Category Archives: battling depression

Holiday Happinesses

This holiday season has not been all blues and depression as I have probably been sounding like in this blog this week.

It is true that the still-progressing pandemic has been rather hard and grueling on me and mine. Since it began I have lost both parents, though neither caught the disease itself, and the impacts on funerals and family support of each other has been difficult. I also lost a cousin, two friends from high school, and possibly an uncle on the Beyer side that we haven’t heard from since before it all started (his surviving children and their families don’t have our contact information, and we don’t have theirs.)

But it never pays to only put the dark things on the scale, and ignore the side where happiness goes.

I have had a lot of good gingerbread to eat, and , ooh, boy! Pumpkin pie!

I got to see Spiderman, No Way Home with my kids in the theater. And I got to see the whole Hawkeye series on Disney +.

Both of those stories were epic and made my comic-book-loving heart warm and happy.

I have become a third-part owner of the family farm in Iowa, the farm where my Grandma and Grandpa Aldrich lived when I was a child and spent a considerable part of every Thanksgiving week and every Christmas week there I and my two sisters successfully bought our brother’s share, and the farm will continue to be a part of our family into the future. The older of my two sisters is now living on the place and managing the farm, though a renter actually grows things on the farm.

My mother’s final Christmas gift turned out to be an inheritance large enough to pay off property taxes and finish off my Chapter 13 bankruptcy. I was also able to replace my failing computer and old cell phone.

So, of the three Christmas ghosts, the Ghost of Christmas Future might be the most welcoming ghost of them all.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, family, farm boy, gingerbread, humor, photo paffoonies

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

Cries of the Writing Addict

For the last five and a half years I have been averaging more than 500 words every day. A rough conservative estimate of that means 17,112,000 words. If words were cocaine, I’d be dead five times over by now.

But writing is not the same as cocaine. The addiction to it has very different effects. I divide my daily writing into at least two parts. The daily blog is itself, more often than not, 500-plus words. So, by itself it can satisfy my daily word-count. And I devote at least 500 words every day to my novel work in progress. So, that means I have produced well over 17 million words in reality. Probably closer to 34 million than to 17. That, of course, is far less than Stephen King wrote in the same period of time, but it is also far more than the average person writes.

And one thing that such an overdose of verbiage does to a writer, is to make him or her a better writer.

I have produced nine novels, between 35,000 and 50,000 words each, in the time since I retired from teaching and began writing and self-publishing in earnest. I have gotten only five-star reviews on the novels that have been read and reviewed. Granted, nobody who read and hated my books hated them passionately enough to leave a scathing review, so the 5-star average is just due to laziness on the part of the reading public. But it is marginally evidence that my storytelling is good.

Another effect I have experienced from my writing addiction is that it has made me increasingly metaphorically naked. My illustrations for this post reveal a little bit of that. It is not only that I like to write in the nude when I can, but that I have used my stories to grapple with everything that was once a deep, dark secret buried in the depths of me. Being sexually assaulted as a child was something that for many years I could never admit even to myself. Struggles with loneliness, depression, and self-hatred are also something I had kept buried until I needed them to tell stories with.

I finally worked up the courage to send a gift copy of Snow Babies to the girl I grew up with whose name I used for the main character, Valerie Clarke. Valerie loved the book and became an advocate for me with both the Belmond and Rowan libraries. I even admitted that the part about Valerie being the most beautiful girl ever born in Norwall, Iowa came from something the boys in our 5th and 6th grade classes at school all said about her. She told me she never knew we had said that back then. Ah, but that was probably an untruth too.

As addictions go, my addiction to fiction is probably a lot better thing to have than addictions to gambling, cocaine, wife-beating, or gummy bears. But it hasn’t made me any richer or healthier either. It has made me older, and possibly a little bit wiser.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, being alone, feeling sorry for myself, foolishness, writing, writing humor

Special Snowflakes

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When conservative cultural warriors, Twitter Trolls, or dyspeptic gasbags like Rush Limbaugh call you a “Special Snowflake”, I have discovered, to my chagrin, that they don’t mean it as a compliment.  In their self-centered, egotistical world you have to be as emotionally tough and able to “take it” as they believe (somewhat erroneously to my way of thinking) they themselves are.  They have no time for political correctness, safe spaces, or, apparently, manners polite enough not to get you killed on the mean streets where they never go.  Being a retired school teacher who was once in charge of fragile young psyches trying to negotiate a cruel Darwinian world, I think I disagree with them.

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Have you ever tried to draw a snowflake?  Believe me, it is difficult.  Snowflakes are hexagonal star-shapes with enough lace and  filigrees in them to make it a nightmare to draw it with painfully arthritic hands.  The one above took me an hour with ruler and compass and colored pencils, and it still doesn’t look as good as a first grader can create with scissors and folded paper.  Much better to use a computer program to spit them out with mathematical precision and fractal beauty.  That’s how all the tiny ones in the background were created.  But even a computer can’t recreate the fragile, complicated beauty of real snowflakes.

You see how the fragile crystalline structures will break in spots, melt in spots, attach to others, and get warped or misshapen?  That is the reason no two snowflakes are alike, even though they all come from the same basic mathematically precise patterns generated by ice crystals.  Life changes each one in a different way.

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And that, of course, is the reason this essay is really about people rather than mere physical artifacts of cold weather.  Our fragilities and frailties are earned, and they make us who we are.  I have a squinky eye like Popeye from playing baseball and getting hit by a pitch.  I have a big toe that won’t bend from playing football.  They both represent mistakes that I learned from the hard way.

As a teacher, I learned that bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders are very real things.  I lost a job once to one of those.  And I spent a long night talking someone out of suicide one horrible December.  Forgive me, I had to take fifteen minutes just there to cry again.  I guess I am just a “special snowflake”.  But the point is, those things are real.  People really are destroyed by them sometimes.  And they deserve any effort I can make to protect them or help them make it through the night.

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But people are like snowflakes.  They are all complex.  They are all beautiful in some way.  They are all different.  No two are exactly the same.

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And I really think boorish bastards have no right to insist that we need to take safe spaces and sanctuaries away from them.  Every snowflake has worth.  Winter snow leaves moisture for seedlings to get their start every spring.  If you are a farmer, you should know this and appreciate snowflakes.  And snowflakes can be fascinating.  Even goofy ones like me.

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Filed under 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, artwork, battling depression, commentary, compassion, humor, metaphor, Paffooney, self portrait, Snow Babies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

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

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

20180321_090759

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.

20180214_091711

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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