mild depression

Today was a bad day. It was fine.

Today was a bad day. It was fine.

It didn’t start that way. I felt okay this morning, or well, maybe not totally okay. Maybe a little under-the-weather mood wise, like the threat of a fever before a fever: small enough to be brushed off. I’m fine. A little cranky, a little sleepy, but fine.

Dysthymia–the name they call my “baby depression”–is a little like if depression were a flu: when you least expect it (when you have no real reason to expect it, actually), it just…shows up. That fact used to bother me so much, to the point that I spent days picking myself apart in frustration: why couldn’t I just be happy? Why couldn’t I just do the work? Why couldn’t I function the way I was supposed to? 

Nowadays, these sudden bouts of sadness just annoy me, this reminder that I am feeble and human. But while I am young and still idiotic the way young people are (let’s be honest; at this age we’re stupid, but only because we have to be. Because this is the season for learning and honestly we learn best when we make our best mistakes.), I’m old enough to know that being feeble and human won’t change. This is yet another in-between, a sort of emotional second puberty, where I transition from boldly proclaiming invincibility towards acceptance of my inadequacies.

It’s not wrong to not always be enough.

Today was a bad day. But it wasn’t a dark one. I don’t like the weight of that word, darkness, as if clouds don’t lift. Like a cold, this heaviness comes and goes, staying for hours or days or weeks or months but eventually–even if only briefly–leaving. There are times you wake up with the flu. There are times I wake up in the morning and find am wary and defensive, consumed by a need to protect myself from some unnameable thing that will inevitably go wrong.

This is not a “place.” These are simply symptoms. I do not need fixing. I am not broken. My brain is simply telling me it has a flu.

There is no cure for the common cold: it just passes. I drink water. I listen to music. I message a friend–one I know won’t romanticize this, won’t let comfort turn maudlin–and we sigh, accept that sometimes people wake up with bad stomachs and worse colds.

I tell him I don’t want to be kind to myself–I would rather nuke this sadness into submission and why haven’t they made a Berrocca for depressive episodes yet!? He tells me, matter of fact, that I’ll need to accept that I have to be kind to myself, someday. Even if that day is not today.

These things do not necessarily make me feel better, but they make it easier to accept that I do not feel better. That this is what today will look like, for now, and that’s fine.

Sometimes I need the bad days, the way they bring out the worst in me, because I’ve gotten so used to pretending I don’t have issues that I risk letting it get to my head. When I’m having a bad day, the pride and prickliness come to fore, and I am reminded that there are still things wrong with me. That people do have to be patient with me. Eating humble pie doesn’t feel good, but then again I already feel bad, so it’s not like things have changed. Maybe this is what it means, accepting your human frailty: admitting that you’ll still have things to work on, and maybe you’ll never be done working on them.

I can’t work. Today wasn’t as productive as I wanted it to be. The heaviness I feel has me dreading tomorrow, dreading the week after, dreading the endless procession of days the way you do when you face the prospect of having to get up and go even if you don’t feel like it. But that’s life, really: not feeling like going and doing the thing but going and doing the thing anyway because you know you have to. Because it matters. Because knowing it matters means, in a sense, that you want to, and isn’t it nice to know that, in some small way, you aren’t completely a slave to how you feel?

Eventually, I will learn to be really kind to myself. Today is not that day. Today was a bad day.

But it was a start.


DISCLAIMER: This blog reflects my personal experience and is in no way an authoritative account on dealing with mental illness, depression, dysthymia, etc. 


The Friday, Currently 003: The Mess and The Morass

Before I begin, shoutout to Esther and to “C” (who asked me this morning about his codename) for being two very vocal readers of my “Currently.”  I hope it hasn’t become monotonous so far.  I do worry that this blog will become a mere collection of Currently-s, and nothing much else, but whenever I make plans to write a blog on a day that is not Friday, something like life gets in the way, either in the form of brush calligraphy or on-paper journalling or long chats with my friends (*coughArraAbellacough*) or the rare jewel that is sleep.

For a semi-chronic insomniac (who appears to be breastfeeding some phantom baby, based on the hours I wake up at night), the ability to remain unconscious for a full eight hours a night is worth moving heaven and earth and blogging schedules out of the way for.  My folder of “pending posts” (including, among other things, a long-delayed update to my other “ongoing” blog series, Me and My Lists) threatens to reach War and Peace proportions, but each time I’ve gotten around to stealing time, my pillow has beckoned.

Hence, for the foreseeable future, this blog will be exactly what I fear: a collection of Currently-s, of which this post is the third edition.  Here we go!

C U R R E N T L Y . . .

R E A D I N G, as predicted, a completely different book from last week’s Manila Noir–in the end, my sleep-deprived and PMS-beset brain couldn’t handle the darkness.  Instead, have picked up A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the modern classic by Betty Smith which documents the coming of age of one Francie Nolan.  The book is absolutely beautiful and surprisingly easy to read–the vignettes sort of flow into each other in a way that reminds of To Kill a Mockingbird, another prominent “coming of age” (what was the German word that described the genre?) book.

I’m trying to get in at least twenty pages a day–a tip I learned from the Margo Roth Spiegleman in my life, The Wandering Popsicle–so at the moment I’m a few millimeters shy of halfway through: slow going, but progress nonetheless.

W R I T I N G  ideas.  Due to aforementioned PMS-induced mood swings (more on that, though not the actual PMS, later) + insomnia, haven’t been able to muster up the strength to really write (this is my best effort so far), so I’ve collected quite a few embryonic snippets that I tell myself I’ll flesh out eventually.  From experience, not all the ideas make it, but it pays to be prepared for a creatively rainy day, or a wide-awake night.

(Quick teaser: the idea I’m most obsessed with getting on paper is one called “Night Horses.”  What that’s about, you can try and guess at in the comments. :P)

L I S T E N I N G for the past few days to the Paramore Self-Titled Deluxe Album on Spotify.  I blame my bandmates–particularly Jian–for my Hayley Williams marathon-ing, but there is something to be said for the genre transformation that they’ve undergone in the post-Farro era.  The Self-Titled Deluxe album isn’t one genre, but a collection of genres and influences.  Instead of the screaming guitars and in-your-face punk rock formula of the iconic Riot and All We Know Is Falling albums, this one features actual range, both on Hayley’s part and on her band’s.  Of course, the frontwoman is the star of the show–her vocals go from stripped-down and soulful to hyperactive and loud–but there’s something to be said for the orchestration.  One critic described this LP as being (to paraphrase) “liberated from the four-chord progressions of usual pop-punk fare.”  I’m inclined to agree, and I really like the result of that liberation.

Favorite tracks/lyrics:

  • Proof – “Baby if I’m half the man I say I am/If I’m a woman with no fear just like I claim I am…”
  • Daydreaming
  • Part II – “Oh Glory/Come and find/Dancing all alone/To the sound of an enemy song…”
  • Anklebiters
  • Last Hope – “It’s just a spark/But it’s enough/To keep me going…”

W A T C H I N G nothing much lately, especially since the shocker that was the recent Game of Thrones episode.  I’ll confess that move motivated my decision to go on hiatus from following the show (possibly indefinitely).  Won’t go into detail here, but you can read my rambling explanation on this link.

Moving on…

T H I N K I N G  about Hideaway, the unofficial Fête de la Musique event I’m helping organize/host at Staple and Perk as part of–ta da!–a new group called The Loudmouth Collective, with several very dear friends of mine.  There’s a lot of ground to cover before June 20, and it’s by turns daunting and exciting.  Half the time, I’m panicking over whether or not I thought this through before starting it, but the other half is rapidly realizing that there is no such thing as ever having thought through things enough, and that if all we do is think we get nowhere…and other profound things of that nature. :))

teaser poster 02

Voila!  Our teaser poster, courtesy of the amazing Kristin Cornejo.

You all are welcome to come!  Check out the event page for more details. 😀

S M E L L I N G  the smell of my lemon water.

W E A R I N G  my MScM tee as PJs. 😛

L O V I N G  the Kuretake collection of pens that, yes, I did end up getting.  Have a small assortment of Fudebiyori, Wink of Stella, and Wink of Luna pens, as well as the holy grail: The Kuretake Brush 22.  Don’t have a Midori Hobonichi yet, sadly, but I do have a nice Muji notebook which I’ve made my newest journal.


#ListersGottaList for May 22, featuring my Fudebiyori and the ombré calligraphy technique I learned from copying IG calligraphers.

W A N T I N G a Midori Hobonichi!  Not that I’d know what to do with it, à la Pepper and Twine, but it seems like such a sturdy, convenient notebook to carry around, and the pages seem to hold up well to both brush and dip-pen calligraphy (unlike, admittedly, some of the Muji notebooks I’ve tried, which tend to bleed).  Still, am recovering from my brush-pen spree, so this “want” might have to stay a “want” for a bit longer.

N E E D I N G  a break, to be honest.  Pretty glad that Jian canceled recording for Stories Told at the last minute, because I definitely need a personal (no meetings, no projects, no worrying, no work) day.

W I S H I N G  that I’d started this earlier…as usual, but then again I had a nice long chat with Arra and my office BFF, Dani Boni, so I don’t regret burning the midnight oil (as usual, this is going to get published early Saturday instead of Friday, but I say it’s not Saturday until the sun rises.).

W O N D E R I N G  where I can get cheap dance lessons…?

F E E L I N G  confused, or rather, aware of how confusing this week has been for me.  Not to be blunt or TMI (but then again, this blog is a shrine to TMI), but PMS hit me pretty hard this month, or at least, PMS seems to be the best explanation I have for the odd symptoms I’ve been experiencing.  My focus has been as shaky as a caffeine addict’s hands, and my thoughts scattered to the point that I was losing consecutive rounds of Trivia Crack on questions I very well knew the answer to.  If it’s possible to have blurry vision, without actually being blurry, that’s the state I’ve been in.  Everything feels like sensory overload, and I’m been overwhelmed by the onslaught of what has been, technically, a “slow week.”

This fugue state has only been made worse by what I can only explain as a low-grade “depression” (I’ve heard it’s called dysrhythmia, which sounds like it literally means “a loss of rhythm.”) that I’ve been struggling with.  I’m inclined to chalk it up to a hormone thing (hormones are the new “nervous disorder,” it seems), but I’ve never really experienced it as badly as I have this time around.  Still, it doesn’t seem to be depression of the clinical type, because I’ve been able–thus far–to fight through it by talking it out with my office posse (do people still use the word posse?).  It feels good to be able to verbalize that I am struggling with a sadness I can’t explain, a fear that has no basis, an insecurity that has no grounds, without anyone judging me as simply “overthinking.”  The truth is, my “blues” are only made worse by the fact that I can’t think my way through them, can’t reason with them or understand why.  And I find it helps to acknowledge that, acknowledge that even if I consider myself an open book, parts of me are mysteries even I can’t solve.

I guess that’s why they call humans messy: there’s a limit to our self-awareness, only so much we can see.  It was a discussion I struggled through–battling shoddy signal and the distant whirr of a friend’s electric fan–this morning, as I waited for my dose of breakfast carbs to wake me up (spoiler alert: they didn’t).  See, previously, as an over-analytical person–potentially the perfect “Point Man” to an Inception operation, only I’m far too panicky–I placed a lot of confidence in my ability to pick apart myself, and by extension other people; infer reasons for their actions, based on given information.  For an admittedly somewhat self-centered person, I’m good–not amazing, but good–at reading cues in (direct; through actual conversation and being in their physical presence) and around (indirect; through circumstantial evidence such as details about their background, recent history, etc.) the actions of people.  A article claims that this is a habit many children from broken homes have, and while I’d rather avoid stereotypes (Personally, I think being shoved in boxes does more harm to “broken family kids” than good.), I do have to admit that it’s possible this paranoia-slash-hypersensitivity was something I developed in my friendless playground years, where loyalties constantly shifted and where it was important to know who to trust and who was shooting you down with a smile.

(Did I just make elementary school sound like Westeros?  I just made elementary school sound like Westeros.)

Whatever the source, I did think I had a sort-of knack for reading people.  Not as well as I could read books, but I could get 7/10 right if I squinted enough, maybe.  Wide reading (of books) honed it, theater put it into practice, and the (social) demands of university life tried it by fire.  It didn’t help me be any less socially awkward, but it did help me understand (or at least, explain away) the circumstances surrounding my (and others’) awkwardness, translate the world into terms I could understand.

The fact that I could read people was reassuring, until the day I realized that I couldn’t so much read them as sort of make educated guesses that were plausible, but couldn’t be proven true.  It’s both an exciting and terrifying fact that people can and will surprise you.  My friend Cheeze, quoting William Blake, told me it was called “fearful symmetry.”

It’s weird how it’s that very same “symmetry” that makes life so…messy.  People surprise us, and we surprise ourselves.  Even a person conforming to expectations is surprising, knowing full well that even the most hardened creature of habit still has the potential to be crazy-erratic.  We make educated guesses, and act on them, the best we can, but in the end the fruit of our efforts is all left up to something even more variable than chance: free will.

Free will that occasionally even confuses the actor.  (Case in point: “Why do/did I like this guy?”  Hashtag-hugot.)

To add the the morass–a nifty word that I learned means both “swamp mud” and “extremely complicated situation”–there are so many versions of ourselves.  There’s how I see myself, how you see me, how I think you see me, how you think I think you see me, how I think you think you see me, etcetera etcetera etcetera (points if you read that in Yul Brynner’s Hollywood-Siamese accent).  Underneath all that is the real person, with all the scars and damage and checked-in baggage that we even hide from ourselves.

I’m finding–in line with my “Iocasta” confession from last week (a nickname C persists in using for me, grr!)–that all those layers and complications make it hard to take care of anyone.  I want to be there for people, but I can’t understand them, and that fact frustrates me because not being able to understand means not being able to fix a situation.  Add to this the fact that some people just don’t want to be fixed (for now or for ever), and you have the makings of a neurotic crisis.  As someone who becomes sad for no comprehensible reason and hates it, there are times I can’t just let people I’m close to stay sad or upset or confused.  A part of me feels compelled to have an answer, or at least a pithy aphorism that can act as palliative care.  If I care about you, I don’t want you to be sad–Who wants anyone they care about to be sad?–but the fact I’m coming to terms with is that I am not God and I can’t actually make everything better.  That for all my supposed intelligence, my “past-life” instincts, my “skills” in amateur psychoanalysis, life is too messy for me to be able to give a definitive answer.  I can’t rationalize a situation into painlessness.  I can’t explain away the hurt.

Instead, I rely on old standbys: “Breathe.”  A breathy, nursery-voiced “Hey.”  An admittedly-superfluous “Are you okay?”

I’m hoping that, somehow, these express a form of universal answer: that life is a mess, and I can’t have solutions, but that I’m ready to pull you through the swamp mud, knowing full well the day will come when you will have to pull me.  And that doesn’t provide an instant cure–sometimes I’m even told to shut up and go away–but I’d like to believe that it can help, even if it doesn’t always.  That I can help, even when I can’t.

Life is a mess.  I’m realizing that it helps to admit that.  It’s helped me to admit that I will not be able to understand myself, let alone other people.  Sometimes, there will be no answers.

But, I believe, there will always be room for hands.  *Cue sentimental music.*

On that slightly saccharine note, this has been the week’s Friday, Currently (once again technically finished on a Saturday).  I remain, yours most sincerely, your stick–I mean–hand in the mud,


The Sunday Currently was created by Siddathornton. I’ve added/subtracted categories for the sake of the narrative, and also because I’m copying the format of