Thought of the Week: Fix me, Doc. Fix me.

pictureThose of you who’ve been with me for a while will know of my ongoing struggle with depression and other, as-yet unidentified mental difficulties. From crippling myself to the point of catatonia to self-diagnosing as autistic, I have been struggling with these difficulties for pretty much all of my life. Many years ago I was on heavy antidepressants and undergoing extensive therapy, and while it certainly didn’t turn my life around, it did help me through some issues at the time at least.

And then I just sort of let it slide. I stopped the meds, and…nothing seemed to get any worse. I stopped the therapy, and I could still talk to people. My head was still f***ed up, but it seemed like I didn’t need those things.

I met my wife. We had our child. And throughout all of this, on and off, I was on the brink. The interesting thing is that my “condition” has mutated and changed over the years. What was once straight-up major depressive disorder turned into depression with a whole lot of other weird stuff thrown in there, and now there’s kind of just the weird stuff left. Is that a good thing?

Sounds about right.

Sounds about right.

I haven’t genuinely wanted to kill myself for over six years now. In fact the thought doesn’t really pop into my head anymore. However, I was bawling my eyes out because we didn’t go out to lunch the other day (all right, there was a lot more to it than that, but it sort of sums it up). I haven’t self-harmed in over ten years, but I still sit and stare at things for minutes on end. I repeat phrases to myself over and over again when I’m upset, and my speech turns into torrents of vowels and consonants that might mean something in Urdu, but I really couldn’t be sure.

So while I’m not “depressed”, I’m certainly not right in the head. And…sigh…I’ve never quite figured it out. Sometimes I behave like a sociopath. Sometimes I behave like I’m autistic. Sometimes I behave just simply depressed, and sometimes I share characteristics with full-on psychopathic disorders. None of them really quite fit. Not bipolar…nope.

Suddenly I can’t wait; I feel like I need to talk to this person, desperately, as though my very soul depended on it.

So a year ago my doc gave me meds. After ten years, I started medications again, and it hasn’t been…unsuccessful. I started with a mood stabilizer. Did a little, but not a lot. Added an antidepressant; sort of helped. Added a booster for the anti-depressant, but had to reduce the mood stabilizer or I might freak out. Still…I don’t freak out quite so much. Anything else? No real change.

Sort of feel like I've got those things on my arms sometimes.

Sort of feel like I’ve got those things on my arms sometimes.

For years and years my wife has been urging me to seek help. Step one was the medications. Step three is, presumably, mental stability and the ability to not feel like that creep from Iron Man 2 with the frazzling tentacles everywhere.

So what’s step two? Therapy, it turns out. And two days ago – after years of procrastinating – I booked my first appointment.

And you know what? I feel soso relieved. As if all of sudden I’ve been freed from a form-fitting vice that has been slowly crushing me for decades. I haven’t met the psychologist, have no idea whether we’ll get along, but just the knowledge that the answers (if there are any to be had) aren’t solely in my hands anymore is like a great release.

Is this what AA members feel like?

Remember this scene from Blade? Yeah, sort of crushed.

Remember this scene from Blade? Yeah, sort of crushed.

Suddenly I can’t wait; I feel like I need to talk to this person, desperately, as though my very soul depended on it. Who knows…maybe it does. It might all go wrong; she might say there’s nothing wrong with me and that I should stop being such a baby, or she might say I’m beyond help and should be institutionalized. She might just not like me (I might just not like her). But for now, I’m going to leave myself open and hope beyond hope that this will help. Because for the past several years now I’ve felt my mind slowly descend deeper into complete insanity, and I’m pretty sure at some point it’ll be too late.

You don’t think I’m expecting to much from the psychologist, do you?

Movie Night: The Avengers

Year: 2012

Director: Joss Whedon

Production Company: Marvel Studios

Leads: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans

avengers-assemble-poster-500x742Well, well, well. Here is a movie both Little Satis and I have been dying to watch for I don’t know how long, and finally decided it was just time to get it out of the way.

I should start by saying that I am a fan of good superhero movies; that is to say, movies that both respect the style and material of the original comic book, while at the same time humanizing the characters by giving them flaws deep enough to destroy themselves, never mind the bad guys. In essence: The Crow = good; Batman & Robin = bad.

One of the most successful of these in recent years has been, of course, Chris Nolan‘s Batman trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight & The Dark Knight Rises). We are introduced to a Bruce Wayne who fights not for a noble cause but for revenge; a man who has no desire to continue his crusade against Gotham’s underbelly other than for his own self-flagellation, driven by hate and guilt.

But this is the DC Comics universe. Responsible for the two most formidable superheroes ever created – Superman and Batman – Marvel ought to be the underdog, always caught in the shadow of their larger-than-life siblings.

But not so. Other than the recent Batman films, D.C.’s output has been mediocre, at best; meanwhile, Marvel Studios has had nearly incessant success over the past decade with the Blade trilogy, the insanely popular X-Men franchise, Iron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger (I’ll let them off for the first Hulk and Fantastic Four). More than this, though, they’ve carefully built an entire universe of co-existing and overlapping story lines, threading the continuity between Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America in so deft a way that there was really nowhere left to go but: The Avengers.

Though obviously distorted by necessity for Hollywood, The Avengers retains a remarkable affinity for the comic book origins; though many of the characters are different, Iron Man/Tony Stark and Captain America/Steve Rogers are core members of the group, and this is evidenced in the film by the focus of drama on these two (and indeed the conflict that arises between them). Even the story is retained: demigod Loki comes to earth seeking revenge on his brother, Thor. Loki’s power of illusion and manipulation causes near-fatal rifts between the fledgeling group’s members, until they realize that they can only defeat Loki together.

To be perfectly honest, there’s not a lot else you need to know about this movie. In the past, Marvel Studios has done a good job of digging deep into their characters’ history and bringing out the ‘person’ behind the superhero, something that is particularly noticeable in the X-Men films as well as Captain America. While there is an attempt to retain this in The Avengers, the very fact of having an ensemble cast of superheroes dooms this from the beginning: it would be nearly impossible to focus equally on six different characters and still have room for self-reflection.

Not that it matters. Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about The Avengers is that, frankly, it doesn’t try to pretend to be anything other than a mindless, visually thrilling romp of destruction. And at this, it is very successful. Despite the knowledge that at least half of what’s on screen at any given moment was created by ILM, the visuals are nonetheless stunning, and – astonishing, really, in an era of CGI-anything – there are a few moments that are quite literally jaw-dropping, including the ridiculous aircraft carrier scene (if you’ve seen it, you know what I mean).

This is not an intellectual movie. In fact, it doesn’t even advance the stories of any of the individual heroes (something Kurt Vonnegut would understand), and no one leaves any different to how they entered. It’s basically good guys kick bad-guy ass. The genius of this movie is that it works anyway; having come to know the characters so intimately through their previous filmic incarnations, it’s actually kind of relaxing to sit back and watch them blow shit up.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆