General Life Update

Mostly because of the hurried holiday shenanigans at the end of last week, I started this behind where I wanted to be on Angels of the Meanwhile, and have been in a deepening pit of depression over what seemed like yet another inevitable failure to deliver until I happened to look back at the last post on the subject just now and realized I had built a week’s padding/fallback date into it. I could wish I’d remembered that or seen it sooner so I wouldn’t have lost so much time this week to anxiety and despair.

One of the most perverse things about mood disorders is the way they make everything harder, everything worse. I have not only gotten very little done this week, but I was surprised when I looked back at my blog and realized that last week was Halloween week and I posted a bunch of creepy stories and poems, including that “Minotaur” song I’m very proud of and that creepy trick-or-treating story which I actually wrote just over a week ago. Yet I started this week literally feeling like I hadn’t done anything for weeks, and the feeling has only deepened and lengthened over time, and the less I felt like I’ve done, the less able to do anything I felt.

Weirdly, the phony feeling that I didn’t accomplish anything last week paralyzed me this week, but realizing it’s the end of this week and I haven’t actually accomplished much with it doesn’t faze me. Nothing like cycling through depression to make you realize how subjective reality is, and how much of that subjectiveness is down to chemicals and the physical state of your brain. Experiments with rats show that the level of dopamine in the brain directly impacts that brain’s ability to see effort as being fundamentally Worth It, which impacts the ability of the brain to choose it in the first place. That’s not the only thing that goes on with depression, but it’s not a small thing.

Not everything going on in my life is neurological or chemical in nature, of course (except insofar as everything about life is chemical), but the depression makes it harder to deal with the other things or work through them. Just before I started this update post, I made an emotional processing post. In the past I’ve wound up in cycles of repression because I was actively censoring myself from processing in public, which is an important coping mechanism for me. This time it wasn’t an active decision, just the same bleak pit that was stopping me from doing much of anything else.

Anyway! All is not gloom and despair in my life right now. One bright point: after years of frustration with the design trend away from physical keyboards in smart phones, I got myself a tiny handheld USB keyboard that is small enough to slide into the pocket of my cellphone case. What little I’ve accomplished this week writing-wise happened because I can now comfortably write at a reasonable pace using my phone, whether I’m lying on the floor or in the bathtub or sitting around somewhere waiting.

It’s not always convenient to have my phone propped up somewhere that I can see the screen as I’m doing this (though I’m fortunate to have an exceptional ability for reading small text far away), but I don’t always need to see what I’m writing in order to write. In fact, sometimes it’s better if I don’t. Which brings me to the other great thing about the tiny keyboard: it allows me to use from my phone. The immediately previous blog post was written entirely there and then copied and pasted as-is into the blog as a formal test run.

So, to sum up: I’m a week behind where I wanted to be on Angels but not where I need to be to deliver by when I said I would. I haven’t written much, but I’m well situated for writing way more words way more often from here on out.