“This is emotionally magnificent.”

denver airport mural

I’m in a weird headspace.  I just spent 20 minutes in a massage chair in a very public space.  It was an incredible experience I plan to repeat often.  The massage itself was mediocre, and I didn’t allow my head to rest against the pillow (because I have ridic rules about my hair.) Nevertheless, strangers sitting on either side of me and hundreds of others from all over the planet passing by made it fascinating.

I didn’t feel sensory overload, which is astonishing.  It’s possibly due to being so overwhelmed, it went full circle, and I landed back in my comfort zone.  (Selects save for later.)  I was present while in a crowded space, and it didn’t result in a new distance record for projectile hurling.  Being present in an international airport made it not only simple to navigate, but kind of fun.  I helped someone new to flying to get to their ride after our flight.  We even did chit chat on the train!

I was able to respond out loud when she asked me where I’m from on the first attempt.  (No awkward pause to compile.)  I had a fun conversation with my Lyft driver en route to my hotel.  Here’s a tip:  If you struggle with making small talk, place personal interest identifying stickers on your suitcases.  (My carryon has Steven Universe and Star Wars stickers.)  I had three great chats about the upcoming Star Wars installment with fellow geeks, all of which left me smiling.  Much better than grinding my teeth to suppress anxiety while failing to respond to direct questions out loud, resulting in retroactive mortification.

denver-airport-horse

I traveled to reset my depression and anxiety levels back to manageable.  I intended to do this by using recreational weed in a legal setting.  I just realized I don’t even need the pot to achieve this; the journey was the synergist.  (I see what you did there, dear universe.)  🤭 I’m going to redirect that energy and visit a museum.  (Not something I could do while stoned because I require a buddy-sitter.  Shup.)  🙃

Guitar Hero is out of town for something related to fame.  (He’s not famous to me as I had never heard of him when we met.) It’s more relative than ever these days.  It amuses me how excited I feel about certain people I’ve never met, but others who are well-known are just people to me.  I’m a(n) carbon interest-based life form.  Heh.  (And grammar is still not an interest.)

I’m on a roll with social interaction.  I’m going to think up a challenge and go for it.  Maybe visit a comedy club or something.  If I find a comedy club with a pinball machine, I’ll squee.  I’d also like to talk to some strangers about religion and spirituality, so I’ll probably head back to the airport early.  Funny how a place that used to resemble a hostile environment has morphed into a fun place to pass through.  I’m off to the museum.  ✌🏽💜

p.s. I love Denver; scary, weird art included.

Conference Room, five minutes.

computer workstation

So, the Fall lasted a week.  The Littlest Blizzard* is melting, and it’s warmed up to 39 F.  I wasn’t ready for winter.  I think everyone has Seasonal Affective Disorder, (making its status as a disorder questionable.)  They make up shit to sell more drugs.

Conditioning advert:  Are the cold, dark, dreary days making you depressed?

Everyone alive:  Duh!

CA:  You need more drugs.

I’ve been busy setting up my apartment in preparation for the inevitable depression hibernation season.  I’m better at recognizing the earliest signs of depression seeping in.  Irritability over silly shit?  Check.  Also, my body is continuously sliding back into survival mode for no apparent reason.  (I’m more conscious of my physical self these days.)  I have (full length) mirrored closet doors in my apartment.  I glance at myself sometimes, and I look like I’m making random gang signs while walking on an uneven surface after someone poured ice down my back.  Fat-the-whuck?

The worst part is, I strongly suspect I’ve been walking around like this for years.  It feels too natural to be a once in a while thing.  Why does my body think I’m a west coast gang member cringe-walking during an earthquake?  Do I do this in public?  I’m going with no because nobody has said anything.  I mean.  If I saw someone walking like that in Sioux Falls, would I say something?  Damn.  (I’m probably on YouTube against my will.)  Sigh.  I’m going to add music to my relaxation routine.  I’ll play F.U.B.U., by Solange, while I breathe in my Embodiment Oil.  And use the massager to force my body to stop (doing shit that can get me killed in California.)

Gaming station
(Sorry for the crappy photos without a flash or turning on a lamp.)

Hopefully, it’ll take this time.  Maybe I should watch the screen saver on my AppleTV 4k, too.  May as well hit all the senses while I’m at it.  With the latest update, the screen saver got a lot better.  (I’m still debating whether it’s live footage shot at a low frame rate or CGI.)  Either way, I enjoy it.  I pause The Office whenever I get up to do something, which is every few minutes.  I should add hyperactivity to my list of warning signs.  And insomnia.  (You wouldn’t believe the shit I thought up to worry about last night.  Alien related.)

I’ve set up all my abandoned monitors and HDTVs as computer workstations or console gaming stations.  (I don’t have Craigslist energy.) Between gaming, TV, and synthesizers, I don’t anticipate needing the heat much.  Last week kicked my ass.  My apartment complex was doing winter preparations, such as having the carpets cleaned in the common areas of all the buildings.  Unfortunately, this meant the insanely loud droning of the carpet cleaner truck for 3-5 hours every morning starting at 8.

It was inescapable.  My noise-canceling headphones didn’t help much.  On top of that, the driveway leading to underground parking was under construction.  At first, they said to remove our cars by Wednesday morning if we wanted to use them during construction.  Then we got an email on Tuesday morning, informing us we had an hour to move them, or too bad.  I was in the shower, preparing for my dental appointment.  When I emerged and saw the email, time was up.  And the droning of the carpet cleaning truck was still wailing and echoing off the other buildings.

Gaming station 2

I managed to text a friend before melting, but barely.  (The power of a friend acknowledging your situation sucks ass is surprisingly helpful in coping.)  Just as I was beginning to visualize strangling the (innocently by-standing) carpet cleaner, the droning ceased.  I messaged the dental clinic to let them know I was trapped.  Then I committed to winning surviving this epic battle against berating myself for missing the appointment again.  Sigh.  I lost a leg in an ambush this morning, but it’ll grow back.  (Mental limbs heal faster with/post-therapy.)

I’m leaning heavily on comedians at this time.  The Office is streaming now.  I watched The Read Late Night on Fuse (via app) three times so far.  My face hurt from laughing.  (The sign-off had me on the floor.)  I love everything about it.  I listened to Dana Carvey on Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend podcast.  Dana Carvey and Conan are now, The Comedians Who Made Me Pull an Abdominal Muscle From Laughing.  (It just occurred to me my comedy titles might not be as flattering as intended.)

I wrote the names of all the comedians who have made me belly laugh on my whiteboard.  I keep adding more while gangsta-crawking (it’s a word now) past.  Each name evokes happy memories from different periods of my life.  I still remember the awe at being allowed to watch a rated R movie (The Jerk) and understanding the humor.  I used to randomly call my sister, Heather, and say, I was born a poor black chile, then hang up to the sound of her laughing.  We scream-laughed when we first heard Steve Martin say it.

I haven’t been able to read much of late because I’m too hyper, and my mind won’t cooperate.  It alarms me as reading is fundamental.  Heh.  I’m going to switch to audiobooks and see if it helps.  Oofda, it’s going to be a long winter.  At least I have everything I can control tilted in my favor.  I’m going to get through this winter without being the Depression Monsters bitch.  I got this.  I’m off to watch Deon Cole’s Cole Hearted on Netflix.  (I love him.)  ✌🏽💜

 

*Thanks, Narcoleptic Aspie.

“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.”

computer desk

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.

shadow play

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?”

ambiguous stairs

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.)

winding road

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.

person standing in shopping cart

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. 🤣