Mr. Featherbottom’s Purpose

Mr. Featherbottom 2012.09.08 (1)
I’ll be quite blunt, to the point that I will assume that comments via either through here or Facebook will be well-considered before being directed at me.

I need a third pet, this new cat, because I truly cannot foresee what would happen to my fragile psyche if I just left my two geriatric pets to expire with no new recuits. I need someone who relies on me so that I can generate just enough energy in the morning and in the evening so that he or she gets their basic staples of food, water, waste removal, medication, and love. These banal activities are a strong buffer between a functioing me and doom. I’m quite serious.

I am 36 years old, going on 37.

I am single with no prospects.

I am single with no confidence to meet anyone.

I have a job and career that I cannot help but project disdain unto whenever I am asked.

I have no idea what radical path out of that mess to take.

I have finances that are fair and improving at an unaaceptabole rate.

I hate going to the gym to exercise, so I will never find out what what it might look like for a shirt to lay flat except for the hint of definiton in the pectoral area. Just talking of the average healthy guy prototype. I’d like to know what it’s like to embody that normal, unspectacular body.

I have no physical activity I enjoy that I could use for meaningful exercise.

I am too swept up in the above anxieties to focus on the everyday tasks that otheres take for granted–laundry, sorting through mail, doing dishes.

In short, I am a disaster. Most of you know this. The rest of you just haven’t read frequently enough.

Shingles wrap-up and back to the main highway to nowhere

I started it (blogging about it), so I should finish it.

Started feeling better Friday. Pain continues in waves, but more manageable. At least, I’ve been sleeping, and I’ve been getting around.

I presume I will work (from home) tomorrow, though eight hours of sitting at a laptop might be a challenge.

I hate to be a Debbie Downer…no, really, I hate to…I know you don’t believe me…anyway, I’m just conveying my thoughts…

I’m feeling it’s been a lost week in the context of a much vaster lost period that I’ve alluded to recently.

There is no such thing as no-censhorship mode. If I really unloaded in here, you might feel the need to worry about me endlessly, and then you’d have to distance yourself from me, which you probably already have.

I’m not trying to be cryptic there. If you’re reading this, what I said probably applies to you. I’m one of those toxic people, and I know it.

I’m struggling not to launch into a full-throttle venting of the thoughts that are suffocating my mind. I’m not going to do that.

I’ve just spent 20 minutes starting at the screen and trying to reach into my mind for some thoughts that are digestible. There aren’t.

Sometimes, like right now, I despise this blog.

I’ll go to my other blog now, the one with the songs, the one that probably seems like a sad joke to everyone but that I take very seriously. A couple of people humor me by participating. I do appreciate that, by the way; keep humoring me.

Bullshit like shingles

Obviously, I’m not feeling so well physically right now. I’m not really going to blog about the details. From what I keep reading, it could get worse. I’m a bit worried when I read that people experience residual pain for weeks or months even after their blisters are gone. That’s all I need, a new source for chronic pain.

Here’s what’s upsetting me right now. Like all the other times I’ve had serious medical issues, from extended illnesses to surgeries to the entirety of my two years on dialysis, it is not that I’m being exiled from some happy, thriving existence, and I’ll be yearning to “have my life back”. The episodes are unwanted delays in trying to figure out what my life is going to be. I don’t want to have “my life”, as it was as of Friday, back. When I went on to dialysis in August 2009 (and, really, going back to the turn for the worse I had in February 2008), I was not desperate for a kidney transplant so that I could “be myself” again or “get back to doing the things I love to do”. I was desperate for a kidney transplant because I was desperate to create a fulfilling life for myself, and I could not afford any delay.

I feel like many, may years of my life have been lost years, but perhaps none as much as those 3+ years between February 2008 and June 2011. All I did, ultimately, was survive. I got through it.

But after I received that kidney, there has not been a day when I’ve felt as if I’ve recovered from that. My body has remained damaged. It has remained unhealthy. The things I have control over, I haven’t been able to seize control of. The things I haven’t had control over have been significant. In the end, for the last 14 months, again, I just feel as if I’ve survived.

This has been so hard to articulate, because it is not consistent with the attitude we expect from people battling–that’s an unfortunate word…how about surviving–illness. (I’m not a fan of the fighting metaphors. But that’s a topic for another time.) I’m sorry that I don’t fit that heroic template.

But I still haven’t figured out how to live. I haven’t figured out what I enjoy. I haven’t figured out where I fit in. I haven’t figured out what my contribution to the world is supposed to be. And, most painful of all, I haven’t found love. Spare me the talk of learning to love yourself first. A great many people have been helped in their search for themselves and their place in the world by finding a life partner.

My point…and I meant to arrive at this much quicker…is that I have such a ridiculous pile of stuff to figure out, and I’m already operating at such a deficit, that I just can’t afford bullshit like shingles.

When I give the above a quick read, I know it won’t make much sense to anyone.

Let me try to put this another way…

No, forget it…I really cannot figure out the words to make the point I’m trying to make. I suspect this comes out as, and usually does come out as Woe is me!. If that’s the message you take out of this…you know what? So be it. It’s my blog. I’m trying to work through stuff, and lot of that stuff is WOE.

Apple stuff and self-confidence

Ever watch an Apple commercial and think, “I’m not hip enough/happy enough/good enough to own Apple stuff”?*

I do.**

* What the correct way to punctuate that sentence?

** I was just going to dump that onto my Facebook wall/timeline/whatever it’s called, but then I recalled that I once had a blog to post my thoughts, and I’ve been quite timid for awhile. Maybe there’s a metablogging post coming.

That is all for now.

Dare I break out the depression tag? Why not. I don’t pay over $100 a year to have a website just so I can post harmless pictures and links to some harmless, silly other blog I have.

“You’re going to be a great success”

Oh, shit…

Now, I’ve done it.

Generally, it would be a positive development to begin going through long-sacred clutter and getting rid of some of it. The problem is that much of it resonates far too deeply with me for it to be trashed. Specifically, I’m referring to piles of papers from school–mostly college, some high school, and even English papers from junior high. I’ll get to those in due time. I’m going to document this little exercise, as digitizing some of it make be the way to compromise between hoarding this stuff forever and getting out of my life.

Oh, but tonight, as I inched closer to the end of these piles, I came upon the infamous high school yearbook.

And I did what no 35-year-old should do. I looked at the front and back covers, and the edge-to-edge signatures and niceties of my classmates. There are stunningly sweet words from the most unlikely people, who could’ve simply said, “Have a nice summer, and good luck!”

I haven’t gone through them all, but there’s one that both shatters and reassures my heart at the same time. She’s a now-married Facebook friend. (Whom do I know who’s my age and NOT married?) She’s among the great many Facebook friends I have whom I don’t allow to see my links to my blog. When I feel I’ll either scare someway away, or spoil the generally-favorable opinion of someone who’s an acquaintance, or I can’t bearing to know what someone may think of the inevitable baring of my soul, they’re relegated to seeing just the basic info and the occasional totally harmless post. (I don’t revise these lists of my often, so take no offense if you are reading this blog but don’t see its link in Facebook.)

I came close to posting something devastating that I had written back in college, but I slept on it last night, and no longer felt the pull to publish it today. I think I feel the same about these yearbook comments.

This chore is opening up a hundred old wounds. Damaged relationships. Desired relationships that never came to be. Academic aspirations that faded out of my grasp. Deflating mediocrity displayed time and time again.

This is an exorbitant price to pay for cleaning off the dining room table.

Toastie Soundtrack #63

First, it’s time to retire my ridiculous song-of-the-day post titles. That was a remnant of the defunct Toastie Radio. Actually, all of these songs have been a part of my mental soundtrack at some point in my life, however insane that may seem to everyone else. So, I’ll just refer to these posts with the title of “Toastie Soundtrack” going forward.

This bombastic piece of the Last of the Mohicans score has been in my mental soundtrack since 1992. It was supposed to motivate me to have the courage to talk to a girl. As typical of that time in my life, I kept quiet for awhile, unable to make the simplest conversation. And then, in a moment of delirium, I’d open the floodgates and pour out emotions that had no place in a conversation between 16-year-olds who barely knew each other. And, honest to God, I truly didn’t know any better.

Some of you who know me probably don’t think I’ve gotten much better over the years. Truly, I have. But also, unfortunately, I’ve found myself regressing over the last few years.

I’m a pod person who gets hooked up to a machine three times a week. I’m often told, “Most people can’t work full-time and do dialysis”. No shit. I can’t do it. I mean, I am doing it, but barely. It’s not a routine I do. I stumble to the finish line of my week each and every week, barely conscious of how I did it. I feel so broken down, so overloaded with physical and mental stress. I manage to get through because I don’t really have a choice.

I’m 35, and I need to be living my life, not slogging through it half-dead. And so I attempt to do more than work and go to dialysis. This involves some degree of socializing. And, like I implied before, I used to be terrible at any sort of socializing, gradually got better over the years, and now have regressed because I can’t figure out for the life of me what I bring to the table in any sort of relationship. I feel like I need to take far more than I’m able to give. And I cannot, in good conscience, try to make a connection that will have such a dynamic.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere else, right now. Just rambling. When I say ‘no comments’, I often forget to set that flag, so I won’t bother. Comments or not, I’m just venting because it’s mid-Sunday, and I would like to get through the rest of my weekend in some productive manner.

Baseline 2

Starting last Tuesday and continuing indefinitely, every Tuesday and Thursday (my non-dialysis days) will include at least one of the following activities:

Swing dancing

Gym @work

This seems like a simple plan to get moving and do something I enjoy. It’s anything but. How I get through a five-day work week now with 12 hours of dialysis screwing up three of the five days is beyond me. Some weeks, I simply don’t. And for this reason, I’ll never save up a week of vacation days to go on a much-needed extended trip. My new activities could energize me to the point of making the rest of the week a breeze. Or they could exhaust me to the point of collapse.

We’ll see.

Like Red says, Get busy living, or get busy dying.

Why that picture? It’s Florence Henderson, and she’s lovely, so STFU.

Lost Day

I’ve had one of those lost days today, where forces conspire to make me unable to go to work or do just about anything else. Someone I talk to regularly will often remark, “Well, it’s nice that you get to stay home.” No, it is not. If I had a job that absolutely demanded I show up for work every day barring a life-threatening emergency, I probably would not be at that job very long.

Today, I will blame the medication that my nephrologist prescribed me to deal with the itching from the presumed poison ivy I’ve had for the last eight or nine days. It’s supposed to have less of a sedating effect than benedryl, but I think the last thing I need in conjunction with all of my other meds is something with any sort of sedating effect. So, I will officially blame the poison ivy for this lost day. However, I’m sure that it’s really the overwhelming nature of everything else that just caused me to be immobile and non-functioning earlier.

This “poison ivy” is a bit odd in that it started out as a few mosquito-bite-like hives. My scratching seemed to make it spread and resemble more of the blotchy red spots that resemble a poison ivy reaction, and that happened over several days. It doesn’t seem like poison ivy should get worse after a week. I think I was too late in getting Tecnu last night; that seems like it’s for use right after exposure. A tube of Benedryl ointment didn’t do much good a couple of days ago. From past experience, most topical anti-itch treatment provide about 5-10 minutes of relief. So that brings me back to these pills–hyrdroxyzine hcl.

Hydroxyzine is used for the short-term treatment of nervousness and tension that may occur with certain mental/mood disorders (e.g., anxiety, dementia)

Great…

It is also used to treat itching from allergies and other causes (e.g., reactions to certain drugs).

Gee, I love meds that are used for preventing both anxiety and itching.

Meanwhile, there’s been bulldozer activity across the alley all day. If bulldozers beep when they are backing up, and one is beeping about 50% of the time, won’t people become desensitized to that beeping and not be any more careful when they are hear it as opposed to when they don’t?

So it’s been a bad day to be stuck at home. And I really have been stuck. I went out briefly to get lunch and contemplated a half-day of working, but I found myself overcome by lethargy.

I am upset about this day, because I simply cannot afford to have lost days. Already, three days a week seem like half-lost days due to dialysis, and try to work around those and still get work done. Tuesday and Thursdays need to be my power-days.

To make matters worse, my morning consisted of excessive dreaming, but mostly variations of the dream where I haven’t gone to class all semester. I recall saying to someone in one of the dreams, “But wait, I already have my degree. Can’t I just go to the registrar and ask to withdraw from these classes? Otherwise, my GPA is going to get destroyed?” But this realization seemed to take forever to come. Until then, I just had this enormous sense of dread since I had not been able to go to class all semester, and now the semester was almost over, and I was going to fail every class. Apparently, hyroxyzine hcl does not work in dreams.

Until today, I was struggling not to have this be a lost week. I was having a productive work week, though I was sleeping at dialysis. Dialysis has been terrible, actually, but I’ve given up, for now, in looking into other options, since the other options aren’t likely to improve matters much.

It’s no consolation that the weekend is almost here again. To me, a weekend is simply a couple of days during which I have more time to think. More time to think means depression is inevitable.

The Depression Post

I realize this is one of those jump-the-shark sort of posts. When I write openly about how deep and how permanent my depression is, I imagine it both repels and confounds people. This is certainly not the first time I have written about depression. I’ll pour out the dregs of my soul, I’ll follow-up with some pictures of my cats, and then I won’t mention depression for another two months. The difference this time is that I don’t intend for this to be a post made in isolation. I feel the need to write about depression in an ongoing manner. Why? I don’t know if I can adequately answer the question of why I feel compelled to write in a public blog about what would be, to most, intensely private thoughts. I am not expecting answers. I am not expecting support. I just need to write in this manner because I don’t know what else to do. Writing things down was a coping strategy for me for many years, and now, like I’ve said in here a dozen times before, it’s just not therapeutic to write things down such that they exist in a vacuum.

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Everyone knows I’m the guy with the kidney disease, the guy who’s on dialysis. And, sure, anyone who knows me knows I get depressed. Maybe everyone who reads this realizes that I get depressed a lot. There is probably an assumption that a large part of my depression is due to the physical problems I have had to deal with these last few years. A few months ago, I went so far as to claim that most or all of my depression was due to the pain and fatigue that my PKD caused. I wanted to emphasize this point, but I think I may have exaggerated in some sort of attempt to make my depression more excusable and relatable.

The unfortunate truth is that I was depressed long before I ever received my PKD diagnosis and felt the discomfort and weightiness of enlarged, diseased kidneys. People are more comfortable hearing about others’ physical ailments’ than they are depression. A physical condition can gain you sympathy. It’s easy to hear of someone’s cancer and anthropomorphize the illness as some evil, foreign entity that was uninvited and needs to be battled. Depression? That’s something that people need to either take a pill for or speak to a professional about to learn better coping skills. It’s sad and regrettable that someone has depression, but one should be able to get over it. Just get help…but please don’t bring it up at dinner…no one wants to hear about it.

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So, to summarize, here are the several reasons why I’ve been reluctant to tackle depression as a consistent topic in this blog:

1. Despite my best efforts, my full name is associated with this blog, according to simple Google searches I’ve done. I really wish people hadn’t linked to “David S’s blog”, but they have, and this can’t every be undone. As a result, any future employer who cares to do a thorough internet search can uncover this blog, and, some day, I may need a job more desperately than I need this blog. However, it is already too late, so I’m just not going to worry about this.

2. This is probably the most uncomfortable topic I could write about, in terms of the awkwardness it instills in readers. My ego doesn’t like to think that people will stop reading. I really shouldn’t care.

3. There’s the potential for inappropriate comments, just like there is when writing about any topic. But I’ll take these comments more personally. I am not sure that there is any appropriate advice about lifelong depression that can be squeezed into a blog comment.

4. I’ll dissuade people from commenting, but then I’ll take it badly when no one has commented after a certain period of blogging about this. I am just being completely honest. I think it is coming across as if I don’t trust people to comment on a sensitive subject. This is true; I don’t.

5. This blog will become even more of a consistent downer. On one hand, that sounds like a great reason to tone things down. On the other hand, I wonder, “So what?”

6. If the transplant centers ever decide that I’m just too depressed, they’ll make me inactive on their lists. This would, in turn, lead to a truly hopeless predicament.

There’s no doubt that in order to have a chance of a life that is joyful and fulfilling, I will need a kidney. However, if I were to receive a kidney tomorrow, I’d still be suffering from chronic treatment-resistant depression.

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What happens when your depression literally never goes away? What may have been irrational thoughts of failure and self-loathing and pessimism years ago wind up being legitimized by concrete negative experiences that came to be, in part, because of the existing depression. It’s a continuous downward spiral. Any progress is surpassed by the brutality of time. The desperation to overcome it all as soon as possible makes it impossible to embrace any coping strategy that encourages “small steps”.

I am at a point where the passage of time has left me with what appears to be an impossible amount of garbage to dig myself out of. The sheer weight of it is almost too much bear. I bear it only because…well, it’s actually difficult to say why. I just do. I have no intention of succumbing to the alternative. But to simply endure is a pathetic, meager goal that gives me no satisfaction when I manage to meet it from day to day and week to week.

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Some harsh truth:

I am never ok.

I don’t know what ok is. When was the last time I was truly happy? I honestly don’t remember. There have been the briefest flashes of what might have been joy. I can cobble together, from those moments, and from what my heart can imagine, a notion of what a joyful life would feel like. Perhaps that is what sustains me, the slightest chance that I’ll know that feeling as reality some day. To not endure is to have no chance of this.

I am always hurting.

You have no idea. And even if you do, what are you supposed to do about it? Really, you can’t do anything. You need to preserve your own sanity. Hell, if you’re still reading this, you ought to stop.

I am trying so hard…you probably can’t tell…

I actually am trying, frantically, every day, to dig myself out. I have tried everything I have felt I have been capable of. I am aware of what I have not tried, of what I am not capable of. Of course, if I am ever to get better, this is clearly not true. If I am ever to get better, all of the pain and frustration will seem so puzzling. This is one reason that I have journaled and blogged for 22 years, as some sort of proof that, at the time, I truly did not know any better than to exist as I did.

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I do not mean for this to be the definitive guide to my depression. I sense I am trying too hard to make this digestible when I know some people will never understand it. Then again, I’m barely even trying to explain how it feels to be depressed in the moment. I know I actually do have plenty of past entries about that, and I’m sure I’ll have some in the future. The point in writing now is to try to allow myself the freedom to acknowledge that depression is not some minor element of a life that has its share of stresses. It is a fundamental, inescapable component of my being.

Comments disabled because there’s no need to comment. Really, no one should even have read all the way down to here.