Since Before the Blog
This blog, Regarding Frost, was previously a combined collection of journal entries, poems, letters, etc. I (weirdly) named them “The Howling Melancholy Chronicles.” Those collective writings can be found here, here, and here. They are incredibly personal.
While in college, as I transformed my “journal” into this blog, I decided to transcribe those collections. Partly because I find typing soothing (yes, I’m strange) and it was a way for me to read things I had written in years prior. Since then, this blog has largely served as a forum for me to share thoughts and feelings.
I have lived with depressive states for nearly as long as I can remember. My journal and later this blog, has been an outlet. Sharing my experience with dysthymia is one way I cope. But as I got older and more comfortable with myself I found it easier to be more open about my foibles.
And so here I am again. Having struggled to write anything more meaningful in recent weeks (like local politics, national elections, etc.), I thought it was necessarily time for me to write one of these posts again.
For the last several weeks, I’ve been “down.” Struggling for focus, motivation, or energy to do much of anything. It’s been hard, to say the least, and it’s been quite a while since it’s been this bad.
When I write personal entries like this, I am often challenged to sit for any stretch. I’m easily restless and will get up from the desk to pace. Or smoke. Or both. And so it remains. I started this post several days ago and continue to find it difficult to put thoughts to form.
Like drawing poison from a wound, sometimes it’s just helpful for me to try to organize chaotic thoughts spewed onto the page. So that’s what I’m attempting to do here. Though even in this instance I am really struggling to sit and get it done. I’m hoping that once I’ve exorcised these thoughts and feelings out into the blogosphere I can begin to move more positively in my life.
Dysthymia is a Bitch
I don’t know how rare it is for dysthymia to devolve into full-blown depression, but throughout my life, it’s only happened once (maybe twice). It’s a terrible and terrifying experience. The last time I experienced it was toward the end of my time at college; I very nearly didn’t graduate.
Though dysthymia is a “persistent depressive disorder,” my experience with it has been relatively mild, I think. It’s always there, like a shadow on my brain but in recent years I’ve been able to function normally. Years of regular therapy was a huge help in making that possible. In my younger years, it was worse and definitely impacted my life, my ability to be productive, and relationships. I was almost never incapacitated, as one might be with depression, but I definitely think I was impaired. Somewhat emotionally crippled.
I haven’t really had thoughts of suicide since college; lots of therapy helped. Even now, I have no desire to end my life, but I also am struggling to find a point in any of it.
Where’s the Meaning?
People have different things that drive them. That makes them happy. For many of my friends and family, it’s the non-job-related things that give their lives meaning. Spouses and children. Or hobbies. For them, their job is simply the thing they do to pass time, provide for their families, or finance their hobbies or retirement.
For a few, their career gives them joy and meaning. Purpose. Those folks have been lucky to find the thing they love to do and managed to make a living at it. Hobbies turned careers.
For such a long time, it was the idea of being in love that I sought as a means to be happy. Being in a relationship. However, given my extreme awkwardness in relationships and dating, I long ago gave up on the prospect of marriage or a family; I will be a life-long bachelor. So that’s out.
Around the same time, I thought I found the thing that would give my life purpose (and joy): politics. With no children raise, I sought to leave my mark on the world in other ways. Politics can shape the world and have deep and meaningful impacts on people’s lives. For better or worse.
Where’s MY Meaning?
I made a transition to a life in government and politics more than a decade ago and for the most part, I’ve been satisfied with that choice. I’ve even done some good things in that time. For a time, I thought I had made the decision that would chart the course for the remainder of my life.
I worked for a State House Representative and two Governors. Then I left to embark on a new chapter as a consultant. I set up my own business and received my Master’s degree in Political Management from George Washington University.
Since then, things have been… a struggle. I’ve struggled for work and struggled to be financially secure. In both 2018 and 2019, I made less than half of what I had working in the Governor’s Office. This year hasn’t been much better and since graduating in 2018, I’ve worked fewer days than not. And I’ve racked up personal debt in the tens of thousands of dollars paying bills (mostly health insurance).
Now, in 2020, the steaming shit-pile dumpster fire of a year, I’ve started to question what the hell I’m doing. It’s pretty clear now I can’t cut it as a self-employed operative. Though I’ve potentially got a job lined up post-election, I can’t help but feel like it’s a step backward. Both professionally and financially.
I have no personal life. No love life. I’ve always taken some comfort in the thought that at least I had a professional life, but now it feels like I’ve failed at that too.
So… I’m really struggling to find meaning in… anything. I wake up. I go through the motions of daily life. And I find little joy in much of any of it.
Hoping for Light Around the Corner
Over the course of my adult life, I’ve learned to be more attuned my emotional and mental states. I don’t have “cycles” per se, but have “episodes” that can last from a couple of days to weeks.
One of the ways I’ve learned to cope is to regularly remind myself that there’s always an end. I come out the other side feeling better, normal. But this bout has lasted far longer than average. To some extent, it can be attributed to COVID jail, but I don’t think all of it.
I’ve also learned that the best way to keep quiet the dark voices in my brain is to keep busy. Feel productive. Since August that has been incredibly challenging.
I keep waiting, hoping that I’ll wake up in the morning having turned the corner. Until that happens, though, each day is just a bit harder to get through than the last. With no purposeful activity and no motivation to seek it out, I’m struggling to find meaning in anything I do.
Maybe the light around the corner tomorrow. Here’s hoping. I truly hate feeling like this.