The truth about depression

The worst thing about depression isn’t that it lies. It’s that it keeps telling you uncomfortable truths until you’re too weak to keep saying “so what”.

When my depression tells me that no-one will miss me or that the people I care about will be better off without me I know that it’s lying. No matter how worthless I am they would miss me because they are good people and my death would hurt them because they’d feel like they failed. Clinging on to that has kept me going. I’m not living for me and I haven’t been for years.

When my depression tells me that none of that matters in the grand scheme of things it’s not exactly lying. My life and the lives of everyone I know are meaningless when placed against the span of human history. All of human history is insignificant in the whole history of life on our planet. And that’s just on a local scale. Our whole solar system is not even a mote in the eye of the universe. Sometimes it’s a comforting thought. I am so insignificant that there’s a real limit to how badly I can fuck up.

When my depression tells me that I don’t matter that’s old news. When it tells me that the Universe is huge and ancient but still young and that it’s impossible to conceive of how brief and tiny my life is by comparison I can agree. But when it starts to say that’s also true about everyone I care about then I have a problem. I’m only living because I don’t want to hurt them. But if their pain is unimportant then there’s no reason for me to keep going.

I’m going to stop writing this now. I have no idea if it’s making any sense. The depression is very bad right now and my brain isn’t communicating with itself very well.

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Photobomb

I made a terrible mistake this week. I looked at a photograph that I was in. It was a group photograph and those don’t usually hurt so much but for some reason the photographer put me in the front.

I’ve always hated being photographed. When I was a kid I hated it because it invariably involved some adult shouting at me to look happy and not squint while I stared directly at the sun and waited for my brothers, or cousins or peers to stop making stupid faces. In the 70s and 80s every adult seemed to believe that photographs could only be taken in bright sunlight with the sun shining directly in the faces of the subjects.

As I got older I began to hate being photographed because I knew that I would ruin the finished picture just by being in it. I hated how I looked in real life and I hated the photographs even more because they were proof.

I tried to be behind the camera whenever possible. If I was behind the camera then the sun was at my back and not on my face. If I was behind the camera I wouldn’t later be faced with the full horror of whatever I was wearing, or whatever terrible haircut I had, or the fact that in spite of all my dieting and prayer I was still fat.

Besides the pictures were usually better if I took them. I am a competant ammature photographer. I’m not talented and I’m certainly not professional but I spent a lot of time trying to be an artist and I did learn a few things. I know enough about composition, proportions and framing to take a picture that looks like it was taken on purpose.

When I first realised that I hated how I looked I thought that it was just me. I thought that I must be uniquely hideous and everyone else was fine. But then I noticed other people complaining about how they looked or trying to avoid cameras. I decided that most people must hate their appearance, even the beautiful people, I thought that maybe it was a kind of self-consciousness and that most humans had it.

Then the selfie became a thing and I realised that when most people complain it’s either because they’re scared of looking vain or they’re objecting to a particularly bad photograph. Most people seem not to think that they look hideous in every single image, and also in the mirror, and in every reflective surface they pass.

And the worst thing is that I can’t stop looking. Every time someone takes a picture of me there’s this terrible stab of hope. Maybe this will be a photograph where I don’t look like a cone wearing borrowed clothes sitting on top of a pair of misshapen tree trunks. Maybe they’ll have found the precise angle where my face doesn’t look like a Wicked Witch of the West themed Mr Potato Head.

Actually that’s not the worst thing. The worst thing is that I care. Why do I care? I don’t care what anyone else looks like. If one of my friends got beat with the ugly stick and then inflated with a tyre pump I wouldn’t think any less of them. I’m a writer not a beauty queen. Looking good is not part of my job description. It doesn’t matter.

I really need to either stop caring or stop looking. Unfortunately right now what I want is to stop going out. There’s a part of me that thinks that I’d be happier if people couldn’t see me.

Maybe I don’t care how I look? Maybe I only care that other people care?

Yet more rejection.

I got the form rejection email today from the last agent I queried.

Once again I find myself asking if I’m mad to even try to find an agent. Even if the novel is as good as I think it is that doesn’t make it sellable. If no-one knows how to market it no-one is going to want to publish it. If no-one is going to want to publish it why would an agent want to represent it?

I am so bad at dealing with rejection and I’m not going to get better at it. As I said previously this is just the way I’m made. I’d give up on the dream of publishing if I could think of anything else to do but I just don’t have any other saleable skills. Writing is starting to look like just another one of my non-saleable skills.

It doesn’t matter how good you are at something. If no-one wants to pay you to do it then it’s not a sustainable life choice. I can’t afford for writing to be just another one of my hobbies and I can’t stand putting all that work into something that no-one will see.  I don’t want to die knowing that all I did with my life was to occupy the time between cradle and grave.

The best laid plans

This is a brief FML update.

In theory I should be starting my diet in earnest today but it kind of seems pointless because the scales are broken and I can’t weigh myself. I can’t afford new scales. How do I prove to the doctors that I’ve been sticking to the diet if I can’t tell them how much weight I’ve lost?

I’m too tired to come up with a solution to this problem because I’ve not been sleeping because I’ve been in a state of abject panic about the upcoming Bloody Scotland pitch. I’m panicking in part because I feel like I’ve got no business pitching my weird multi-genre mess at a crime writing event. Somebody is bound to call me on it and what am I going to say? I am now old enough that ‘it wasn’t my idea’ is not a valid excuse for anything.

I’ve also spent two days not phoning the salon for an appointment for a much needed haircut. If I don’t get my undercut trimmed before Sunday I’m going to be delivering a presentation looking like I’ve been attacked by a toddler with a strimmer. I hate making phone calls at the best of times but my anxiety is out of control at the moment.

I think this is all a preemptive reaction to the expected rejection from the pitch. I’ve recently discovered something called rejection-sensitive dysphoria which is common in people with ADHD. Basically it means that it’s not just my imagination. I do have an extreme reaction to rejection and criticism. It’s not because I’m weak or oversensitive. It’s part of the way my brain is wired. Which is a tiny bit of a relief but also means that I’m not going to ever just get over it.

Yay for self knowledge.

My life as a terrible joke

The best evidence I’ve seen for the simulation hypothesis is that my life only makes sense if I exist for the amusement of some cruel and distant intelligence.

I had a doctor’s appointment this week in an effort to get something done about my lipoedema. This is a disorder that affects 11% of women and post pubescent girls. It means that my body lays down dysfunctional fat cells in my legs and upper arms (and possibly bum, hips and lower abdomen). These fat cells are unaffected by diet. They can’t be shifted by anything short of surgery. The fat cells also trap fluid leading to secondary lymphoedema which makes my legs even more swollen. There’s no cure but the progression can be slowed by compression garments and partially reversed by liposuction.

It’s usually triggered by hormonal changes. In my case it started at puberty and got much worse after childbirth. That means that it’s been undiagnosed and untreated for more than 30 years. For all that time I’ve been blaming myself for a weight problem that was in large part outside my control. According to the NHS website calorie restriction is not a treatment for lipoedema (according to most experts it’s not even a good treatment for obesity).

You’d think it would be simple. Get a diagnosis, get referred to a specialist, get fitted for compression garments and get on the waiting list for surgery?

Ha. You must be new here. I can’t get an official diagnosis because there are no specialists in Fife or Lothian. There may be no experts in Scotland. I can’t get fitted for compression garments because the off the peg ones don’t come in large enough sizes and the nurse says the doctor needs to measure me for the made to measure ones and the doctor says she doesn’t do that and I probably shouldn’t get them without first getting a Doppler test to prove my circulation is good enough but the Doppler sleeves won’t fit over my legs.

Did you get all that? I can’t get treatment for the condition that causes hugely distended limbs because my limbs are too distended.

And I can’t get surgery because it’s not available on the NHS because liposuction is a cosmetic procedure.

So my only option is going back to calorie restriction and hoping that there’s enough healthy fat in my legs that removing it will somehow make a difference. So I’m going back to a treatment that has a 95% failure rate for the thing it’s actually supposed to treat and doesn’t work at all on the problem I want treated. And it’s only taken 4 doctor appointments and 2 nurse appointments to find this out.

I suppose if I lose enough weight that my face, hands and feet become noticeably emaciated then maybe I’ll be able to get a doctor to take the problem seriously. Maybe I’ll be able to starve myself into organ failure while still being clinically obese. I might even get mentioned in the medical literature. Fame at last.

I have not been well

For the first time in months I haven’t hit my prefered posting schedule. It’s because I have not been well. Or in the vernacular of my homeland, “Ah’ve been nae weel”.

I’ve had an infected cyst and it’s been super painful. I’m now on antibiotics and almost back to my normal levels of nae weelness.

I’ve been dealing with the pain with a combination of regular painkillers, vaping CBD and playing Just Cause 3 on the PS4. It’s free this month to anyone with a Playstation Plus subscription. This is not exactly a review because I am not a reviewer. It’s just information for anyone else who might need distracting from pain or from the existential horror of life in 2017.

I’m not sure that Just Cause 3 is a good game but it’s certainly a fun one. There’s a lot of violence but so far not much gore. It’s funny but only if your sense of humour is like mine: as black as the earl of Hell’s waistcoat. You do have to hang up some of your critical faculties to enjoy it properly because the protagonist has to be mildly superhuman to pull off most of the stuff he does but his abilities have so far not been adequately explained.

If it’s distraction you’re looking for then this game does it well. It’s pretty to look at, the voice acting is excellent, the in game music is subtle but compelling, and the plot is interesting enough to drive the action but not so much that you don’t want to stop and do the challenges and side quests. There’s a variety of gameplay though there’s not much of a stealth option and I personally find the vehicle controls on the PS4 controller a bit shonky. This is a game that kept me entertained when the pain wouldn’t let me sleep and I had to wait for the antibiotics to work.

Also there’s a David Tennant voice cameo as the person kidnapped by the regime to do the radio announcements.

As I say it’s currently free on Playstation Plus and available cheap in any second hand games emporium. Or on Amazon it’s available for XBox One, PC and PS4. The XBox and PC versions are less than £15 but the the PS4 one is the gold edition and is more than £30.

I can deal with the pain it’s the frustration that really hurts.

So the CBD oil that I’ve been talking about in previous posts here and here is definitely working.

My background levels of pain have greatly reduced and it’s now easier to deal with breakthrough pain. However my right knee has clearly decided to be a horrible bitch about things. It’s swollen and it’s grinding and it won’t reliably bend and it hurts whenever I do foolish things like stand up or sit down or roll over in bed.

And something else has decided to flare up. Something really painful. Something that I really need to see a doctor about but I was too late this morning to get an appointment and I have stuff to do tomorrow that can’t be moved and if I leave it till Friday to see the doctor then I will have reached my own personal defcon 10 of pain.

That’s not 10 out of 10 on the pain scale. That level of pain is just screaming until it stops. Defcon 10 is out of my mind with pain, distraction and frustration. It’s a result of having to just put up with a level and type and location of pain that no-one should have to put up with. Defcon 10 is dangerous because it makes me want to knife 40 people at random. Hopefully the CBD oil will help with this kind of pain.

If anyone is interested I will post links to the kind of vape pen, cartridges and oil I’m using.