Remembering Happier Times...

Remembering, unfortunately, however, doesn't seem to be enough to reclaim the healthy and upbeat outlook I used to have in my pre-depression life.

One of my admissions is that I don't like to talk (or write) about depression, especially my own, even though I have done it here a few times. I can't even get my own mind to think about the condition in a way that feels totally free of the sense of stigma that permeates/saturates attitudes about mental health diseases. So I don't really have any expectation that readers will be able to do it either. So writing about it, in a way, if you'll excuse the cliche, seems a little bit like shooting myself in the foot as far as creating an entertaining and pleasant little space here. Yeah, I know an argument could be made for being challenging sometimes too, but I'm just not feeling it right now.

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I can't particularly say that my months-long sparsity of posts here has any direct correlation with a downturn in my mood. I've spent much time over these past many months engaged in various other activities besides writing that would seem to suggest that I'm keeping the depression reasonably under control. Writing activity, or lack thereof, seems to be just one of many potential indicators (to myself, at least) that my depression may be worse at any given time.

About the only activity/pastime that seems to increase when my depression is in a low part of the cycle is my playing of Freecell Solitaire. I love that game, so I don't want to be seeming to give it a bad rap here. ( We interrupt this post to bring you a spontaneous Pet Peeve alert: According to Joe, in his oddly biased opinion, all rap is bad.) I think the thing about Freecell is that it is fairly easy to win, so a sense of accomplishment and accompanying transient sense of well-being is not hard to come by. I'm sure it helps that I'm fairly good at the game, if predictably slow. Another thing is that my mind tends to super-focus when I'm playing it. Nothing else gets in. I can shut out whatever disappointments, bad memories, or worries are attempting to hijack my thoughts at the time. It's not so much a time killer for me as a time eliminator, a getaway from all other thought. Whether it's my weird take on the concept of mindfulness or just the opposite, I'm not sure. Simple distraction is probably closer to the true effect the game has on me.

So anyway, I've been playing an awful lot of Freecell lately. I think that may be a bad sign.

A few weeks back I was writing an email to a friend and got on the subject of depression. The way I explained it then struck me as being a reasonable description of what having depression actually feels like to me in an intellectual sense, as opposed to knowing facts about depression or considering it's various symptoms and their emotional effect on me. I like to be able to figure things out intellectually. It makes me feel better.

I described having depression is like having developed faulty wiring. Nothing new there, I know. But I carried the metaphor a bit farther into a computer analogy, and now I think of it in even more detail. It's like something happened an accident of physics/chemistry/biology and some corrosive element/disease was introduced/leaked into my hardware/computer/brain that shorted out some circuits, rusted parts, left scaly deposits (you know, like those white and green salty flakes that leaking batteries leave behind), and basically just totally screwed up some of the electrical and data pathways in my head.

You know what computer technicians do with damaged circuit boards/motherboards or other hardware? I'll give you a hint: They (generally) don't even attempt to repair the damage, because the circuits are far too small and complex. Some may attempt larger sized repairs if they're good enough with a soldering iron/scalpel, but there's always a risk of damaging other nearby circuits. They will typically replace the whole part, because no one can do it in the field as well as it gets done in the factory. And if the part can't be replaced then they may start looking for a software/drug/therapy workaround. Maybe some program can do a job similarly (in terms of outcome) to what the broken hardware did, or maybe a different outcome is still acceptable, if not as desirable. Maybe you can still burn files to a CD using free software even if you can't directly save them to a flash drive or SD card anymore. Maybe you can change the settings to reroute data away from a damaged port. The thing is, when you can't repair or replace hardware, your options become much more limited. And the results potentially much more unsatisfactory. (I know some medications are considered drug replacement therapy , but I'll ask for a pass on that minor departure from the attempted holisticity of my metaphor.)

Don't get me wrong, software upgrades can be very productive and a lot of fun (or not, depending on side effects), but they can only go so far in substituting for damaged hardware.

I think I'm feeling better already.

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Posted in Mental Health Post Date 12/16/2020


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