Finding Normal?

Yet another unneeded brief message from the President and CEO of thesoiledchamois.net, and Soiled Chamois Enterprises, Inc.™

Dear Reader,

The following mega-post written over a few days contains small doses of opinion and large quantities of a personal mental journey in search of some inner peace and self-love (not code for masturbation). There is talk of mental health and depression. I am CLEARLY not a doctor, just a putz with a blog and 49 years and counting of personal experiences dealing with some depression type shit. If the Google machine pointed you here because you were looking for immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

— Management

Part of my job as CEO and 1st Shift Supervisor in Charge of Day to Day Operations at Soiled Chamois, Inc.™, is to look through the pages of the blog every so often and make sure that everything is the way it’s supposed to be. Sometimes that means getting rid of something —like when the Archive shit the bed—and then bringing that something back for some reason even though that something’s bed is still filled with shit. Other times it’s just me looking and shaking my head at why and the fuck I ever would create such a monstrous time-sucking beast of ill-written over-sharing and unneeded goofiness. Then I proceed to start writing more of said, unneeded goofiness, like today.

Today I was looking at the shit show that I call the About page and scrolled down through the Soiled Wiki (a quick reference guide to my stupidity for Soiled newbies) and noticed my entry for “The Black Dog.”

The Black Dog: The name that Winston Churchill gave to his depression. If it was good enough for Winston, it’s good enough for me1. I endured depression for almost my entire life but didn’t seek help until I was in my 30s, and I didn’t start therapy until I was in my 40s. I can’t stress enough how important it is to reach out for some help. If your doctor won’t listen, get a new fucking doctor. It’s never too late to start feeling better or to work on being a better person.

Then I realized how I haven’t really thought about being anxious or depressed for a few months. Or, as the O.G. Mindbender would say, “the part of me that is depressed.”

Yes, yes, there was that time a couple months ago that I attempted—without my doctor’s knowledge— to get my fitness mojo back by skipping a few days or more2 of Daddy’s Little Helper, and that turned my brain into a hot mess of rage and misanthropy 3 that thankfully only lasted about 48 hours before I relented and took the damn pill. Miraculously this did not result in me doing something that I regret and I have found my fitness mojo coming back anyway. Lesson learned (DON’T FUCK WITH YOUR BRAIN), I digress.

After I had that little realization about my improving mood, I proceeded to knock on every piece of wood in the house, say a big THANK YOU! and then do some thinking as I unwisely read back through some posts from this time last year.

I remembered going on several hikes in the fall and winter of 2019/20, where my mind was a racing mess of anxiety and self-loathing; I could not shut it off. There was one hike in particular at the Sylvan Preserve that I clearly remember walking through the wet woods fighting the overwhelming desire to just lay down in the leaves and sleep. No, not the “big sleep,” just sleep. I just wanted to turn off and shut down. And potentially be eaten alive by an angry pack of earthworms on the hunt for fat white guys.

Looking back on what I wrote at the time, I tried to end my posts with some positivity. Still, the feeling of wanting to tune out from the chaos of life would not go away, nor would the overwhelming hate I had/have for myself.

Now here we are a year later, and what a year it has been! There has been COVID, Presidential insanity, an election, illnesses, hundreds of thousands of deaths due to COVID and said Presidential insanity, racist cops doing racist cop stuff, riots, more riots, fires, hurricanes, floods, deaths of family members, celebs, and sports legends, and goddamn murder hornets! Not to mention that Liverpool won the league in 2019/20, and as I type this, my beloved Spurs sit top of the 20/21 table. Sweet Hey-Zeus, what a year, and it’s not over yet!

I’m not sure if it’s because of everything 2020 is throwing at us, or in spite of it, but I feel like I’m coming out the other side feeling better than I have in ages.

I gave that last sentence its own paragraph because I don’t know if I have ever said such a thing in my life.

“Well, let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks just yet.” — The Wolf, Pulp Fiction

First, let me say that “feeling better” just means that I’m not feeling bad. And not feeling bad is how I know I’m feeling good. Got it? I’ll explain.

See, I’m not walking around grinning my ass off, in love with humanity!4 I mean, grins and love are good things and all, but I’m talking about simply not wanting to lay down in the wet leaves in shut down mode, standing around the house looking out the window all day wondering who the hell I am and how I got here, or always having the feeling in my stomach that I’m about to cry, but with the complete inability to actually cry.

I still have problems, anger, and sadness like everybody else, but it all seems very normal and manageable right now. OK, OK, I did flip out on my dad a couple weeks ago when he attempted to argue with me about the legitimacy of the election, but c’mon his 79-year-old self was asking for it coming at me with that right-wing bullshit! 5 But other than that, I feel blissfully normal (enough). What I’m trying to say is, not feeling depressed doesn’t mean feeling high or all giddy6 about life, that’s insane, but it is a sort of peace that I’ve not often found.

Let me try again. I’m still not happy with what I’m trying to say, so I will paraphrase the infamous and slightly non-PC parable of The Pissed Off Dwarf originally found in chapter 2, verse 1 of the Book of Theloniousmonk.7

OK, you’re walking down a city street8, and there is a bloodied and bruised dwarf lying on the ground. You offer help, but the dwarf is pissed-off and angry and tells you to go fuck yourself. You ignore your instincts to kick the jag-off down the street like a Hugo Lloris goal kick and instead pick him up, throw him over your shoulder and hurriedly make your way towards help. The entire way, the pissed-off dwarf is screaming in your ear, cursing you, calling you an asshole, a kidnapper, and bleeding all over you. Finally, you make it to help. You sit him down, wipe the blood off yourself, and field once last set of insults from the dwarf. As you crack your back, stand upright and make your way down the street you notice how much faster and lighter you feel without a 120+ pound pissed-off dwarf on your back. And how your mind is back to focussing on your day without insults being screamed into your ear hole. You feel a faint smile come across your face, and you realize how good it feels to be rid of the ungrateful dwarf. You also know that you dealt with the unfortunate situation and can deal with another if/when a bloodied little person with anger issues ends up on your back again9.

I think that about sums it up, maybe. Of course, now I want to know how the dwarf got so bloodied and so pissed off! Sigh, I guess I’ll save that tale for another post.

Originally I had typed a list of the various things that I think helped me in my continuing journey towards peace of mind and self-love. However, the more I thought about it, the more I thought that writing such a thing would be irresponsible. What works for me and my brain may not work for you. So, I went back, rewrote it and have attempted to simplify some of my ideas as best I can. I don’t think I can fuck anyone up too much with these recommendations. If I do, my bad.

  1. Talk to your doctor if you’re feeling depressed and anxious, or better yet, talk to a licensed therapist and or a psychiatrist. Brain shit is their jam, and they will take the time to listen to you about what works, doesn’t work, or any side effects you may experience if medicine is prescribed.
  2. If you’re given medicine to take, take it and take it as prescribed! If it doesn’t work for you, TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR! It’s your brain; keep trying until they find what works for your and your issues. And never just stop taking it as I did, that was a bonehead move that could have had serious consequences! I don’t even take high-powered shit and it fucked me. 
  3. Tune out. At one time, I had two Facebook accounts, and two Twitter accounts (personal and business), a VSCO account, a 500px account, an Instagram account, a Reddit account, and may have accidentally signed up for Grinder thinking it was some sort of 420 friendly/skateboarding related forum (spoiler alter; it’s not). Now I am down to just Instagram, and I couldn’t be happier.
  4. Read, educate yourself, and or listen to respected podcasts (The Happiness Lab—especially the episodes on ancient philosophies— with Yale professor Doctor Laurie Santos and The Hilarious World of Depression by writer John Moe10 are two of my favorites), explore, and be open to new ideas and old philosophies in your journey.11
  5. I repeat again, if you are in need of immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Lastly, the holidays are a rough time of year for a ton of people, and this year is going to be even worse for many due to recommendations and restrictions in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. Personally, I’m looking forward to a quiet holiday season with B and Wifey (our first in our own home in 10 years!). However, many others will find the separation from their family and loved ones a struggle, and I wish them peace and hope they find some happiness during this time.

I am starting to feel bits of the dark cloud that has followed me around for nearly my entire life begin to lift. I’m not naive enough to think that it will ever truly be gone; however, I’m learning how to deal with my depressed parts when they show up and growing into some true happiness and peace with myself for the first time in a LONG time ever. And I have to tell you, even that little shred of normalcy feels damn good.

Later.

This post is dedicated to the memories of Anthony Bourdain, David Foster Wallace, and David (D.C.) Berman. Your personalities, talents, and artistic influences will be forever missed by me, but wanting to be like you has its limits. Peace.

  1. Outside of his wartime leadership, I could really give a shit about Winston; he was kind of a dick.
  2. OK, a week goddamn it!
  3. My blog posts were the “lighter” side of that shit show. Sorry Wifey.
  4. Have you taken a look at humanity? Fucking hell, man!
  5. I’m joking, goddamnit! I mean, I flipped out on him, but I should have just ignored him like I always do when he talks that way. My bad.
  6. Although I am pro being high and giddy.
  7. I just made that up.
  8. Somewhere not Vegas! This would be all too normal in Vegas.
  9. Somewhere not Vegas!
  10. Coincidentally, after I finished writing this, I picked up The Hilarious World of Depression audiobook by John Moe, and within the first chapter, I was sucked in. Moe’s humor and writing style combined with our similar ages and experiences with depression make for a real audiobook page-turner.
  11. You may notice that I choose not to explore religion. That is a personal choice based on what brings me peace, happiness, and relief. If religious faith or reading the Bible brings you joy and meaning, go for it; no judgment here! As for me, 12 years of Catholic school and one too many encounters with opinionated and hateful “Christians” damning me to hell because I didn’t want “saved” or want to follow their exact crazy-ass religious franchise has tainted my views of organized religion for good. That is not to say that I don’t practice some form of meditation or that there aren’t plenty of positive messages to graft from the world’s ancient religions and philosophical thinkers, but I do not “practice” a religion as a rule.

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