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. []

5 comments

  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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