Depression Kills Me

So, in case you were wondering, the answer is “yes.” I’ve been depressed quite a bit lately. Just stuck down in deep, dark old funk.

Also, “yes” my depression has a lot to do with the weather we’ve been seeing here in Puget Sound. That and the stupid string of sicknesses I’ve experienced since the start of the year. Oh, and we’d be judged remiss if we forgot to top that pile-o-poo with the joke-of-a-government we’ve been bequeathed.

I’ve been caged by my mortality and my awareness of that unrelenting, unavoidable limiting factor. A real pickle.

Today, I managed to pull out exactly enough of the stops to transport my family from my island home to the bustling, urban paradise of Seattle. Here we shall spend the next few days living it up and in the process breaking a couple of bars.

We visited the Japanese Gardens today and that was a lot like jumping into a well organized Caribbean bay or warm, salty water. Dimsum and so many bao that my belly felt like it might split, the most comfortable-discomfort I think a person can endure. Other than the relentless exuberance of our six-year-old, today was a really good day.

Right now I’m counting the time I’ve spent writing by sipping scotch in a bar on 1st Street. While I feel Jack London’s judgemental gaze from a lofty spot on the wall, I’m once again producing words. Slowly, sometimes laboriously, but they’re coming. I’m surrounded by intimate human dramas.

At the bar is a couple interviewing their third for tonight’s intimate indulgences, I’m left to wonder how fast that rocket will go off. A rude dude just rode a wheelie down the street on his LED ignited Hayabusa. There’s a lonely man brooding in the glass, glare and reflected light of the front window. If he breaks out a deck and starts to type madly he’s going to be the star of a hacking short story. I’m almost ready to give him mine.

For the first time in what feels like forever, I’m writing. Re-writing! Good golly the floodgates are open!

Wishing I Had a Button


The days are short and usually damp and cold. A social current of unrelenting cheer is washing over me, eroding the foundations of sanity. It’s fake. A put-on job meant to fool the fools. Then there are the long nights.

I wish I had an off button. A severe and merciless depression is banging on my doors. My hinges are worried and cracked. “Excuse me while I disappear.”

Sideways

Downtown Seattle in the afternoon

Last night I wrote a bit of fantasy as part of the Dispatches from the Future (B-List) project I’ve been working on. The last few days have done their level best to bring me way down, and I admit that I am currently not feeling my best (what a miserably inadequate euphemism that one is). My nose is running off my face, I seem to be experiencing something known as reactive arthritis, and everyone near and dear to me is infected with a similar summer crud.

This is life. It knocks us sideways. Some of us, from time to time, maybe a little more than others. JUICE should be a lot longer; note to self, “write more parts.” I was thinking about what a real cure for depression might look like. What is pharmacologically achievable today is more like living with emotional blinders than cure. I wanted to probe how a cure might work. After a particularly harrowing commute to pick Tess up from deepest, darkest Seattle, an idea occurred to me.

Seattle in the afternoon is the traffic equivalent of a black hole. Cars can get into downtown, but they will never again emerge. Sitting behind the wheel of our Prius for hours gave me plenty of time to pay attention to how everything around me was affecting me. Each and every time someone defected — inched me out of a lane change or honked their horn because of some unavoidable road-wise traffic event — I felt myself getting bumped sideways. Off the steady state between mania and depression. Nudge, bump, knock. Nudge, bump, knock’in me sideways. Already on a down cycle in my regular rapid mood oscillations anxiety, depression and anger increasingly became my reality.

Depression is not the opposite of happiness. In fact, these two states of mind can and do coexist, pretending to be a perfectly contented coupling while mutually these moods seeking something more racy on the side. Happiness and depression are both cheats, and this is why having one will never exclude the other. For me at least, depression is most often the product of little frustrations coupled with an inability to disengage with how I feel about them. Emotions being the atomic structure of my state of mind; indivisible and unavoidable at that level you cannot help but pay your full attention. So if the default mind state of depression is feeling bad, bad, bad what might happen if we engineered an agent to reverse this?

If frustration and fatigue naturally result in despondency and dejection, what might happen if we could transform our physiological response to be one of content, cheer, and even elation? JUICE changes how we react to those negative external stimulus. If your unavoidable reaction to bad traffic after a long day of working is a bad mood, then on JUICE it’s an excellent mood. As you can see, it’s not necessarily a socially acceptable transformation, but I’m looking forward to exploring how this one might work in more detail.

Dispatches From The Future (B-List)

Juice

“No, please you go ahead,” Justin found himself motioning to the urban professional behind the wheel of a dark blue sports rail on his right. He depressed the break coming to a full stop in the lane in order to give the sports car plenty of room to merge ahead of him. He sighed contentment. Another endless commute home, after an endless day at the office.

“No,” he smiled broadly and said aloud again, “please you go. I’m fine.” He motioned a second time, not letting his foot off the break, for the soccer mom driving the family-pod chocked full of what appeared to be wild youth hooligans on some sort of parole. The kids cheered from the three rows of bench seats behind the woman who waved and mouthed a thank you in Justin’s direction. His chest swelled with a sensation Justin could not peg down at the moment. All the same it felt good.

Too good. He shook his head, there was something wrong with this situation. Or if not wrong then horribly against the grain. The chubby dude driving the delivery van behind his Helios laid into his horn and inched his rig right next to Justin’s little commuter. In his rear view mirror all he could see was radiator. Justin smiled at the impressive collection of dead insects plastered to the grill work, rolled down his window and waved behind at the Joe in the big truck.

“Are you retarded? Get going moron,” the truck driver barked at Justin from his cab.

“Oh yes, sure. Right away. Umm, how was your day?” Justin replied, still waving. The man in the truck huffed, shrugged his shoulders, and sat back in his cab to fume some more.

Several vehicles had merged in front of him, sneaking in off the ramp, while he had been looking over his shoulder. “What did the Med Tech say?” Justin wondered aloud. He scratched his right arm and the sensation of satisfaction increased exponentially. A tingle escaped up his spine through his scalp. Another merging car pulled into the space ahead of his commuter.

It was the Juice. The Med Tech had reminded him that for a while he might have some trouble getting conditioned to the Juice. “How could I not get used to this?” Justin wondered aloud. “It’s better than …” he was at a momentary loss for words. “Than everything else before.” The man in the delivery truck lit up the horn again and Justin was glad. Justin’s smile hurt.