Let’s jump into the exciting stuff, instead of getting to know me. We can always learn about me later.
I’m currently in the process of climbing out of a bit of a depressive phase. The month of July was pretty whack for me. I spent the first two weeks searching my ass off for an apartment that is pet-friendly, which is not an easy task in Calgary, but I managed to find one. It’s a good price, a good location, blah blah. And, of course, it’s pet-friendly so my cat, Dalton, and I can continue to terrorize the world together. I have no idea where I’d be without him and the thought of that weighed pretty heavily upon me. As often happens when falling into the well, I withdrew emotionally and physically from a lot of the people around me. I feigned the social cues I needed to feign, but all I wanted to do was retreat and hide under a table or a blanket or just be somewhere out of sight. It’s always a trip when you only want to disappear.
After I found a place I started packing, so that meant I was living out of boxes for the remainder of the month, an experience that I’m not altogether unfamiliar with but this time was different for whatever reason. There were some issues at home that were kind of affecting me and that didn’t make my living arrangements any more comfortable; in fact, many days I felt like I wasn’t welcome in my own home, which is an awesome feeling. On top of that, I was changing offices at my workplace, which, in and of itself, wasn’t anything bad. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I was getting a corner office of my own with two big windows in it. Sounds sweet, right? Well, it is, but it almost meant living out of boxes at work, too. So my normal living arrangements at home and at work were in flux, but, you know, it was all good in some ways because I was taking a half-day here and there, working a short week with some vacation time here and there and really just focusing on trying to keep myself in check to stave off the inevitable and unwelcome appearance of Depression. And, for the most part, I was able to do that during July pretty successfully. I was busy as hell with work, my writing, and in my personal life. There were a lot of good things happening in my life that, I think, were covering up Depression strengthening itself and getting ready to attack me. When August hit, things changed immediately. The first weekend, August 1st-3rd, was fine but after that it all changed. The two weeks after were mostly miserable, though there were some really good things that happened. The problem is that when you, or rather when I, get depressed it’s hard to recognize the good things. It’s hard to take things at face value and not overanalyze or read into things that don’t need to be read into.
I have a magic pill I take every day and I’m really good with taking it. I think in the year or so I’ve been on this particular medication there have been maybe three or four instances where I forgot to take my pill. I spent a lot of time in the hole and don’t ever want to spend a significant amount of time in that pit again, so I try to be good and take my pill. But the thing with bipolar is that it’s never really something that goes away. It rears its head less often and I’m incredibly grateful for that, but that still doesn’t make it anything but the jerk that shows up to try and ruin a party. For example, when trying to get to know somebody, when trying to build a relationship and connect with someone, that’s a perfect time for Depression to pop up and say, “hey, you’re mine. You belong to me.” And that’s a really weird goddamn feeling. What’s more, Depression seems to be in perpetual motion when it wakes up. It drags you down and sits on your chest and feeds on everything it pumps in your mind: Don’t let anybody know about me or they’ll reject you; I’m here and I’m not leaving; you’re not done with me until I’m done with you and guess what? I’ll never be done with you. Depression, because it’s inborn, knows everything about me. It knows all of my flaws and weaknesses and exploits them. It takes my strengths, the things that make me me, that make me a funny, witty, charming and friendly person and plays keep-away. It tells me that those things don’t hold any value, that they’re just paint on the walls and the house is fucked so who cares about the paint. Depression takes my confidence and puts a bullet in the pack of its head. Here’s another trick: the good days? Depression still has a way of infecting those. Seeing somebody you really care about, that you really like? Depression starts whispering in my ear that there’s something wrong with me, some unfixable and unlovable flaw, something that sets me apart from everything, even if I’m told that the flaws and imperfections are just things, that they are just paint on the walls. Depression distorts everything I hear.
With all of that said, I see the top of the mountain and the light at the end of the tunnel. There’s not really any choice but to ride things out and get back to being well. I think I’m almost back to normal, which is good. There is a lot of lingering self-doubt and self-loathing that I am carrying with me still right now and right this minute, but emotionally I’m not down for the count like I was earlier in the month. In the ten years or so that I’ve lived with a diagnosed mental illness, I have been good and bad at managing and handling it. I don’t know if I’m great at it, but I’m better than I was and certainly more optimistic than in the past, so I know this isn’t a forever feeling and I can recognize that I’m not worthless and unlovable and I feel myself getting stronger. It just takes a bit of time to get back to normal, and that’s okay. Through it all I try to remember the words of the immortal Stuart Smalley:
“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggone it, people like me.”
That confidence is the treatment for Depression, it is the antidote for every poisoned word and toxic sweet-nothing.
About Tristan Baggins
I have always wondered where to start with these bios, but I guess it’s always best to start at the beginning. I’m in my early-30s and I’m passionate about NBA basketball, heavy metal, hardcore, my cat, my friends, writing prose and poetry, helping people, craft beer and mental health. I am also diagnosed with Bipolar II; the clinical definition might have changed with the release of DSM V, but the title doesn’t change my experience. The bulk of my 20’s were defined by erratic behaviour, depression, paranoia, anxiety, and, if I’m being honest with myself, a lot of inadvertent self-harm and self-destructive behaviour. What I learned coming through on the other side of the tunnel is that the light’s there, it’s not a myth, and it’s worth reaching towards.