. It’s inter­est­ing to hear you describe the state as being para­dox­i­cal­ly pur­pose­less and more grate­ful; makes me won­der how I’ll feel when I’m “okay” again, cause I’m not sure that’s what I’d want for myself.

      It’s nice to know you’ve been able to sur­vive such a dark peri­od, that my jour­ney has helped in some way. I would­n’t be able to take com­fort in that if you did­n’t take the time to leave me such a thought­ful note.

      p.s. Your English is fan­tas­tic!

  3. So glad to know you’re tak­ing small steps out of your com­fort zone, I guess that’s what every­one ought to do — myself includ­ed. It does give me a sense of achieve­ment, and that’s a great feel­ing.

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