Category Archives: Depression

And The Rain Comes Down…

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And The Rain Comes Down…

Through the wet broken window,

And a dark-colored screen,

I increasingly look down,

On a darkening scene,

On world without rainbows,

Feeling soon I will drown.

“Geez, Mickey,” you will say, “Why-ever would you write such a gloomy pessimist’s poem?”

“Because I prepare myself for the worst.  The worst in this case is that the President of the United States says the solution to school shootings is putting guns in the hands of teachers.  He wants those of us whose hands were made for using chalk on chalkboards, and hearts were made for talking to kids, learning who they are, and guiding them toward a better future, to pick up a gun and accurately take out a threat coming in with legally purchased weapons of war that can shoot more rounds faster than any weapon that the school system will be able to put in my hands.  It is a terrible idea, and he is going to make it happen just because he stupidly can.”

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One time at a middle school I taught at, a child did bring a gun to school.  It was a handgun concealed in a back pack.  He apparently meant to shoot his former girlfriend.  But, as kids will, he told friends about it.  They told a teacher.  The principal called the police and confiscated the back pack.  Not only did the target survive without being shot at, the perpetrator, after his brush with the law and time served, was able to right his boat again and sail on into adulthood, a job, a wife, and kids.  He even told me later that he was grateful to have been stopped from ruining his life, even possibly ending his life.  The problem was solved without a shooting because of teacher skills, being able to talk to kids, being approachable to talk to about problems and unsettling rumors, and knowing where to turn for the proper help at the proper time.

Of course, we were lucky on that one.  Stopping that shooter was not 100% guaranteed.  And it happened in the 90’s during the assault rifle ban.  He was immature enough and excitable enough to have killed many with a more powerful weapon.

If it were up to me to become a weapon-toting defender of the innocent, I am fully aware of how little chance I have to be successful at such a thing.  I am a lousy shot.  If I had to face down an AR-15 with the cheap school-district pistol, I would become one more obvious target that any shooter will obviously take out in seconds.  That’s the best possible outcome for the school, because my missing shot would probably hit some poor innocent bystander.

And, of course, conservative Facebook friends won’t stop insisting that teachers need to be armed.  A good guy with a gun can defeat a bad guy with a gun, you know… assuming the SWAT team doesn’t shoot the good guy, mistaking him for the bad guy.

So, even though I don’t like it, I guess I have to be prepared for schools to become battlegrounds.  Every day a shootout at the OK Corral.  I just hope Wyatt Earp is on my side.

And it really is raining outside today.  Cold, February rain… and it depresses me.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, Depression, gun control, humor, Liberal ideas, photo paffoonies, self pity, teaching

Getting Old is Heck

crazy old mickey

I am sometimes forgetful.  You shouldn’t go for a walk on a country highway if you forgot to put on any clothes.

Cold weather makes my joints creaky and my bones ache.  My head gets fuzzy, and it makes it hard to think when my blood sugar gets low.  (By fuzzy, I mean on the inside like interference in your TV picture, not fuzzy on the outside.  I am fuzzy on the outside because I had to give up haircuts due to psoriasis on my scalp.)

Yes, as we get older, we get crummier and crummier.  I am literally crumbling now as psoriasis flakes my skin off all over.

Scraggles

And as we get older… and poorer… and dumber… we have to learn how to do things to get happier.  My health problems lead easily to depression.  Not just a little generic sad, but deep down at the bottom of a deep, dark black pit of gloomy depression.  So, I have to take matters into my own hands.  Yes, I act a little goofy on purpose.  I draw a funny picture.  Laughter produces serotonin in the brain, the chemical that is missing when you fall into debilitating depression.  Scraggles is the result of major dark back in the early 80’s.  I also go to Walmart and buy chocolate.  Eating chocolate produces serotonin in the brain too.  I ate a whole 98-cent box of M&M’s this morning.  (Of course, as a diabetic, they had to be peanut M&M’s because peanuts have niacin in them at levels that boost your body’s insulin towards working more efficiently. M&M’s make me happy.

Of course, I am not out of the woods yet.  The mood of your family impacts your own mood.  My children have been ill for most of January and all of February so far.  And that puts them in varied states of depression and needing chocolate.  It is a good thing that Valentine’s Day is near and Walmart is over-stocked.   And it helps that it’s cheap.

I am old.  Being old is not easy.  Being ill is worse.  It really is heck.  But I don’t give up.  I don’t surrender.  I have fought back for too many years to give up now.

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Filed under angry rant, battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, humor, insight, Paffooney, self pity

Writing the Critical Scene

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It is a novel I started writing in 1998 with an idea I first got in 1976. So I have been working on this book for either 20 years, or 32 years, depending on when you want to credit the actual work to have started.

It got it’s theme from the fact that I was sexually assaulted when I was ten in 1966, and the feeling the repressed memory of the trauma caused in me whenever I asked myself the question, “Am I a monster?”

Unfortunately the answer to that question, for practically everybody, is, “Sometimes yes.”

Psychological damage sticks with you for the rest of your life.  It makes you flinch at things that other people don’t.  More than once I must have confused both my mother and old girlfriends when I was compelled to wriggle out of hugs and physical contacts by panic.  I felt unlovable.  I felt like a monster.  And for a lot of that time, I didn’t know why.  But it is a novel critical for me to write.  Pain needs to become art in order to completely go away.  I need to imprison the feelings and ideas in a book.

I am now at the point in that novel where I must write the scenes at the crisis point, the high point of the action, and I have to control the flinching.  I have to control the reactions I could so easily fall into.  It is critical that I get the scene right.  The success or failure of the whole novel is at stake.

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I have played it over and over in the cinema in my head a thousand times… several thousand times.  It is difficult.  But it is there.  Soon I will have it down, crystallized in words.  It make take considerable time to publish it, though, because editing it will be at least as hard as writing it.  And I seriously have to get it right.

 

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Filed under commentary, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, horror writing, monsters, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Giving and Taking Stupid Advice

Let’s begin with some stupid advice. I don’t have time to write a lot today because the Princess is ill and must go see the doctor in Plano.  So the advice is; Set aside time for writing and always allow plenty of time for it.  You will probably notice already that I am giving you advice that I am not taking myself this morning.  So don’t follow that advice.  It is stupid advice.  I have given it to creative writing classes for years and thought I meant it.  But looking back on real life, I realize, it has never been true for me.  My best ideas, my best writing, always seem to come in the middle of the pressure-cooker of daily struggle and strife.  I have battled serious illness for most of my adult life.  I have the luck of a man who tried to avoid letting a black cat cross his path by crashing his bicycle at the top of a hill covered in clover with only three leaves each and then rolling down the hill, under a ladder, and crashing into a doorpost which knocks the horseshoe off the top.  The horseshoe lands on my stupid head with the “U” facing downward so the luck all drains out.  Bad things happen to me all the time.  But it makes for good writing.  Tell me you didn’t at least smile at the picture I just painted in your mind.  You might’ve even been unable to suppress a chuckle.  I am under time pressure and misfortune pressure and the need to rearrange my entire daily schedule.  So it is the perfect time to write.

Val in the Yard

This essay, however, is about bad advice.  And I am a perfect person to rely on as a resource for bad advice.  I am full of it.  Of course, I mean I am full of bad advice, not that other thing we think of when someone tells me I am “Full of it!”  So here’s another bit of writing advice that is probably completely wrong and a bad idea to take without a grain of salt, or at least a doctor’s prescription.   You should stop bird-walking in your essay and get to the damn point!

 I know a lot about the subject of depression.  When I was a teenager, I came very close to suicide.  I experienced tidal waves of self-loathing and black-enveloping blankets of depression for reasons that I didn’t understand until I realized later in life that it all came from being a child-victim of sexual assault.  Somehow I muddled through and managed to self-medicate with journal writing and fantasy-fixations, thus avoiding a potentially serious alcohol or drug problem.  This is connected to my main idea, despite the fact that I am obviously not following the no bird-walking advice.  You see, with depression, Bad advice can kill you.  Seriously, people want to tell you to just, “Get over it!  Stop moping about and get on with life.  It isn’t real.  You are just being lazy.”

I have been on the inside of depression and I know for a fact that not taking it seriously can be deadly.  In fact, I have faced suicidal depression not only in myself, but in several former students and even my own children.  I have spent time in emergency rooms, mental hospitals, and therapists offices when I wasn’t myself the depression sufferer.  One of my high school classmates and one of my former students lost their battles and now are no longer among the living.  (Sorry, have to take a moment for tears again.)  But I learned how to help a depression sufferer.  You have to talk to them and make them listen at least to the part where you say, “I have been through this myself.  Don’t give in to it.  You can survive if you fight back.  And whatever you have to do, I will be right here for you.  You can talk to me about anything.  I will listen.  And I won’t try to give you any advice.”  Of course, after you say that to them, you do not leave them alone.  You stay by them and protect them from themselves, or make sure somebody that will do the same for them stays with them.  So far, that last bit of advice has worked for me.  But the fight can be life-long.  And it is a critical battle.

So taking advice from others is always an adventure.  Red pill?  Green pill?  Poison pill?  Which will you take?  I can’t decide for you.  Any advice I give you would probably just be stupid advice.  You have to weigh the evidence and decide for yourself.  What does this stupid essay even mean?  Isn’t it just a pile of stupid advice?  A concluding paragraph should tell you the answer if it can.  But, I fear, there is no answer this time.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, battling depression, commentary, compassion, Depression, empathy, healing, insight, Paffooney, sharing from YouTube, strange and wonderful ideas about life

This Is Me… Again

Who am I?  What is my name?  Mickey?  Michael?  Mike?  The Bavarian?  Dr. Seabreez?  The Happy Pessimist?  The Fool?

Yes, all of those.

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I winterized the Eggplant house.  I turned the Easter Bunny out front into a snowman.  Why did I do that?  So I could live there peacefully?  In a purple house made out of a weird vegetable that I can’t stand to eat?  Of course I did.

My own house is still in peril.  We have not yet gotten the pool removed.  I worked hard on it and repaired it to the point that it could actually hold water.  But the electrical repairs cost more than removing the pool.  The house was wired incorrectly when the pool was put in some time in the 70’s, long before I lived here.  So I tried to get a loan to cover the cost of the pool repair.  I was denied twice.  My credit rating is too far into the toilet.

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This is not a self portrait, though I am not saying I am not a nerd.

My credit rating went south because Bank of America sued me, and I can’t afford to pay what they demand and still have money for the mortgage, food, and, well, I have already stopped taking any medicine the doctor wants me to take for the rest of my life.  I talked to a lawyer yesterday and paid him the retainer to represent me in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.   I lose what credit I had left.

But, sad sack though I am, I still believe in the future.  There is still hope.  Joy to be had.  Songs to sing.  Clowns to be.  I still have my red foam nose.

I was thinking of going back to the nudist park on Saturday when more people would be there.  But it is going to rain Saturday.  Naked in the rain from a thunder-shower is not a good thing for nutty naked me.  So maybe not.  Sitting nude alone in my room has already helped my psoriasis sores dry and heal, so maybe I don’t have to go be embarrassed with other fools in order to feel better.  I am a poverty-stricken idiot, but I am still a basically happy person.

So… This is me… again.  I get to decide myself who I am and what I am worth.  Not bankers.  Not lawyers.  Not other fools.  Just me.  This is me.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney

How Mickey Battles the Blues

It should be noted that Mickey does not battle the St. Louis Blues.  That is his favorite hockey team.  And while they have never won the Stanley Cup, they do win a lot and are almost always in the playoffs.  So they help fight depression.  Battling them would not only be counter-productive, but might also result in losing all those big square white middle teeth in that goofy smile.

But battling depression is a constant necessity.  Not only am I subject to diabetic depression and Donald Trump overload, but my entire family is prone to deep and deadly bad blue funks.  It helps to be aware that there are a lot of ways to fight that old swamp of sadness. It doesn’t have to keep claiming the Atreyu’s horse of your soul.  (Yes, I know that Neverending Story metaphors seriously date me to the 80’s and signify that I am indeed old… another reason I have to constantly fight depression.)

Blue Dawn

I have some surefire methods for battling depression that apparently the science actually backs up.  It turns out that most of things that Mickey does actually stimulate the brain to produce more dopamine.

“Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional response, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.”  – Psychology Today

So, I guess I am secretly a dopamine addict.  It is a brain chemical you cannot focus or function effectively without.

  1. Being creative in some way fosters the production of dopamine in the old think-organ.  So writing this blog helps.  Doodling excessively helps.  Writing novels, painting pictures, drawing cartoons, and writing really remarkably bad poetry also help, and I do all of those things every week.
  2. Chicken Dancing helps.  Really.  Flapping your arms and wiggling your butt in such a stupidly silly way is aerobic exercise, and the very act of exercising increases not only dopamine but also serotonin and endorphin get a boost.  These are your “natural high” brain drugs.  Have you ever noticed chicken dancers are never really sad while dancing?  The ones crying excessively are either crying from happiness or extremely embarrassed teenagers forced to chicken dance by their goofy old dad.
  3. For more information about chicken dancing and its possible uses for evil, check out this link The Dancing Poultry Conspiracy Theory.  Because laughing about stuff is also a cure for depression.  It tends to even bypass dopamine and take a left turn through serotonin straight into the pleasure centers of the brain.
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  5. Winning streaks also help immensely.  Of course, I can’t always count on the St. Louis Blues to give me winning streaks.  X-Box EA Sports MVP Baseball 2004 set on the rookie difficulty level for the last decade helps with that.  I have won over 300 consecutive games including two World Series sweeps that way.  And Albert Pujols has hit over 1,000 home runs in his Mickian baseball career.
  6. Check lists also help because they are the same thing as winning streaks.  The sense of accomplishment you get from checking off boxes on your To-Do List also boosts dopamine in the same way.  So what if I am listing routine things like walking the dog, picking up socks, and taking out the trash?  A check mark is still a check mark and a check mark by any other name still smells like marker.
  7. And, of course, there is listening to music.  I am seriously addicted to classical music because every emotion from beautiful and awe-inspiring to butt-ugly brutal can be found somewhere in the works of the great composers. And don’t forget, Paul Simon, Don Henly, and Paul McCartney are in that category too.

8. And please, don’t forget food.  Depressed eating can easily make you fat, but there are certain magical chemicals in certain foods that give you certain dopamine-building effects that can turn blue skies to bright sunshine.  The primary chemical is called Tyrosine, and it can be found in a variety of foods like;

– Almonds

– Avocados

– Bananas

– Beef

– Chicken

– Chocolate

– Coffee

– Eggs

– Green Tea

– Milk

– Watermelon

– Yogurt

9.  And finally, thinking skills are critical.  While thinking too much and obsessing can get you into the tiger trap pits of depression, meditation, decompressive mantras and positive thinking can all dig you out and keep you out.

You are probably wondering what kind of nitwit authority I can actually bring to this topic, but I have spent a lot of money on therapy, not all of it for me, and I not only listen to psychiatrists and psychologists, but I remember what they explained to me.  And I have tried enough things to know what works.

So while you are busy chicken dancing to Beethoven while eating a banana, rest assured, Mickey is probably doing something just as embarrassingly ridiculous at the very same time.

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Filed under battling depression, commentary, Depression, family, healing, health, humor, strange and wonderful ideas about life

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