This city can be pretty melancholy in the rain. Maybe that’s what it was. Maybe it was just trip exhaustion. Either way, here is the low point of the London trip. Submitted for your approval. Gettingoutmore.org.
On my drive to work today, I thought of many things that I have figured out over the last five years. What prompted this assessment?
As I drove away, I thought of the empty planter pots on my driveway and how last year at this time, they were filled with heirloom tomato plants which my daughter was supposed to water when she was watching her brother. Several weeks of neglect and finally a hailstorm ended those plants. Out of $50 worth of plants, I think I might have gotten about ten tomatoes off the vine.
Several of them were green, which I fried.
This year, I didn’t buy plants. The reason: I really don’t like gardening. I also had hot dogs and baked beans for lunch because even though I am a good cook, I really don’t care what I cook most of the time, so long as I am providing myself calories and nutrients.
Five years ago, gardening and cooking were my escapes. Everyone left me alone when I did these things and really gardening and cooking are unpleasant experiences, but not nearly as unpleasant as the alternative at the time.
In the last five years, I have gotten a chance to re-evaluate what I like and what I don’t like, based on experience. Some things are still the same. Some aren’t. Here are some lists.
- Loud clubs
- Birthday cake
- Ice cream
- “We need to talk.”
- My day job
- Classical music
- Crab cakes
- Decorating for holidays
- Kids’ birthday parties
- Rainy days
- Doing laundry
- Walks in the moonlight
- Notes on the bathroom mirror
- Road trips
- Good food
- Watching fireworks displays
- Days on the lake
- Talking to strangers
- Helping old friends
- Paying my bills
- New experiences
- A nice, quiet, boring night in
- Sitting in hot springs
- Mountain biking
- Green chile
- Taking pictures
- Burlesque shows
- Other people’s kids
- Going to the gym
- Lighting fireworks
- TV and movies
- Social media
- Wine tasting
I had a weird conversation with my dad a little while ago. We were discussing my depression. Yes, I struggle with it. But I choose to not see it as a mental illness. It has been more of a symptom of some highly stressful and extremely depressing situations. There’s a difference. It’s the reflective pain of something that has hurt me. If you hit your thumb with a hammer, that pain it telling you that you have just been through some trauma.
It’s not the trauma itself. The pain is just an indication there might be broken blood vessels, bone damage, a split nail, etc. When the pain goes away, that is an indication of healing.
Now, if I had a condition where I didn’t hit my thumb with a hammer and it just started hurting for no reason, I think that is more like what mental illness would look like.
I have been to therapy (yes, I have been asked this before). There were some rough spots over the last several years. I asked my therapist if I needed to be on any medication. She basically told me I have situational depression. It isn’t chemical. She could prescribe pills, but really, it wouldn’t do much for me. I had no chemical imbalance to set off my depression. Things were just really, really shitty for me at times.
For me, taking pills would just be like loading yourself up on painkillers before building a house, that way you never had to feel when you smacked your thumb with a hammer.
The conversation with my dad went this direction, and I can’t begrudge him. He watches me struggle sometimes, but he basically said I should get some medication for being bi-polar. As a parent, I get it. You just want your kids to be safe. Happy.
I’m not bi-polar.
Sometimes things just suck, and sometimes I get to feel genuinely happy. I might be closer to PTSD, since even the moments that don’t suck come with an awareness that this moment of joy is merely temporary. And time and time again, this notion is proven.
But that is life. Nothing lasts forever. And for me, I wouldn’t want to walk around “happy” all the time. Where would the contrast come from? Where would you get the appreciation that this moment is truly wonderful when compared with others? I think taking a pill to remove that would just about kill me.
Everything would be just flat. No surprises. It’s a big reason I hate being drunk. Any joke I hear, any story I am told, is unremarkable. It’s just numb. The memories literally get pissed down the drain.
If I’m ever on the rollercoaster, it’s not in my head. It’s struggling to deal with the ups and downs of life. And truth be told, I usually handle those challenges like a boss. I have some friends and family who don’t handle things so well. Anything from being cut off in traffic to how their food is prepared when they go out to eat.
I am generally chill about that.
This morning, my son woke up and he was in tears. I asked him what was wrong, and he said he didn’t want to go to summer camp. He wanted to stay home and spend the day with me. Man, that pulled at my heart strings, but I have to work, and he needs to be around kids instead of hanging out at home all day.
It still hit me right in my feels though. Should there be a pill for that? After all, I had a change in emotion. If there is, I wouldn’t take it. Not every morning is one where we wake up and smile at the sunshine and sing in the shower. Some days are just blah. Some days are magnificent.
That is just life.
Today, my son woke up with a blah. I woke up wishing I could have slept another hour. I hadn’t decided on the day just yet. It’s nearly 4pm as I write this. I’m still undecided. Does that sound like I need to be medicated? Or maybe just that I am apathetic to my day (other than my kid)?
My job sucks. My blog is largely ignored and I don’t see how I could ever transition it into a career. I miss my kids. I work hard to break even. But I am grateful to God for every day I get to be here in this amazing world. Other than being bored and broke sometimes lonely, etc. I think this life is a gift. It always has been. I love every minute of my life. Even when it gets tough. I think at those moments, I see what is happening as someone messing up a really great thing we should all get to enjoy. The majority of my stress is external. Usually because of assholes–of the not me variety.
For that I am grateful.
Hearing birds sing or seeing a sunset or talking with a friend are all things that give me joy. Getting a hug from my son. Hearing about his plans to spend his toothfairy money. All of these things are a joy. Even the 43rd hour of a week when he tells me all about Spiderman or Captain America, as though he is telling me about something I know nothing about. That is a joy too.
Now, if they had a pill that would let you vividly relieve the happiest moments of your life for an hour or two…or maybe just one that lets people appreciate the good times while they are happening. Write me a scrip for that!
In the meantime, I plan on not hitting my thumb with a hammer if I can help it.
The takeaway from this is try not to be an asshole to yourself. There is a long line of people out there happy to be one to you. They don’t need your help.