Millennium

The year 1999 was a huge year for me in formative terms. I have more memories of that year than any other. It was a time of strong emotion, of the strengthening of bonds between friends, of learning just how awful and how great my small world at the time was.

For a little perspective, the version of me that exists now is actually a little disgusted that the 1999 version of me existed. I think, in retrospect, that I needed that version of myself in order to become the person I am. I was seventeen, had dropped out of school, and didn’t have a job. My friends were potheads, druggies, and drunks. It was a hot summer, and the neighborhood smelled a lot like the East Indian shops that lined the streets. Strong rotten smells of fish from the convenience stores, and acrid curry smells from the restaurants.  Scarborough was a garbage heap, and still is, as far as I’m concerned.

I was poor, but managed on a couple of dollars each day. With no perspective, I didn’t think anything of how little it was, or that I got it from my mother. I was deeply depressed that summer, had been all year, and had already made a suicide attempt by taking my entire bottle of antidepressants. I’m going to assume it didn’t work. I slept for two days straight, and had muscle spasms for a year or so after.

The song “Millennium” by Robbie Williams was big for a few of the months that I spent being “Depressed, Summer ’99 Mickey”. The song itself was somewhat mediocre, though it had a very unique sound, and was on TV or the radio constantly. I was only sleeping an hour or two a day, usually between eight and ten in the morning.  I often had bouts of a week or so in which I didn’t sleep at all. I’m sure I could have qualified as certifiably insane.

I have only heard that song a few times since that summer and only once since leaving Canada. It always brings me back to a specific day, during sunset, walking to the store with a friend, noting how yellow everything looked, and how the street looked shiny despite being dry. The reflections off the windows of the apartment buildings on one side and the shops to the other side made it even more yellow. A car passed by with Millennium playing on the radio. I mentioned how the song sounds shiny. Kevin, my friend, agreed.

The neighborhood stunk to high heaven, we were poor and depressed, he may have been a little drunk, but the world was shiny for a moment.

Depression.

Depression can sure be a bitch, can’t it? You think you’re out, and it pulls you right back in. This past week was supposed to be the start of something wonderful, a new page in the book of life. Instead, it has been a battle against myself for no prize. See, life isn’t necessarily treating this family well.

As patriarch of this family, I feel like it’s my duty to ensure that my family is protected from as much of the detritus of life as possible. Sadly, people who hide behind corporate phone numbers and computer screens don’t really have a duty to see to my ability to do that.

I had a job a while back. An injury put me on worker’s comp. The day I was released, medically, to return to work, they sent a letter in the mail that said my services were no longer required. I tried to keep my head up. I was certain that I would manage to make good of this situation. I began to blog. I began writing, and doing it earnestly. I continued to go on morning runs, and listen to thought-provoking podcasts.

Meanwhile, inside a part of my head I have no access to, something else also thought it would make good of this situation. Slowly, my motivation to do anything disappeared. My body felt like how you feel when you first step back out of a swimming pool. My tolerance for my wife and kids almost completely vanished. My tolerance for myself did completely vanish.

I tried going through the motions. Humans are creatures of habit, and no dumb depression is gonna keep me from creating a positive foundation, right?

Wrong.

So wrong.

I haven’t written in almost a week. I have done basic menial tasks when I’m feeling less heavy. Today I helped my wife shelf books at her new job. Her first job in six years. She’s excited, but it wasn’t even remotely the plan.

She’s excited about almost everything. She’s an amazing support, and I know I wouldn’t have made it without her.

She supports, and she knows me. She knows my depression well. She knows what it looks like and sounds like. Some days she can see it before I’m willing to admit it’s there.

She doesn’t understand it, though,

Those without depression have no idea what it’s like. They don’t know what the lead weight inside my head feels like. They don’t know what a constant bubbling anger under the surface feels like. The fear of anything that might set me off. The fear of saying or doing something I’ll regret before I can get it all back under control. There’s a desire to sequester myself, to lie in bed and hide under the covers until the storm passes.

I can’t though. Guilt eats me just as readily as depression. I disappear from my family for a day, or two, or three? I feel like I’m shirking responsibilities. So instead, I go through my day, half-assing some things, doing others properly, depending on the ebb and flow of chemicals in my brain. I keep my eyes on the job at hand. I stay quiet. Of course the kids notice. They’re very forgiving of a depressed daddy.

What kind of home is that to raise kids in, though? Daddy is supposed to be the protector, the walking party, and the law, all in one. He’s not supposed to cry in front of his wife and kids because he knows he’s failed at life because the chemicals tell him so.

I haven’t cried in front of them in a long time. I’ve learned to logic my way past all of that. I know the failure isn’t real, despite how well-made the simulation of it is. I know it’s all chemicals, and that it will stop in a few days. I just want it to stop now.

I get happy in the evenings, because I know the day is ending. I know that I might wake up in the morning feeling like myself again. I like myself. I sure as hell don’t like this guy that I am now.

I want me back.

 

 

Boy, this was kind of all over the place.

In the spirit of the feeling, how about this. I’m going to share one of my depression wallowing activities with you.

Have you heard of Jann Arden? Beautiful music. Her “Time For Mercy” album, and her “Happy?” album are deep, dark, warm pools to wallow in when I’m depressed. Give her a try, you’ll be sorry you did.

 

And, I’m done for now.