Tag Archives: battling depression

Deep Dark Depression

I have been very limited for over a week in the amount of time I have to spend on writing and blog posting.  The start of a new novel has been delayed.  My posts have been short… and hopefully also sweet.  I have relied some on re-blogging old posts.  Depression is a demanding illness.  It requires the sacrifice of time, the sacrifice of energy, and even the sacrifice of self.  It can go so far as to demand the sacrifice of a human life.  And it can require you to offer up those things even when you are not the one depressed yourself.  Though I must admit, my health and mood have suffered through hospital visits, business arrangements made without money to spend, only mortifying promises of doing whatever you can.  And then doing those things.  And at the same time I have earned zero dollars from Uber.

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Ghosts from the past, long dead emotions, and ancient regrets all arise from crypts you have been keeping them in to remind you that you are mortal after all and subject to the slings and arrows that flesh is heir to.  And you must become a ghost-buster.  How do you do it?  How do you defeat the phantoms of past deeds and devilments?

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Dr. Pinkenstein and Pinkenstein’s Monster Mickenstein

Of course, Science can help.  You need professional help from a real psychiatrist, especially if you can find a good one.  The doctor we found is one who saved our family from darkness once before.  This time a mood drug called Lexipro and vitamin D supplements helped.  Before it was too much cortisol, the stress chemical, and lack of serotonin that threw things out of balance.  Better life through proper medication is actually a thing.

And a sense of humor doesn’t hurt.  Dr. Pinkenstein was not our psychiatrist.  But if he makes us laugh about things… well, laughter really is good medicine.

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And I have sailed these waters and fought these devils before.  My little boat was easier to navigate this time because I had a map through the labyrinth that I drew for myself before.  Experience and the wisdom to learn from it is seriously a super power.

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Up, up, and away, me!  We have come out of the darkness again, and it is time to get our lives back on track.

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Filed under battling depression, colored pencil, humor, illness, mental health, monsters, 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

Mickey’s Red-State Blues

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I often struggle with depression.  Every member of my family has battled it at some point.  And it is a dangerous disease.  It can kill you.  I don’t like spending quaking, fearful hours in the emergency room.  I have had to do exactly that three times already.  And now Trump has attacked my most cherished issue… public schools.  I gave my life to them for 31 years.  There is not enough chocolate in the house.

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It is ironic.  I was already attempting to commit suicide by not taking my daily medication any more because of high drug prices that health insurance does not help with.  But that suicide attempt has actually failed already.  After two years of not taking blood pressure medication, a thing the doctor feared would kill me, I am now detoxified and actually feeling quite a lot better.  My blood pressure has not been high since 2001.

So, if I am compelled to end it all over the rise of Education Czar Betsy DeVos, I will have to use some of that creative problem-solving that we have not really been allowed to teach since the George W. Bush administration.  Something involving massive amounts of sugar water and thousands of man-eating butterflies would be appropriate, I think.

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If I had to teach this class, I would be tempted to flunk the orange-skinned kid in the middle just on principle, but that would be discriminating against a rich guy, which is against everything this new administration stands for.

Privatizing schools, another way of saying the “school choice” thing that Republicans love to promote, will mean you get exactly what you pay for in education.  Unfortunately, that means you have to be rich to get proper schooling.  Since governmental entities will be shedding the burdens of paying for schools, the good schools will only be able to pay for their resources by charging high tuition and fees, something that limited school vouchers will never be able to fund.  A majority of kids whose families cannot afford anything more than the vouchers will pay for will end up in underfunded discipline mills that will be far worse than the public schools we have now.  Those schools will be set up to prepare students for their future employment making license plates in State prisons even more so than public schools are now.

My Republican friends in Texas (and my birth State of Iowa too, for that matter) like to tell me that, “You can’t solve education’s problems by throwing money at them.”  But I would like to know what studies they base that conclusion on.  When in American history have we thrown money at schools?  Other nations that get better education results do spend more, especially on paying teachers better.  And they are not forced to teach Creationism in Science class to get those funds.

So, managing depression has not been easy since the recent election.  Recount efforts and rumors that the Electoral College may do what they were designed for and vote for the candidate that actually won the popular vote are just pipe dreams, and won’t actually amount to anything.  Betsy DeVos will be the next Secretary of Education.  Maybe I will try bucket-loads of stinky, sharp cheddar cheese and a lighter for setting off explosive cheese farts.  It would be a painful way to go, but the results might also be colorfully amazing.

P.S. – I would never actually commit suicide, and as someone who has spent time in the ER fretting for someone else, I would never really advocate that.  But I am certainly not above using it as a bit of hyperbole to discuss important issues that I really do see as life-or-death.

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Filed under angry rant, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, humor, politics, red States, teaching

Morning Has Broken

Today is off to a miserable start.  I heard on the radio that David Bowie has died.  Ziggy Stardust… the Goblin King… The Man Who Fell to Earth… the Thin White Duke…is gone.  And even though since high school in the 1970’s I have never been quite sure how I felt about his music, I wept.  The man was a musical maker of lyrical poetry.  He could make you feel really really terrible… but he always made you feel.  And he made me depressed as he led me through the Labyrinth… but he also made me soar… on the wings of a barn owl.  It was about facing the darkness and finding your way.   Finding the way out.  Singing the Little Drummer Boy with Bing Crosby, but not actually singing it… making peace on Earth instead.  Sometimes things are just so weirdly beautiful it hurts.

I dropped my daughter off at her middle school, and then Jody Dean & the Morning Team played this on the radio.

I wept again.  Darkness is my old friend…  I have lived with and through depression after depression.  My own… my wife’s… my children’s…  And it is a miracle I have lived this long without succumbing to the Darkness.  It took Robin Williams.  It took Ernest Hemingway.  But somehow, the Goblin King always goaded me onward, to find the answer at the end of the Labyrinth.  “You… you have no power over me.”  And then I am okay once again.

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I captured the dawn once again this morning.  Once again I failed to truly ensnare the subtle reds and pinks and purples that were actually there.  But there it is, anyhow.  The morning has broken.  The blackbird has spoken.  The morning is new.

My heart is still sore this morning.  The dog didn’t help when she spilled the trash to get at the napkins with bacon grease on them.  We may have a dog-skin rug as a doormat later today.  But David Bowie left so many words and ideas behind to comfort me.  Is he one of those “neon gods we made”?  Of course he is.  But as the owl flutters off in the closing credits, we can take comfort in the knowledge that no one is ever really gone.  And we can always anticipate some… Serious Moonlight.

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Filed under commentary, music, photo paffoonies, poetry

Rainy Saturday Blues (a poem about depression )

Blue Dawn

I must make a confession about crippling depression,

Cause today I have the blues.

It requires a concession of time for regression,

And dark days enveloping all views.

There is no progression in a working profession,

Cause clouds leave me missing all news.

I start the procession of blue notes in session,

And all melodies tend to be blues.

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Filed under Paffooney, pessimism, poem, Uncategorized

The Blue Man

The Blue Faun who represents the lovely melancholy sensuality that informs my wordy little life.

The Blue Faun who represents the lovely melancholy sensuality that informs my wordy little life.

When I was in Iowa last, and had a chance to see the younger of my two sisters, Mary Ann, she told me flat out that she really liked my most recent blog posts and that I should give up all together on my gloomy pessimistic ones.  This, of course, was confusing to me because all my blog posts are relentlessly gloomy and never make anyone smile, so I did not know for certain what she was responding to.

As I have shared on more than one occasion, I suffer from six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor.  I don’t plan on living more than decade further at my most optimistic, and I told you recently that I am a confirmed pessimist.  At worst, I could be dropping dead from stroke or heart attack as soon as I post this silly sour old post.  I will be absolutely delighted to live long enough to finish another novel or two and maybe even see them published.   I keep close track of my remaining hours because each one is rare and precious to me, even the ones that are quite painful and hard.  So gloomy is as gloomy does.  I am constantly celebrating that I have lived this long already.  How depressing is that?  … the celebrating every day thing, I mean?

And of all the people who suspect I might be a fish sticks and custard sort of person, Mary Ann is not one of them.  She watches Doctor Who and knows that that is exactly what I am.  I am goofy and scatter-brained and a barely contained barrel of weird energy and misplaced enthusiasm. I do stuff like fill my bedroom Barbie shelf with bizarre and kitschy little 12-inch people.

The Barbie Shelf

The Barbie Shelf

I appreciate melancholy and being blue, because the hollows of the valleys of depression make you appreciate the giddy heights so much more.  And I do realize that I am stringing big words and goopy metaphors together to sound all literary and brooding… but that’s what real geniuses whom I am trying to emulate do to reach the highest heights.  They run down through the valley at the fastest possible pace to build up enough speed to shoot up the side of the mountain on the other side.  It is a Wiley Coyote trick for using cartoon physics in your own favor.  It is the reason I am still tending the flower wagon, trying to coax zinnias into blossoming during the depressingly renewed Texas drought.  It is the reason I keep adding to my collection of sunrises.  The dark blue pieces of the puzzle of life provide the contrast that help you define the puzzle picture of the brightest sunshine and light.

The blossoms in the flower wagon reached a new record number today, despite the heat.

The blossoms in the flower wagon reached a new record number today, despite the heat.

Sunrise on a school day when I don't have to go to school because I am retired.

Sunrise on a school day when I don’t have to go to school because I am retired.

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Filed under battling depression, humor, Paffooney

Chibi Exchange

My last post, “The Time is Coming”, was about as down and depressed as I am capable of getting.  I am better now.  Maybe I should explain how I did that.

I brought myself out of depression by grading papers.  I know, teacher cliché, right?  But there is much, much more to it than that.

In my last period class, I have one precious girl student who has been paying me for my many cartoon drawings on the dry erase board.  You see, I have for many years been using my cartoonist skills to illustrate things on the board and draw attention especially to the lesson focus and objectives.  Kids love these.  It inspires them to commit random acts of doodlery.  They imitate my toons and sometimes create their own.  I don’t do Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny any more, not because I can’t, but because the owners of those copyrights have become unreasonably litigious and have sued teachers for imitating their copyrighted work.  I only use cartoons of my own creation now.  I have developed my own cast of characters.  Some of my students have done the same.

The girl, whose name and identity I cannot here divulge (it is the law that protects student identities, but I thoroughly buy into the notion) turned in a paper yesterday with Chibis all over it.  She gives me drawings of her own creation because she likes to repay me for sharing my cartoons with her.  She also covers her papers with these things because of the laws of doodlery.  When you are in a high school English class, your life is at risk because you could easily become bored to death.  The first law of doodlery says that you must use every spare moment of the lesson to draw something.  This keeps both your mind and your hands active enough to keep you alive.  The second law of doodlery requires that you make maximum use of every blank part of your answer page.  The third and final law of doodlery is to draw things that are different.  If you  draw too mundane, or too much the same, your mind goes numb and death by boredom is looking in through the windows of your mind.

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So today’s Paffooney, this offering of Chibis, is the same set of doodles that pulled me out of the darkness.  I copied the pencil Chibis from her paper, as precisely as I could in every way except size.  Then I inked them and colored them.   I won’t tell you what the Vietnamese word means or why it is there.  You are entitled to your best guesses.

A Chibi is a version of a manga or cartoon character that is child-proportioned or deformed by an exaggerated cuteness.  I gave the main figure blue hair because in manga language blue hair means youthful, energetic, cool, and introverted, a perfect description for my little Bishoujo, my little Chibi-doodler.  She is now officially a life-saver, a heroine in my book.

Yesterday’s post was dark and depressing, and I fear the issues that created it are real, and they are not going away.  But don’t worry for me.  I know how to handle such things.  And I do have help.

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