Anxiety and Depression

This is not meant to be a bummer of a post, but moreso an observation. I know we are supposed to be aware of the dangers of obesity, heart disease, smoking, the ‘Rona, diabetes, and cancer, but I don’t think that any of those are the plagues we have been told they are. I think those are just the symptoms. I’m actually going to back this up.

The actual plagues that affect humanity are anxiety and depression. These two things manifest themselves in every last one of the diseases that I listed above, including coronavirus. How is that possible? Because anxiety and depression affect your immune system. They basically tank it. All that cortisol that your amygdala makes (or tells your body to make due to high-stress situations) is great for keeping you hyperaware of your surroundings, helping with the production of adrenaline, and helping your body store fat because it might be facing a time when there is no more food. It does all sorts of stuff to your body that usually results in long-term problems.

The last time I went in for a physical, I told my doctor that one side of my neck was bigger than the other. I thought maybe it was a lymphnode, or my thyroid or something. Nope. Stress. In men, it is actually an indicator of massive amounts of stress and it is almost always your right side.

Reading blogs, checking out social media, and just talking with people I know has its drawbacks sometimes, but one of the bonuses is that people talk more openly about what is bothering them. Most of the problems are stress related, with anxiety and depression being almost debilitating for some people. Myself included.

So, recently, even though I have been cast aside by the job I worked for 18 years (while all the nitwits and lazy bastards who mostly just made life difficult for the rest of us get to stay) I have to say that I see now that a bad day writing is 1000 times better than a good day working at that dump. My job was probably killing me. My anxiety has lessened. My situational depression has gotten better because that is no longer my situation. And I haven’t missed working at that place AT ALL in the last four months that I haven’t had to cross through that doorway.

Every morning used to start off with being anxious over whether or not my supervisor’s car would be in the parking lot. If it was, I could expect to sit at my desk and work without interruption, or sneers and snarls, or random exhuberance over her weather app or some bullshit she had turned into a crisis we all had to hear about right NOW. Mostly it was the the side-eyeing, the shitty comments, the drama she created. And I don’t miss the constant interruptions from helpless faculty getting paid three times what I was, but I had to stop everything I was doing to fix their problems. And if I couldn’t, they would shit on me to the Dean and I would get a bad review.

The environment I worked in was completely toxic. From the narcissistic climbers to the asbestos that rained onto our desks overnight from the HVAC system.

I have a feeling that most people who suffer from anxiety and depression all face these sorts of challenges. Whether it is at work or at home. Maybe you are struggling to live in an unhappy marriage? Maybe you have your own demons that need to be defeated, and instead you are trying to drown them in alcohol.

I know that I have often said “It isn’t that easy to just drop all your responsibilities and do something else. I’m kinda stuck here.” Well, that was true, but the job that treated me like shit really didn’t care all that much if I needed it to drop me. I got a little bit of severance for nearly 20 years of accumulated knowledge, training, history, and yes bad habits from working there, which I have been using to the hilt to write and do something that is actually fulfilling.

Unlike a lot of people, I have known for a long time what fills my soul. I love writing. Granted, it is lonely, tedious, and you get virtually no feedback or support for your efforts, but I get to work for myself. I can set my own hours too! Most of all, I get to create and solve problems and inspire other people and put something on the page that has been fighting to get out of my heart for a long time.

But when people dread going into work, or worse yet dread walking back into their homes after a long day at work, just remember that you get this life. That’s it. You don’t exist for a job that will replace you a week after you are dead, and you don’t exist for a spouse who is probably sexting an old high school fling when you are at work.

Eventually, the choice won’t be left up to you, and anxiety and depression will still be killing you.

Take these “unprecidented times” to look at your life and what it is you might be getting joy out of, instead of struggling to hold onto a life that was eating you up from the inside out. Start that business. Fix up that old car. Play with your kids. Sew that quilt. Get involved in politics. Swim. Get into a trade profession. Read. Write stories. Paint! Go back to school. Make a bear sculpture out of a tree stump using only a chainsaw! Stop scrolling on social media and wishing it was you in these beautiful places and start finding your own beautiful places.

If you have to wear a mask to go to the grocery store, consider removing the one you’ve been wearing every other goddamned day of your life.


Writing late

Today I wrote around 2,000 words on a small chapter. The biggest problem I am having lately is with my process. I’m wasting a lot of time throughout the day not writing. Then late at night, I sit down, put words to paper, write a decent amount of stuff and before I know it, the clock is telling me it is 2am and I am still wide awake.

Then I lie in bed, feeling my body shaking from exhaustion. I pull myself out of bed, my feet hitting the floor all wobbly like those of a newborn deer. I reach out for my phone and open the Notes app. There is where I sketch other scenes I want to work on later. Sometimes it is exchanges of dialog, sometimes it is just a note of something I remember that I want to get down before it is lost to exhaustion. This can go on for hours.

Tonight I got over 3,500 words down, excluding this blog post. I’m getting braver about what I write about, taking greater risks, cutting deeper and deeper to the marrow of the story. The solitude and quiet and cool night air help. Once I get the words down in the Scrivener document, anything left over gets jotted down in the notes and then the next day moved from my phone to the main document via Airdrop.

I’m not letting myself think about who is going to read this. It feels good to get the words down. The story is coming through, like big and small blogs of ink on a page, which expand outward, creating the mosaic of a story as I go. I’m beginning to feel a theme, and a plot of some kind come together too.

I’m going to try to rest now before the ideas come beating at the door of my brain, demanding to be heard.

Act right part II

In this educational series/TED Talk/Nickel’s worth of free advice, I wanted to leave a little bit of room for something which I have considered lately as probably one of the most dangerous things of starting a new relationship: Charm.

Just knowing how things work out in relationships much of the time, I have to say that in the Snow White story, it was doomed from the start. Prince Charming might only have that going for him, just like your Prince Charming. Er…Princess Charming. Whatever. Adjust the pronouns as you need, because this shit is universal.


Charm gets you through the door but it won’t be what keeps you there. Being funny, interesting, having a crude joke, or a party trick will catch their interest, but unless you are in the Ringling Bros. eventually that shit is going to wear thin. Usually when someone is front loading the charm, it means that they will probably turn out to be a real piece of crap later on. Charm is nice, but it doesn’t last and anyone who has been burned by it will actively avoid it once they understand it is pretty much just bait for a deadly trap.

Some of my friends have recounted some of the most charming people they have spent time with later turned out to be horrifying monsters. They fell for compliments and sweet talk. So the next time someone sweet talks them, they won’t believe it, even if it is spoken with total sincerity…which is only about 1 in 1000 times.


Yes, I sound cynical. How the hell else are you supposed to meet people? On dating apps you are supposed to have a great opening line or you won’t get even a hello back. Those are supposedly what is required these days to even participate in the gene pool. (I’ll pass, thanks). Like most of us are doing these days, you are just wearing a mask. Masks are fine as long as they don’t exceed their purpose. Some of the greatest romances in stories have begun at masquerade balls…well, of course those also end in tragedy…bad example, Romeo and Juliet. But everyone wears a mask to some degree. It removes them from the situation just a little bit so they can operate. Some people wear a mask of alcohol, which they think emboldens them; The old Dutch Courage. For some, their mask is their physical prowess. Either a push-up bra, lots of makeup, big biceps, a six-pack of abs. Etc. This mask dazzles people who don’t really consider having to actually speak with someone they are involved with apparently. Masks are what you want the world to see, and even buy you some time until you decide what you want to reveal about yourself.

In time, all masks dissolve, however. Even if there is just another mask under that mask.

A schtick

Others have their schtick or their line of bullshit. In social situations I tell stories, make jokes, etc. but only when I’m loose or comfortable enough to do it. This is just in general too. The only problem is you have to have a receptive audience. I’ve been to parties where I hid behind a mask of just sitting in the corner and watching people. I know some people whose schtick is doing a parlor trick like drinking a lot of hard liquor in a short amount of time or demonstrating they have no gag reflex.

To which I have to say, I remember my first beer.

Movie quotes are a good mask, but eventually someone wants to know what you have to say, rather than something you’ve memorized from your favorite Quentin Tarantino flick.

At the end of the day, even if I am ON IT at a social gathering or just out in public, the introverted side of me kicks in and I just want to be quiet, listen to sad songs in my car, and breathe. Having a schtick also means that you eventually won’t be ON. Nobody can be.

You have to back it up

Charm is fine for breaking the ice. But even the sweetest person in the world won’t be charming all the time. You have to back it up with integrity, kindness, empathy, and putting in the work. Otherwise, once that mask comes off, if charm was all you had, they will see the ugliness you’ve been hiding, instead of the beauty behind the mask. Substance and character beats charm every time. Unless you are a sociopath, in which case, charm might be all you’ve got.