When It All Comes Crashing Down

Do you ever have those moments in life where everything seems to come crashing down at once? When both your internal and external world just seem to fail you, and you’re left reeling in the void with nothing to grasp, no frame of reference to center you, and suddenly it seems like you’re free-falling into the pits of despair?

Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know.

I feel that way right now, for a number of reasons, both – as I mentioned above – internal and external. On the personal side, I’m feeling a little let down and disappointed; without going into too much detail, I’d been building myself up for a social event that didn’t turn out the way I expected, and it’s left me feeling depressed and lonely. As I forced myself to put away the drinks and snacks that no one touched, I couldn’t help but wonder what the point of it all is; why people put so much effort into things that others just … just really don’t care that much about.

The same could be said of so many things in my life; I pour my blood, sweat and tears into writing stories that no one reads, and those that do often don’t even like. I slave away at my day job, and wonder at the end of each day who would miss me if I just didn’t show up the next. So often I just exist, day-to-day, and I’m left wondering why I bother.

I feel hurt, and disillusioned. And the stresses pile up on top of that. The other day my son was in a car accident (no major injuries, thank goodness), but the stress of dealing with insurance, and repairs, and quotes … I can’t face it. I have a call to make for this that I’ve been postponing for four days. I don’t know where the money’s going to come from if the insurance doesn’t pay out, or what’s going to happen to our premiums.

And then there’s the world, and everything that’s wrong with it.

I’ve spent this entire past week in a vapid stupor, sleeping most of each day away in bed or on the couch, not getting anything done that I wanted or hoped to. It’s been a week off from work – a vacation that didn’t pan out – and I’ve completely squandered it. I go back to work tomorrow, and I don’t want to do that, either.

I was talking to my wife about it, and she sort of threw her hands up and said she’s done all she can. She tried to tell me I should approach it differently, with a different mindset … which feels like the worst advice you can possibly give someone who’s depressed. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife, but I don’t think she really understands depression – at least, not the kind I suffer from – and thinks it’s all quite selfish. She said that even when she’s been horribly depressed she never stopped being considerate for others, and it helped bring her out of it.

There is no ”coming out of it”. It doesn’t work like that. Depression literally is a mindset. It’s how you think, not something external that afflicts you – not something that can be cured with the right drugs or therapy. The meds help, certainly – but they’re not the answer. For over twenty years I’ve never been able to explain this to her. The only way for me to come out of this depression is for it to run its natural course, and what I need is not help – I don’t need a fix – I need support to weather it. I need empathy, not sympathy, and I need someone to understand that right now, I’m hurting.

Sometimes I wish people could understand. I wish they could realize that what I need is someone to validate me, to say it’s okay to be depressed, it’s okay to get nothing done for a week or two. Someone to tell me that I’m not worth less because I don’t do things. I feel like sometimes my worth is only ever measured in what I’m able to produce – whether for work, or at home, or in my creative endeavors – and if I don’t – or can’t – produce, then I’m essentially worthless.

And it doesn’t help to tell myself these things, because of course I don’t believe myself. I feel like a fraud, full of shit and lazy – a mentality indoctrinated into me from a very young age.

So here I sit, miserable and depressed, with no one around to tell me it’s going to be okay. And at the end of it all, I know I’ll probably be fine, but it doesn’t help to get through it in the moment.

Damn, I hate myself.

Thought of the Week: Vanilla Water

Some time ago, I set up to brew coffee in our filter coffee maker. I put a splash of vanilla in the bottom of the carafe, because that’s what we do, and I set it going. When the carafe began to fill with an extremely pale, yellowish water, I realized I had forgotten a rather important ingredient.

Another time, I thought I’d be clever and set the coffee maker up the night before, so that it would be fresh and waiting to go when we woke up. I filled it up, put the coffee in because I’d learned from my mistake, set the timer, and went to bed. I woke up in the morning to find the kitchen floor flooded with water; I had forgotten to close the lid on the coffee maker.

These are the things I deal with on a daily basis (though I doubt I’m alone). Tonight I couldn’t remember if I had taken my medication this morning, so I took a double dose. The other night I took out the garbage and forgot to leave the door unlocked; I nearly broke my leg trying to climb in through a second-storey window. I’ve also forgotten all the witty things I was going to write in this post.

You see, this topic has come up because I realized the other day that I’d forgotten to post a thought of the week last week (I had to write down that I wanted to write about this in case I forgot). I forget an awful lot of things, both minor and major. I often forget where I left my glasses, or my iPhone (thank goodness for Find My iPhone). Probably the worst thing I ever forgot was Valentine’s Day (I don’t dare forget my wife’s birthday – I have approximately sixteen reminders for this). I’ve even forgotten my son was in the back of the car and drove him to work instead of school.

I read an interesting publication a while back on the nature of forgetfulness. Apparently, walking through doors can affect this greatly. I can’t remember the number of times I’ve gone into a different room and had no idea what I went in there for (I’m trying not to think too hard about that sentence). In the study, they had participants play a simple computer game where they looked at an object in a room, then walked away from the object and were asked to recall what it was. They discovered that significantly fewer participants who walked through a doorway could recall it compared to those who didn’t leave the room, even if they walked a comparable distance away.

Similar studies have shown that memories are often grossly distorted from the actual reality of the event. One example had different subjects taste – or not taste – a piece of chocolate. Some of them were simply given the chocolate; others were told beforehand how wonderful and delicious the chocolate was going to be. Some time later, they were asked to describe the taste; those to whom the taste was described recalled the taste far better – even those who had never tasted it!

These occurrences are so frequent for me that I am becoming increasingly concerned, often to the point of doubting my own thoughts and and considerations. Things I adamantly remember – clearly, vividly, blow by blow – turn out to have never happened. I recall conversations with my wife that never took place, and forget the ones that did.

These two aspects of failing memory – false and absent recall – make me worried for my own sanity. I am already disposed of an ill mind, and these symptoms seem only to reinforce my maladies. Even now, as I have begun to reread my book for editing, I have come across entire passages I don’t recall writing.

So what am I to do? I have tried many memory aids – pieces of string, notes, reminders; often, though, by the time I find pen and paper, I have already forgotten what I intended to write. I don’t remember what the string was for. A date pops up in my calendar, and I can’t remember why. I realize this must seem mundane – perhaps normal, even – but I worry that my memory will continue to degenerate, and I will soon be unable to remember even the simplest of things. Early-onset Alzheimer’s, perhaps?

Tell me – what do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments; I just hope I remember them.