“You know how I’m always making those interesting comments during the game.”

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I’m doing alright.  The Depression Monster is trying all sorts of tactics, and finding they don’t work so well on someone present in their body. 🙃 I’m busy fighting them off, but it’s different now.  It’s a lot easier to defend the castle when I’m in it than when I’m off floating on a cloud of code.  It doesn’t take all my resources any longer, which is wicked awesome.

Now, even while under attack, I can also work on creating, healing, and collecting moments of joy — significant flex.  Aw.  The Depression Monster must be sad.  Your dethroning after all this time hurts, eh?  I know we go way back, but we’re not friends.  I’m going to name it a Passing Acquaintance.  Thanks for helping me grow.  I’m moving on to whatever comes next.  (In heels AF1’s.)

A great deal of healing is happening in my life.  I think my subconscious is making essential connections while I sleep.  I’m sleeping differently; more productively.  I awaken feeling like I spent all night coding in my sleep, yet feel rested.  My recent changes in perspective regarding trauma while conscious seem like such small changes compared to the results I’m experiencing.  Thank goodness it’s working in my favor.

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I can’t remember what I’m dreaming, but I do notice myself acting out briefly, then pausing to examine what is going on.  I felt like my stress tolerance level got reset back to childlike yesterday.  It was sudden and confusing.  I felt intense rage over the slightest provocation.  Um.  No.  So I converted the mysterious rage energy into music with my drums.  (I finally understand heavy metal.)

I recognized I need to go back to Azeroth (World of Warcraft) and spend some time carefully stretching my stress balloon.  It’s my safe place to get frightened and stressed out in a controlled environment.  Any time I feel super frustrated or like I’m about to cry, I hop up and walk around while calming myself and using a Night King boost.  I’m going to build a new toon from level 1 and help other players as I go.

This social aspect of the game helps me build confidence in my ability to connect with strangers (without getting punched if I make a mistake.)  I role-play with my Paladin by acting out my purpose as a protector who serves others in my faction.  I support players who go all out in PVP capture the flag scenarios by healing and reviving, instead of glory seeking.  (I probably don’t play right, but I have fun and make friends.)

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Video games get a bad rap, but I see them as incredible tools when used to build up stress tolerance.  It’s a shortcut, (and having a childlike stress tolerance level is hell.)  Adults who are unable to self-diffuse a potential full-blown tantrum before it happens in realtime are in crisis.  Not it.  I need to be able to think before I speak or react.  Video games allow us to work it out at home, (so long as we focus on self-soothing and calming while our brain thinks the shit is hitting the fan.)

For me, I listen to ABBA Gold quietly on repeat, aim a small fan at the back of my neck, and drink soothing tea while I play.  I set a timer for sixty minutes, and I play (as a tank) for strangers with a walking break at halfway.  I know if I mess up, everyone in my group will be disappointed, and their abilities to cope with it will be all over the place.  Some will log off, while others go off.  My job is to take it all in and reflect calmness and kindness.  I feel the stress and let it pass through me, unclaimed.

Each time, it gets easier.  Eventually, the stress and fear become just part of the excitement, not a misidentified provocation to enter the fight-freeze-flight mode.  I love healing at home.  Now that I have my cherished map, it’s inevitable, and that makes me so happy.  I have all these tools and control over how I experience my life now.  The distinction is crucial to me.  I’m off to build my new toon.  💜✌🏽

“The only thing between him and us is a thin layer of gabardine.”

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How about the latest Game of Thrones?  No spoilers, in honor of those who need more time to take in the newest episode.  I had to break it into two viewings.  I was continually hitting pause, and taking several laps around my apartment (to coax Anxiety into allowing me to breathe like I wasn’t just barely winning a 200-meter dash away from White Walkers.)  I had to watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers before I could consider sleeping.  (Thanks for the tip, Narcoleptic Aspie.)

The second-half viewing, I watched while on my treadmill.  I figured if I was going to feel like I was sprinting, I might as well get the full benefit.  It didn’t hurt that it was on a much smaller screen, (laptop.)  I invented a new way of watching TV:  look just to the left of the screen, so you’re practically looking away when the tension rises.  For some reason, it’s less frightening in peripheral vision.

The soundtrack was spot on, as usual.  I’ll have to rewatch this season on my TV that has HDR, so I can see what happened in the shadows.  (And look directly at the screen with full knowledge of when to long blink.) The portrayal of PTSD is fabulous;  So many of the characters afflicted after witnessing and surviving unspeakable horrors.  Being perpetually stalked and chased by a supernatural entity whose only purpose is my utter destruction is how living with PTSD feels to me.  It’s no wonder watching a symbolic, on-the-nose depiction turns me (and everyone else I know) inside out emotionally.

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To refrain from speculating about the story, I focused on how we may be altering our DNA by programming our brains with entertainment so immersive, believable, and enthralling.  Our ancestors nights were dark and full of terrors of a different nature.  Did this program an expectation we’ve fulfilled with our imaginations?  Do we need to experience a full range of emotion and stress on a somewhat-regular basis as humans?  (It was a lot more interesting in my head.)  🙃

I did make it to the VA for my annual checkup.  I used Lyft, which eliminated the stress of driving there.  I met my new care provider, and she was kind.  I wasn’t present for as much of the experience as ideal, but I managed to get a blood pressure medication changed from one with a known carcinogen.  I mentioned I stopped having menses, yay.  Yay, again.  Heh.  Nothing problematic with my labs.  I got my tetanus vaccination and was out of there before Anxiety had a chance to ruin everything.  Uber yay.

I still feel powerful for the victory.  (Even though the side effects of the tetanus shot made me feel like I overdid it at the gym for a few days.) I binge watched the entire series of The Office (American version) over the past few weeks.  I loved it.  It’s brilliant.  It helped keep me from drowning in this awful round of depression.  I’m approaching it as if it’s no big deal and nothing to panic over, mostly because I can’t afford to add anything detrimental to this shit storm.  (The skin of my teeth, yo.)

Besides, Liana Mormont, Arya Stark, and Ser Brienne of Tarth wouldn’t freak out over a little despair.  Not today.  💜✌🏽

“Did you say, ridicurous?”

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Just when I start believing I know myself, I realize my presumption is quaint, at best.  (At best!)  In reality, I’m better at noticing the distinction between self and not self.  It’s making me think about baseball metaphors, (and it’s a game for which I have only a vague, disinterested grasp of the rules.)  What is going on? One epiphany at a time, please, dear Universe.  I only just figured out how to live in realtime, don’t you know.  There’s no need for haste.  (whispered)  No need.

It hit me this morning I’ve been masking my depression from myself.  The illogical nature alone has me all fired up to give myself a Proper internal ass-whooping.  Fear not;  I’m no amateur — hard pass on kicking myself about the head and neck.  I’m hip to that trick, yo.  Energy redirect, activate.  (Freeze all motor functions.)  Figure out why.  Hm.  Perhaps I’ve allowed myself to become too good at hiding my depression.  (It feels safer when people don’t know I’m performing near super-human feats merely to manage the simple daily tasks many take for granted.)

I recognize where I fall on the Depression Severity Privilege Scale.  It corresponds to the Acceptable Reaction Scale, which suggests I steer clear of pity parties and focus on learning how to work around my glitches features.  In Armybonics:  Suck it up and drive on!  Huah!  (Hm.  I might have a naming problem.  Later.  I have other shit to work through.)  I haven’t touched my violin in weeks, which is my original red flag for depression.  It feels like voluntarily breathing only through my left nostril for weeks.  It’s just wrong.  (If you just tried it, I love you.  Heh.)

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It’s as if there’s an invisible forcefield surrounding my violin.  I can see it, and it’s as much a part of me as an arm, but something won’t allow me to play it.  It’s one of the Depression Monsters favorite games.  The worst part is I’m the one controlling the damn forcefield.  I can’t remember the right controller combination to deactivate it, so I keep randomly mashing buttons, to no avail.  All the while, becoming more irritable by the minute.  Because irritability makes everything better. (/sarcasm and +10 for nailing it for once.)

Perhaps it’s because I’m in no mood to knowingly increase my vulnerability by playing.  No.  My spirit instantly rejected that possibility.  I think it means I need to stop and address the issue rather than continue pretending everything is fabulous.  There’s likely a correlation between instant spirit-level rejection and a need to pause and re-examine old habits and assumptions.  (Bookmarked for further investigation.)  It’s a theme for 2019 in my world, seemingly.  Yay, she said while rocking.

I’ve been rocking back and forth quite a bit, lately.  It’s a stim I was forced to stifle in the Army but picked up again after.  (I didn’t stop;  I used imagination and math to make slight rocking equally soothing.)  I picked up several imperceptible motion stims while serving.  In hindsight, I can see why I didn’t fit in larger social groups ever.  I was too busy thinking up ways to control my anxiety without drawing too much attention to myself, to worry about things like why so many people wanted to fight me after chit-chat attempts.

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In the past, I got a lot of mileage out of the Just Do It, motto.  When I recognized I was depressed, I forced myself to partake in activities until it stopped feeling like moving a mountain using The Force.  A moment of silence to grieve the unnecessary loss of all that energy, please.  No regrets.  It’s now filed under Shit That Happened on my journey before leveling up.  (I plan on adding a sticker that says, Funny, to the label eventually.)  Goals.

I need to tweak my lifestyle, so I experience less debilitation from depression.  I don’t want personal hygiene to cost half my daily energy resources any longer.  I want to play my violin and other instruments more often.  I know once I break through the forcefield, joy awaits — a much-needed release of expression without words that continuously hide from me.  I see every moment spent creating heals me.  So, I will take the time and energy necessary to learn the skills I need to lower the forcefield at will, not by force, but through contemplation of experience.  (Thanks, music.)

Welp.  Things aren’t as frantic and horrible as they seemed before I thought it out.  Whew.  The Depression Monster has me in a headlock, and it’s okay.  Got that, Alison?  Don’t panic.  Take a deep breath, and work it out at your own pace.  You got this.  Look around at the scenery while you adapt.  Be still and listen at times.  There is no race or competition, so keep searching for Easter Eggs on the road of life.  (That’s how I roll.)  I’m off to prepare for the premiere of the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.  😆💜✌🏽

p.s.  (Seinfeld fans)  Donna Chang was the Rachel Dolezal of the ’90s. 🤣

“A coffee table book about coffee tables!”

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I discovered a new (to me) author, recently.  Michael Chabon.  I just began reading, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.  I’m on part three in the novel, and already I’ve decided to devour everything Michael Chabon publishes.  He’s a descriptive genius.  I can’t go more than a few pages without marveling over how precisely he managed to describe something.  I’m also a bit floored by how quickly I got to part three.

The story has the potential to trigger me regarding the Holocaust.  (Visiting the Dachau concentration camp memorial remains my deepest soul scar.)  I’m not willing to test whether I can travel there in my mind without weeping yet.  (I’m not big on voluntary snot fests or picking at intangible scars.)  I’m not letting this fear prevent me from continuing, though.  If I need a break, I’ll take it.  So far, I’m super engrossed in the story.

The fickle weather of late is messing with me.  Yesterday it was warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt.  Today, it’s equally pleasant but windy.  Tomorrow and Wednesday, thunderstorms are likely.  Thursday and Friday, perhaps snow. I just cleaned my winter coats for storage.  Heh.  I think I’ll put them away, and run on those days instead of dressing for the weather.  And then hopefully fail to mention it if I catch a Pokèmon cold as a result.  (Equally likely scenarios.) 😁

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I found Amelia Bedelia doing something disgusting, earlier.  My gorge hasn’t settled enough to elaborate.  Suffice to say; I will not be kissing her on the mouth again.  I was going to say ever, but it’s more like until I forget what I witnessed.  (I just wished my attention span longer.)  I can feel an epic belly laugh building, so I’ll probably spend a good while laughing about it soon.  Someone funny should do a short on YouTube about the things pet lovers don’t talk about in polite company.  Just saying.

I had an interesting conversation with the Dr. who diagnosed my Asperger’s Syndrome.  It was about how I consider Seinfeld a goldmine of information on social behavior.  When at one point, I read how Jerry Seinfeld believes he’s also on the autism spectrum, it clicked.  It’s no surprise to me he’s fascinated by social interaction and relationships to the degree of making his show about nothing center on this theme.

The intense focus on what neurotypical minds usually consider irrelevant detail is a component of Seinfeld’s humor.  Part of why so many love his comedy is the inclusion of that internal flash of joy when you first notice something you’ve seen a thousand times.  He relates to people in ways they didn’t know they had in common.  Humor is his ticket into the social world.  I’m proud of him.  I’m also grateful for all the laughs and social skills I’ve gleaned from watching his show.  I’m off to band practice.  💜✌🏽

“Now, what are you going to do about my Twix?”

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Congratulations go out to Stevie Nicks and Janet Jackson; both inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Stevie Nicks is now the first woman to be inducted twice.  Legendary, yo.  Watching her perform live was a bucket list moment for me.  I immediately put it back on the list, too.  (Please, sir.  I want some more.)  Fran recently put me on to Solange Knowles during The Friend Zone podcast, and I’m hooked whooked. 😆

I watched all the existing episodes of One Strange Rock on Netflix, recently.  It’s Will Smith hosting a show where eight astronauts talk about their experiences in space.  In doing so, they teach a lot about the earth and our universe.  It’s fabulous.  I watch documentaries often, but I learned some life-changing information that never once crossed my mind while watching and pondering.

I’m not ready to talk about it yet.  I need more time to process and translate into words.  I think everyone should see it.  It broadened my perspective in a manner that accepts the universe in all her glory.  It reminds me of Game of Thrones when Maester Aemon says, “Kill the boy and let the man be born.”  I feel a bit long in the tooth compared to Jon Snow, but it’s all relative, eh?  🤣

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I’ve almost finished with my second viewing of HBO’s Westworld (seasons 1-2.)  I’m so impressed by it.  The attention to detail is astonishing.  The performances are excellent cast-wide.  The delivery of historically-accurate, and thus, often campy dialogue in a completely believable manner by so many actors is fabulous.  The costumes!  The production; as meticulously crafted as the world it portrays.  I’m so proud of the people who work on it.  It’s a shiny gem.  And that doesn’t even include the soundtrack, which is a significant part of the storytelling process.  Chills!

I had a scary low cognitive abilities day, recently.  I think I triggered it accidentally by blundering into a Chasm of Fascination.  I only meant to peek in, but I fell head first.  (I’m safely distant from the edge now.  Whew.)  Dimensional space speculation is dangerous ground for me.  I got deep in thought, and after several hours, I felt a bit stuck.  Then I panicked and tried to shift to practicing guitar.  Sadly, I merely held my guitar for a few hours while I thought more about dimensional space.

To function while in this state, I have to talk myself through everything.  To get a drink of water, I have to chant aloud, drink water, or I’ll lose a few more hours halfway through the process of fetching it.  It’s like being stuck between two worlds while trying to pay attention to both at the same time.  It takes all available resources to perform the simplest tasks.  These are the times when Amelia Bedelia is more service animal than companion pet.  She’ll persistently demand my presence until I claw my way back, (and she knows when I’m faking it with autopilot.)  I give her a treat each time.

I’m back to typical, today, but I’m still a bit disoriented time-wise.  It seems like this should be Friday, not Sunday.  (I believe the consensus regarding treatment for time disorientation is to tell someone about it. 👍🏽)  Shrill on Hulu is a super fun binge.  I can’t wait till they add more.  I’m off to read.  💜✌🏽