Depression is a weird illness. Sometimes it creeps in, sometimes it just clocks you one when you’re not looking.

In this example the part of depression will be played by a woman in a polka dot dress and I will be played by a man in a stupid hat.

In this example the part of depression will be played by a woman in a polka dot dress and I will be played by a man in a stupid hat.

It takes quite a few forms, and no one person’s expression of the disease is the same as another. Pretty much everyone with depression finds that apathy, not sadness, is the one common factor but I’ve met depressives who had every symptom except apathy too. That’s one of the reasons it’s so tough to treat properly (the others being that human brains are astoundingly chemically complex, other illnesses are co-morbid with depression and in general the whole brainmeat thing is just weird).

I kept my depression a secret for a long time, even from my family, because part of being depressed is blaming yourself for your own symptoms. I think it’s because it feels like if you could just try a bit harder then you’d be able to operate the way you’re convinced that everyone else is handling life just fine. If you could just be a bit more focused you could do everything you feel like you should be doing.

As Wil Wheaton once said ‘depression lies’.

And as I’ve said before ‘depression defends itself’.

Depression feels very much like having a slug in my brain. A gelatinous, ink black creature that’s more like a sea slug (cucumber) than an actual slug, both in appearance and in its defense mechanisms. When a certain species of sea slug is threatened it quite literally craps out bits of its respiratory system onto predators.

I do not do this. Not even when threatened.

That said that would be an amazing way to win a fight.

Depression, when threatened, also seems to lose its shit in a major way. I came through cancer with only one real depressive episode, although there were definitely times when I felt down and many more when I was awfully sick, I mostly kept my head on really well. Now that things are looking better, depression has crept back in and tapped me on the shoulder like a roommate that had disappeared for six months and everyone thought had died in a crevasse.

I am very aware that this is not my fault, and what’s more I am also aware that there’s not a huge amount I can do about it for now except follow my doctor’s advice, get as much exercise and sleep as I can and generally not be too hard on myself especially as I am still in recovery.

I am technically aware of all of these things…and yet some of the time I still feel like a garbage human being.

Still, I have to say there are things that make me feel better: My awesome friends and family. Good books. Baths (I don’t care if they’re not meant to be manly, baths are awesome as fuck). My wife who is doing a stellar job of not only keeping me alive but also functioning and happy as much as I am able.

And, sometimes, writing about being depressed makes me less depressed. What kicked all of this off is I had high hopes that an appointment I had tomorrow would bear dividends in helping me feel less like complete crap, and it’s been pushed back two weeks. This is not a great reason to be depressed, many many people in the medical system have it far worse (to say nothing of people living overseas) but it still hit me unexpectedly hard.

I actually do feel better now. Thanks for reading everyone.

 

Now I’m going to go and have a bath with bubbles in it.

 

So, is this real life?

It’s not fantasy because honestly what kind of punkass fantasy doesn’t at least have a goblin king or dyspeptic wizard in it?

I’ve been trying to get back into real life and it hasn’t really been going to plan. Not that things have been bad, but I think a part of me thought I was going to be well enough again to punch life in the face. Maybe not very hard, maybe more of a gentle nudge on life’s shoulder, but something. As it turns out that hasn’t really been possible.

If only there was a switch.

If only there was a switch.

It’s been good to be back at work, even part time, and my workmates are awesomesauce (it’s a word) but that’s all I’ve been able to handle so far. I had visions of being able to get my health, writing, comic, martial arts, work and general life back online all in one go. The weird thing is that I knew logically that doing that was both logistically and emotionally impossible, but it didn’t stop me hoping.

I’ve been reading a site called F*ck Feelings (censoring star use theirs) and it’s helped me be a little more accepting of reality, and not to freak out quite so much about the things that I can’t change, or that will take a long time to change. I doubt I’d make the same demands of someone else in my position, so I’m trying (failing sometimes, but trying) to take it a bit easier on myself. I still have some serious goals for life the universe and everything, but I think I need to calm down a bit on time frames and maybe take on one or two things at a time instead of twenty.

In other news Humpy the Goddamn possum has made his triumphant return to my roof.

He didn’t bring my jandal back. I don’t think I want it back.

While he and my roof seem to have put their torrid affair on pause, he has picked a fight with another, currently unknown, animal that was skittering across the roof last night about to am. There was squeaking, so it may have been a rat. If it was it was a very large rat, a very large angry rat. It and Humpy brought the pain for well over fifteen minutes of hissing, snorting, growling and thundering across my roof like an avant-garde percussion band.

 

 

 

 

You know how when someone loses a limb, they can end up having problems with ‘ghost limb’ where they feel like the missing arm or leg is still there (and what’s more, it hurts)? Well when you’ve had an orchidectomy it turns out you can get ghost nut.

I imagine it like this, but angrier.

I imagine it like this, but angrier.

I know this because I currently feel like someone has given me a solid boot in a testicle that is no longer there.

This seems unfair.

The pain comes and goes, but there really isn’t a good time to endure sudden groin pain. It’s one of those things that would normally make me angry and want to punch things but I really feel like trying to punch my way out of this problem might end up being counterproductive.

Still, I suppose it could be worse. I could be haunted by an actual ghost testicle. I’m not sure what a ghost testicle would do (probably just float around making a nuisance of itself like a real testicle) and I don’t necessarily want to give it a lot of thought, but nothing about the situation seems like it’d be good.

What would you even say to the exorcist?

 

 

David Bowie died. I never gave a moment’s thought to what the world would be like without him before now. The world seems like a less magical place now.

I grew up knowing David Bowie as the Goblin King. When I was little I loved Sarah, Sir Didymus and Ludo (ROCKS), but as I got older I started appreciate just how great Bowie was as Jareth the Goblin King. He brought an otherworldlyness to the role that made believe that Jareth was something truly inhuman, no matter how human shaped he might be.

Jarethehadshot

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I really got into his music. Space Oddity is my favorite, and it’s the song I’ve been thinking of since I heard the news that Bowie passed away yesterday.

I don’t have anything more to add that hasn’t already been said, all I can do is to add my voice to the chorus of people saying that he will be missed and that I’m beyond happy that he got to put out one last piece of work that was clearly very important to him before he passed.

These are the lyrics to Space Oddity. Even without the music it’s a haunting story.

 

Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
Ground Control to Major Tom (Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six)
Commencing countdown, engines on (Five, Four, Three)
Check ignition and may God’s love be with you (Two, One, Liftoff)

This is Ground Control to Major Tom
You’ve really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare
“This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in the most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
For here am I sitting in my tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do

Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles
I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows
Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear And I’m floating around my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do.”

 

 

 

I have failed to keep every single New Year’s resolution I have ever made. Even the year I resolved to make no resolutions whatsoever was a wash straight off the bat since that is, in fact, a resolution.

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Every attempt at weight loss, every determined new year effort to cook more, write more or at least make sure I’m wearing pants before answering the door (if you are one of the two Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to the door a while back, early Sunday morning isn’t a good time for me) has gone very badly.

I would like to blame this on the position of the stars, or basic human psychology. I can’t.I have no one to blame but myself (who is by far my least favorite person to blame) The truth is that wild ambitions, poor co-ordination and general laziness is a poor combination when it comes to goal setting and achievement. It’s always gone so badly that I had actually thought that I was through making any plans at any point between December and February just in case (although I would like to note that I didn’t make it a resolution). Still, with everything that happened to me in 2015 it actually seemed weird not to go into 2016 with some goals in mind.

But they can’t be the same old goals or I’ll be doomed to failure. Sooner or later I’m going to answer the door in my undies and this whole business will unravel.

They have to be achievable goals.

They have to be things I can know I’ve achieved at the end of the year.

They, in the end, are these:

1. Don’t die

Seems important to all the other goals. I’ve done it before, so it seems like I should be able to not die for another year. Really if I can’t manage this I’ll be extremely disappointed in myself.

2. Tempt fate

See goal 1.

3. Wear pants

It can’t hurt to try, especially when I’m at work.

4. Write another book

This is what I was doing before the whole cancer business. I wrote one. I’d like to write another one.

5. Fail entirely to be attacked by birdlife.

A surprising number of people I know seem unable to do this, but I think I’m up to the challenge. If not, then I still get goal two on this list.

6. Get rejected 100 times

I should clarify, I mean get my writing rejected 100 times.

I stole this one from writer Sarah Gailey (who has an awesome series of tweets livetweeting the Star Wars movies. If you haven’t read them then you can find them collected here, here and here.) I don’t have any control over whether or not the things I write get rejected or not, but by targeting one hundred rejections it means I’m going to have to write a bunch of stories and send them out. This will be good for me.

Bad for literature as a whole, but good for me.

7. Go places, do things

I like staying indoors and writing things on computers. This does not lead to me getting out a lot. I have no intention of stopping writing things on computers, but I’ve been stuck indoors for four months and I think my life in general would benefit both from going to places that are not my house and then doing things that don’t involve glaring at a screen until words appear on it. At the moment this is tough, I’ve got all the get up and go of a concussed sea slug.

8. Read books

I’m in the middle of reading one right now so I think unless something goes terribly wrong in the next day or two I’ve got this one on lock. If anyone is interested it’s called Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen. It’s a monster story set in the Wild West (or at least, a Wild West) and it’s fantastic. I’m going to be sad when this one is over, but fortunately it’s the first in a series, so I have more to look forward to.

9. Eat something that is both delicious and unhealthy

We can do this. You and me. We can do it. We can be heroes.

10. Do something for a charity

Actually I can do this one right now. I signed up for kiva.org and made a small loan to an entrepreneur. Kiva is a microlending organization that organizes small loans for businesses in the developing world. Their repayment rate is close to 100%, and they do an enormous amount of good in the world. What’s more, Kiva itself doesn’t take a cut of the loans, all the money goes to those that need it. Yes, this is me prodding you to do something for a charity too. Doesn’t have to be Kiva of course, pick your charity and go to it.

 

What are your New Year’s resolutions, achievable or otherwise?