Category Archives: battling depression

Building a Life from Memory

I write some science fiction, but I am a lot more about bringing the past to life in this day and age.

And I confess, I used to long to see Annette Funicello naked, at about the age of eleven or twelve. And she is closer to my mother’s age than she is to mine. But when I lusted after her in secret, she was always falling in love with Frankie Avalon and Kurt Russel in the movies.

The music of my life back then, in the 1960’s, was the Monkees singing, “I’m a Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville.”

My heroes were astronauts like Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins.

And yet, I wanted to grow up to be just like Red Skelton, Danny Kaye, or Jerry Lewis.

Too often I am tempted to look back on a 60’s childhood and see a golden age, as if it were the best time of my life. But wait. The pain and fear and darkness of that time was certainly no better than now. I was sexually assaulted in 1966. JFK was assassinated in 1963. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were soon to follow. Grissom, White, and Chaffee burned up in an Apollo training accident. My Grandpa Beyer died young of heart failure in the 60’s. There was enough trauma in my life to make me want to kill myself in the early 70’s.

I believe I may have learned how to tame a fox for myself. It takes patience and understanding. Thank God for the people who helped me tame my monsters and keep myself alive. The Methodist Minister who taught me the facts of life on a chalkboard and assured me that I was not evil for what had happened to me. And the boy who was my friend in P.E. class where we were both bullied, because he was willing to listen on that dark day when I was planning to kill myself and all I could say was confusing nonsense, but he listened and was willing to be my friend anyway.

The point is, I learned hard lessons in my early life that gave me the insight into how to solve problems and overcome the darkness now when our government is flirting with fascism. People I used to know and trusted now want to punish me for being a liberal and wanting to help the poor and minorities rather than go to war against them. There never seems to be enough money. Climate change threatens our very existence. And people seem to care only about themselves and generally hate others.

There are reasons to believe we can solve our current set of horrific difficulties. There are good people doing good things, even if no one seems to notice. We have done similar difficult things before. We survived a Cold War, avoided nuclear war so far. We are probably on the other side of the Covid pandemic now And life can be a good thing again if we only let it.

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Filed under battling depression, commentary, compassion, feeling sorry for myself, healing, humor, Liberal ideas

Monster Mashing

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One of the side “benefits” of having diabetes is that it often comes with an extra helping of diabetic depression.  I had the blues really bad this week.  I am not the only member of my family suffering.

So, what do you do about it?

Or, rather, what does a goofy idiot like me do about it?

Especially on a windy day when the air is saturated with pollen and other lovely things that I am absolutely, toxically allergic to?

Well, for one thing, I used the word toxically in this post because it is a funny-sounding adverb that I love to use even though the spell-checker hates it, no matter how I spell or misspell it.

And I bought a kite.

Yes, it is a cheap Walmart kite that has a picture of Superman on it that looks more like Superboy after taking too much kryptonite-based cough syrup for his own super allergies.

But I used to buy or make paper diamond kites just like this one when I was a boy in Iowa to battle the blues in windy spring weather.  One time I got one so high in the sky at my uncle’s east pasture that it was nothing more than a speck in the sky using two spools of string and one borrowed ball of yarn from my mother’s knitting basket.  It is a way of battling blue meanies.

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And I bought more chocolate-covered peanuts.  The chocolate brings you up, and the peanut protein keeps you from crashing your blood sugar.  I have weathered more than one Blue Meanie attack with m&m’s peanuts.

And I used the 1957 Pink and White Mercury of Imagination to bring my novel, The Baby Werewolf, home.  I wrote the last chapter Monday night in the grip of dark depression, and writing something, and writing it well, makes me a little bit happier.

And I have collected a lot of naked pictures of nudists off Twitter.  Who knew that you could find and communicate with such a large number of naked-in-the-sunshine nuts on social media?  It is nice to find other nude-minded naturists in a place that I thought only had naked porn until I started blogging on naturist social media.  Being naked in mind and body makes me happier than I ever thought it would.

And besides being bare, I also like butterflies and books and baseball and birds, (the Cardinals have started baseball season remember) and the end of winter.  “I just remember of few of my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad!”  Oh, and I like musical movies like The Sound of Music too.

The monsters of deep, dark depression are being defeated as we speak.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, battling depression, cardinals, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, imagination, nudes, Paffooney, photos, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Murky Deepends

My mother is dying.

My sister called last night to tell me that this time, when she went into the hospital for her chronic heart problem, she would not be coming out again.

She is 87 years old, just half a year younger than when we lost her mother at 88. And at almost 65 it is not unreasonable to believe that I have to expect to lose my mother sooner rather than later. But I am still not ready to lose my mother.

See this ugly little hairy mushroom-guy? This is Murky Deepends. I started drawing him as a teenager. I needed to see him face to face… because I was a survivor of a sexual assault. I started drawing him after the phone call that kept me from killing myself.

And this picture of him that I drew today is the only picture of him that I still have. I may have drawn hundreds over the years. I drew him to tear up the picture, or burn the picture, or soak it in water and flush it down the toilet.

Murky is my depression.

And before I could use him as an illustration for this piece, I had to make sure I put a black box around him. No way can I ever let him escape again to grow and take over my life one more time. I cannot let him win.

I know he looks kind of sad and pitiful. But don’t feel sorry for him. He’s a stone cold killer. And if you look at him carefully enough, you may detect a smile on his face.

I am sad now about my mother. But it is okay to be sad. I lost my father less than a year ago. During the pandemic lockdown. I did not get to see him before he died. I did not get to attend his funeral.

My fear is that the same thing will happen now with Mom. I have no way to safely get to Iowa again. The pandemic is raging again in both Texas and Iowa with the Delta variant. My sister is the only one who can get into see her and be with her according to hospital Covid rules. (Mom does not have Covid. Only a weak and failing heart.)

And it is okay to feel sad. I have earned the right to be sad through 63 and three quarters years of love and devotion.

And Murky has no place in my sadness. Murky is depression. Not a feeling like sadness, but an absence of feeling, a numbness and incapacitation. So, I will keep him in a box or destroy him completely. I will get through this with the rest of my family, and Murky will not have any power over me.

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Filed under battling depression, Depression, Uncategorized

Dark Thinking

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On a quiet back street in Toonerville there is a haunted house.  Obviously four meddling kids and their talking dog are looking around inside, but they won’t find anything.  It is my dark place.  I am the only one that can go inside and discover what truly is there, for the dark things inside are all a part of the dark side of Mickey.

But Mickey doesn’t have a dark side, you try and argue.  Micky is all goofy giggles and nerdy Dungeons and Dragons jokes.  Mickey is all cartoons and silly stories and he makes us all guffaw.

But I can assure you, everyone has a dark side.  Without darkness, how can anyone recognize the light?

So, I have to go inside the old Ghost House every now and then and take stock of all the furniture, and make note of everyone… and every thing that has been living there.  I go in there now because I am starting to rewrite a very dark story that I really have to get down on paper in novel form.  It isn’t a true story.  Ghost stories never are.  But it is full of true things… old hurts, old fears, panics, and ghosts of Christmases Past.

There was the night I was stalked by a large black dog when I was nine and walking home from choir practice at the Methodist Church.  We are talking Hound of the Baskervilles sort of big damn dog.  I knew every dog that lived in town in those days, but I didn’t know that one. Maybe it wasn’t actually hunting me, but I ran the last two blocks to my house that night faster than I ever knew I could run before.

There was that cool autumn afternoon when he grabbed me and pushed me down behind a pile of tractor tires in the neighbor’s yard.  He forcibly got my pants down… and what he did to me… It has taken more than forty years to be able to talk about what happened.  I wasn’t able to talk about it until after I learned that he had died.

There were the nights spent in the emergency room.  Severe potassium depletion… chest pains that could’ve been heart trouble but weren’t… The morning when my blood pressure was so high I thought I was going to die in front of my second period seventh grade English class.  And the terrible waits in the emergency room when someone I loved was serious about suicide… that was the most terrible of all.

I am not frightened by the grim reaper in the same way that Shaggy and Scooby are.  I have spent time in his company too many times for that.  I do not fear him.  In some ways he brings welcome relief.  And I do believe I can beat him in chess and at least tie him in checkers.

So, yeah, the dark resources are all still there… still in place at the bottom of a deep, dark well. Bad things do wait in the future… but they are in the present and the past also.  I am not a slave to fear and evil has no power over me.  So, I think I can safely write a horror story.  And I admit I am not Steven King.  But I don’t want to be him.  I want to be Mickey.  And that is certainly scary enough for me.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, ghost stories, horror writing, humor, novel plans, photo paffoonies

The Dark Blues

There is a point at which every man, woman, or child really should be happy. But for some of us… especially those of us who think too much, depression is always lurking and happiness is only ever suspect as evidence of a possible manic-depressive episode.

There are reasons I should be happier than I am. My family is now vaccinated. But both of my kids still living at home, Henry and the Princess, had reactions to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Henry, probably because he had the virus once already got so sick that he missed a day of work and suffered uncontrolled shaking while he had a high fever. Still, worrisome as that was, they were both better the third day after their shots.

My books are being read and hopefully enjoyed according to the records of sales and readership on Amazon. Yet, for reasons of unexplained glitchiness, three of my books disappeared from my Author’s page on Amazon. A careful check proved they were all still for sale, and other authors are complaining of the same problem. But I am doing a promotion this weekend on one of the three books. So, where I was hoping to place at least twenty copies of the book, I have only managed one. Here’s a link to the book in case you are interested in a free copy. It is available for free until Tuesday midnight.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NKFM163/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4

On Friday I did the coming-out-of-the-closet party for being a nudist because sunshine and nakedness equals happiness for me. But today Texas is raining again.

My world today through the bedroom window screen.

My favorite hockey team, the St. Louis Blues, have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs again, though they are the last in their division to qualify, and must face the best team in hockey statistically all year in the first round.

So, I must now do what I can to overcome the Dark Blues. Not the hockey team. The depression of heart, mind, and soul. I will get out and exercise when it stops raining. I will eat some ice cream. Life should be good right now. It isn’t. But I intend to work at it.

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Opening Windows on the Past

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This particular Iowa trip has me thinking hard about mortality and the cold harsh wind that blows toward us from the future.  My cousin’s only son lost his battle with depression, and his family finally came to terms with the loss.  But the sadness is past.   The responsibilities of the living is what remains.

I was born while Eisenhower was President.  I was alive and aware when Kennedy was assassinated and when men first walked on the moon.  I was teaching in a classroom when the first teacher in space was killed on the exploding space shuttle.  And I was also in the classroom when the twin towers fell on 9-11.  It is an important part of the responsibilities I have for being alive to keep that past alive too.

 

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My mother’s knickknack shelf.

The reason we collect and care about little extraneous things like porcelain eggs, angels, fine blue china plates, and the California Raisins singing I Heard It Through the Grapevine is because those little, otherwise unimportant things connect us to memories of important times and places and people.   We keep old photographs around, many of them black and white, for the same reasons.

 

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The fiction I write is not contemporary.  It is mostly historical fiction.  It is set in a recent past where the Beatles and the Eagles provided the sound track to our lives.  It does not cross the border into the 21st Century.  The part of my writing that is not about the past is science fiction set in the far future, entirely in the universe of my imagination.  It is my duty to connect the past to the future.

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And I share that duty with everyone who is alive.  My great grandparents and grandparents are now gone from this world.  But their horse-and-buggy memories about life on the farm before electric lights and cars… with humorous outhouse stories thrown in for comic relief… are in me too.  I am steeped in the past in so many ways…  And I must not fail to pass that finely brewed essence on to my children and anyone young who will listen.  It is a grave responsibility.  And it is possible to reach the grave without having fulfilled that important purpose.

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In times of great sadness and loss we must think about how life goes on.  There has to be a will to carry on and deliver the past to the future.  Every story-teller carries that burden, whether in large or small packages.  And there is no guarantee that tomorrow will even arrive.  So here is my duty for the day.  One more window has been opened.

 

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, blog posting, family, healing, humor, insight, inspiration

Down the Gravel Road

Today I took my number-two son to the airport. He is determined to see friends in California over the course of his two-and-a-half days off. So, he is traveling during a pandemic. But he has had Covid already and is probably still pretty much immune.

It left me with some thinking time on the drive home from the airport, though it cut into my actual writing time.

Work has begun on The Boy Who Rose on a Golden Wing. It is a project that will take some time.

That is a story about growing up and overcoming bipolar disorder and depression. It will be for older teens.

And I have an idea that blossomed from this old illustration. I was thinking about it while driving. I want to write a book about a talking dog. It will be targeted more for younger kids. He solves crimes on the Niland farm and in the rural Iowa town where the Niland family lives and goes to church. Of course, though the character is based mostly on Mr. Peabody from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Horatio T. Dogg is also based on my own talking dog, Jade Beyer. In the story Horatio T. Dogg, Super Sleuth, the dog actually only talks to his owner, Bobby Niland. Much in the same way that Jade only talks to me.

Dang! Just what I need. Another story idea that I need to write before I die. I will have to stay alive until I’m 125.

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The World is Gray Today

It is cloudy outside. The sky is a cool, damp gray. No rain. No snow. Just dreary and gray. The world is gray today.

We have now been in a lockdown and wearing masks for an entire year. I have lost a lot of ground. Color-blindness runs in my family on my mother’s side. Great Grandma Hinckley was completely color-blind by the time she was in her 70’s.

I myself have known I had the color-blindness problem since I was in high school and the school nurse gave me a vision test that proved it.

In the dotted circle, I could see the blue-green number 29, but I could also see the red number 5. I was told that I had a slight color-blindness on the red/green scale. Believe me, I had no idea what that meant. Still don’t. I just know I have never seen colors the way other people with normal vision do.

But now, after twelve months of lockdown, I can definitely detect the fact that I have lost some more of my color vision.

Great Grandma saw the world in black and white and gray since she was 70. That, for me, is now less than six years away.

As a cartoonist I use a lot of pen and ink. I also love black-and-white movies. Being partially colorblind, you might think that I would be okay living in a film-noire world. But I am not. It is simply not enough. I have always craved color. I particularly love to create with bright primaries, red, yellow, and blue.

I will sorely miss color when it is gone.

And I have always loved cardinals. Not only because they are bright red songbirds, like the one singing outside in our yard on this gray and slightly blustery day. But because they never fly away when the winter comes. They stay even in the snow and cold. Trouble doesn’t drive them away. I shall not give up when I lose all the colors.

I remember the world being gray when I was a boy back in the 1960’s too. TV was only black-and-white… and gray at our house. I watched the funeral parade for JFK on the black-and-white… and gray TV. And around that time the three astronauts Grissom, Chaffee, and White had a similar funeral parade… also black-and-white-and-mostly-gray.

The Viet Nam conflict on the TV news with Walter Cronkite. The riots at the Democratic Convention in 1968 with the Chicago Seven going on trial. The world was very, very gray.

But then, in the Summer of ’69, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. A giant leap for mankind! And I saw that also in black-and-white-and-mostly-gray.

There was a hope of color in my life after that. And we got a color TV in the later 70s after that. And even with my partially color-blind eyes, I saw color everywhere.

And now again is a good time to anticipate color coming back into my life. I am on the waiting list for vaccination. My eldest son has a steady girlfriend living with him now. And we have a better President who actually seems to care if we live or die. Good things are over the next hill.

But still… the world is, for now… gray today.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, coloring, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, insight, Paffooney, poetry, self pity

The Long Pandemic Winter

I admit the winter storm in Texas was almost too much for me even though we didn’t lose power for a significant amount of time and the plumbing problems we had after the freezing weather left were only the ones we had before the storm began. But this has been a slow-building punishment that effectively grinds the soul to grainy powder.

I admit that I have been thinking about death too much for an entire year. Flu season has never come and gone before without me getting the flu at least once. I have had some three-infection flu seasons in the past. Of course, those were all during my time as a working school teacher. Still, I fully expected to catch COVID and die during this pandemic. And I still haven’t been vaccinated and still can’t say I have survived it yet. But it came to our house when my son got sick with it from work. And I got by without getting infected.

I have not been able to do any substitute teaching or Uber driving, so there has been no extra money coming in because of the pandemic. And expenses have, of course, only increased. I still don’t know how much I will have to pay for the electric bill caused by the winter storm. I was smart enough to lock in the rate with a contract back in December, so I shouldn’t get any $16,000 electric bill. But it easily could cost me more than $500 because the space heaters we were using in most of the house were running and gobbling energy 100% of the time during the entire week. And taxes have been punishing me since the 2017 tax bill since, while most of you got $40 or so back from the government, pensioners are paying an increased amount that is going up every year and the Texas Teacher Retirement System tells me they can’t decipher the tax tables to adjust the withholding amount every year. So, I guessed wrong again this year and may end up paying more than $1000 for that.

So, this winter, this severe-depression season, is weighing on my soul heavily. The four of us in the house are living separate lives in our prison-cell rooms. We are not being very nice to each other. It has grown rather dark in our family where religious differences and money-handling differences were a growing problem even before the tidal waves of disease washed over our world. I feel like my family is disintegrating. As is my mental health.

The only thing I seem to have going for me now are the multitude of coping skills I learned over the last decade as the depression monsters set up house-keeping in our collective attic. I will celebrate where I can. I will draw pictures when arthritis lets me. And I will stop feeling angry or guilty when others take out their frustrations on me.

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Sick of Being Sick

I woke up late this morning with a headache and my eyes crusted shut. Sick again. Not Covid. My temperature is 37 C. I have no symptoms that correspond. I am suffering instead from allergies. And high blood pressure. And diabetes. And arthritis. As well as psoriasis and COPD. Six of them. Six incurable diseases on top of being a cancer survivor since 1983. Soon I may be facing diabetic depression. It is crucial that I constantly take stock of my health conditions. It is how I have stayed alive for 64 years.

Being unhealthy is really hard work.

The dog and I were talking about it during our limping walk this morning. She’s been suffering too since she found and gobbled my wife’s secret chocolate stash. She nearly destroyed her liver, kidneys, and digestive tract by doing that stupid, greedy act of theft. Now she’s on milk-thistle supplements to keep from dying. At ten years of age, she’s the equivalent of a seventy-year-old woman.

“We have to keep walking on our walks together. Our lives depend on the good effects the exercise has on out hearts,” she says.

“Okay. I agree as long as you don’t make me sniff bird poo the way you do.”

So, we finally have an understanding on that one point.

I need to keep laughing too.

I have been adding a lot of comedies to my Disney+ watchlist. My Netflix watchlist too.

I need to write more too. I haven’t really written anything beyond my daily 500 words more than three times in the last two weeks.

I have novel projects ready to start; The Boy Who Rose on a Golden Wing, There’s Music in the Forest, and Kingdoms Under the Earth.

I have projects still to finish; AeroQuest 4 : The Amazing Aero Brothers. and Hidden Kingdom.

I simply need to re-energize my daily writing habit. I need to write more things that make me laugh again. I need to write a lesser number of things that make me cry as well.

These things all represent my reasons to go on living.

So, I am sick and relegated to my bed again today. The sad thing is, that doesn’t vary much from any regular day during the pandemic. It is hard to stay well. I need to eat very carefully, noting the numbers of carbs and not getting too little of the right kinds of proteins. More peanut-butter sandwiches and chili with beans. Soup is good food. I need to stay warm and keep my psoriasis sores as clean as possible. I need to stay near the airflow of my electric fan to keep me breathing well. I have a new heating pad, inherited from my recently deceased father, and I need to apply heat wisely to my lower back for just the right amount of time. And I must keep fighting to stay alive. My eldest son has threatened to kill me if I die on him before he’s ready to lose me. (I never bothered to ask him how that consequence happens.)

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Filed under battling depression, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, health, humor, illness, Paffooney