Whatever, or something.

I guess it’s time to admit that I’m not just feeling weird, I’m experiencing a serious depressive episode. No, it’s not about politics. No, it’s not busy season anxiety. It’s more like I was sitting in a little boat looking at the scenery around me as I floated down the river and the scene change was so gradual that I didn’t even notice the landscape getting darker and more twisted. Now I don’t recognize my surroundings and I don’t know how to get back to where I was.

So what does this feel like? It feels an awful lot like nothing. I don’t feel anything. I’m not sad or mad or angry – when I reach down into the pit of my being there is literally nothing between me and the bottom, and the bottom feels much loser than it out to. It’s a frighteningly shallow emptiness. I WANT to care about things, but I don’t. I can’t. I don’t remember what caring about things feels like. It’s just an endless sea of empty feelings muddy puddle of meh.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

¯\(º_o)/¯

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┐( ̄ー ̄)┌

Depression is a funny thing. Not ha-ha funny, more like, “Wow, that’s weird and unfortunate, and I wish it would stop.” I’m on medication and I see a therapist, but sometimes the chemicals in my brain overpower my efforts and I just wake up with the worst case of IDGAF, but because I’m an adult, a professional, and a parent, I have to pretend I give a shit, but I’m constantly questioning my ability to pretend so most of my day ends up with an internal conversation like this:

Ugh, I have a meeting today. I don’t want to go, and I certainly don’t want to talk to anyone. But I can’t back out of this because I’m supposed to be leading the meeting. I hope no one figures out that I can barely muster the energy to shower, much less come to work. Oh god, did I remember deodorant? Normal people wear deodorant, right? Crap. No, wait, I think I remember deodorant this morning. Oh, but I forgot to wash my face. Oh well. No one will be watching my face. Wait no, everyone will. Crap. I’ll just walk to the store on my lunchbreak. Wait, is that weird? No, it’s normal to forget stuff. I’m sure it is. I mean it probably is. Does everyone realize I forgot to wash my face? I’m sure they do. Maybe I should wear makeup more often. No, then people would realize something had changed about me and the jig would be up. Shit, do I look like I’m talking to myself? I think people are starting to realize something is up. Oh god, someone is coming over to talk to me. Stay cool, man. Pretend you still know what feelings are like and you’re not currently a soul-less robot wading uncomfortably in a sea of feelings pretending you know how to experience life.

Most people think that you talk to someone, you take some meds, get a good night’s sleep, and then everything is hunky dory. That’s not how brain chemistry works apparently, and it’s frustration. I really want to be able to psych myself out and be well and cure my depression through forced happiness and magical thinking. But that doesn’t work either. It’s a struggle – sometimes you coast along feeling great, and sometimes you hit gravel on the track and you have to figure out a new plan. I mean, I SHOULD figure something out, but I’m having a hard time finding the mental and emotional wherewithal to do that.

So, you know, I reached out and told my friends what I’m going through because I think you’re supposed to do that kind of thing, and then I called my psychiatrist. So I guess, you know, whatever. Or something.

The Problem of Loyalty

Many people I know are mourning the upcoming inauguration. Trump has been elected, he’s readying his cabinet (oh god, the cabinet…), but the inauguration hasn’t even happened yet and even Krauthammer is saying The Honeymoon Is Over.

Look, I’m never going to like Donald Trump. I think he’s in the category for Top 5 Worst Presidents and he hasn’t even been elected yet. (That list, by the way, includes Richard Nixon, Andrew Johnson, and Herbert Hoover. Fill in your favorite for the other guy.) The man is the living embodiment to Millenial Crybaby Whining and he’s almost 70. The 3AM twitter rants, his “victory lap” around the US (did he even finish that? I don’t remember – maybe it was interrupted by a tweet-storm.), and his constant vacillation from one stance to another, really bothers the shit out of me. I mean, say what you will about Obama (and you will) at least he was predictable.

If you haven’t read Jonah Goldberg’s latest G-file, you should. He rightly points out one of the biggest problems facing America in general, but Conservatives and Trump’s administration in particular: emotional correctness. Trump’s biggest problem is that he demands loyalty at all costs. He wants yes-men, he wants his ideas supported, he wants his ego stroked, and he rewards that (much like any administration has) by giving sweetheart deals and cabinet positions to his most loyal supporters. Goldberg writes:

On the right, Never Trump has become a convenient psychological crutch for dismissing inconvenient arguments. Like the ever-metastasizing phrase “fake news,” it’s waved like a magic wand to make any threatening claim disappear without having to deal with it on the merits. Marxists used to use the term “false consciousness” in much the same way: to head-off threatening facts or arguments by attacking motives. When I point out that until a few months ago Republicans and conservatives despised crony capitalism or “picking winners and losers,” the instant reply amounts to: “When are you going to get over your Never Trump obsessions?” The upshot of all of these responses is “Get with the program,” “Get on board the Trump Train,” or “Get on the right side of history.”

Loyalty at all costs is the sign of a weak regime. Of groups and people who are afraid that their underlying ideology is so fragile that any negative comment, any questioning, even the whiff of insufficient enthusiasm, can cause it to come crumbling down. If we can’t question our own beliefs, how can we embrace them and make them stronger? I’ll borrow a quote from G.K. Chesterton here:

  • “What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism.”  – Sidelights on New London and Newer New York

We must be able to exercise self-criticism, and criticism of our heroes and leaders. We are not perfectly moral and righteous people (if we are, why do we still struggle with morality and righteousness?), and none of our ideals or leaders are either. If we place Trump beyond criticism, what happens when he does things that are truly wrong? We cannot simply sit back and pass off all criticism of our leaders as mere “Nobama” or “Never Trump” or “Killary” or whatever other epithet we choose to label it. We cannot move forward if we are closing our eyes to what is right in front of us and blindly pretending that it is glorious and golden.

Let us not also forget the history of dissent in this country – not just Alexander Hamilton and The Federalist Papers during the enlightenment, but even to the Puritans who dissented to English rule (much as I disagree with them), down through the numerous decades of journalistic dissent, popular dissent, protest…. Ideas don’t change and become better if you just accept the first version that comes across your desk.

I’ll leave you with a final thought in the form of a quote from Mr. Chesterton.

  • “I have formed a very clear conception of patriotism. I have generally found it thrust into the foreground by some fellow who has something to hide in the background. I have seen a great deal of patriotism; and I have generally found it the last refuge of the scoundrel.” – The Judgement of Dr. Johnson, Act III

Morning Conversations

[Scene – the kitchen, not-so-early morning]

Person A: You look sleepy this morning.

Person B: Nah. Okay maybe. I’m trying to reset my sleep schedule so I wake up earlier than 9PM. I mean 9AM. I mean… you get the idea.

Person A: Yeah, I’m trying to reset my sleep schedule so I wake up in 2020.

Person B: I don’t want to sleep that long! What if I wake up in 2020 and it turns out we’re not in the darkest timeline after all. What if it’s some sort of darker-est timeline?

Person A: What don’t you understand about darkest? That’s the final darkest outcome! It can’t get any worse!

Person B: Don’t say that out loud! You’ll curse us!

[awkward laughter ensues and players go on their way]