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

tyler-nix-1699687-unsplash

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.

trust-tru-katsande-605017-unsplash

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.)

ian-dooley-298771-unsplash

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. 🤣

“Stop it, Kramer, you’re freaking me out.”

person in cosplay costume

I just got back from a mini vacation in Denver.  M thought it would be an excellent way to shake loose from the downward spiral into a pit of depression.  It worked.  I’m feeling so much better.  I’m nearly giddy — a pleasant side-effect of getting baked while in Rome.  I feel energized from reaching a state of zero anxiety.  Half the effect is from the sense of awe over the achievement.  I always forget how incredible it feels.  It makes for a delightful surprise each visit.

It also reminded me of the cost demanded in vulnerability.  In my case, partaking is a buddy exercise only.  Heh.  I cherish this knowledge like someone who thinks way too much.  🙃 (Jordan Peele made us cool.)  I slept like Gayle King after an R Kelly interview last night.  I woke up laughing, feeling like I could conquer my chores before noon.  (Done.)  I worked on my story in progress like Mavis Beacon was testing my typing for several hours.  The Muse must have been pleased to see me discover that headspace.

The only con is I didn’t do an ergonomic check before I jumped in.  I’m don’t stay in the same position for too long, or you’ll move like you’re 100 for an uncomfortable minute years old.  It’s still funny every time I forget;  bonus.  I had a great time in Denver.  I behave like someone who hasn’t been around enough diversity for a long time and can’t reign in the huge grin.  I strongly suspect it factors into why I find the people of Denver so kind.

cute bearded person

I beta tested a prototype while visiting, and it’s triggered all sorts of thought paths for potential usability.  Air traffic controllers, surgeons, and neurodiverse people were obvious beneficiaries immediately.  By the time I strayed onto a different thought tangent, I had decided it would probably be useful to everyone who wanted to use it.  I merely applied a bit of capitalist tinged triage on the fly.  (Those are people I know are often under tremendous pressure.)

Despite having fun, coming home was the best part.  I longed for home while enjoying myself.  It’s confirmation I’ve successfully configured my living space.  It’s where I want to be.  I had no idea this was the prize.  It’s fabulous!  The funny part is I think it’s going to weaken my tendency toward agoraphobia.  When I know, I have a place where I can genuinely exhale, awaiting my return, going out is a lot less painful.  Yay.  Thank goodness for Marie Kondo.

I think the most important thing she taught me is organization and awareness of my connection to my stuff is a beautiful coping skill for anxiety and depression.  (Usually, what’s good for us is good for most, because many don’t know they dabble in juggling these challenges, too.)  I didn’t bring my new camera because I’m not even sure which parts of it I’m not supposed to touch yet.  I only know those parts exist.  (I’m such a noob.  😂)  I’m off to continue re-reading A Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.  (We’re in Fae.  😆)

“Every two minutes, ‘Who ate the top of my muffin?!'”

romantic road

I depleted my recent candy acquisition.  I see a mouth full of cadaver donations in my future.  I hope lots of people who avoided sweets all their lives choose to donate their teeth when they die.  (Thanks in advance.  😁)  More candy arrives tomorrow.  Heh.  I have to admit to a fascination with having dead peoples teeth in my mouth.  It’s a Stephen King novel waiting to happen, yo.  Imagine what Jordan Peele would do with it.  I may even take a stab at it.

I believe the above paragraph qualifies as a warning against reading further.  I’m having a cognitive kaleidoscope kind of day.  I would elaborate, but it’s presently beyond me.  It involves thought loops that spontaneously capture my attention.  After the first few rounds, I start playing with it.  It’s mental jazz or something.  I’m not really into it, but I can hang.  (This paragraph counts as an example.)

I know why this is happening; it’s a fragmented focus.  The Depression Monster has been low-level messing with me for a long time, and I’ve been ignoring it.  Sometimes it feels like walking across a minefield.  At any moment, I could buckle under a mountain of despair atop me out of nowhere.  An interruption to my ability to do more than exist while questioning why.  Thinking about it seems dangerous, so I don’t.

there are no rules

Instead, I double down on known counteractants.  Exercise and laughter are most potent in my experience.  Both are difficult to attempt when depressed.  They’re the last things you feel like doing.  But they help, so I usually manage.  It’s brutal because the necessary effort is always astonishing.  I can’t even bitch about it, because I know I’m more skilled at living with chronic depression than in the past.

I have a deep sadness about the state of humanity on my back, as well.  I feel horrible over the massacre in New Zealand because the atrocity was deliberately committed by a fellow human, resulting in the loss of fifty of us. We are less now.  I hate reminders of our collective insanity.  I don’t like thinking about impending self-destruction on a species level.  I’m too literal for this game.

I sighed when I read Aunt Becky was supposedly arrogant when appearing in court recently.  It would have been weird if she wasn’t.  We all know she knows she’s merely the one who got caught doing what we all know is so common it’s a freaking tradition among the privileged.  Character stopped counting in America at a point I’m unable to pinpoint.  Perhaps it never really mattered.  I still believe Mr. Rogers knew what he was talking about, though.  (Despite all the evidence supporting Dr. Ford’s theory of the human intellect being like peacock feathers on Westworld.)  And on that cheery note, I’m off to read.  ✌🏽💜