Depression

“Depression is a thief.”

That’s how this was initially going to start. This post was going to be my usual quasi-poetic prose, laden with analogies, attempting to suss out whatever cognitive dissonance is plaguing me today. Today’s particular brand, as it has been for a little while now, is depression.

And as my analogy was to go, depression is a thief that steals time from you. It steals motivation. It leaves you staring at a wall, mentally picturing the growing pile of “things I should be doing besides staring at this wall.” Pretty soon four hours have passed, and oh shit, I didn’t get anything done today.

For me, my depression is more socially engaged. I’ve been out drinking every night for two weeks (tonight marks day 14). This week I went to a holiday yankee swap with my brew club, saw my friend perform downtown, played hockey in the North End, and tonight I’m going on a brewery tour with a friend from out-of-town. On the surface, these are all fun, engaging activities. That’s the crazy part about it; it doesn’t feel that way.

Drinking tends to cloud things further. Sometimes it ritual: I always have a beer after a hockey game. Sometimes it’s the primary reason I’m out: beer club swap, tonight’s brewery tour. It’s those other times; like if I drink enough this underlying malaise will be washed away and replaced by someone who magically appears and wants to fuck my drunk ass.

A lot of that sounds like the confession of an alcoholic. It’s not. Last night, for example, I made a conscious effort to switch to a lower ABV beer and take it easy so that I wouldn’t be a useless mess today. Achievement unlocked. My view of alcohol is that of an amplifier. If you’re in a good mood and you drink, you’re probably going to stay in a good mood. If you’re depressed; vice versa.

So if I know this, why am I fueling my (self-diagnosed, it should be noted) depression? Because, like a thief, depression is sneaky. It often comes disguised. When I went out to my friend’s show, I was excited to see him, excited to see some other friends, excited to meet new people… and then it came unraveled at the end of the night. And I woke up with a hangover and a heavy case of “what the fuck am I doing with my life?”

This is all to say that that initial piece I’d planned didn’t come to fruition. I sat down and wrote that first line before lunch, as I was in the process of cleaning my house and listening to the Serial podcast. Then I made myself some lunch, fed and walked the dog, realized there was something else I had to write that was more pressing, then I had a work meeting, and now we’re here. And oddly enough that deep throbbing sadness isn’t.

So I thought I’d write about battling depression by keeping busy. But that felt incredibly disingenuous given everything I just felt/did. So here we are at the ending of a long, rambling journey without much of a definitive position; much like the end of Serial.

In truth I don’t know any more (or less) about depression than the next person. I spend a lot of time thinking about it and maybe that’s the problem. Maybe the problem is all of the stuff my ex left at the house that keeps reopening wounds I’ve been trying to close for almost seven months now. Maybe it’s just part of the process that I stalled out on and trying to maintain strict radio silence is just exacerbating (or ultimately healing). Like I said, I don’t know.

I do know the dog helps. I know he forces me to get out of bed every day, and to get outside. He forces me away from regressing to a responsibility-shunning hermit. And he has the capacity to make me happy. Not that full-body happiness, but the nice fleeting kind that brings an easy smile. But I also know I long for that full happiness, somewhere off in the future. For now, I’d just like some time to escape. Escape the thoughts, escape this desk and computer, escape importance (self-inflicted or otherwise).

There used to be some of that at the bottom of the bottle; but 14-days of trial and error has got me thinking maybe I need a new method.

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