Maybe, Someday, Somewhere, Sometime

[Sleepless nights come all too often lately. I just cannot shut my mind off long enough to get to sleep. All the tactics I learned over the years to defeat the beast of insomnia do not seem to work. In the past, I’ve tried music, I’ve left the TV on, I’ve even had a white noise app installed on my Apple TV so there’a some ambient noise in the background. None of it works anymore. I don’t have any medications to rely on anymore to put me to sleep and so I stay up thinking. I think…]

As I continue to explore this new realm of perception and understanding of the world around me, no longer considered an NT, but an Aspie, I spend time thinking about the church and how my experiences, my research, my thoughts, my reading, and the people who have comprised the only family more dysfunctional than my immediate family: the church. The church is a whore and has more than sold herself out as we have found out over the past couple of years as their true colors bleed red along with white and blue nationalism and Exceptionalism in long streaks from their self-inflicted, self-righteous wounds.

Go lick them. You’ll get no sympathy from me.

I should back up. That’s really not the point I’m trying to get at (if I’m trying to get at any point at all; I’m not sure yet).

I’ve been thinking a lot about church lately and where my place is. It’s not just that the mere thought of stepping into a new church filled with a bunch of people I don’t know sends my anxiety through the roof. It’s not just that I don’t like small talk and shallow conversations. The one thing I want, the one thing I’ve never found for more than a short period of time at any church I’ve ever belonged to is acceptance.

I want to be accepted for who I am. Why has that proven to be so difficult?

Admittedly, before I found out I had Asperger’s I was insufferable at various times because of my rigidity and stalwart stances on various topics on which I, admittedly, had done a lot of research on. In the case of the Bible, I have a degree in Biblical Studies where I had hermeneutics and exegetical methods pounded into my skull for the 2-3 years I was taking classes that were aimed towards the focus of my BA. In short, I spent a lot of time not only the word but doing comparative literature and a ton of reading and research on various topics I’m convinced nobody but an aspie would find interesting. It’s what we do.

I had several discussions with my pastorfriend about speaking truth in love because I pissed a lot of people off in my tenure at my former home church. It was never intentional, though; it was my standing up for what I believed was right, whether it was a biblical topic or calling someone out on what was certainly flying in the face of what I read and studied in my Bible. I was to the point and blunt, something I found out when I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, was how I communicated truth. Blunt and honest. I value honesty still.

Sometimes, it still gets me in trouble, though.

The truth is, I long For time spent with people whom I have some common ground with. As much as I like the people I spend a lot of time with (mostly coworkers), the ability to keep up the facade of being content and comfortable, even with my anxiety in check, is starting to wane. It’s draining to try and be a people person when you’re not one by nature.

I’ve found it’s harder and harder to find people I’m comfortable around all the time. I can probably count on one hand the number of people who currently fall into that category. It’s what Foy Vance refers to as a “closed hand full of friends”. Even with my tight grip on those people, I feel like some of them slip away because I honestly do not want to be around people. It has taken a day, sometimes longer, to recover from a day of work. There are certain days where I run into a mental roadblock when asked about going out.

It’s similar to the roadblock I run into when I think about going back to church. There’s a new church plant near here affiliated with another church I attended and enjoyed for the most part until a huge fiasco involving people (go figure) and things they said about my family. It’s hard for me to forget those things. It’s hard for me to forget a lot of things. It’s why I can’t sleep some nights. Too much thinking.

Then there’s love. I’ve found I do not process this like a Neurotypical, which is not uncommon based on the reading I’ve done on the subject. Aspies love differently and so how I show what some people call “love” may take a different shape or form than what an NT is used to. Only in the last few years have I even thought about uttering the words, “I love you” to friends I care about. Even then it’s extremely difficult for me to compound the deluge of emotion, empathy, compassion, caring, devotion, and everything else into the loaded three-word portmanteau. It often seems like it’s not enough but, for me to explain every facet of it is truly impossible. There’s too much going on in my head at once for me to elucidate the complexity of it all.

So, like speaking in a language that others can understand, I hesitantly use the phrase my dear friend Heather tried so hard to force me to say.

I love you.

Off topic again. I must finally be running out of steam.

At the current moment I’m at a loss as to what to do. In therapy, we talk about how I need to be more social and learn how to better respond to standard social cues, especially small talk questions like, “How are you today?”: a question I often get asked at work and to which I rarely have a decent answer.

Lately, I’ve learned just how hard and for how long I’ve been trying to she social actor. This is something else that I run into often in a church. The forced socialization and the people jumping into the shallow end of the pool of conversation. I keep to myself mostly at work, focusing on counting by multiples of five while I am filling prescriptions. I sometimes wonder if anyone really notices but most of me doesn’t care.

I think I’m worn out. I’ve been praying for guidance on this issue off and on. Where should I go? What should I do? Why does everything have to be an uphill battle? i can only hope it’s leading to something that puts me in a position to use the strengths I have to help others.

I realized long ago, and constantly have it reinforced, that I was not put on this earth to fit in. I have always been an outsider, always on the outside looking in. It’s depressing sometimes, and difficult to maneuver but that’s me. Finding out it was because of how my brain developed and that there’s a name for it was just validation of what I already knew.

I think my biggest problem is that the church is supposed to be a place for everyone, especially misfits and broken people. I often feel that’s me all over. Yet I’ve been maligned, gossiped about, and insulted by people who believe in the same God I do. The cognitive dissonance this causes has been enough to keep me out of church more or less for the last couple of years. Nobody seems to have a good answer to my question and God seems to want me to figure this one out on my own.

I just hope I find a home somewhere. Sometime.

Now Playing:
Artist: Blaqk Audio
Song: “First to Love”
Album: Materials

Emily, what did you say when he said, “Follow me”?
What would you give to live your tragedy?
There is no price he needn’t pay
You give yourself away

She said, “No one’s ever sent me flowers”..
As the tears filled her eyes
With the tears, she denied them
She said, “No one’s ever sent me flowers.”
“You’ll be the first I leave
Because I’m always the first to love.”

Emily, what did you do to become part of me?
I’d do anything to be your tragedy
If only my thoughts could bring you to break
You’d give yourself to me

“I’m always the first to love…”

Darwin Never Had A Driver’s License


The theory of evolution states
Those unfavorable traits we carry in our genes
Will be eradicated by means of selective
Extinction by a very slow process
Of making those genes unavailable
Basically,
If it doesn’t help the species flourish
It eventually dies.

I know I have a lot of unfavorable genes
Depression, anxiety, Asperger’s, and bad joints
Meds, therapists, and psychiatrists
All sort of make me feel like
My soul went shopping for its chassis and engine
And came out of the lot with a certified
Lemon.

I’ve had relationships.
I’ve come close to relationships, too.
They all end in similar fashions
With the girl doing the dashing
Whether I did grabbed the heart
And did the smashing
Like a football against the turf

(Even though you get a penalty
For unsportsmanlike conduct
When you spike the ball
If it ain’t yours, who cares?)

Or she tied every heart string
Around her finger like a she wanted a reminder
And when the tension got to be too much
She clenched her fist and rushed out
So fast, it took only that part of me with her
But left me living to survive with that pain.

Listen, I wonder sometimes if I
Was meant to die lonely while I watch
Everyone around me find out what it means
To at least be momentarily overjoyed
With the rings on their fingers and
Kids popping out every which woman

I am not, nor have I ever been built
To know what that is like in a sense
Other than one that is unique to me.
And if that means facing Darwin’s
Stoic perception of how traits die out
In this world then I will fight him to
Every last hair in his beard

Because as much as we agree
On certain things I don’t think
He’ll come out of this fight breathing
He is not the master of my destiny
And evolution was just a small picture
In this great landscape painting
Long before he described
The evolution of the species

Truth is, I don’t know what I’m doing
Don’t know where I’m going
Right now it seems prudent just to do
What is required to survive.

That’s hard enough most of the time.
Besides, if I had stopped my life
Every time I’d fallen in love
I’d feel even farther behind.
I only did that once
And it was the biggest waste
Of three years of my life

But sometimes, I ask God,
He being greater than Darwin
What it is I’m supposed to be doing
I don’t have a concrete answer yet
But like I learned driving from
Nebraska to Wyoming to Utah
To Nevada to California to Arizona (Fuck you)
To Kansas and back home

When you’re surrounded by open road
It’s way easier to go forward than back
Or to wait on the shoulder
For someone to save you

Fill up that tank,
Replace that tire and put miles behind you
And thank God Darwin can’t drive.

On the Church


Today I grieve beyond measure as I see the horrors unfold within my country. I have been asking myself, “Have I been asleep this whole time? Am I only now awakening to the evil and hate people are willing to inflict on others in the name of an assumed superiority based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender? I thought myself fairly well-educated about the hatred people were capable of but I look at the reported acts of violence, the racial slurs, and the rhetoric being spewed forth by people who are supposed to be the salt and light, the hands and feet of their savior and I am appalled, distraught, and dismayed at the reports of their actions.

To the church: you have made it very hard for me to love you. You have proliferated so much of what is now a national phenomenon of hate, discrimination, and contention that I have been content to stay in my apartment and just ponder how anyone who believes the Bible, the teachings of Jesus and the Saints, can be capable of ripping off a Muslim woman’s hajib and telling her to put it around her neck and hang her with it or leaving a note for someone in the LGBTQ community that they’re going to burn in hell. The spirit of God is not in you. Don’t hide behind God as justifications for your actions or your hate.

It’s hard to know where to belong now. I have felt a great alienation from the church because of the unfortunate ties to conservatism which, to me, is a tradition that needs to be broken and fast. Conservatism in a lot of respects is regressive to the message of Christ because, in my experience, it drives people to policy and platforms that serve individualistic purposes. I die a little inside every time I hear someone say, “Why should I have to pay for X with my tax money.” To me that is tantamount to Cain asking, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In case you weren’t aware, I’m a registered Independent, Progressive Liberal with bent towards Socialism. I know absolutely no one in the church who would agree with my stances and that’s fine. This has also made me a target for the contingent of conservatives in my home church on more than one occasion and I do not take my stances on anything with a grain of salt or without thorough research.

It’s heartbreaking to love someone who can’t accept you for who you are. It’s impossible when it’s somewhere you should belong.

I’ve tried. I’ve tried so hard not to give up on the church but recent events have seriously made me rethink my stance on this. Is this the straw that broke thee camel’s back? I don’t know yet. I need more time to think. For every act of hatred, for every bit of invective released from the mouths and hearts of people who call themselves followers of Christ, my willingness to engage and be part of the body corporate becomes less and less. We all know the church is a whore but now she has turned to a whore who sold herself for the lowest bid and the highest risk: hate. The church has become a pack of murderers in their hearts and I don’t know what to do despite not wanting to just stand back and watch the whole show as our country is setting itself up to burn.

My shoulders are heavy with sorrow. I am all raw, exposed nerve and I’m doing my best to find a way to heal this. It’s not supposed to be like this.

It’s not supposed to be like this.

Preacher Propaganda

Yep

“The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfil this role requires systematic propaganda.”
Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

I have a love/hate relation ship with social media which, invariably, bleeds into my love/hate relationship for news media. However, sites, like Facebook, give me easier access to the news stories from the sources I trust more than most all in one place. It’s so hard to type in all the different URL’s or risk navigating away from the page I’m on. So, in my feed, I get to see updated news stories from The Young Turks, Al Jazeera America, Vice News, TED talks, and various bloggers whom I resonate with. There is, unfortunately, a few various downsides to this influx of information and the ability to share it.

Eventually, your friends will post something you don’t agree with or a news story that is obviously biased from the far right to the point of being absurd (like Fox News!). Don’t get me wrong; I love my conservative friends. On top of being really great people, they also give me a point of view to check my ego and my stances against. For someone as opinionated and skeptical of news sources as I, that’s a really good thing to have. I still think they’re wrong most of the time, though.

Once in a great while, though, something will come along that will inflame my sensibilities so much I can’t help but react. Granted, it’s a huge waste of my time, ability, and intelligence to argue with someone over the internet but there are a few things I cannot abide. Some of my more infamous “conversations” lately have been over open carry, concealed carry, and things as recent as the defunding of planned parenthood. Things get pretty heated sometimes but I’ve learned to step away when it just turns into a game of rochamebeau.

Recently, there was a clip of megachurch pastor Matt Chandler from The Village Church going on a six minute tirade calling abortion murder and seemingly vilifying anyone who would consider such a decision. I was floored at first because it was just so vicious and vitriolic I felt sick. There was an ache in my chest because it didn’t feel right; there was something missing from the message. Here’s the clip I saw:

Granted, there is plenty of what he says that is true and good information. But, as I said, it’s missing something. Questions started popping up in my head, the greatest of which was, “How does this message exalt and explain the love of Christ to someone who has made the choice to abort a pregnancy in her past? The size of his congregation matched with the statistics of abortions in the us guarantees there is someone like that sitting in a chair in that building or in one of the satellite locations around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. This seemed like the kind of actions I’d expect from Fundamentalist nut jobs like Steven Anderson in Tempe, AZ.

Then I saw who was pushing the message out. One of the big ones was the Gospel Coalition, a group of people who are ardently trying to spread the Gospel, acting as a resource for church plants and pastors. I’ve had my issues with the tactics of this group before, mostly because their council includes the culturally inept and John Calvin worshiping Jon Piper and, up until his forced resignation, the browbeating tough guy pastor Mark Driscoll. When I saw they had posted this six minute clip, I started to put the pieces together.

I realized I was being fed propaganda to support the agenda of the religious right as a means of fortifying the anti-abortion stance for all those who would take what they were fed without thought. Don’t get me wrong. I believe life begins at conception and abortion is not a means of birth control; actions still have consequences though I may vote pro-choice. Just like things like drugs, alcohol, or firearms, if you make them illegal people will find other, and usually more dangerous, means of obtaining whatever it is they want. It’s a tragedy that a baby’s life is ended before it has the chance to see the outside of the womb, but it’s even more tragic when the mother dies as well because of inadequate training, equipment, or sterility of environment because she had to resort to some backroom clinic. All life is equally sacred which, incidentally, why I’m against the death penalty. I’m pro-life in the cradle-to-grave by conviction as well. If that’s inconsistent to you, too bad.

So, I did some looking into this particular message because I knew there had to be more to the sermon than what felt like stereotypical angry Christian rhetoric. I found video of the entire sermon, found the point where Matt goes off in the six minute clip then found something interesting at the 30:49 mark:

There! That was the Gospel truth and the compassion I was expecting and was not seeing in this clip that was being exalted by a bunch of my Christian friends. There was truth to that small snippet but, in a sermon that’s 50 minutes long, the message is lost and all you see is the righteous anger which just comes off as shaming when it’s not bookended with compassion in love. Like it says in Ephesians 4:13-16 [ESV]:

…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[e] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather,speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped,when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

This propaganda put forth by whomever thought six minutes of shaming people for the sins they committed, likely a Christian, seems to have forgotten this. That and the importance of context in media of any kind. It seems to me like an intentional act to bolster the stance of those who are violently pro-life. I’m a firm believer in the church getting involved in stopping abortion but not through blind faithfulness to a situation they’ve never had to experience. What a lot of people don’t realize the effect of content like this presented to the wrong person is dangerous not only to the souls of those who know what it’s like to make that decision to terminate a pregnancy but, presented to the wrong mind, can result in disastrous consequences and is as dangerous as any firearm:

A woman who bombed an abortion clinic called the police. She gives her reasons for what she did:

Before I got married, I got pregnant. Everyone told me that a fetus was just a little shapeless blob anyway, so I got an abortion.

Then, after it was too late, a friend gave me some literature one day showing how the baby developed at different stages. I never realized at that stage, a fetus is so much a baby that some of them have been born at that point and LIVED!

Well, you cannot imagine what that did to me, knowing I had not just had an “unwanted intra-uterine growth “removed” but had KILLED my baby! It just about ruined my life. Even today, several years later, I lay awake at night sometimes crying about it.

So maybe you can understand my reasons for doing what I did.”

Leonard Stern “Abortion Wars” The Ottawa Citizen Sun 28 May 2000

I guess the lesson in all of this is to be careful what you consume and be as skeptical as possible when presented with any kind of clip strongly supporting any stance. Do your research and save yourself from looking like a fool or, in this case, a woman-shaming misogynist. Remember everyone as an agenda, especially the church and that agenda runs the spectrum of far right to  far left just like politics which is really sickening when you think about it. We, as the church, could be doing so much to be part of the solution but the majority of us are ardently stuck, and okay with, being part of the problem by approaching problems with their mouth instead of their heart.

Jesus never resorted to violence. Why? Because, if he did, he would not have been offering anything new.

No Struggle, No Progress

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There has been a lot of change and a lot of talk of change in my life as of late. If you know me well you know I don’t embrace change. In fact, it’s usually something I try to keep at arms’ length if not further for as long as possible. That’s the anxiety talking and it’s got a voice like an M80 in a closed fist. I’ve talked in the past about how I will not allowed myself be defined by my various maladies and health issues. Most recently, I have embraced myself enough to recognize the rut I was in. I read a great quote somewhere that goes, “You can be in a rut. Just don’t decorate.” So, with the anxiety slowly sizzling in the back of my mind I moved towards some change.

This may not seem like much but it’s a big set for me. And this step has actually fueled the other movement in my life towards something new and different, even if it isn’t what I had planned. Man makes plans, God laughs you know.

My plans to go to school in California has been essentially removed from the table at the moment and I can’t say I’m entirely disappointed. Yes, I would love to move to California but the rejection letters haven’t disappointed me as much as I thought they would have. Deep down, I think it was just a way to escape. Escapism is a pet peeve of mine only because I’ve seen it used too many time to outrun problems that require direct address. I guess that’s what I lowered my head and ran head first against recently.

I have since left the church I’ve been attending for six or seven years. There were various reasons, none of which I really feel like airing out here. Those that need to know have been made aware from what I understand. On the suggestion of my parents and my little brother I went to a church near Midtown Omaha. The culture shift as well as the soul shift I felt just being there was as if someone had uncaged something long since left dormant. My therapist pointed out I hadn’t really talked about feeling like a part of a community for quite some time. So much felt right almost immediately, like someone had plugged me into an electrical socket for the first time in forever.

Since then, I have applied for a new job. I was invited to an open house (read: party) at their office and I met a lot of really cool people and ran into some old friends in the process. It was so much more of a relaxed environment. So, I’m praying this job comes through and it pays as much, if not a little more than I make now. It will still be a couple weeks until interviews from what I understand. But I’m patient.

I’ve also gone back to the gym, or been trying to, at least. I haven’t done lifts like the ones I’ve been doing for over a decade. I gave myself dead-legs after doing barbell squats. I couldn’t go from sitting to standing without bracing myself against something for about a week. I’ve since been back and I’m only a little sore. I’m doing alright. I love the iron.

Life seems to be gaining some momentum for me for the first time in a couple of years. I’ve been more or less drifting, trying to figure out what to do with myself. What I discovered about myself is I have to untangle the knots in my life and figure out what’s holding me back or down and try to move away from it. It’s like people and boundaries. You keep the drama at a distance and only keep close the things that are healthy, energizing, and evolution triggers.

I saw a set of eyes my first time at my new church and I kept seeing them. It triggered something in me I couldn’t put my finger on. I’m extremely perceptive and empathic. But this was like someone flipping a switch in my chest that appeared to do nothing even though I know it was connecteed to and turned on something, somewhere. I’ve been trying to breathe through that and try not to obssess. A day at a time is about all I can take anymore.

Still, there are times when I am incapable of being happy for people. My little brother got his first girlfriend. She’s cool. But it always comes back to me. I remember my past and how screwed up it has been. I contemplate how it can be so easy for some but then I remember it takes a very special breed of woman to handle all that comes with me. I don’t know.

I feel 24 at the age of 29. More and more I’m agreeing with the satement, “Age is just a number.” I’m somehow nearing 30 when I don’t even feel like I’ve hit 25. My options are wide open and I’ve nothing to hold me down or deter me from doing whatever I want. Maybe that’s the freedom I need right now; freedom God has given me to figure out the questions I’ve been asking. I’m hitting an environment now I may be able to do that healthily.

I can only hope.

Wisdom & Pure Misanthropy

wisdom-hebrew

I don’t like people that much as a whole. My introverted nature drives me to secluded places regularly to escape their voices and their questions. I think people are poison most of the time, having been betrayed by people who are close to me since the day I was born. People who were supposed to love me and care about me by the definition of the roles they attained by entering my life: father, friend, girlfriend, etc. I have since developed a distrust of most people and their true motives. I have declared this before, but there is no emotion in these words, only certainty.

I am a misanthrope.

mis·an·thro·py
noun \mi-ˈsan(t)-thrə-pē\
: dislike or hatred of other people

The greatest gift I have to offer is wisdom. As the Preacher put it, “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18). There is a rough road to learning this the hard way, the hard way being the only way I’m likely to learn anything practical. I have been called an old soul by many and I believe that to be true. In my short 28 years of life I have accrued more wisdom than is probably normal for someone my age. This is evidenced in the people I know who still find entertainment in getting drunk every weekend. But to have this kind of wisdom when all people will do is hear instead of listen, to look but not see, is one of the saddest, most frustrating parts of dealing with humanity I have experienced. I don’t claim to know everything but I wish some people would listen to me once in a while.

What does this have to do with misanthropy? I think addresses the very core of the misunderstanding of what misanthropy is. To hate humankind blindly and without prejudice is not only a sign of incompetence but completely unproductive. It is the misanthrope who hates the world and cages himself off from the world completely who is the fool. It is hard to find someone like this who maintains the philosophy indefinitely. It is usually a short span of time triggered by something external that will force someone into the hole of hatred of all mankind and shut himself off from the world. From time to time this has included me and I will openly admit that. But you are only committing murder in your mind when sinking to this level. It’s hard to escape but it’s toxic to the heart, soul, and mind.

Then there are misanthropes like me. I hate humanity but I do not forsake them completely. My hatred is a fuel for seeking improvement, enlightenment, and evolution in myself and people I know. I hate how ugly the world has become at the hands of mankind so I strive to believe there is some beauty to be found somewhere deep inside the cesspool I see every day. Their self-seeking, self-righteous, and self-important behavior has driven me to this point where I have to fight my judgemental side and point out the inanity of peoples’ actions. I’m just not built that way. It’s just so hard not to shut down completely some days considering how people treat each other and it’s hard to breathe the same air as others when the environment gets toxic. But I have to believe my hatred of humanity as a whole will serve as the impetus to be a force of change.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

This song has been a big encouragement:

Understood,
This will read as a plea to vindicate intolerance as surely as it is written.

Understand,
Contempt born of clear perception is a birthright to those who channel it toward progression.

Preserve life without loathing.
Awaken hope within hatred.
Wrest insight from outrage.

This is a birthright and obligation.

Spiteful and ill-tempered, I know the character well…
A maelstrom of weakness, and instability seething with viciousness.
I choose not to accept this;
Not into my life.
There is no hope of reform.
When pride is allied with hostility, all reason is denied.
I return the denial.

A glaring misconception of self-importance, I know the character well…
Heedless fool, so arrogant with no understanding of consequence.
I see this negligence.
I choose not to accept it;
Not into my life.
Absence of introspection neglects the outer world.
Let not the excess of lusts and comfort mislead you.
This world is not yours.

Feel the quarrel in just his presence, you know the character all too well…
A destructive man at war with his cowardice.
I detest belligerence, and choose not to accept it;
Not into my life.
Keep separate these hatreds.
Undefined animosity is a device of the spineless, the means of a fool.
Focused misanthropy is opposition for these dark hearts-
Downpours of disapproval no words could begin to express.

To distort the truth to serve itself,
To oppose understanding,
I believe in man.
Man will maintain its hostility.
Have this faith.

Conflict in the chest.
To be concerned for the needs of such heartless men.

The Rare Occasion When Affect is a Noun

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He knows no one shines forever; they change with the weather.

– AFI “On the Arrow”

I can’t remember a time when the coming of the winter season didn’t bring with it the heavy weight of depression. Since I was in my early teens I have struggled with this time of year and the lows it evokes for reasons I have never been able to comprehend. This condition has an actual clinical term: Seasonal Affective Disorder, the condition with the unbelievably appropriate acronym, SAD. Those who are familiar with struggles of depression know, however, this feeling goes well beyond a simple feeling of sadness. It’s a weight that roots you to the ground, strips you of your willpower, and fills your mind with darkness. It strips away your ability to be human and to function around other people. This, at least, has been my experience. Over the years I have simply come to deal with it because, so far, it has proven to be extremely resistant to any drug I’ve been prescribed.

There was a great amount of hope this year, though. There was a glimmer on the horizon that I may have started to escape this weight I’ve carried for at least 15 years. I was working out, I was eating decently and regularly; I was taking care of myself which is key when one struggles with depression. I’ve learned to not sit in it or it will only tie more stones around my ankle and cause me to sink further into the abyss of my own thoughts. However, after a session with my therapist I discovered, these measures seemed to only be masking the symptoms rather than getting rid of them. It struck me like a brick while we were discussing my moods that I have been depressed the entire time I was doing well. My affect was flat and I had no energy. Over the years, I’ve learned to fake being in a good mood but, “fake it until you make it,” only works for so long. Especially for an introvert who bleeds energy when he’s around people like me. It only picks away at what little barrier I have left to guard my lows from the outside world.

I can feel myself going down again…

– Sage Francis “Eviction Notice”

Those who don’t live with depression have a very difficult time understanding what it’s like to have to live with the shifting winds of moods. Depression doesn’t, at least for me, exist as one feeling but more of varying degrees of lows with different temperaments. I’m used to the bottom end of the spectrum where it’s impossible for me to get out of bed and I can’t think of anything to do or any good reason to peel off the blankets and do something. It’s crucial to learn how to take care of yourself in these instances as impossible as it may seem. These are the days I don’t make it into work and I spend most of my day watching movies – if I can get out of bed to my DVD collection – or marathon-watching something on Netflix. These days I usually don’t really bother to eat and I ignore anyone and everyone. The irony of this is that, in this state of mind, having someone around to treat you as they normally would is actually really helpful. Of course, there is always the fear of letting someone too close and the fear they may later use the information they gather against you. I’ve been there. It makes trusting people with anything difficult.

Lately, I’ve been barely falling just under the surface of the water. I can feel the ache in my chest and stomach that I’m used to when I’m feeling everything full force but it’s more like background noise. It’s not bad enough that it completely affects how I function so I’m able to do everything I normally do but there’s this subtle bell in the background ringing to the tones of melancholy. It sits just below the surface and just scratches underneath my skin to let me know its there. My energy is still pretty low and it comes with sudden bursts of irritation and anger, at one point turned inward, forcing me to control or sequester myself. I have to find something to take my mind off of it. Writing is the biggest help and, while not many people understand, it helps me manage and that’s all I really care about. Some people might see it as selfish and that’s okay but, if there’s anything I’ve learned from two years of therapy and 15 years of dealing with myself, I have to take care of myself first and people who expect me to take care of them are poison to my soul. It’s one of the reasons I keep so few friends.

So, I’m continuing to fight with myself as I try to find ways to keep from losing it completely. It’s difficult sometimes to see faces of people you used to know who have now become people you knew. It’s hard to see people make connections and meet people and wonder why it’s so hard for me to do that. I’d like to think of myself as a decent person with good values and a good heart, though cracked and bandaged it may be. Yet I find more people exiting my life then entering and this just adds more weight to my shoulders. Depression makes you constantly ask yourself if there’s something wrong with you, if you’re defective. I have to believe God made me this way and he doesn’t make mistakes. I am who I am for a reason and I have to deal with things the best I can and lean on him to get me through it. I have connected with God more lately than I have in a long time which has been fantastic.

There are days I wish I didn’t feel so alone, even though there are days I thrive on my own. I wish I didn’t have to see the bottom of the barrel so often but I am thankful I can still breathe despite the weight on my chest. These lows will come and go just like people come and go.

“PLEASE. BELIEVE ME. I’M REAL. IT HURTS.” – The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer