Sunday, May 19, 2013

Help! I've Fallen, and I can't get up! : a.k.a. "5 months down the well.. thanks a lot Lassie"

"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. 


25 comments:

Edwin King said...

Glad to see you back - I always enjoy reading your blog and seeing where you are with your projects. I had wondered what was happening with you.

As someone else with clinical depression, I can relate to what you say about the difference between sadness and depression. I'm glad you're feeling able to write about it.

You've got great creative talents. I hope that you'll be able to used them to improve your well-being.

Edwin

Phil Curran said...

Well that explains where you've been. I for one am glad to see that you are back. You have spoken eloquently about a terrible problem and that took great courage.
Back to the mini's, bring 'em on.

Were you tempted by Dreadball???

Scott said...

I had noticed you had dropped off the Radar, its good to have you back!

I know to certain extent what you are going through, both from a professional stand point, and general personal feelings.

I must admit my hobby, is my escape at the end of each day, where you can get away from and forget about the stresses of modern living, be it work or family issues or whatever..., though am grateful I have never been truly 'depressed' as you describe...

So great to have you back with us, though take things slowly as you require...

I did recommend your blog to a mate in respect to your past EotD activities... hows the space faring faction doing these days?

regards
Scott

Anne said...

How I have missed you Ferret! You brought me laughter, intellectual stimulation and some of the best painted figures I've ever seen.

It saddens me to hear that you have been in such a deep well and to hear that there are still people who do not understand how you suffer. We call it the Black Dog and it hounds my steps as well, so I can relate.

It is grand to have you back and if you can manage it, please stay.

Malkav said...

Great to know you back! Everything else is hard to put in words.... just glad to know you're back. Hope you can manage to stay!

Deserter said...

I'd also realised you were off the radar - I was hoping all was okay. Glad to hear you're coping - my mother suffers from depression and I can sympathise with that emotional black hole.

Your blog is easily one of my favourites - I'm glad you're back. Only problem is that I end up buying more figures thanks to you :)

Jessica Pink said...

depression sucks - simple answer.
I and a good portion of the gamers I seem to meet suffer bouts of it if not a constant low thrum of its noise.
keep smiling as much as you can, keep a focus on whatever projects you;ve got going on and keep pushing/fighting on.

the 'stress points' analogy
is annoyingly accurate from personal experience.

Tim Kulinski said...

Glad to see you back man and I look forward to seeing your coverage and modeling projects.

I had a good friend that had a similar episode of depression, so I know what you went through. Good to have you back man.

Tristan M said...

glad to see you posting again dude.

M R Lee said...

As stated before mate, am glad your back. You were sorely missed. Hope all goes well moving forward, and if you need anything, you can see many of us are here to help!

Francis Lee said...

I'm really sorry to hear about you depression and well exploits (I never trusted Lassie)I did wonder where you were but over the years many good bloggers have disappeared and you never know why, what world or personal problems have caused this, maybe apathy or boredom but you have explained what happened to you and I feel glad that you're still around although you're not 100% but what I'm trying to say is I'm glad you're back!

Kobold said...

Glad you're back, Ferret. I skipped this year's A to Z Blog post thingy as my brother got married in the middle of the month, but it was because of you that I got involved with the 2012 one - and I really enjoyed the discipline of coming up with something almost every day.

My wife has clinical depression and it nearly cost us our marriage until I learnt the difference between being depressed and having depression. With therapy, and antidepressants, she copes a lot better, now, and I have learnt to look and listen for non-coping signs, and we can often derail the downward spiral, or smack the black dog on the nose and send him back to his basket, by talking through an event or issue.

From what others have said here, you're not alone and people do care about you. We might not be close enough for a coffee or a hug, but we're here.

Kia kaha - stay strong.

David

Patrick said...

Great to see you back and posting, Ferret! Although I'm mostly just a lurker, when you suddenly disappeared I was about as worried as a person can be about someone they have never met. So your return is super news.

Looking forward to many more exquisite minis and rambling insights from you. A hearty welcome back.

Gareth the Grot said...

Man, not seeing your most excellent stuff for five months has made ME depressed! Seriously though, I hope that you get through this and things return to an even keel. Here's to more awesome batreps and painted miniature madness!

Simon Q said...

Been missing your blogposts dude! Sorry to hear of your woes. I hope you can get over them and get on a upbeat track and delve into some new fangled projects!

Michael Awdry said...

David, it was only yesterday that I was thinking of illuminating the skies with a giant Ferret to try and discover where you had gone; the reality is of course no laughing matter, but I can't tell you how thrilled I was to see this post. First tentative steps maybe, but your work and posts were, and will be again, such a source of inspiration to me that I can't wait until you feel ready to contribute again. In the mean time, take as long as you need, I for one will still be here when you are ready.

DFlynSqrl said...

Hard to add anything that hasn't already been more eloquently said by earlier posters. So just wanted to say glad you're back to posting man!

Anne said...

See, we all like you Ferret.

Be well my friend.

Spacejacker said...

Welcome back, Ferret. I have my own black dog and painting miniatures has been one of the only reliable ways to keep it under control over the years. (That and pet ferrets. I got a new one 6 months ago and it's done me a world of good. Just sayin' ;)

We all love what you do, the internets are a better place with your contribution.

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks all, very kind and it means a lot to me :)

E.King: Thanks, and I try. Honestly I don't know how I'd function without creativity. Being involved in a project really is a need. I wouldn't make it if my hobby and work didn't involve creative projects. if I punched numbers and played golf (or any other similar combo) I wouldn't have made it this far.

Phil: Yes I went in deep on the Dreadball kickstarter, but haven't had a chance to play yet. Kublacon is this weekend and there is a DR tourney, but I'm passing on it since it is 'single elimination'. How dumb is that for a new game people are likely just looking to get a chance to play and learn? Could be as much as 10 minutes, lose, and cut lose from a 6 hour time slot event. no thanks ;) but eventually I'll get some teams going and try it out.

You're lucky Scott, I wouldn't wish a depression condition on anyone ;) Well the EotD 'season' has come & gone. The local group gets into a system, we play it a lot, then move on to something else, possibly returning to the older later. But you never know when the intrepid crew of the Wombat will show up! There's some interest in 'In Her Majesty's Name' which I'm curious to take a look at too and see what faction ideas appeal to me.

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks Anne, I missed you as well! I will have to go check out how your story turned out now that I've returned to the land of the living. I think I have anyway ;)

Thanks Malkav. Well I may hermit up now and then in life but I always return :)

Thanks Deserter! Oh if only I got a commission off minis I've motivated people to buy... it might help staunch the flow of cash from all the minis I buy motivated by what I see from others too!

Thanks Jessica- it does seem to maybe be a higher percentage than other subculture hobby groups- maybe there is a draw for the creative aspect.

Thanks Tim, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, too bad so many can relate for themselves or someone they know.

Thanks Tristan :) I'll have to catch up on your BB activities

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks MrLee! Think you (and others) have already done the only thing that can be done- just being cool good people.

Thanks Fran. Yeah, short of getting hit by a bus I don't think I'd be disappearing permanently. :)

Kobold: Sorry to hear your wife is plagued with it. It's a good idea abt preventative strikes against it, often that can help a lot. I'm disappointed I missed the A-Z as I really enjoyed it the last 2 times, but just means next year I'll set the bar for myself higher.

Thanks Patrick! I can promise there will be more minis and definitely more ramblings- if i'm in 'earshot' I'm going to be rambling.

Gareth: 5 months. crazy. it feels like a few weeks. my sense of time is completely out of skew.

Simon: thanks and yes: more projects than is wise ;)

Thanks Michael really appreciate it! I'm looking forward to catching up on your blog, always makes me think 'oh, I should get some of that' :)

Thanks Squirrel! :)

Spacejacker: Yeah, ferrets are 120% joy. Sometimes if I see movement out of the corner of my eye I still for a brief moment think it's my ferret and I smile- I miss her. Someday I'll adopt another. Sorry to hear you have a similar state, but minis do help don't they?

Thomas Grimstad said...

welcome back, you were missed.

battybattybats said...

Thank Goodness!

I was really worried. I'm glad to see you are still alive and i'm sorry to hear of the pain and struggle you are going through.

Many of my friends have struggled with depression or anxiety and i see by other comments others here have personal experience too. While a lot of ignorant people might dismiss these kinds of illness lots of others know the truth.

And any way we can help you please let us know.

I was talking about your excellent blog just the day before yesterday while playing War Rocket. I'm personally glad you are posting again so i'll get to read your great posts some more, but much more importantly i'm glad you are limping again just for your sake.

Boromir_and_kermit said...

Great to see you back again mate. I was fearing the worst. Very happy to know that you are ok.

Take care of yourself and I'll look forward to the continued reading of your blog.

All the very best!
Cheers,
Ben.

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