This was a fleeting thought in the wee hours of the morning that turned round and round in my head. It needed an escape, which is how this blog post was written. Now that it is out, there is room for another. Thanks for reading.
I woke up the other night both thirsty and having to pee (a paradox I find mildly amusing). Upon returning to bed, I found I had left a body shaped depression. It was unusual, as what I typically find when I return to bed is 90lbs of Labrador stretched across my part of the bed and 6-12lbs of Manx cat encamped upon my pillows. This night the animals must have found their current positions adequately comfortable; in the low light of early morning, I contemplated the shape of my previously sleeping self. I have a memory foam mattress and had been sleeping for about 4 hours, in my brief absence the shape of sleeping Jason had yet to be pushed out by the re-expanding foam. My bemused and sleepy self chuckled at the thought that a simple restructuring of the words, from body-shaped depression to depression-shaped body, aptly described the divot and the reason it was generated.
I try not to use the word depression too flippantly (there are many people who suffer debilitating depression) I just do not have a better word to describe how I feel at various time. I feel like I have walking depression, like walking pneumonia. Mostly it does not interfere with the things I am doing, I am able to carry on a normal routine life, just every once in a while it jumps up a puts me down. Some seek medication (prescription or otherwise), some seek alcohol, other seek solace in physical contact with others, I seek food. Terrible shame inducing food. Hence the depression-shaped body.
You might ask what I have to be depressed about: I have a loving wife, a strong beautiful daughter, a good job, a place to live, enough money, family and friends. In fact, I there is little that I am missing in my life. But surprisingly, that is not how depression actually works. Depressing circumstances do not specifically induce depression. Depression is more like the inability to bounce back from something. Like my mattress in the middle of the night, often I do not have enough time to recover before I lay back down in the depression; I just make it a little deeper. Luckily, I do not live in a mattress of infinite sadness, like my memory foam, there is a bottom to how depressed I can get. That bottom comes from a great deal of introspection and understanding of my own circumstances. My problems are not systemic; there are more things in my life in the positive column than I could ever hope for. Just that realization helps me bounce back up.
For me, it is never the big things that get me down. Some things are too big to be depressed about (global warming, mass shootings, republican nut jobs pretending to seek the presidency). Those things are beyond my direct control, so I do what I can (participate, advocate science and reason, vote) but realize that they cannot be part of my emotional baggage. Other times the big depressing things are personal and that for me is when I fight hardest, raging against the dying of the light. An enemy I can name is an enemy I can fight. The act of fighting requires strength, emotional and physical, but it also gives me cause to gird my loins, set my feet, and brace myself against the onslaught.
What gets to me is the depression of a 1000 tiny paper cuts. It is the culmination of many little things that I let add up. These small and inane things dig in one tiny scoop at a time. I could name each one of them, but they are too many, too personal, and too trivial to bother writing. Individually these account to nothing, like a rounding error. I am not always depressed. I can store away quite of number of little things until the scale tips towards the depression arrow. But when they build up, occasionally they break me down.
Which is about the time I drive through some place, or stop and get some candy or a snack cake or some equally awful calorie laden food item. It is not an unconscious decision, but neither is it calculated. It is a coping. Food is a scapegoat. I eat and feel bad about it, physically or maybe just the guilt, either way that bad feeling has taken physical form. It is no longer the nebulous ghosts of 30 different slights; it is a triple cheeseburger that is making me feel like shit. And that buys me some time. Time to recover, time for the foam cells to expand back to their full size. And thus body-shaped depression become depression-shaped body.
Let me end this blog with a disclaimer: I am perfectly fine, fully functional, rational, and without major health concerns. I am not suffering and writing this as cry for help. I do not really want/need your help, but I really appreciate your concern. I do not want your sorrow, pity, or sympathy (empathy is fine, as I have only recently realized that these, sympathy and empathy, are different things). I do not even need you to read or understand. I am writing this for myself as bit of self-indulgent introspection. This blog post, along with several others, is my way of working through internal issues. It is written as an effort to confront those little demons that dwell deep inside before they become big burgeoning behemoths that keep me from functioning properly. By making it public (i.e., posting on this blog which while lightly read is still a public forum) I am trying get out of me what I cannot vocalize, either because it is too convoluted for easy discussion or because no-one wants to sit and listen to me whine. Here you (the reader) have to option to read or ignore. This disclaimer was also written mostly for my mother, who will likely only read the title of this post before she calls to make sure I’m OK. Yes Mom, I am fine.