"This is Life Alert, here to help. What is the problem?"
"I've Fwallen...and I can't gyet up!"
"I understand. First, look to check, are your legs still attached?"
"Yes, my legs are still there, but I can't gyet up!"
"Can you move your toes?"
"Yes, I can move my toes, but I can't gyet up!"
"Alright, here is the solution: you want to get up, you have legs, so just get up already.
and thank you for calling Life Alert."
-- For those who've lived their life outside of the US, the 'I've fallen and I can't get up' lady is from a oft poked-fun commercial.
I guess that works great if you fall and can't get up, but if the help they offered was just 'well get up lazy' it wouldn't be much help. When Timmy falls down the well, it isn't overly complicated for Lassie to bark out instructions to the neighbors.
So yeah, I fell down a well and couldn't get up for many months.
To be honest I'm really not sure I am out of the well, and not just emerging from it to find that well is at the bottom of another still to go, but time will tell.
In gamer terms (which I've used in my own mind to translate this phenomenon):
1. Your character has a number of 'stress points' available in each game, let's say 100 stress points.
2. Each turn you can spend as many stress points as you'd like to do the things you want your character to do, such as 5 points to cook a meal, 10 points to deal with online bills, 30 points to file taxes, 5 points to give a friend advice on a problem, 20 points to deal with a computer that won't work, etc.
3. You can harvest stress points to add to your total by doing pleasurable things: watch a movie with a friend: add 10 points, walk your dog: add 5 points.
4. Reset to full points at the start of a new game (day).
Hard Mode: conditions change, all stress points are only 1/5 as effective as normal: pay 5x normal cost. Also, no harvesting allowed: nothing done will add to your current total. Do not reset to full at the start of a new day, instead roll randomly to generate 1-20 new stress points, not the standard 100. Good luck.
That is a fair description of what it is like when in a period of depression.
I have always suffered from clinical depression, it runs in one branch of the family.
Unlike some of my family, medication doesn't help me, in fact it makes it worse in some ways.
When I was a kid, it was before depression was as acknowledged as it is today (more on that later) so I didn't have any idea being low was something internal, it was just assumed it was from the bad family circumstances I'd been through and in teen years I wrote it off as a side effect of being smart enough to see what the world was actually like: the other side of the 'ignorance is bliss' coin, which I still think has a lot of truth to it: the more you know and understand the more cause you have to feel deflated about the world we've made. A topic worthy of it's own at another time.
But no, it's more than that, I've got the 'clinical depression' condition. So with that always threatening to bring me down, I have found I can function better when indulging in creativity.
I need a creative project at all times. It motivates me, it keeps me above the waterline, it makes me happy.
So miniatures gaming has been ideal: I get a constant influx of creative projects. In inventing the backgrounds, worlds, creating something physical in sculpting, converting, painting, there is a release that keeps my brain floating in happiness.
Provided I have the minimum happiness to generate the 'stress points' to jump start into the creative mode.
Usually I do. Normally that isn't a problem.
But recently it was. And without that momentum, it's like a bicycle that slows down too much: it falls.
Even with depression more understood and greater awareness of it today than when I was a kid, there is still a lot of the "well just stop it" response from a lot of people. Without direct knowledge of what it is like I guess a lot of people see it as a phantom problem, like it isn't real, as if 'push it aside and deal with it later' is an option. Might as well tell someone who's paralyzed to 'get out of that wheelchair, lazy'. Just doesn't work. The Ron Swanson approach isn't always an option.
Knowing that some regard a depression sinking as a character flaw, or as not real, or as whining, only makes it even harder to deal with in trying to get out of it. It takes more stress points. It is easy to say "my leg was broken, but it's healed now" but "I was in a depression black hole, but I'm out now" has a whole host of added burden applied to it by the culture. It is a lot like a broken leg. Saying it is broken isn't whining, it isn't a plea for attention, it's just pointing out the fact. It is nice to have someone give condolences, it can be appreciated, but where no one would think that saying 'I hope your leg gets better' would actually help it get better, people do seem to think saying "I hope you feel better" should have an affect on someone who's depressed. Wish it were so, but it isn't. That helps someone who is sad, but not someone who is depressed. The two states are very different. Which I don't think is understood by a lot of people, since many people use the phrase "I feel depressed" when they don't-what they feel is sadness, which is bad, but it isn't the same as depression. But knowing well-wishers often have an expectation that their well wishes will help, it becomes almost an extra burden for the depressed person (at least I have found it so for me) and so makes it less likely to draw attention to the problem, to avoid the additional weight. Not that it isn't appreciated abstractly, just that it can't help at that time.
When I stop to think about it, that doesn't seem right at all. leg, brain.. they're both part of the body, they both have a function, they can both stop working and need time to repair. So why the stigma about a part of the brain not working when no one would think twice about a broken leg or a coma.
So to hell with it: my happiness was broken and while it still isn't working in full, I can limp on it enough to get around at the moment.
And so I'm limping back here.
The Half-Year Catch Up:
So I was in that funk, hoping it'd be a short hiccup, starting in December, when I needed help from my family to solve the only problem that matters to me and I found I didn't even merit a reply: kind of puts one in his place. I always suspected I was the Cinderella of the family, at least when you know for sure, you know.
I went to Belarus for February and some of March, and then to Germany in March for the Dungeonbowl: one of the biggest, and longest running, Blood Bowl tournaments in the world! How cool is that?
So I thought everything was fine for my return.
But I got the flu on the way back- out from that for weeks, which turned into bronchitis: out for more time.
Add to that a return to depression as I was back in the US, where I don't want to be, and I crashed down into depression worse than I've had in many years. Just completely debilitated me. The things that normally made me happy gave me no recharge, things I might look forward to normally became daunting propositions that I just avoided. I had plans to go to the NATC: North American Team Championship for Blood Bowl in Las Vegas. It took every bit of energy to crawl out of funk to go. I even had to change my plane ticket to go the night before instead of early morning because I could see that if I'd leave it to the morning I would likely just not have the emotional energy to get out of bed:I'd just end up not going and let everyone down. Going to the event helped though- I think it force-kick started the momentum up enough I could return to a pattern of regular life. I needed it: the longer I was depressed, the longer I was removed from the social world, the more energy it took to come back, but the less energy I had to do so. So yeah, it's a lot like falling.
I haven't even looked at my blog yet ...or anyone elses, which I've missed, but visiting other blogs made me think about mine, which made me think about the weight of not being functional,and it made it worse: what a troublesome cycle. The stress points choice was either write this return entry or see what people have commented and I figured if I don't write this down I might delay and sink back away yet again. I was told by a friend that people were wondering if I was alive, which is nice to know. So know I do appreciate it, I've just not been in a state where I could appreciate it and feel good from it rather than bad- when in that well even good things can feel like weights pressing down- so I avoided even coming to the blog, which before has been a great source of fun & enjoyment for me. But I'll likely be back to where I will enjoy & appreciate it all pretty soon. But limping before I start running ;)
Shut Up and Show Me Some Minis:
I've rambled on a lot, and most who stumble on this won't really care, and will have skipped it until they see this more promising heading. Not to worry, I'll be returning to the expected episodes of painted minis, conversions, game reports, background fluff and occasional sharply critical commentary on civilization that you've come to expect.
I've got many games of the Dungeon Bowl & NATC to cover, as well as some fun conversions, Blood Bowl teams, a return to some dormant projects as well as plans for some new ones.
Because that is the upside of this depression thing, when it's manageable, and it almost always is, it keeps me cranking out creative projects at a strong clip.
And then you can enjoy the creative stuff now that I'm done bitching about Lassie.