On depression and grace

23 February 2012

Another week and a half, another absence from the blog.  No matter how often this happens, I never seem to get used to it.

I know I should be more consistent with this.  For one, I have plenty of things to say.  For another, people seem to like them (or at least read them).  And I know the best way to “build traffic” to a blog is to post something, anything, every day.  So I know these long absences are working against my best interests.

And yet they still occur.  The reason they still occur, while simple to state, is not so simply remedied.  Basically, I find it hard to write when I’m depressed.

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So hard to get started in 2012

6 February 2012

It’s only taken me five weeks to write my planned New Year’s Eve post.  Impressive, huh?

In all seriousness, I didn’t plan a month-plus layoff from this blog — it’s just kind of happened.  Every time I went to write something, there would be a distraction, or something else would come up, or I couldn’t get the words together, or I’d be too depressed, or … well, you get the idea.  Writing is not easy for that exact reason: it’s too easy to be taken off-track by almost anything that comes along.  It takes a discipline that I haven’t been exercising, or at least not exercising enough.

And then there’s the depression thing.  I’m thankful that (these days at least) I don’t get depressed seriously enough that I just quit functioning, or require medication to get moving again.  But something about the calendar turning over to 2012 really sent me into a funk.  Mostly, I suspect it was thinking back and realizing that I was barely recovered from the events of 2009 — Sean’s illness, my mom’s death, my continuing unemployment, my wife’s job difficulties, etc.  It’s a lot to move on from (especially when most of them have still-ongoing repercussions), but now I’m finally able to start working on the on-moving.  (Thus, the Churchill quote.  Seemed to fit.)

And so it goes, as Linda Ellerbee used to say. But at least, thank Heaven, it goes!

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More problems with (and lessons from) pain

10 November 2011

Yeah, another long absence from blogland on my part.  My intentions were good.  I had topics ready to go.  There have been no problems with my computer.  And yet there I wasn’t.

The reason?  Because I was having trouble thinking straight enough to write.  And the reason for that was a serious bout of pain in my right leg.

I was diagnosed earlier this year with “chronic tendinosis.”  What that phrase means is that the tendons in my right ankle and lower leg can get stretched out of shape very easily and will hurt like nobody’s business, causing problems with activities like walking, standing, sitting and lying down.  What that phrase ALSO means is that a long battery of tests, my doctor can identify the symptoms (no duh, so can I!) and slap a label on them, but she doesn’t have a clue what causes it or how to cure it.  As diagnoses go, “chronic tendinosis” is about as helpful as what Warren Zevon was once told by his doctor.

So since just before Halloween (for which I had a blog post prepared, which now will have to wait until next year), I’ve been limping around in great pain, with my ankle swelled up to almost the size of my calf, often unable to relax the muscles or flex it in any direction because of the pain.  I had prescription Naproxen and Flexeril around from the last flare-up; the Naproxen had no effect, while I can’t tell if the Flexeril helped because it knocked me unconscious.  Finally I resorted to a steady diet of three ibuprofen every four hours plus occasional applications of Icy Hot, and things started improving.

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On the shoulders of giants: samples from my quote collection

15 September 2011

If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants. — Isaac Newton, in a letter to Robert Hooke, 1676

I love quotations.  There are so many times when I’ll run across something that was said by someone else, and it is so appropriate to a situation, or so relevant to my life, or so matches my way of thinking — but phrased so much better than I ever could’ve — that it just hits me amidships.  I love those moments.  And whenever a quote like that comes along, I steal it.  It’s true.  I steal it, and place it in an alabaster box lacquered with pictures of encyclopedists dancing in flowery meadows.  (Okay, not really — I use copy & paste on my computer and save it in a Microsoft Word document, but if I could keep them all in an alabaster box, I would.)

Today, dear reader, I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.  Like Gaul in the days of Julius Caesar, they divide roughly into three parts: quotes about writing and creativity; quotes about theology, religion and ethics; and everything else.  This is just a sample from my collection — I’m holding back some stuff so I can do this again down the road.

Ready?  Let’s climb up on those shoulders, then …

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Discipline is never as easy as it looks …

10 September 2011

(Subtitled: Where Was I Last Week?  And Where Will I Be Going Next?)

Less than a month ago, I wrote here about the blessing of having a self-imposed schedule, and how I was hoping it would add some more discipline and purpose to my life.  I closed that post with the words: “It’s a blessing and a half; all I have to do is keep doing it. Which is, I know, the hard part.  But at least I’m off to a good start.”

Well, this last week, the “keep doing it” kind of fell apart.

It wasn’t that I was so swamped I couldn’t keep to it, or that I was so lazy I didn’t do much of anything.  I scrubbed and bleached and wiped down a goodly portion of the bathroom, and mopped the kitchen floor.  I got everyone to work/school on time.  I was even writing — part 3 of my Iron Man fanfic series “Vignettes” (a follow-up to the now-complete “Hearts and Souls”) was released to the world on Wednesday.  So it’s not like I was totally hopeless.

But maybe having everyone home on Monday for Labor Day threw me off a little.  And … well, you know me — I always want to do better.  (Feel free to point at me and yell, “PERFECTIONIST!”  I’ll just nod and smile ruefully.)  This last week gave me plenty of room to do better …

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Thinking inside the box(es): the blessing of a schedule

16 August 2011

I’m coming up on three years of being unemployed now.

Now, I will admit there are a couple of asterisks attached to that statement.  I did a three-week temp job riding public transportation for a consulting firm.  I’ve also done a little freelance wordsmithing (business letters and the like) for a couple of friends who needed such things done.  And from August 2009 until last month, I was spending several hours a day caring for a severely disabled child.  But still, I haven’t had semi-permanent, full-time employment since just after Lehman Brothers went splat.  (Probably not coincidental.)

All that time NOT spent on a 9-5 or similar schedule has been rough on me.  I’m someone that needs to be busy — even if I’m doing nothing much, it needs to be a “doing nothing much” that keeps me focused and occupied.  (Prayer isn’t a problem; that’s “doing something,” and I have to be focused so I don’t miss what God might say.  But no silent meditation for me, thanks.)  Which means that I end up finding things to fill the time, but without the requirements of a job, filling the time can end up meaning looking at funny captions on pictures of cats for two hours at a clip.  And that sort of thing was beginning to happen more and more.

Clearly, I needed to get myself on a schedule.

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Projecting 2011: One month in

2 February 2011

Back on January 4, I wrote about the projects I believed God was guiding me to work on for 2011.  What struck me about them at the time was how mundane they were — no grand public gestures or insurmountable obstacles, just stuff-around-the-house kinds of things.  I was a little put out, until I realized that a) part of the purpose was to focus me by getting me to concentrate on fewer activities than usual, and b) the underlying subtext was that I was right where God wanted me for now.

So that’s all right, then.  But how am I doin’ with what God has me doin’?  Four and a half weeks into the new year, that seems like a good question to ask.  So why don’t I take a look, and see how well I’ve been keeping up …

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