Without going into any specific personal details, I’ve been wrestling with some less than fun stuff over the last half year or so (really, it’s been for about 4-5 years now, but it’s been a bit more acute in recent months). As anyone who has had trouble with mood disorders can attest, when the demons decide to rear their ugly heads, life and its obligations tend to fall by the wayside.
Now I am in no way blaming the world for my problems; I have made some personal choices in the previous years that are still haunting me and need to be finalized as soon as possible because they’re wearing me very thin at this point. The professional repercussions of all of this is that I’ve essentially been forced into a sabbatical for the last few months of work. If you’re a friend, or a customer, this is a fact that is quickly apparent: ain’t nothin’ be done lately.
When faced with such obstacles, one is often compelled to ask for some sort of pill or magical solution that will just make things “go back to normal.” There are a lot of things off the mark with that desire, with the foremost being that there is no way to “go back” in life…life is a one way path where every decision you’ve made and action you’ve taken up until this very moment has dictated exactly where you are. Some of the reason you are who you are is because of uncontrollable external factors, of course. But ultimately, lamenting or regretting or yearning for the past is an exercise in futility; no matter how strongly you desire to “go back”, you’re here and here to stay.
Knowing that, when it comes to feeling better in life, you have to realize that the decision will require real work. You have to force yourself to evaluate your actions and thoughts and force yourself to mold your instinctual reactions to the world around you in order to actively push yourself to where you want to be. This might seem obvious to some. But to others, especially those who have faced depression for any length of time, it’s not as obvious as it may seem. The depressed individual is compelled to inaction, facing the world is never as attractive as just rolling over and closing your eyes. Stephen Fry, famous British doer of everything, describes the lows of depression as having to face a “futureless future”, a sight as terrifying as staring into the blackness of the deepest part of the ocean and contemplating the sheer emptiness of it all. It’s not a feeling of sadness or pain necessarily, but more a feeling of horrifying loneliness.
This is the result of a skewed perspective that comes along with mood disorders. When you’re depressed, your perspective shrinks and only the immediate is visible. You can’t even begin to see past your immediate, painful surroundings. Enter anxiety, dread, and hopelessness.
Now, my way of dealing with this is a mixture of private lamentation and public masquerading. Few would guess upon talking to me that I am internally struggling, which is by design. The question I hate the most in life is “Are you ok?” because I can’t even begin to answer that question properly at this point. If only it were as simply as saying I lost my job or my dog just died or the like.
So I keep up this facade of feeling fine and wait until I can be by myself at night, oftentimes with drink in hand, staring off at the ceiling and wondering how I got myself here. I know these actions won’t get me on a path of recovery but they do get me to the next day, and when your perspective is shallow, that’s enough to keep you going.
Perspective, Perspective, Perspective
The proper way to combat this is to practice molding your perspective to allow for more upbeat and positive thinking. Sounds simple, but the problem arises when you consider that when you’re depressed, you’re unlikely to fucking do anything at all, much less actively focus on your pain and modifying it. It’s nearly a Catch-22. But you ultimately have to pick a starting point or else you’ll forever be stuck in the rut that your mind has created for you.
So, all that being said, I’m now sitting in a coffee shop about 1oo yards from the beach, with enough sun on me to force me to squint to see the screen of my laptop, drinking some pretty good Sumatran coffee, and forcing myself to be surrounded by life. After a year and a half of working alone from home, I’ve started to forget what life looks like. I’m jealous of those who work near a water cooler at this point. So my first step in trying to turn around this tormented life of mine at the moment is to just inject myself back into Real Life and see what happens.
I’ve also decided that I’m going to start pouring myself out via this blog a bit. A few people have asked me to starting writing again (which means the world to me, really) and I have a lot to say about a lot of stuff, and at this point, I have nothing to lose by being as transparent as possible with all of this because who knows what the future will bring at this point. And I plan on getting a bit more personal with some of the things I’ll be writing about moving forward because again, fuck it, nothing to lose.
As for work stuff, what am I going to try and accomplish you might be wondering? Well, here’s what I’ve got so far:
- I’ve got this startup that just turned 2 years old now. She basically runs herself at this point but my god is there a lot left on the table by my inaction. I plan on actually getting back to work on this.
- I have the makings of a book coming together. I started writing some more detailed essays based on my 12 rules for building a profitable startup a while back and do plan on getting back to this at some point soon. The prospect of pounding out a book is a tad bit overwhelming so I’m going to try and attack it in small bites at first, but I think the concept behind it has legs and can become a good resource for some.
So that’s it folks, that’s about where I’m at right now. Sometimes the ticking of the clock gets a bit irritating but overall I’m still in one piece for the most part and am ready to actually pull myself out of this rut.
Hope you’re all doing well.