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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Depression and the Modern Pagan

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C65989237/E20081125073139

Rambling on moods and modernity

I had another article planned for today, but I think I will skip it for a bit. My LiveJournal friends page and some of my various lists have things about depression.

Part of it is probably the winter blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Part of it's the economic climate. And part of it is those winter holidays that can hit someone pretty hard.

Yeah, I am borderline. If I am doing something I am excited about, I alternate between intense enthusiasm and crashes. Everyone wants to be my friend when I am excited. No one wants to be around me when I crash.

In the last couple of years I've tried really hard to avoid posting about the "poor little me" place. I'm only posting now not because I want the help, but maybe to let some people out there know that they aren't alone. I also don't like what I write used against me. When I tell someone that sometimes I am depressed (or about the Asperger Syndrome for that matter), you can almost see the little light go on in the back of their eyes. It's "instant forgiveness," but it's also instant dismissal of my weirdness. "He can't help it, he's just made that way." My ideas and beliefs are no longer worth considering, they become just "quirks" to be dismissed.

Part of it's genetic. Almost every male on my mother's side of the family was a full-blown alcoholic by the time they were a teenager. It's one reason why I abstain.

Part of it is our culture's desire to give power to those who we have "wronged." Like it or not, we've built up entire subcultures based on getting the "guilty" majority to surrender. I've talked about this elsewhere and this article isn't the place for an exhaustive examination. It's enough to for now to realize that there are people who build their personal power and identify from the guilt and pity of others. Modern American Pagans are especially bad, we tend to celebrate some of our worse nutcases as gifts from the gods. Those people may well have something to give (blazes, I hope I have something to give), but weirdness for the sake of wyrdness is not enough.

(Note to self - that's a banner there.)

When I find myself pitied, these days I find myself torn. It's very tempting just to sit back and milk the pity for everything I can get. Or I can find avenues of power and expression that don't depend on the guilt of another. Guess which lasts longer.

Our culture and our society will excuse you from responsibility if you let it. That's one of the worst things you can do with depression.

I don't do drugs. Part of it is because I know very well how addictive some things can become. Part of it is because for years I saw what the wrong drugs could do to my maternal grandmother and my stepfather. But most of it is because I won't surrender. Today.

I have no magic formula (take three tablespoons of sunlight, gathered on the longest day...), no universal remedy.

Some days I still have to force myself to go through the motions.

I don't want to be,
Going through the motions,
Losing all my drive,
I can't even see if this is really me,
And I just want to be,

I could tell you about the young woman I fell for, how she used sex and pain as a tool to manipulate, and how I lost myself in her for years even long after we stopped seeing each other. I could tell you about the scarification and blood rites I practiced with her, just so I could feel something, anything.

I could tell you about how the right notches on a headboard and collecting pelts led to corporate advancement.

I could tell you about the endless early morning hours spent finding a reason not to kill myself. That day anyway.

I could tell you about the family expectations that I was Called for the ministry after a life of debauchery, and what happened when I decided it wasn't for me.

I could tell you about the time I came very close to walking off a cliff, and to this day I don't know what really pulled me back.

I could tell you about the morning when an IM talk I had convinced me that suicide was never going to be an option, and I would just have to give up and live through it all.

I could tell you about the years spent living behind a series of masks. Heck, even my identity here is a mask, although it's closer to the real me than most of my others.

Let's start with the masks.

That's how I survive. It's also a very questionable solution, but it works. Sort of.

When I share a bed, it's not the core me that is having sex. When I do the-job-that-pays-the-bills, it's not the core me. When I get up in front of a group to talk, it's not the core me. Each of those is a mask, a persona based on hours of obsessive observation and experimentation.

Yes, it should be easier to "do it myself," but that is where the Asperger's and incipient geek factor get in the way.

I may not feel like getting out of bed, but Corporate Clone will do it anyway. There will be a price, but that can be done later after the job is done.

So at home, that's where the masks can come off.

Unless I am entertaining.

No, it's not exactly a healthy response. But it keeps the men with butterfly nets and the straightjacket away.

Somedays, it's even enough to push the depression aside for a bit.

Because that is a truth in passions you see. You can't deny them, you can only displace them. If I really focus, the masks can shield me from the immediate effects, but the costs later will be more. I will have to find a way to disperse the emotion.

Otherwise it rips my life apart.

I draw. I write. I sing. I howl.

I find someone willing and we fuck until we both fall asleep exhausted.

I build. I find something I can give away. I do something for someone else.

Here's what I don't do.

I don't drink, I never have.

I don't indulge in recreational drugs, I never have.

I don't cut myself anymore.

And I don't force my sexual desires on anyone.

*laughs quietly* And by all appearances, I'm a functioning member of society.

I am a joke, a clash of disharmony in the universal pattern. Society barely tolerates me for some of my masks. Some folks I trust do know me for what I am, or at least mostly for what I am. But most people are content with the mask.

Until it pushes them out of their comfort zone.

That's my joke you see. My day to day lifeline. Coyote's gift. The thing that keeps me surviving. I don't quite fit. I never will. Perpetually at the border, that's where I live. It's my nature.

When it's needed, I heal what I can. When it's needed, I push. It's the same thing really, only the perception changes. And each day I live, that's another day I didn't surrender to the forces of banality and mundane expectations.

It's enough. Today.

Overture/Going Through The Motions by Joss Whedon
Posted: Tue - November 25, 2008 at 07:31 AM

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