Get up get over and turn the tape off

Well, it’s a shitty, shitty day today already.  I realize that’s redundant, of course.  I could simply say that it’s a day today.  They’re all pretty shitty a lot of the time, which is a phrase, at least, that sort of rhymes.  Pretty shitty is kind of pretty; one could use it in a ditty.

That’s enough of that nonsense.

I awoke very early, even for me, with worsening pain than usual in my right lower back and hip, radiating down into my foot and calf, with spasm and tenderness in most of the muscles.  I’d had a decent pain day the day before—which I guess would be yesterday, duh—partly because I took larger than normal doses of naproxen, in addition to aspirin and acetaminophen, and as always I was trying some behavioral interventions such as those with which I constantly experiment.

But I think I was lured into a false sense of security; probably the relative decrease in pain was as much a random fluctuation as anything else.  Also, I realized by the end of the day that I had started to develop edema—accumulation of fluid, that is—in my legs, especially the right one.  I suspect that’s partly due to the effects of the high-dose NSAIDs and other meds on my kidneys’ clearance functions.  So, last night I held off on the naproxen.

While trying to massage out some of my pain, I noted that my son, to whom I had sent an email a few weeks ago, had replied at last to that apologetic note.  But though his email was polite and kind, he basically said that he didn’t want to pursue any relationship with me, at least for the time being, and that he hoped I would respect that.  I can do so, of course; if I didn’t have to have a relationship with me, I wouldn’t do it, either.  He even said he didn’t hold what had happened, what with my arrest and time in prison, against me, which is nice, and that he had fond memories of me and of his childhood with me.  He’s a good person, he works hard and is smart, and all that, like his sister.  I want him to be happy, and I would never try to force my presence on him.  I’m just not built that way.  So, that’s that.  Not a great thing for me, but probably the wise choice for him.

I did record the video I mentioned yesterday, and I already started editing it, which is basically just removing long pauses and umms and coughs and the like.  If I finish and upload it today, I’ll share it as part of the post for tomorrow—I’m scheduled to work—and you’ll be able to see and watch it if you wish.  In case you do, I’ll add now the request that most YouTubers give (which I neglected to do during the recording) which is please, if you’re so inclined, like the video, share it if you’re willing, subscribe if you’re interested, and do please feel free to comment.  All those requests apply here as well, though I guess most of my readers are already subscribed, now that I think about it.

And here I am, at the office already and writing this, quite a bit earlier than I usually arrive, because there was no point just lying around in my room and watching random YouTube videos, some about science, some of British comedy panel shows, and occasionally some about autism/Asperger’s.

It’s the last day of September in 2022, and tomorrow begins the month of October—the month of my birthday, and of Halloween (my favorite holiday), though honestly, right now, I couldn’t give a shit about either one.  Next week is both Yom Kippur and my father’s birthday (I think they’re both on the same day this year, though I may be off on that).

I wish I could see my father, and my mother, but of course, they have both “passed on” as the euphemism goes.  I’m afraid I was probably a very disappointing son for them, not least because I had seemed so promising.  I’ve basically let down all the people who are most important to me in life, regularly and consistently.  Consistency is good, I guess, as far as it goes.  I just wish I had a drug or alcohol problem to hang it all on, so that I could have hope of conquering the problem and receiving minor accolades for the success, a la the famous Christian parable of the prodigal son*, or just succumb to an overdose or something if not.

Unfortunately, my problems are basically internal and inherent.  I’m just not very good at humaning, it turns out, if you’ll pardon me for using the au courant contrivance of turning a noun into a seeming gerund of a verb, as in the expression “adulting”.  Adulting, by the way, does not get a red squiggly underline in MS Word, but humaning does.  I guess that means I really did just make it up.

I’ve been trying to do it all my life, of course, and I have put a lot of effort into it.  But my return on investment has gone deeply in the negative, I’m afraid, though that’s only if you discount the fact of my two children.  Anything I went through up until they were born was repaid at an unimaginable rate, so I can’t complain about that.  But that’s all past, now, and they are alive and well, and they’re doing their thing and living their lives and that’s good, that’s outstanding.

I wish I could have been there to witness more of it.  But if wishes were horses, we’d all be waist-deep in horseshit.  Which we may be in a metaphorical sense—more than waist-deep, I would say—but obviously that’s not literal.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today, and it’s nearly all I’ve got, period, full stop.  I don’t see how I can possibly go on much longer.  I hate the world, I hate my life, but most of all, I hate myself.  I’ve got to find a way to escape.

Which word makes me think of the Radiohead song, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi.  Here, I’ll embed some version of it in “video” form below, so those of you who are interested can listen.  It’s a beautiful song.


*Which I’ve always hated as a clear case of injustice and even cruelty.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks…yadda, yadda, yadda

Well, it’s Wednesday morning, and it’s sloppy and wet, but the trains are running on time and so is most everything else here in southeast Florida, though the wind is a bit irritating.  Because of it, I was only able to write that first sentence while at the train station, then I had to close up the laptop to protect it from water damage, even though the train stations have roofs.

I’m sure it was a sensible decision for them to make the Tri-rail stations basically open-air with only an overhead covering.  This is south Florida, where it’s rarely so cold that heating is an issue, but on days like today—when it’s wet and windy because a hurricane is approaching the other side of the state*—I do curse the decision.  But I only curse it half-heartedly, because I can’t in good conscience really hold it against someone for doing something efficient and long-term sensible.

There are almost no courses of action, even ones that are clearly the best choices in the long term, that don’t have occasional drawbacks.  Life is complicated.  The universe is complicated, at least if you look at it very closely.  Actually, I guess you don’t have to look all that closely.

I thought about not riding the train today, but I couldn’t justify it.  The Tri-rail is running, and at a normal schedule, so I could hardly give myself an excuse for slacking off in any way.  Also, given the weather, there are a certain percentage of other people who will not go to work today, and that means the trains will be less crowded than usual—which, so far, mine is—and that’s kind of nice.  It’s not as though one gets any kind of extra service, since there is no “service”, but there’s less worry about not getting one’s usual seat, and it’s just generally less crowded.  I don’t know if this will be the case on the way home, but it is right now.

I was weirdly pleased to have a reason to get out my rain jacket, which is designed to be worn while riding on a motorcycle, and so is quite snug and water-repellant.  I don’t wear it much anymore.  I came close to wearing my long, black duster, which is also quite good against the rain (contrary to its name).  But the duster is cloth, and it’s heavier, so it’s likely to have been hotter to wear.  It is a very nifty coat, though, and I’m slightly sad that I don’t get to use it more often.

I got a slightly better sleep last night than the night before—maybe as much as four hours, though not continuous.  There were no issues with power or with cable, but then again, I didn’t honestly expect any.  This is south Florida.  The state and its utilities are far from beyond criticism, but rainy, windy weather—yeah, they’re pretty well used to handling that.

It’s a bit like Houghton, Michigan, which is on the upper peninsula of the upper peninsula of Michigan, and is where Michigan Tech is located.  They get absurd amounts of snow and cold every year, jutting as they do out into Lake Superior, but I’m told that Michigan Tech never closes for snowy weather, despite a reputed more than 16 feet of snowfall every year on average.

I can only imagine what would happen if any significant snow fell down here in the Miami area.  If any snow at all fell, it would be remarkable, but if it was a lot, well, it would be stunning in many ways.  One thing it would also be would be a problem for heating, since, basically, houses down here don’t have furnaces of any kind.  There are a few days early in most years where that actually becomes an issue, and it honestly gets too cold at night.  This is made worse by the fact that many of us don’t really have extra-warm blankets or the like.

And, again, here I am “talking about the weather” like the absolute cretin that I am.  I suppose that it can be excused a bit, given that there’s a hurricane passing near, but I’m embarrassed.  Still, embarrassment is a fairly normal state for me.  I’m almost always tense and anxious and uptight.

Twice in my life, while I was still a teen, I was given Valium, the actual name-brand pharmaceutical, for medical procedures—once for a heart catheterization, once when I had my wisdom teeth taken out.  I remember feeling ever so remarkably at ease and comfortable, even with my mouth full of gauze and blood, or with a wire going into my femoral artery and snaking up to my heart.  I wondered—and still wonder—if this is how some people feel all the time, or more of the time.  I basically have never felt anything like that way except on those two occasions.

I almost hit on the hygienist at the dentist’s office after my procedure.  I didn’t, but the fact that I even had the urge and would have been able to do it if I had so chosen is so unlike me that it’s astonishing.  And while I was having my catheterization, apparently the catheter bumped against some part of the conduction system of my heart and I had a very powerful double-beat, one so strong I could literally feel it up into my neck.  The cardiologist was plainly mortified and apologized sincerely, but I just smiled and said, “That was cool!”

This is how I knew I must never, ever get a prescription for Valium, despite chronic anxiety and stress.  It would simply be too easy for me to become psychologically dependent on it, for one thing, and for another, I know it would inevitably have diminishing returns, and stopping it would then make me feel worse than before.  That would be a true, ironic Hell.  No, thank you!

Drugs in general seem to affect me differently than most people, which may be a good thing.  I took opioids for chronic pain for some time, and they definitely worked to help the pain, but never for as long as hoped, and the side-effects were trouble, so eventually I had to wean myself off them, though not without some regret for the worsening pain.

I also do enjoy a rare alcoholic beverage—someone as tense as I am would be prone to, wouldn’t he?  However, I tend to feel rather unpleasant almost immediately after, and since my back problem, I’ve noticed that alcohol intake makes my pain flare up afterwards.

And I think I’ve mentioned the time I tried a hit of a friend’s marijuana hoping it would help my pain, but instead it left me vomiting for about two hours (and still in pain, though I was at least distracted).  THC is supposed to suppress nausea most of the time, for most people.  I really am alien, it seems.  At least, I’m atypical.

I will admit that mindfulness meditation does help my tension and anxiety in the short-term, but it seems to make my dysthymia and depression worse.  Maybe being too aware of my own thought processes makes me realize how unlikeable I really am, I don’t know.  It’s weird, but apparently there is some literature about Vipassana not being too useful for actual depression, though it may decrease the risk of relapse in people who are in remission.  I’m not up to date on the latest research, but it does disappoint me, because I’m fairly natural at meditation and self-hypnosis and the like.

Anyway, that’s enough for today, I think.  I’m getting close to my stop, and that seems like a good indicator that I should stop writing.  No, not for good—don’t get your hopes up—but for today, anyway.  I’m also, by the way, going to try to stop commenting at all on other people’s blogs and websites, after something that happened yesterday.  Apparently, I give minor offense or am rude, even when I certainly don’t mean to be, and then I feel both stressed and mortified as well as angry about being misunderstood.  Oh well.  Life is hard, but there are alternatives.  At least there’s one.  It becomes more enticing by the day.


*I added this footnote later to note that, as I walked from the train to the office, the clouds overhead were all moving consistently and rapidly west-northwest, which seems to indicate, if my reasoning is correct, that the center of the hurricane is still southwest of here, probably out in Gulf of Mexico for the moment, though I haven’t checked the reports yet this morning.

[Added note:  Since there’s a hurricane a-blowing, I decided to embed my cover of the Radiohead song “How to Disappear Completely” below, because the third verse includes the words, “Fireworks and blown speakers, strobe lights and hurricanes.”  I’ll also embed the original below that; it’s one of Radiohead’s most beautiful songs.]

No alarms and no surprises. Silent. Silent.

[To avoid confusion, at the bottom of this post I’ll embed the official video of the song from which this title comes, and then an old video of me doing a version of it.  Enjoy.]

Yesterday afternoon, I wrote a pre-made blog post, in case I was too tired this morning to write one, or too enervated, or too unmotivated, or however you want to characterize such a state.  As it turns out, this is not the blog post I pre-wrote.  This is me writing on Wednesday morning, but I may share that other blog post later today.

If I do, you’ll see that it was written as though it might be my last blog post, because—rather obviously—I felt that I was approaching the end of my endurance.  Though I am, in fact, writing this post this morning, that doesn’t change the fact that I still feel that I’m very near the end of my strength; it’s just that I’m a creature of habit, and I’m very stubborn, so I tend to keep on going longer than I suspected that I would be able to do so.

Or maybe it’s just that I feel too rude to change things suddenly in ways that affect other people.  For instance, today is the day that I do payroll at the office, so it would be very unkind of me not to go in, since no one else does the payroll, and it has to be done to make sure people get their paychecks.  After today, though, there’s another week before payroll needs to be done again.  That would be time enough for the boss to figure out some other alternatives.

Heck, knowing him, he is probably already prepared for other alternatives.  He’s very sharp.  I’m probably flattering myself to think that I’m actually important and not immediately replaceable.  The world will little note, nor long remember the fact that I was ever anywhere at all.

Just as a bit of trivia, and to give evidence to support the previous sentence, my daily life consists of getting up in the morning, showering, getting dressed, coming to the train station, writing my blog posts, and riding the train in to Deerfield Beach.  Then, on the way from the train station to the office, I stop in the Chevron convenience store and get some sandwiches and chips and something to drink, which will be my nutrition for the day.  Then I go to the office and do what I do there (including actually posting my blog posts before the start of business).  Then, after everyone else leaves, I lock up the office and set the alarm, walk back to the train station, ride the train back to Hollywood (Florida), go to the house, go to my room, read a few online manga, watch some YouTube videos and go to sleep and try to stay asleep, which I fail at pretty much always, until the cycle repeats.

On days when I’m off, I will go out to 7-11 or similar and get some food to eat for the day.  On Sundays I also do my laundry.

That’s it.  There are obviously many little details involved, but that’s it.  I don’t have any friends.  I don’t have any family nearby, not anyone who sees me or talks to me, anyway, though I talk to my sister on the phone when I feel non-disgusting enough to inflict myself on her.  I don’t have anywhere that I go for fun, because the sorts of places that people tend to go for fun are not places I find enjoyable unless I’m with someone I care about who enjoys going to such places.  If it’s me, crowds and noise and all that are stressful and intrusive, almost painful.  Anyway, going to most of the sorts of places I used to go—even malls or grocery stores or what have you—makes me feel sad, and even more alone and lonely than I do when I don’t go to them.

To a very good first approximation, I don’t drink—the bottles of liquor I bought for New Years 2020-2021 are still mostly full, almost two years later.  I don’t do drugs—the time I tried to see if marijuana helped my pain just left me vomiting for hours after the attempt—though I have in the past been on prescription pain meds that ultimately caused me as many problems as they solved, and I weaned myself off them.  Yuck.  I occasionally smoke cigars, but I don’t really like them and they make me feel kind of crummy…it’s mostly just what I call “self-harm without the danger of being Baker Acted”, but it’s too slow and unreliable a form of self-destruction to be satisfying.

I don’t write fiction anymore, and I don’t play music.  I barely even listen to music anymore.  My life is nothing and it is nothingness.

On top of all that, my new housemates have dogs—which is nice, I like dogs, actually—but last night one of them was agitated about something and kept barking on and off throughout the night.  I got the impression that its owner just gave up on trying to control it.  Most people don’t train or govern their pets very well, as far as I can see.  So that made my sleep even worse than usual.

I know, I’m whining and complaining and it’s tiresome.  Have we met before?  Allow me to introduce myself:  I’m Robert Elessar, and I’m tiresome.  Trust me, no one else is more tired of me than I am.

I think that’s nearly it, at least for right now.  If I decide to share it this afternoon, I guess you’ll see the blog post I wrote yesterday.  I may actually just preload it to post tomorrow, instead of my usual Thursday blog post.  I don’t know.  I haven’t decided.  I don’t like to deal in threats or promises, because I don’t know what I’ll feel like at any given point in the future.  At best I can make predictions, but as some famous scientist said, prediction is tricky business, especially about the future.

Anyway, that’s that.  I’m done, at least for today.  I wish I were just done entirely, so I could rest.  They say there shall be no rest for the wicked, and I guess I must be particularly wicked.  Or maybe that’s just my own bias.  Whatever.  Never mind.


Just Another Tuesday

It’s Tuesday morning again.  Another Tuesday.  This one is the 20th of September, in case anyone in the future is reading and wants to know what day this post was on, and is not reading this on the site proper, where the date is—I think—displayed above the post.  I’ll assume that anyone who cares about the date and is reading it today already knows what the date is, as well as the year.

There’s nothing really new to report, obviously.  As has been the case for a while now, I haven’t written any new fiction, haven’t done more than pick up a guitar, strum at it, and think about how shitty my playing sounds before putting it back down again.  Standard issue things to do, you know?

It continues to be dreary and rainy around here, though we have it easier than Puerto Rico, where the hurricane has knocked out power for the whole island.  That hurricane is not expected to head toward us at all, though it did just now really start to rain rather heavily.  The train stations are all covered though, so the rain doesn’t matter much unless it becomes quite windy, and right now there’s essentially no wind.

I thought it might rain as I was headed toward the train station—not just because this is south Florida and it’s been raining every day, so why should it stop, but because I could see tall, pillar-like clouds looming, even in the night sky, lit by reflected urban lights below.  They look nifty, but the shape of them, and the updrafts that no doubt exist within them, cooling all that airborne water, make it all but inevitable that rain will fall.

And now, as if conjured, the wind arrives, and speckles of rain are appearing on the screen of my laptop.  At least it’s somewhat refreshing.  If it becomes too prominent, I may have to pause and put the computer away to protect it.  But if that happens, none of you will be able to tell unless I tell you about it.  Weird, huh?  Well, no, not really I guess.  I think that’s just me—I’m the weird thing here.

Anyway, the rain is already slacking off some, and there’s only the tiniest of breezes remaining.  Further bulletins as events warrant.

I suspect that nearly all the noteworthy events in my life have already passed, though.  There’s very little else to say, though that doesn’t seem to stop me from saying it.  I “talk” to all of you, because I seem incapable of talking to anyone else.  That’s my fault, not anyone else’s.  I’m a faulty mechanism, what can I say?  I’m faultier than San Andreas.  I’m buggier than the Amazon rainforest*.  I’m not a very good device.  Not to say that I don’t have some remarkable design features, but none of them are really specific to me; they’re standard in the model.  The ways in which I am not standard seem to be associated with problems, which I guess is often the case.

Or maybe that’s all just egotistical in its own way, even though it’s fundamentally a case of self-loathing.  It’s probably just as arrogant to think that one is exceptionally bad or imperfect as to think that one is exceptionally perfect or good.  But there are more ways to be imperfect than to be perfect.  At least, it seems like that would be the case, though frankly, I’m not even sure what it would mean for a person to be perfect, and I’m not sure that anyone else knows what it means when they say it, either.  People use the word without really thinking about it, though to be fair, I don’t hear people referring to other people as perfect very often, and good on them that they don’t, since I don’t think anyone is perfect by whatever standard you might choose**.

Well, the train just arrived, but like yesterday (which I didn’t mention then) whoever is driving it today stopped way “sooner” than any of the other drivers do, and so I had to follow the other people who hadn’t gotten up off their asses early to wait for it to arrive, as I had, because I try to plan ahead.  Also, someone is sitting in my usual seat, which makes me unreasonably frustrated.  I know I have no claim on any particular seat or anything, but I try to do my stuff consistently so there are fewer surprises with which to deal, but that doesn’t seem to work.

Here’s an aside, though.  This is one of the trains that’s running the automated PA announcement system, which tells you which station you’re approaching and reminds you to check for your belongings before you get up and leave.  Then it says, “Please watch your step while you’re exiting the doors.”

Am I the only person who finds that last sentence irritatingly a-sensical?  “Exiting the doors” seems to imply that you were, until that point, inside the doors!  But no one is inside the doors.  The doors are barely three-dimensional; no ordinary, human-scale organism could actually be inside the doors.  Passengers are inside the train cars, they exit through the doorways, they don’t exit the doors!

If the person who wrote and recorded that announcement—which has annoyed me since the first time I heard it—is out there, can you please just come and kill me?  You’re one of the things that makes this planet so intolerable, and it would be just as well if you could help me leave it, since I’m looking to do that anyway.

I want to say that I feel like I’m losing my mind, but the problem, if anything, is that my grasp of reality is too persistent and consistent.  My weakness, if you will, is my relative inability to delude myself.  I can see the chaos (in the mathematical and poetic senses) for what it is, as well as the infinite stupidity*** of everything out there.

It sometimes seems that I can literally feel the yawning emptiness of the cosmos, but I know that’s an illusion.  I’m no more capable of truly conceiving of the infinite than is any other finite being.  But it does sometimes seem that I can feel it, just vaguely, looming above me and above everything, as well as beneath me, since “above” is a relative measure, and we are surrounded in all directions by mostly empty space.  Sometimes that’s even comforting.  You know, like the song says, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

I don’t know what point I’m trying to make.  I don’t think there is a point, either to this post, or to anything else.  It’s just another post, just another Tuesday, just another meaningless instantiation of “atoms and the void”, to quote Democritus.

I wonder if that was his real name, “Democritus”?  It seems too coincidental to be what his parents named him.  I know “Plato” was a nickname; I’m not sure about Aristotle.

Oh, well, what does it matter?  He’s dead, and he’s been dead for a couple of thousand years.  I always knew he was smart****.


*Which I like better than the Microsoft rainforest or the Google rainforest.  Ha ha.

**Unless you choose some cheesy standard such as “perfect at being who you are”, but in that case, everyone is perfect, which is just another way of saying that no one is, so it adds nothing.

***No matter how large an intelligence is, as long as it’s not infinite, then its stupidity, or at least its ignorance, is always infinite.  I know, that’s probably an unreasonable standard against which to measure any intelligence or anything else, really, but I never claimed to be trying to be fair, just that I can recognize the endless abyss of lack that lies beyond the realms of anything finite that exists.

****Well, no I didn’t.  I haven’t existed always, for one thing; I’ve only been around for just shy of 53 years, though sometimes it feels like it’s been millennia.  Also, I hadn’t even heard of Democritus for the first ten years or so of my life, not until Carl Sagan talked about him in Cosmos.  So “I always knew” is just flagrantly inaccurate.  It’s a bit like how people say things like, “that email never came”.  I always want to say, “Never?  You waited until the end of time itself, and the email still hadn’t arrived?  I mean, never is a really long time.  If you wait an infinite amount of time, anything possible that can happen will have happened, so it seems truly impossible that the email never arrived.  EVERY email should have arrived if you waited long enough to legitimately use the word ‘never’.”  But I hold my tongue…usually.  It gets my fingers wet, though.

Expression of depression as “indicator lights” for the state of a complex system

It’s Saturday, but I’m not in the park, and it’s definitely not the 4th of July.  It’s actually the 10th of September.  Oh, and this is 2022 AD (or CE).

I don’t think yesterday’s post was very well-received.  It was probably too dreary for most readers.  This is often the case when a relatively healthy person encounters the thoughts of one who suffers from depression.

I remember it being said in medical school that depression is, in a certain sense, contagious.  That’s not meant literally, of course, but it makes the point that, when interacting with someone who is depressed, one tends to feel one’s own mood pulled down.  In fact, it can sometimes be a diagnostic aid; even if the person to whom you’re speaking isn’t openly declaring depression, if you find yourself feeling depressed yourself after speaking with them*, they may be depressed in some clinically significant sense.

So, if people feel down after reading my writing, I apologize.  I don’t mean to bring anyone else into the fold, so to speak, or worsen the mental situation of someone who is already struggling.  There is a very small proportion of people in the world I think could be improved—from a societal standpoint anyway—by being depressed.

But it is true that, when I’ve read popular works about depression, and about the experience of depression, I don’t tend to get a strong sense of what the writers were feeling when depressed.  Most of the time, the works are written well after the particular bout of depression, and it can be hard to recreate the moods and thoughts that the condition engenders when one is not mired in it.  Just as one who is depressed can feel that the depression has always existed and always will, when one is out of depression it can (apparently) be hard to reenter the worldview that it entails.

Some of this is probably defensive.  Who, having successfully gotten past depression, would want to relive the experience?  I’d hazard a guess that the answer is “no one”.

I remember a time when, briefly, my (now-ex) wife went through a period of reactive depression near the end of a pregnancy, and shortly after it.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, though thankfully most women are spared.  Anyway, at the time, she said that she would never get angry with me when I was depressed again, that she understood now how terrible it was and how difficult, and how it’s not simply a matter of attitude or choice to feel it or not.  I’m quite sure that she meant it with all her heart.  Thankfully, her experience was short-lived, it responded to treatment and time rather rapidly, and she returned to her usual, extremely formidable and impressive self.  But she also lost at least some of her sense of empathy for the depression, unfortunately.

That’s okay.  I like her better when she’s healthy and joyful and fierce.

My personality—and probably my undiagnosed ASD, which contributes to the fact that I can’t convey emotion well, and have a hard time seeking or accepting emotional support—and the sheer persistence of the problem make me hard to bear for anyone, for very long, I think.  It makes me hard to bear even for me.  The advent of my chronic pain, and its affect on my ability to work well**, contributed to that difficulty mightily.

But maybe someone someday will find my musings when I’m depressed useful for at least getting into the mindset of someone suffering from depression.  Maybe not.  I think my thoughts are far from typical even for the depressed, though my tone is probably pretty “normal” for someone with longstanding chronic depression.  Maybe my words will be useful for people studying depression in adults with undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder, which I’m almost certain I have, having studied it now for a while since the possibility first revealed itself.

As a bit of a tangent, it’s rather frustrating to me that I recently saw a very good video that discussed the fact that it seems depression was never caused directly by a deficiency of serotonin, a so-called chemical imbalance.  The maker of this video clearly knows it was never this simple, but there is a popular notion that such a thing is the case, and that has always irritated me.  The brain is not some stew made of a big collection of ingredients cooking together in the skull, which doesn’t come out well if a particular ingredient is missing or is present in too-great quantities.

The brain is a huge and unimaginably complex information-processing system, immensely parallel in its structure, with a staggering amount of feedback and crossover between subunits of the system; even each individual neuron of the hundred billion-ish present is more complicated than one can readily grasp.  It has more in common with a vast weather pattern of sorts, influenced by both local and global environmental factors but also internally influenced by other parts of itself, so that some patterns become self-sustaining and destructive, like a hurricane in the mind that feeds and strengthens itself when conditions are right, and which cannot easily just be broken once it has formed.

So, serotonin was never some mere quantity that was deficient, like iron deficiency leading to anemia.  The nerve cells that signal using serotonin manufacture that neurotransmitter themselves.  It’s simply that part of depression is instantiated (in many) in the underactivity or poor responsiveness of certain parts of the brain that signal via serotonin, and increasing the activity in those regions can sometimes decrease the tendency of the system as a whole to get into the self-reinforcing state that depression is.

It’s rather like the notion that we could, for instance, decrease the likelihood of hurricanes by decreasing the amount of moisture in the local atmosphere.  It’s not that hurricanes are simply caused by high humidity, but just that the high humidity contributes to their production, and decreasing it could, in principle, decrease the likelihood of hurricane formation, or at least decrease their strength and thus their destructive effects.

I don’t want to push the metaphor too far, since the brain is obviously different from weather—for one thing, it is far more meticulous, precise, and in some senses (but not all) more complex and constrained.  There are roughly a quadrillion synapses in a typical brain, but it’s not just the number that really makes the difference, anymore than one can just randomly wire up a hundred billion transistors and make a supercomputer.  Weather is a bit more free form, though it involves a great many more atoms interacting than any one brain.  But analogies can point out similarities at different levels of various systems, and more usefully, they can help try to convey something of the sense, if not the specifics, of an idea.

But depression is a dangerous storm of the mind indeed; it’s frequently a terminal illness.  And one cannot simply slap a hurricane and yell “Snap out of it!” and expect it to have any effect at all.  We understand the nature of autism spectrum disorders even more poorly than we understand mood disorders—trust me, I’ve looked for good neuroscientific, neuroanatomical, structural, and functional investigations of the disorders without much satisfaction so far.  The interaction of mood disorders with ASDs is probably just going to make things still more complicated.  Unfortunately, the only computer with the processing power adequate to modeling the processes so far is reality itself, but we can’t just lift up the hood or look at the source code or whatever metaphor you want to use for that.  We have to figure it out as it goes along.

For that reason, it may not be such a bad thing for me to share my thoughts, however dismal they are and however gloomy and dispirited they may make my readers feel, when I’m in the throes of my malfunctions.  Think of them as indicator lights, or pressure gauges, or even a Windows™ Control Panel readout from the system.  At least they might give some insight into what the system is doing at that time, or what state it’s in.  It won’t necessarily allow one to prevent total system crash; some systems just have too many faults and bugs to keep running.  But maybe at least from an eventual mortality and morbidity conference point of view, they might be useful.

It would be nice to be useful.


*Assuming you weren’t already.

**As an aside, when I was in practice, I also found that I had great difficulty charting using Dictaphones or their equivalents.  This is partly because it was not at all how I charted during training, but I suspect it’s more related to my ASD.  I can write extemporaneously quite well, or at least quite handily, as these blog posts demonstrate, but speaking aloud as a matter of keeping records such as “SOAP notes” is very uncomfortable and even feels physically blocked at times.  Between that and my chronic pain, I had more than one occasion of getting far behind on charting, which caused frustration for my colleagues and my spouse alike.  I’m not lazy.  Not by a long shot.  I think it really was mainly an Asperger’s thing, but at the time I just hated myself for being so weak; I was motivated to do it, but just couldn’t seem to carry it off without it feeling like torture.

And if the cloudbursts thunder in your ear…

Well, it’s Friday again, but again, it’s not the end of the work week for me, anymore than Monday was a day off.  My colleague who was out with a back injury did have minor surgery earlier this week; he went home the next day, but he’s supposed to rest and recover for a while, and I’m not sure whether he’ll even be back to the office next week.  So, I’ll probably be writing a post tomorrow, since I’ll be going into the office.  It’s something to look forward to, if you look forward to that sort of thing.

I don’t know for sure what to write about today.  I mean, what I want to do is rant and rave and cry and all that, but I keep doing that over and over—at least that’s what it feels like—and it gets me no result whatsoever.  No matter where and when I do it, I seem utterly unable to convey to anyone how much I feel like I’m barely holding on by my fingernails and am about to fall.  I don’t know when my grip will give out, which is the nature of such dilemmas, unfortunately, and I cannot climb up on my own.

Well, falling is probably at least a sort of freeing feeling while it’s happening.  It’s probably not the worst thing to experience, especially if you’re facing upward so you can’t see the ground rushing to get in the way of you being able to follow your geodesic through spacetime.  Free fall is probably kind of cool, while it’s happening.  Unfortunately, in Florida there aren’t really any high places—it’s literally flatter than Kansas—so there’s no very high place to fall from, except a building in a city somewhere, I suppose, and that’s dreary and messy and inconsiderate.  One could sneak a ride on a rocket, I guess.  But even the Artemis thing is delayed for a bit while they fix some kind of leak.

Now that I think about it, is Artemis launching from Cape Canaveral?  I just assumed it was, but I’m not sure.

I have a new “housemate” moved in, and she seems benign enough.  At least she doesn’t try to bother me, presumably partly because of the language barrier, which is fine.  In a perfect world, it would probably be nice for me to practice my Spanish, but the world isn’t perfect, and I don’t want to have to deal with it.  I can’t deal with other people at all, anymore, except when I have a specific task to achieve, and preferably a script.  I don’t even use the kitchen or anything, I just stay in my room when I’m there, which is not very much of the time, really.

The really stressful thing is when I do my laundry on Sunday.  This last Sunday it was okay—she was just moving in, though.  Hopefully there’s no issue with it, because I don’t know if I can deal with even one more thing in the world, however slight or seemingly trivial.  I certainly don’t want to deal with anything new.

I don’t want to deal with anything at all.

I wonder if, some day in the future, this blog will be a case study in the deterioration and final catastrophic destruction of a middle-aged adult male with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome and chronic depression (aka dysthymia) and chronic pain, who had his health, his marriage, his career fall apart, went to prison because he didn’t grasp the nature of human chaos but just wanted to try to help other people who had chronic pain, a person who doesn’t see his children anymore, and is riding out his last days in America’s flaccid penis*.

Probably not.  It’s not a very good story.  The world will not much more notice or remember my presence and then my absence than it notices the stupid little insects that land on the back of my neck while I wait for the train, which I then unthinkingly crush (the insects, not the train) because I get an itchy feeling there and go to rub/scratch at it.

We’re all tiny and evanescent.  I think I remember that Roger Penrose showed, in his book The Large, the Small, and the Human Mind, that on a log-log scale, going from the Planck length to the size of the accessible universe, humans are actually quite large…but if you can pick the way you represent things, what kind of graphing and scale you use, you can make things look more important than they might really be.  David Deutsch’s arguments in The Beginning of Infinity are much more compelling, but I think he would be the first to admit that there is no guarantee that human civilization is the beginning of an infinite (or cosmically significant, anyway) progression; we are entirely capable of stagnation and self-destruction.  I’m surely living proof of that.

I’m also a good demonstration of what Eliezer Yudkowsky points out, that the scale of intelligence that we should consider is not to compare very smart humans with not as smart humans, but use a scale that doesn’t depend on us as a point of departure.  Of all life on Earth, we’re at the top tier of braininess, and all reasonably healthy humans are only a few real numbers apart from each other on a measure of intelligence that goes from, say, a virus up to Albert Einstein.  But based on what we understand about the possibilities of information processing, there is no reason to think that the scale ends there.  What a horrible universe it would be if there were no possibility of intelligence significantly greater than that of modern humans!  Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Anyway, no matter how strong or smart or skilled you are, the space above you is always limitlessly greater—we’re all infinitely weak, infinitely stupid, and infinitely ignorant.  In many ways, that’s a great fact; it means there will always be more that we can learn, more ways that we can grow.  Improvement need never end, if improvement is what we keep trying to seek.  But in order to improve, one has to recognize that one has room for improvement, and humans often think too highly of themselves.  Humans are not the measure of all things, though they are understandably their own primary concern.

I don’t have any idea what point I’m trying to make.  There probably is no point.  There almost certainly is no point.  I don’t know what to tell you.  Try to have a good day.


*Florida.  I moved here largely because my wife was tired of living in cold climates, and I liked Florida when I was a kid and my grandparents lived here, so I happily went along with it.  And even after we were divorced, I’ve stayed here because my kids are here, and I long entertained the delusional notion that I might see them again, and would want to be nearby in case that happened.  LOL.  Things haven’t gone well for me here, though perhaps Florida is not to blame at any level.

Can a day be both fried and scrambled?

First of all, let me apologize for yesterday’s bogus title and picture.  I had very little mental energy, which no doubt was obvious, and I just felt that I was wasting what little effort I could bring to bear by choosing a quote from Shakespeare to adjust with some form of the word “blog”, and then to find and modify a picture of some kind so that it matched (at least roughly) the subject or the title of the post.  If anyone was looking forward to seeing what “clever” thing I’d done this week, I’m legitimately sorry to have disappointed you.

I think all my posts this week have been dreary, even for me.  I’m gradually approaching the point of just giving up completely.  People usually say that they give up well before they really have.  I know that’s the case for me.  I’ve felt like I want to give up for some time now.  I have also asked, even practically begged, for help—though I’m not sure what form such help might take—on numerous occasions through this blog (and elsewhere), hoping that someone out there might have some ideas, or some resource suggestions, or even some words that I hadn’t read or heard or thought of already, but I’ve found nothing that’s really useful.

I’ve even gotten suggestions to read one of the psalms.  I’ve read all the psalms before, but I went and read it again.  Though they’re nice poetry, it didn’t inspire me in any way.  Sorry, person who suggested it, but I’ve read through the entire Bible at various times, and—though I appreciate your intentions, I really do—it’s not a source of consolation for someone like me.

I’ve thought over and over again about calling the “crisis hotline”, especially now that they added the 988 number to it, but then you read all about those warnings that, yes, they do track your location when you call.  I myself have previously, through a call to the hotline, had a run-in with the effing Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department in which I got nerve damage in my left hand because I was handcuffed—because, of course, a suicidal person is dangerous to two armed PBSO deputies.  Then I got brought to a facility so bleak that I would almost have preferred the mass holding cells in Gun Club Road jail.

I suppose that story does highlight something that’s been in the news:  the fact that police are not trained or equipped to help people going through psychological crises; to be fair to them, it really isn’t part of their job description.  And if you can’t trust that you won’t be kidnapped by “the man” against your will, how are you supposed to be able to trust the crisis hotline?

Not that I don’t think the people who work on it are sincere—I’m quite sure they are and that they really want to do good.  But as I’ve said many times, good intentions are not enough.  Good intentions are just the beginning, and they are only barely that.  It’s not enough to mean to do good.  If you want actually to do good, you’re going to have to figure out how to make that happen, and adjust your approaches and improve them over time as you learn.

I wonder if one of the VPNs your keep hearing about might be useful enough that I could at least use the crisis line “chat” function without being tracked and hunted down by police officers (who are also, I’m quite confident, desirous of doing good, but are not equipped or trained to do so in a psychological or psychiatric emergency situation).  Would just “going incognito” on Google Chrome be enough?  Does anyone out there know?

***

Sorry about the interruption just now, though I know you didn’t actually experience it.  I suddenly started getting some esophageal spasm, and I had to rush to get a drink from the fountain at the train station to help relax my esophagus.  It’s quite painful, and it’s disconcerting, and the first time you have it, you feel like you must be having a heart attack or maybe an aortic dissection, but it responds to warm water (at least in my case) which is basically like stretching and warming a charley horse, and heart attacks don’t do that, and neither do aortic dissections.

So, where was I?

Oh, right, I was wondering about ways possibly to get in contact with the crisis hotline without being in danger of getting abducted and taken to an involuntary mental health facility—getting “Baker Acted”, in other words.  If anyone out there knows if just “going incognito” is enough, please let me know in the comments below, NOT on Facebook or Twitter.

I think I’m quite a bit past those first, heady days of thinking that I want to give up, and am really near the point of actually doing it, of actually not caring at all about trying to continue.  I guess I do care about not wanting to be incarcerated, even if it’s in a mental health facility.  The public ones I’ve seen around these parts are just dreary and, well, depressing.

It would be nice to have someone to talk to about these kinds of things, someone I felt comfortable with, someone for whom I don’t have to try to put on a happy (or in my case, probably just a blank) face.  Apparently my face is not very expressive at the best of times.  Certainly nobody seems to pick up on the fact that I’m horribly depressed a lot of the time, most every day.  I think I’ve been trained too much—partly by myself—to pretend.  They call it masking.  Also, it turns out, I’m just not able to express my emotions well, and often not able even to realize what they are from moment to moment.

It’s interesting that people will sometimes send you things like “hugs” on Facebook or through text messages and things, like the hug emojis, you know what I mean?  Now, being apparently an Aspie, as I guess they say, I’m not great with even real hugs from most people, but e-hugs feel peculiar (albeit in quite a different way).  I guess they’re a way of showing that the person cares and “wishes” they could hug you for real.  That’s legitimately nice, and I wouldn’t want to discourage it.

But, like I said, I feel reticent about even real hugs, though from certain people, at certain times, hugs have been great.  Apparently, I’m a bit like a cat in that.  I really don’t even like it when people I don’t know well come up and, while talking to me, put a hand on my shoulder or something.  Though, in the right circumstances, a shoulder and neck massage can be great, preferably when it’s something I’ve sought out.

I don’t even like going to the barber shop, because having strangers touch me even to that degree is just uncomfortable, and that’s gotten worse over time.  You can imagine how much fun it is to be handcuffed and chained and all that.  I’ve had more than enough of that crap for the rest of my life, I can promise you; I would be tempted just to force police officers to shoot me rather than let myself be handcuffed again if the situation arose.

I may just be out of luck here.  There may not be resources to help someone in south Florida who is an “ex-con”, a disgraced doctor, divorced, alone, with chronic pain and, apparently, autism spectrum disorder, as well as dysthymia/depression, who is a long way away from most of his family (certainly those who would want to have anything to do with him), and who doesn’t want to cause any of them trouble, anyway.  It’s frustrating, sometimes, to know that there are resources for people with drug and alcohol problems, there’s public and private support, and people are even celebrated (justly so) for their struggles to defeat them, but if your problems are not with substances but with a fucked up nervous system, then it’s hard to find resources, and humiliating to seek them out.  The world just kind of blames you for the problem.  You’re weak.  You’re defective.  You’re inadequate.  You’re just faulty.

To be fair, though, I don’t like myself enough to be proactive about my mental or physical health much anymore.  I’ve used many different antidepressants and related meds and therapy of various kinds; I’ve tried to see if there’s any religion or philosophy or technique that gives me comfort*.  I just keep coming back to as bad or worse states.

It’s been said by some (usually quite successful) people that being happy is a choice, but that strikes me just as a way for people who happen to be happy to pat themselves on the back while they blame the unhappiness of the unhappy on the unhappy themselves.  They can feel that they deserve their own happiness, and wash their hands of the problem.  “If you’re unhappy, it’s your choice.  Choose not to be.  Get over it.”

What utter bullshit.  You didn’t build your brain or your body or your background, and you can’t “freely” choose what its set-points are.  The workings of the brain and mind are not understood well enough for us to know what “buttons” to push or “dials” to adjust to achieve, reliably, a desired state.  Believe me, no depressed person, if suddenly fully cured of depression and all its causes and sequelae, would choose to feel horrible and wishing to die again.  If they “choose” to be depressed, that’s part of what depression is.

Anyway, I’m not getting anywhere with this…probably because I’m not going anywhere with this.  It’s also getting too long.  But I am despondent, and washed-out, and just getting apathetic about it all, mostly.  I really think I’m near the stage of just letting go.  I want to stop trying to “cry for help”.  It doesn’t do any good, and I don’t see any signs that anyone out there knows any answers that are better than the ones I already know, which I know don’t work.

No one has mastered the merger of quantum mechanics and general relativity; if they had, it would probably soon become self-evident.  And no one has mastered the art of repairing the dysfunctional mind.  It would be too obvious if they had.

If I’m wrong, please tell me.  I could use the knowledge.


*Nope.  Nothing I’ve encountered so far has done the trick, and I am a widely and eclectically read and educated individual.  Most of what I’ve found is puerile.  Let’s be honest, if there was some method or insight or spiritual factor that reliably worked to make life better for people who tried it, it would rapidly become glaringly obvious, and would stand out among all the various treatments and philosophies and religions and pills and machines and other substances.  It would be clear that the people who applied it were better-adjusted and healthier than most others, and they would probably happily share the insights.  True insights, like addition and subtraction, are usually logically demonstrable.  If someone has to sell you something, to give you a pitch and try to convince you with rhetoric rather than with reason and evidence that it’s good—if they sell it with pictures of models and shots of beautiful homes and flowers and all that—it is unlikely to be all that it’s cracked up to be.  You don’t have to “sell” people on antibiotics if they have a bacterial infection; if anything, you’ve got to prevent them from overusing them.

“It’s just the kind of day to leave myself behind”

It’s Tuesday now, which generally follows Monday, which was yesterday.  Of course, in a sense, Tuesday also precedes Monday, and has done so for practically every Monday we’ve officially had.  But it’s not guaranteed either way.  There may, for any of us and even possibly for all of us, come a Monday not followed by any Tuesday, or a Tuesday not followed by any Monday.  But I don’t think that both things can happen, not for any given person.

Someday I will see my last Tuesday, and it will follow or be followed by my last Monday—but one cannot be certain of the order of those two final iterations of days, can one?  For those who die on a Monday, their last Tuesday is followed by their last Monday.  Otherwise the reverse is true.  I suppose that means that there is a six out of seven chance that one’s last Tuesday will follow one’s last Monday.  Which makes it quite likely but far from certain.

This Monday was a frustrating day at work for me—more so than most Mondays, to be honest.  But I suppose that isn’t terribly unusual.  Work is work, and for most people, it’s not expected to be a place one goes for fun.  If it were, why would they need to pay one to go?  Well, mainly because, even if you enjoy doing what you do at work, you still have to earn a living.  If you don’t do it, then someone else has to earn it for you.

I do think it’s fair to guess that, a lot of the time, even if they would have needed to do it anyway or else die, our ancestors enjoyed hunting and gathering.  Those who enjoyed doing the activities that kept them alive were more likely to do those things, and to do them well, and so were more likely to thrive and to leave more offspring and all that.  It’s one reason cats, for instance, like to hunt and kill things even when they’re well fed.  People are quite similar to cats in many ways, but our social milieu is far more complicated than that of cats—even in the wild—so we have more complicated things that we are built to enjoy, like both hunting (and gathering, presumably) and also doing social things with other members of the tribe.

I say “we”, but of course, I really mean “you”, using that word as a collective pronoun rather than a singular one.  I’m able to learn to do the whole social interaction thing, but it doesn’t come naturally; it often seems unintuitive to me, and I don’t tend to enjoy it except with a highly select few people.  And even most of the people I like to socialize with end up not wanting to socialize with me, so apparently, even when I like socializing with someone, I don’t do a very good job at it.

Maybe that’s because, with the people I really love and want to spend time with, I let me guard down and act like my natural self more, and my natural self is unpleasant to most humans.  I don’t really know.  I know that my natural self is unpleasant to me, at least when I’m not around the people I love, which is all the time nowadays.  But you can’t judge by me, since I don’t tend to like the same things the average human likes in many cases, or not in the same way.  I’m apparently quite weird.  That can work nicely to make interesting characters and situations in sitcoms and movies and the like, but in real life it causes trouble and is not fun.

Not that I want to be normal, either.  The antics and depredations and pantomimes of “normal” people are puzzling and disheartening and disappointing and frankly embarrassing and often infuriating.

Anyway, I don’t know what the hell I’m writing about today or why.  I honestly just feel exhausted and overwhelmed.  I don’t know what to do to try to alleviate my mental and physical discomfort…I’ve tried lots of things, believe me; I am very stubborn, and I don’t give up easily.

I honestly almost wish I had a drug problem.  If you have a drug or alcohol problem, at least you have those occasional, (apparently) sweet moments of escape, and even if your life begins to crumble, there are resources and people all around the place who will stage interventions and help you get back on your feet and will sometimes even praise you for your courage in fighting your problem.  Even jail can be a respite, and badge of honor in some circles.  And if you fail ultimately, and die from an overdose, for instance, well…I guess that’s no worse than most deaths, and better than some*, and people will mourn it and see it as a tragedy.  Not that this will do you any good once you’re dead, but still…

If you just have dysthymia/depression and an ASD (apparently), but you don’t find drugs or alcohol pleasant or relieving of your issues, people just think you’re shit to be around, just a downer, and they don’t like to spend time with you or certainly to spend your life with you.  And if you die because of your illness**, people kind of blame you and have the temerity to wonder why you would choose a “permanent” solution to a “short-term” problem.

As if depression were a short-term problem.  Depression is eternal.  Depression can make a single day feel like an infinity of freezing, caustic, malodorous, gray emptiness, like a bad acid trip that’s produced by the malfunctioning circuitry of your own brain, without the need for external pharmaceuticals.

Whatever else depression is, it entails a malfunction or lack of function in one’s very ability to feel joy, analogous in some ways to how one can lose one’s ability to see or to hear***.  The term is anhedonia, but that word doesn’t capture the Lovecraftian horror of it.  Imagine (if you’ve never experienced it for yourself) doing the things you’ve previously most enjoyed—eating your favorite meal, watching your favorite show or movie, reading your favorite book, going on your favorite vacation, just spending time with the person or people you love most—and being unable to feel that joy anymore, except perhaps in a very blunted and transient way, just a teasing reminder, while all your senses of the unpleasant and painful**** are working quite well, thank you very much.

I won’t say I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  For one thing, I frankly don’t have any actual enemies.  Also, I think there are and have been people in the world who might “deserve” such a thing, or in any case in whom anhedonia and depression would be a benefit to society at large; I’m thinking of some world “leaders”, past and present.  But in general, I don’t recommend it.

Again, I don’t have any idea what point, if any, I’m trying to make.  But maybe that’s appropriate, since I don’t see any point or purpose to my day-to-day life, either.  It makes sense that my daily blog posts should seem meandering and senseless and unpleasant.  That’s simply a reflection of my true nature, I guess.


*Cancer, or COPD, or liver failure, things like that.  We keep ourselves alive long enough to die horrible, slow, painful and erosive deaths nowadays.

**And, by the way, depression has a mortality rate comparable to many cancers, and at least in some senses can engender greater suffering in those stricken with it, certainly for longer times—sometimes for decades, many of the days of which feel paradoxically as if they last for years.  And you never do hear anyone praising someone’s “courageous battle” with depression, do you?  Depression is too horrifying…a malfunction or malignancy in the very “soul”, and people stricken with it have a hard time coming across as “heroic”.

***You’d never really imagine, though, a scene in a movie where someone slaps a blind person and tells them to “snap out of it” and just start seeing again, already, would you?

****Which are, of course, more fundamental for survival.  People who don’t feel pain and/or fear die much more quickly and certainly than those unable to feel joy.  By logical implication, at least they don’t die in pain or in fear, and that’s good, I think that’s a kindness.  But they also don’t tend to leave many offspring.

Faces Look Ugly When You’re Alone

Well, it’s Tuesday, it’s morning, and as usual, I don’t have any idea what I’m going to write about today.  That didn’t stop me yesterday, of course, from writing quite a bit about various numbers and digits and physics and whatnot, and even choosing a nice paraphrase of a lyric from a song by the fictional band Spinal Tap as my title.  But I don’t think I’m going to have anything nearly as fun (to me) to write about today.

I suppose this is the sort of issue my therapists have had to deal with at various times in the past*:  is he just going to ramble on about some curious set of facts that popped into his head and struck his interest, and that he wants to share with someone else because he thinks it’s interesting, or is he going to be utterly—and sometimes contagiously—depressed?

Actually, for some people, even the first option might be depressing.

Of course, therapists get paid to deal with such things, so it’s hard to feel too sorry for them, though I always kind of did, even so.  I’ve usually felt bad for almost anyone who finds themselves forced to deal with me, even if they’re being paid to do so, and even if they are (like you) coming to read my words voluntarily.  I suppose it’s probably a kind of projection; I don’t like myself, nor do I like to deal with myself most of the time, so I assume other people find me as unpleasant as I find myself.  Of course, they at least get me in smaller chunks than those in which I get myself, which is basically a continuous stream**.

Still, I suppose being exposed to my written thoughts in chunks of 1300 words or so (I think that was about how long yesterday’s blog post was) isn’t so bad.  At least you don’t have to live with me.  Everyone who has ever had to live with me, from my parents to my spouse to my children, has ended up deciding that it was not worth the effort, and they didn’t want to do it anymore.  So they don’t.  To be fair, my parents have since died, after having reversed course and helped me out through some real difficulties, but they still didn’t have to live with me.

It’s weird, isn’t it?  There are people who don’t really want to be around you…but they don’t want you to kill yourself, either.  And all the various clichés about why you shouldn’t commit suicide talk about how it will hurt the people who love you and whatnot.  Okay, probably not all the clichés.  But a lot of them.

Weirdly enough, it has traction, that argument.  The anticipatory guilt actually gets in the way, that feeling of not wanting to cause sorrow for people who don’t even want to be around you, and who in fact are not around you, but who don’t want you to die, because then they would feel “sad”, which I guess is a euphemism for “guilty”.

The funny thing is, if you simply disappeared—not in any kind of dramatic sense, but simply in the sense of no longer being someone they heard from or about—they probably would never even notice that you were gone, except maybe, upon rare occasion, when something triggered the thought, “I wonder what ever happened to him?”  Then they would shrug and go on about their day.

It’s bizarre to feel bound to the world by ties to distant people whom you don’t want to hurt or inconvenience, and who would ask you not to die if given the chance, but who don’t seem to mind thereby condemning you to a life of daily suffering, all alone, without any apparent available cure or recourse, just because your death would cause them a passing pang.  It’s very strange.

It doesn’t exactly seem moral to me.  I mean, I know there are people who say that depression is a passing thing, that suicide is a long-term answer to a short-term problem, all those trite memes, but I’ve had dysthymia (aka chronic depression) since I was a teenager at least—so, for more than thirty years—and apparently, I’ve had “ASD” since I was born (or before, technically), and trust me, nature is NOT guaranteed to give you only problems that you can handle or solve.  Nature is allowed to destroy you—indeed, it will destroy you eventually—and it is allowed to do so swiftly or slowly, mercifully or with Lovecraftian cruelty.

Believe me, I’ve seen it.  You have, too, though you might not be willing to admit it to yourself.

It’s so very strange.  We don’t want other people to destroy themselves so they can at least escape thereby from a life dominated by suffering—from whatever source, of whatever nature—but we don’t want to go to the trouble actually to try to relieve such people’s suffering.  That would require a lot of work.  So we’ll manipulate and cajole and occasionally reach out and try to discourage someone who feels suicidal from going through with their escape plans.

Sometimes we’ll even lock them up by force (or, well, we’ll have someone else do that for us).  And we’ll thereby leave them suffering because, I’m sorry to inform you, we don’t have very good and reliable treatments for depression/dysthymia, particularly associated with “neurodivergent” circumstances***, or for many kinds of chronic pain, and so a life can be both solitary and dominated by discomfort (mental, emotional, and physical) for decades at a time without significant respite.  And while Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with and without SSRIs and other antidepressants and whatnot, can improve things to some degree, none of them have been studied for very long-term outcomes very well—there’s no money for that—and there’s no treatment that works for everyone.

It gets old.  It’s a lot to handle on one’s own.

Anyway, I don’t know the point of all this, but really, if you’re trying to talk someone out of suicide or something like that, don’t tell them not to do it because it would hurt you unless you’re going to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.  If you are able and willing, then yes, for God’s sake, do help!  PLEASE!  Don’t expect people who are mentally ill to be able to help themselves.  That’s absurd and frankly idiotic.  It’s like typing the words “Change your operating system from Android to iOS” into your smartphone’s search bar and expecting it to do so.  It’s like telling someone with a severed leg just to grow it back and expecting them to cast aside their crutches or prostheses, to rise, and to walk away on a new limb, as though the notion just hadn’t occurred to them until you suggested it.  It’s like telling someone just to choose to stop having lupus, or asthma, or cancer and expecting them to be all better.  It’s not something a person can just bootstrap themselves out of.  Such people are going to need initiative from other people if those other people really, actually want them to survive and (perhaps) thrive.

But if you’re not actually going to try to help, then maybe you shouldn’t try to guilt someone into not killing themselves.  Maybe you should just shut the fuck up.

Actually, maybe I should do that.  I’m not being very positive and I’m not getting anywhere.  I apologize.


*That’s “in the past” because I no longer go to therapy.  It’s too expensive, I don’t have the time or the wherewithal to get to a therapist, the BetterHelp online experiment I tried didn’t last long before my therapist had to take maternity leave, and I hate trying to start all over again with someone new; difficulty feeling comfortable with other people is one of my big problems.  Anyway, obviously it has all never had many long term benefits.

**One might imagine that it’s broken up by sleep, but weirdly enough, I never feel that I “get away” from myself in sleep, and I certainly don’t sleep very continuously.  I rarely sleep for more than an hour or so before waking up at least for a moment, looking around, realizing that I’ve only been sleeping for an hour or so, and that there was no reason to wake up.  Then I try to go back to sleep, succeed for a short while, and begin the cycle again until finally it’s late enough that I might as well just get up.  The last good, restful night of sleep I can remember happened in the mid-nineties, in White Plains, New York, at 205 Pondside Drive.  It was amazing!

***This is neither surprising nor anything for humans to feel too bad about.  The brain is the most complicated thing humans know in the universe, by a significant margin, and everyone is a very long way from understanding it fully.  Rocket science is easy.  Neuroscience is hard.

Is it really?

Okay.  Um…it’s Friday now, which tends to happen on the day that follows Thursday, and since yesterday was Thursday, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone, let alone me, that today is Friday.

I suspect there are plenty of people for whom Friday is a good thing in and of itself.  Or, well, not really “in and of itself”, now that I think about it.  In and of itself, it’s just another day, with nothing to set it apart from the 1.6 trillion or more others since the Earth first coalesced and cooled and the similar number that will pass in the future, until the sun’s expanding surface envelopes Earth and reduces it to cinders and dust in the eventual ring nebula that our solar system will become.  But within our current social system, Friday is the end of the “work week” and the “school week”, and so for many people it is a harbinger of pleasant—albeit brief—times to come.

This will be my weekend off, meaning I won’t be working tomorrow (the office is never open on Sundays), so I don’t expect to be writing anything tomorrow.  I also don’t think I’m going to be making and uploading any videos, but that’s not unusual.  Eventually, I expect I’m going to do a bit of the latter for a while, though it probably won’t last for long.  If I do end up successfully following that plan, I will no doubt share/embed such videos here, for posterity and for the ease of my regular readers.

I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling discouraged that there are so few regular readers out there in the world.  Has it been this way my whole life?  I feel that when I was younger there were more readers around, as a percentage, than there are now, but perhaps that’s a misperception on my part.  I lived in a family that embraced and celebrated reading; both of my parents read to me when I was young (as did my sister), and certainly my sister was (and is) at least as avid a reader as I am.  My brother is not as big a reader of fiction as I or our sister, but still, he read quite often when I was young.

I think my Dad didn’t read as much as he wanted to, because he worked a full time job, but his father was a big reader, and my Mom read quite a lot.  I remember she liked those Harlequin romance novels, but she also always loved mysteries.  And my family got three daily newspapers, at least for a while, and quite a few magazines.

Nowadays, even people who have good imaginations and who will want to tell stories and be creative in doing so are going to have a higher chance of being distracted by all the video media that abounds, and very few people will read, let alone write, long stories in the printed word.  Even things like Harry Potter became movies even before the whole series of books had come out, so though the books did bring many young people to the wonderful world of reading magical stories, I can’t help thinking that there’s someone out there who would have started reading the books and loved them, and maybe from there would have gone on to read more and other books, but didn’t because, thanks to the films, they didn’t need to do it.

Oh, well.  There is no gravity; the universe is just warped.

In front of me now, one the wall of the train, there is a (very nice) poster advertising* the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and related services.  It’s good that they promote it, and that they do it in such a way, trying to show a group of people from various walks of life, all of whom look glum, and above whom are symbols of things like heartbreak, confusion, pain, etc.  “Lonely?  Depressed?  Anxious?” it asks.  Then below, it tells us, “It’s OK to not be OK”. I have two minor and really pointless quibbles about this line, and I can’t help having them, despite the fact that it makes me hate myself even more than I already did.

The first quibble is with the split infinitive.  I don’t like split infinitives partly because, in many languages, it’s not even possible to split an infinitive**, and this includes the most broadly spoken language in the western hemisphere***, Spanish.  It’s not a terribly big deal, I guess, but I feel that in many ways writing “It’s OK not to be OK” would be at least as good, and in a certain emphatic, rhetorical sense, it might be better yet to write “It’s OK to be not OK”.  That last one makes “not OK” the state you’re in, as one phrase, and I think it really works for emphasis.

Never mind that.  The point that really got into my idiotic, dysfunctional nervous system was to note that, well…it had better be OK not to be OK, because it’s not like people get to choose.  If people could choose, no one would choose to be “not OK”.  Why would they?  It makes no sense.  Surely, if people could choose, everyone would choose to feel good and energetic and motivated and enthusiastic every day.

If people could choose, there would be no self-help books.  Who would say, “Hmm…today, I think I’ll dial myself toward the ‘depressed’ and ‘suicidal’ settings, just to change things up and keep from getting bored”?  If they could do that, why not just adjust the “boredom” dial downward and not be depressed and suicidal?

It’s a bit like saying “It’s OK not to be able to go the speed of light”.  Well, it had better be OK, because you don’t have any choice about it.  And though it’s more complex, you don’t have any simple choice in the previous matter, either.  It’s like I always want to say when I hear the Rush lyric, “I will choose free will”—No.  You won’t.  You either have free will or you don’t have free will, but you don’t have any choice in the matter.  It’s not up to you.

Of course, ultimately, I’m quite sure that the whole point of this most welcome poster on the wall is to say, in a concise and relatable way, that they know that people don’t have a simple choice about not feeling OK, and that people shouldn’t feel guilty or bad about the fact that they do.  It’s not a sign of weakness, or a fault, and even if it could be called such things, it’s not your fault in the sense of being a mistake or failure on your part.  It’s something that happened to you, not something you did.  And it’s OK to ask for help if you’re able to do that…though many of us are not…it’s one part of that thing that makes us not OK.

If you had designed and built the world and yourself, you might be personally to blame, but you didn’t and you aren’t.  Neither did any of the people around you.  So, try not to take at least that bit of blame and shame upon yourself, if you can help it.

Of course, when you’re depressed and suicidal, that’s a state of mind that can be hard to achieve.  Goodness knows I can’t seem to do it.


*Is that the correct term?  I guess it works.  I wish I had taken a picture of the poster; I tried to look for it online but have been unsuccessful…which doesn’t really help my self-esteem much.

**To do so in Spanish would be to split the word in a bizarre kind of tmesis.  “To not be” would roughly equate to “ha-no-cer”, but even that doesn’t quite capture the trouble.

***Based on number of countries, at least, in which it is the primary language.  I think one also cannot split infinitives in Portuguese, the primary language of Brazil.