Friday, February 20, 2009

A Dog's Asshole of a Morning

This was my morning.

This is usually my morning.

I've heard English people, such as Peter O'Toole, describe depression as "black dog," and I think that's about as good a description as any I've encountered. I've also read that statistically, most people who struggle with black dog find that they are worse at night, as the day and their energies wane, than in the morning.

Strangely, I have always found mornings the worst time, primarily because my ass wants to stay in beddy. I enjoy sleeping, and I am good at it. If sleeping were an Olympic sport, I would be a fucking gold medalist. Also, I am very fortunate to have kids (Ginger and Mercer), who pretty much sleep on command. I will say, "Let's take a nap," and man, those two are ready, God bless them.

I have struggled with depression since my teens, when I should have been medicated, but was not--mostly because I was born to sunny Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart personality types, who had not a clue--although they should have--at least the Mom's should have--since her father needed to be on antidepressants desperately. Grandpa's being medicated would have helped A LOT of people besides himself.

Anyway, I made up for lost time as an adult. If you can name an antidepressant, I've probably been on it at one time or another. Zoloft made me too artificial and foggy. Prozac controlled my appetite some (my other disorders include binge-eating and OCD), but didn't help my mood a whole lot. Celexa and Lexapro helped the most of anything I've been on thus far and didn't interfere with my sleep. Wellbutrin kept me up at night, and I have a tendency to insomnia in the darkest parts of the depression so I didn't need that shit. And if you can't sleep to escape, what do you do? Maybe drink A WHOLE LOT, which counteracts the purpose of the medication. You get the picture.

I have come to a point in the last decade or so, and after some therapy, that I believe my depression is primarily about brain chemistry. Sometimes, it is about feeling "stuck" in life, but it pretty much is a constant, despite the ups and downs of daily life. I have some reason and inclination to think that it might more properly be described as manic-depression, with more depression than mania. Either way, it's just there, sometimes much worse than at others.

Fortunately, I have never felt any shame about my depression, unlike that poor dear soul, David Foster Wallace. I figure its presence in me is just the luck of the familial draw and biological. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm being medicated and that I struggle. If anything, I guess I am more afraid that maybe the depression has become too large a part of my identity. Any of you who have had a long-term depression probably understand that statement.

Sometimes, I feel that depression is one of the few things at which I excel in life. I started with a diagnosis of mild depression in my early twenties. A few years later, I graduated to moderate depression. And in the last few years, I have hit that pinnacle of depression: clinical depression. Wow. This would all be funny, of course, if it were funny.

I am in good company as a depressive, and that is sort of a strange consolation. The ranks of other depressives include, but are certainly not limited to: Kurt Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace, Carson McCullers, Mickey Rourke, Kurt Cobain, Edgar Allan Poe, William Faulkner, Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, David Bowie, Elliott Smith, Marlon Brando, Van Gogh, Ville Valo, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Rufus Wainwright, Axl Rose. This list is off the top of my head, and I could go on and on. I would almost venture to say that there are more artistic types who struggle with depression than who do not.

As I said, the mornings are a struggle. I find that on the rare mornings that I can get my ass out of bed a little early and can sit in the peace and quiet of the house and enjoy a few cups of coffee before I have to hit the shower to get ready for work, things go a little better. I enjoy sitting with Ginger and Mercer, listening to the sound of the heat kick on and off. I have also learned that this time before work is not a productive time to discuss anything of relevance or anything at all really.

This morning was anything but peaceful and quiet, however. In fact, it was a dog's asshole of a morning. Everything just went wrong. I spilled Ginger's kibble all over the kitchen floor and had to sweep that shit up. Due to grogginess, I nearly gave Ginger's diarrhetic ass my medication instead of hers. I poured half n' half into my coffee, instead of my usual soy milk. Then, I opened a new tube of Rembrandt tooth-whitening paste and went to remove the sticky protective thing, covering the opening (AS IF THERE IS A TOOTHPASTE POISONER!), and a microsquirt of the damn toothpaste shot RIGHT INTO MY EYE and caused momentary blindness, intense burning, and then at least 10 minutes of tears.

And then, THEN, as I was bitching to myself about GOD DAMN MORNINGS and HAVING TO GO OFF TO WORK AT A FUCKING INCOME-PRODUCING FUCK FUCKING JOB, suddenly this thought pops into my mind: "Well, Christopher Reeve would have been happy to have had your problems instead of his." This is how my mind works. It randomly comes up with shit like that--there is ALWAYS some poor unfortunate fuck who would think your misfortune was fortunate.

The Moms and I discuss this a lot. She points out somebody who has it worse than me when I am depressed. And then I ask her something like, "Why is life so shitty in general that to feel better about your situation, you have to point out somebody who has it much worse?" I know those of you who have my mother's uniquely happy-assed nature are thinking--no wonder you're depressed, the way you think! Fuck you. Just kidding, kind of.

But, of course, I always insist that I'm a realist. In fact, one time I went off my medication for a period because I had this John Lennonish thought of why should my ass be medicated, when society is fucked up? Should I be on medication because I see things more clearly than average Joe ? But then, I also know that every insane motherfucker thinks THEY SEE THINGS CLEARLY. In fact, that is the very definition of insanity. If you question your sanity, you're not as fucked up.

I don't know what the actual message or intention of this post was. I'll bet you're glad you actually made it to the end of the lumbering post for that sort of payoff, but I guess I wrote this just to be honest and to share my struggle. Maybe some of you have been there or are there now. If you have anything that is helpful to share, feel free. I'M REACHING OUT TO YOU DAMN PEOPLE, DON'T DISAPPOINT ME!

I'm also curious as to what part of the day other people who are depressed find most trying. I guess misery really DOES love company.


Alec Beattie said...

I get cyclical bouts of insomnia. The most I've went without sleep is about 4 days, but I get all sorts of shit like early morning wakening, nightmares and the odd seizure. Due to this my mood is much lower at the end of the day. Having worked in psychiatry for 15 years I've managed to stay off any medication, but when things get drastic I 'self medicate' on the booze. It's been a pain in the arse, but I feel as though it's something I've learned to live with.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Thanks for sharing, Alec! Misery really does love company. I'll bet you have some interesting tales to tell from having worked in psychiatry.

Obviously, I self medicate, in addition to the prescribed stuff.

Anonymous said...

You need brain fat. Walnuts, flax, fatty fish, your brain is starving, that's why mornings are harder for you because as you eat during the day you give your brain some food, but obviously not enough in enough quantity. Your body probably needs more brain fat than others, so tank up girl, grab a bag of walnuts and go to town!

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I appreciate the info, Anonymous. You don't have to be anonymous. Comment here anytime.

I do eat a lot of almonds. Hope that works, too. I also take flax seed oil on a daily basis.

Thanks again!

Beth said...

Almonds are not the same as walnuts nutritionally because almonds do not contain the all important omega-3 fatty acids that are found in walnuts and it's those fatty acids that feed your brain. Eat both.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Thanks, Beth!

Bethany said...

Mornings for me too.
I was with you with the dogs ass and the kibble. Most mornings go that way for me. Cat litter everywhere, dog pee, one thing after the next. Some mornings I can laugh or just wade through it unscathed, others, well more of that CS MF swearing stuff. I've never had an incident with the toothpaste though. I really felt for you. Great writing.