Josh and Depression Vs. The World: Day 88

I’m feeling absolutely no motivation to do anything today. Except write this blog. I find myself asking what I want to actually do with my life. Let me rephrase – I know what I want to do with my life, but my fear is that I won’t get to do it. Or that I will only be mediocre at it.

I strive to be the best that I can be. I really do strive for that. And I keep going around in circles saying to myself “well, if were truly great, wouldn’t I be discovered by now? Wouldn’t my greatness be self-evident?”

But this leads me to become more obsessed with being great than with having fun, or with saying what I want to say – and then I get stuck in everything – the writing, the performing, everything. And always there’s the question of whether or not I’m good enough – the greatest fear I have is to tell myself “yes, I am good enough.”

That is my biggest fear. Perhaps that is the cornerstone of all of this depression. The fear of believing in myself.

Saying that I’m great – first of all, that’s horrible for comedy. People don’t want to hear about how wonderful I am. They want to hear about how miserable I am. If this were Josh and Happiness Vs. The World – Facebook would have banned me by now.

So, my instinct as an artist is to say “you are an original, wonderful, and talented individual who has been touched by God.”

But the comedian in me says “at best, you’re the economy version of Richard Lewis. And you can’t digest milk products. And there is no God, so you should call the police on who or whatever “touched” you.”

So where is the truth? Somewhere in between. Or perhaps it doesn’t matter.

I read the following in a book about meditation: there are three basic steps to medication – precision, gentleness, and letting go.

Precision – the discipline of practice.

Gentleness – not letting precision run away with you.

Letting go – happens eventually, by itself, as you find the balance between precision and gentleness.

I’d say the same is true for stand-up. I need to find a better balance between precision and gentleness. The morning is a great time for precision – that’s when I write. Gentleness is useful after bad performances, and letting go will happen when it happens. Yes, it all sounds angelic on paper – it’s quite another thing when I say what I think is a punchline, and it turns out to be just another sentence.

Or is it that I’m not even sure what I want anymore? The things that gave me joy are no longer doing so.

Or am I just tired?

So continues the endless questioning. And then the thought that I am letting everyone down.

That’s it – I’m getting a Rice Krispy treat.

Josh & Depression Vs. The World: Day 88

Surprisingly not depressed today, which is TERRIFYING to admit, because I’m afraid God takes that as a challenge.

I talked to my mom yesterday- that actually helped me – why? Because I need other people in order to survive. That’s why Mad Max is so mad. If he had even a sister-in-law, he’d be a little less mad. He’d be Moderately Annoyed Max.

It it wrong that I am glad the kids are all back in school? The streets are less crowded with raw enthusiasm, and I can feel the crushing of spirits increasing exponentially. This shouldn’t be a good thing, and nevertheless, it makes me feel light on my feet.

I also came to the realization today that maybe I should only focus on what I want to do in life, and maybe that will make me feel better. Well, let’s not use the word “better.” That word hasn’t been applicable since the era of the Trapper Keeper.

Are there still Trapper Keepers? Their slogan should be “Trapper Keeper: So cool, you won’t notice that major disparity in educational opportunities between the classes.”

The Trapper Keeper was a notebook with “cool” designs on the front. They were big on turquoise. I enjoy turquoise myself. It’s blue, but with 10% less depression.

Does this mean I’ve won the war against depression? Oh, God no. Not at all. How could I even come up with a thought like that? Besides – that thought goes against the whole point of this blog – which is to turn depression into a friend. After all, who else is as reliable?

Making friends with depression. That’s why I’d like to celebrate having a negative attitude. For all those people out there who hold no hope that the next Batman movie will be any better than the last, I raise my glass to you!

For all those out there who have given up on the possibility of a Twin Peaks finale with a happy ending, I raise my glass to you!

For all those out there who react to “true love” the same way you react to “Rogers And Hammerstein,” I raise my glass to you!

Josh and Depression Vs. The World: Day 86

Sundays give me the free time to worry about Monday morning. I’m contemplating getting another job just so I can vary my anxiety.

I had a profound conversation last night where I received the following advice: purge the trauma that has caused the depression through writing and performing. So I’d better start from the beginning.

Conception – I don’t actually remember any of this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the sperm that fertilized the egg went through survivor’s guilt.

I have been told that I cried a lot when I was a baby – and that the reason could have been because I was lactose intolerant, and it took everybody some time to realize it. So the root of my depression is my failure to digest ice cream. Hence, there is no cure for depression.

I’m tired of being told that I should be optimistic. I know this is a departure from the theme, but I can’t get this out of my head. I’m reading this article about how people should teach their children to be more optimistic. If somebody is optimistic or pessimistic, doesn’t mean that they are not currently doing anything? If I have time to think about whether or not the glass is half full or half empty, the one thing I am not doing is something constructive, like filling the glass with alcohol.

So instead of being pessimistic or optimistic, do something! That’s the only thing that helps me. I go do something.

Sometimes I ask myself “what would I be doing right now if I were not depressed,” and then I would do that (the answer is sex, so I obviously can’t do that – I have to go with the next best thing, which is sugar and processed white flour).

I’m suddenly feeling fatigue. Which means that I am close to an emotional breakthrough – yes, what was the emotional cause of my depression – where did that begin?

It began when I started to want things. Success, achievement, love from an outside source. Before that, I was perfectly content to play with my M.A.S.K. Toys – including the red car that turned into a plane by simply having gull-wing doors. I was too young to worry about the real-world physics of this vehicle.

Thinking about the past like this irritates me – it’s the past. Whatever it is that I was, I am now what I am, and it is what it is. I have to accept that first, before things change.

I am afraid. Constantly afraid. Of everything and anything. As soon as the fear of one thing lifts, the fear of something else takes it’s place. My fears are like Starbucks promotions – there’s always a new one just around the corner. And I’m dreading whatever fear is represented by the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Josh and Depression Vs. The World: Day 84

I’ve transitioned from depressed to afraid, so it looks like things are on the mend! It’s a relief to return to not being able to digest anything, due to the immense panic. It’s like I’m young again.

People aren’t reassuring me by telling me that I’m “young.” Anymore. They’re saying I’m “still young.” That means I’m three years away from “you’re a failure.” Though I would argue that I’m a failure now – so when it comes to failing, I’m ahead of my time.

I have come to the following conclusion after doing this blog for nearly three months: I have to face my fears.

1 – I recorded a comedy album in March. I’m going to release it by October 1st.
2 – My goal is to record a new comedy album next March.
3 – Starting October 1st, I’m going to be writing and starring in a webseries – let’s say five episodes. It’s either going to be a vlog about my life or a multipart epic science fiction adventure that rivals anything written by Bradbury or Asimov. We’ll see what the focus groups say.
4 – Wild Card – maybe I’ll also write a comedic novel due November 1st. It might be a graphic novel without the graphics.

These are the big fears.

I’m not sure what to say after that. I could go on and harp or complain or lament, but I’m suddenly not feeling the desire to do that.

There’s another monumental fear that I’m not even looking at yet – that would be the fear of relationships. The above fears, in many ways, are easy – they involve me either in my room by myself, or protected onstage by the barrier between performer and audience. But I’m taking baby steps.

I was talking about depression with my cousin (it runs in our family. More specifically, it IS our family.)

He was telling me about how we get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and about the world around us. (The story I am telling myself is written, with much enthusiasm, by Victor Hugo.)

I suppose the trick is to identify the story I am telling myself as just that – a story. And this is where we meet up with Zen concepts – we must recognize that our thoughts are “thoughts,” and inso doing, we begin to see the illusion of our existence and achieve a higher level of equanimity and peace. Or we should just drink. At this point, it’s a toss up.

Last night, I tried counting my breaths in order to fall asleep. Here’s how that went:

One… two… three… MY LIFE IS FALLING APART THERE IS NO LOVE IN THE UNIVERSE I WILL DIE FORGOTTEN… I lost count… one… two… three… I THINK I’M FINALLY STARTING TO FALL ASLEEP – NOW I’M WIDE AWAKE – I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM AGAIN – I lost count… one… two… three… I CAN HOLD IT IN UNTIL MORNING BUT THAT’S UNHEALTHY I lost count.

I was finally able to get to sleep. It was right around that time that my alarm decided to go off.

And now I’m here writing this. Perhaps, at the end of the day, the only way for me to deal with depression is to keep myself busy. Depression needs a project – it’s too bad my depression isn’t a good contractor. For all the hours that its around, I could have central air by now.

Josh and Depression Vs. The World: Day 83

The only reason I don’t feel bad is because I don’t have the energy. Now THERE’S a status update for you.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my biggest problem is in avoiding failure. Namely, by avoiding failure, I have achieved an even deeper level of failure. So my aim is to embrace failure. After all, confidence comes with experience, and when it comes to failure, I’m a Fulbright Scholar.

I should start with a list of things that frighten me.

1 – Everything.

Ok, maybe I need to narrow my parameters.

1 – Everything.
2 – Everything else.

Ok, maybe I need to start small and work my way up.

I’ve always been afraid of writing one-liners. So I’m going to write some one-liners.

1 – I’m on a seafood diet. I “see” food and I “cry in the shower.”
2 – My family used to play “Trivial Pursuit.” We never played “Sorry” because saying that word out loud violated our family edict.
3 – I’ve decided to wear a fanny pack, because there’s still occasionally a person who is surprised when I tell them I’m single.
4 – I thought the sequel was going to be “Star Wars: The Force Hits The Snooze Button For Ten Minutes, Then Hits It Again, Sleeps Through the Meeting, And Spends The Rest of The Day Terrified It’s Going To Get Fired.”
5 – Yoga Pants – making me feel either guilty about being aroused or guilty about being disgusted.
6 – Chewbacca was quietly disappointed when Han refused to change his name to Duo, though he understood the emotional complexity of the situation.
7 – People wear track suits for two kinds of tracks: race and depression.

Josh & Depression Vs. The World: Day 82

I’m feeling less suicidal today. They should create an emoji for that – not sure exactly what it would look like, but it would involve some kind of shrug of the shoulders.

I’m focused on facing my fears. Specifically my fear of failure. So what is my fear right now, in this moment of writing this? My fear is that what I am writing here isn’t funny enough. So let’s go back to suicide.

While sitting at dinner during a family night, my grandmother asked me where my mother was, and I said, casually, that she was out back committing suicide. My grandmother said that this was not funny. When I told my mother about it later, my mother disagreed and said that it was, in fact, humorous. So I felt vindicated. And I am also just now realizing that I am my mother.

Random quote:

“Ok, gentlemen, let’s admit it. We’re already sick of peaches.”
Presidents of the United States of America on their second day of vacation in the country.

Back to the blog.

Why do I think about killing myself? Because I feel trapped and helpless. According to the Twelve step program, the first step is to admit that I am powerless, and the second step is to trust in a higher power.

Can my higher power be the power of Anxiety? Of all the powers on earth, I gotta say that anxiety seems to be the most powerful in my life. I could trust in anxiety. I challenge anybody’s other higher power to go up against my higher power. You send the greatest God in the universe up against Anxiety, and Anxiety will have Him wondering if he left the universe unlocked.

I suppose love could also be a higher power. And perhaps I have to trust in love. I think love is something I can trust about 68% of the time. That feels right. Anxiety on the other hand – I don’t know. I’m torn by this one.

No I’m not. Love. That should be the higher power. The idea of trusting in the love of others. That’s the scary thing to do. That’s the very scary thing to do. So that is what I must start doing.

Side note – my skin crawls whenever I use an emoji of any kind. I feel like I’m betraying the spirit of all of my english teachers. Also, I’d like to think I’m decent with the whole “words” thing (this last sentence excluded), so it pisses me off that our method of communication is shifting to a more image-based system. I wonder if anybody under twenty-five has any idea what I’m saying right now.

On the other hand, it is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Instead of writing this blog, should I just post a picture of a sad face? God, now that I think about it – that might actually say everything I need to say perfectly.

Because what are words if not an abstraction. In other words, could it be possible that, by using one picture, we are actually closer to understanding reality than by using a thousand words? At the end of the day, all Buddha needed to achieve enlightenment was one magic eye puzzle.

I still remember the song to that “Skip It” commercial. But I don’t remember all the happy moments of my childhood. That’s how good that songwriter is.

Josh and Depression Vs. The World: Day 81

The whole point of this blog is to find the humor in my depression. So here’s the set-up I’m working with today: I feel like killing myself. Is it too hacky to follow that with “…am I right ladies?” I would argue that it depends upon the delivery.

But I’m not going to lie to you. I feel like killing myself today. I feel like there is no hope for the kind of future that I want. And that no matter what I do, I will never be the success I want to be, and I will never find the kind of love I want to experience. I always feel this way in the fall, which means my depression knows when to expect pumpkin spice lattes.

When I envision my best possible future, it involves me, in my mid-fifties, alone and broke, sitting at my mother’s grave, telling her about my latest screenplay idea, and lamenting that it is not four-quadrant enough to be marketable.

I struggle to get out of bed. I lack the motivation to do the things I like doing. I feel the total absence of joy. In other words, I’m finally ready to write alt-rock music.

I have lost the motivation to tell all the stories that excite me. I’m losing my motivation to write things that make me laugh. Fortunately, my sugar addiction has never been better. Thank God for some small miracles.

Work is kind of distracting, until it gets late, and I get too tired to concentrate, but not tired enough to ponder the hopelessness of my life.

It’s worse when I’m alone. But the thought of being with somebody for the sake of not being alone sickens me. I don’t want to use somebody as a human night light. I want to be self-sufficient- like Mad Max- yes, he was lonely and miserable, but he somehow always managed to get his car serviced.

I fantasize about how I will end my life. I will go to the mountains, because why be depressed when I can also be annoyed. I hate overlooks and I have asthma.

I will climb to the top of a mountain – ok, a foothill. Asthma.

I will turn my back to the edge of the cliff, I will take out a gun, and I will blow my brains out and fall over the side, to ensure that, one way, or another, I die, and by the time they find me, it will be too late for them to save me, if they find me at all. And my death will be a tragedy to one or two, sad to some, a footnote to many, and meaningless to billions. (that last sentence is a terrific sentence, and not only do I feel guilty reveling in the quality of my own writing, but I ALSO feel disappointed that, even though it is a well-written sentence, it is not FUNNY. You have to admit that my ability to destroy even a shred of self-respect is unparalleled).

And my remains will be absorbed into the earth and become the trees and the rain and the fog and the tears of others, and the pageantry will be carried out by new generations of disaffected. And with my luck, that’s when they finally make a Justice League movie that works.

Here’s the absolute kicker: all my life, when I’ve fallen into this dark place, I’ve hoped and prayed that someone would come along or something would happen to pull me out. I don’t want this anymore. I don’t want to be saved. If I’m saved, then I become indebted.

[Random thought: what if Thanos meant to kill the OTHER half of all people? He mixed it up the way we sometimes copy and paste the wrong excel spreadsheet column, and he figured it out when he went to his favorite pastry shop and Mitch, the baker, had been reduced to dust, while his less-than-stellar assistant, Rupert, was still standing. Granted, he had the infinity Gauntlet, so he could probably bring back the people he wanted to bring back and destroy the people he wanted to destroy – but that would probably involve a whole new excel spreadsheet, or at least a new tab.]

[Random thought 2: you think there was ever a time when a Zen Master asked a student about whether or not a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if no one is around to hear it, and the student replied by saying “I think I’ll stick with the prescription drugs.”]

One thing keeps me going – seeing how bad it can get. It’s like slowing down near a car wreck, except, I am slowing down and staring at myself as a lower-middle class 36-year-old “comedian” who has lived a life so uneventful, he notices the carpet pattern on the Bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

I debate whether or not to post this – my biggest fear is that the Facebook algorithm will take it upon itself to connect me to a helpline.

“But at least you have your health.” People have said that to me before. “You’re right. I have my health. In fact, I’m healthy enough to take this baseball bat and bash your face in. I’m healthy enough to take your health away. Thanks for cheering me up.”

I’m a tired, lonely, failure. Not old, but not that young anymore. “Don’t give up,” people say to me. Perhaps they’re right – perhaps that is game – yes, I’m a failure, but how long can I continue to be a failure? If I can do this into my eighties – well, there’s an achievement.

Failure. That’s what I keep coming to. Failure. What if that’s the root of all of this depression – running from failure. I have to turn around and head into the failure. Face the failure head on.

[Random Thought 3: What does Enya listen to to relax? Please tell me it’s Poison.]

I’m too afraid to ask out women I’m attracted to. I have failed at even attempting to be in a relationship.

[Random Thought 4: the Enya song “sail away” works because it evokes the image of a ship gliding across the ocean. The song would not work as well if it were called “segue away.”]

I lack the courage to show my work to people for fear of it being rejected.

[Random Thought 5: Pikachu is depressed because no matter how hard he tries, he will never be taken seriously as a classical flautist.]

I’m afraid to say I’m good enough.

[Random Thought 6: Aren’t all stores “outlet” stores? What store is there where you cannot remove any of the products from the building?]

I’m afraid of being rejected so I reject others first.

[Random Thought 7: Where women are concerned, shouldn’t it be called “libida?”]

I still care what other people think about.

[Random Thought 8: I’d like to see a Phantom of the Opera movie where, right when the Phantom is about to kill somebody, he is accosted by an actual supernatural phantom who says “THAT’S not a Phantom. THIS is a phantom!”]

I’m oversensitive and I hate being wrong or being critiqued.

[Random Thought 9: In spite of all the hoopla, I actually think the Hulk is pretty credible.]

I guess I’ll keep going and not give up.

[Random Thought 10: I think the reason Thanos won in Infinity War Part 1 is because he knew that all the Avengers from all the movies would be far too preoccupied introducing themselves to each other to save the day in time.]

Josh and Depression Vs. The World: Day 78

I really struggled to get out of bed today. And I can’t help but wonder if I am only making things worse by talking about this. But what is the alternative? I deny it? Or I go get help. I’ve tried getting help before, and I always end up back here.

The only thing that seems to work is to just keep going. Or, rather, keep trudging. The hardest thing now is pretending to be fine around other people – because if I don’t pretend to be fine, something horrible like a conversation about it could happen. And let me tell you, the last thing I would want to get sucked into is a conversation with somebody who is depressed. I know. I’m the one who has found myself talking my head off – and for what purpose? To what end? It never helps.

Even Facebook doesn’t want to hear it. Facebook will only show the first few sentences and then the words “see more.” And in many cases, that “see more” is something of a dare to the reader.

I think I’ll be better once absolutely nothing brings me joy. There are still a few things I enjoy right now, and that’s really holding me back. Once I can release myself into the absolute abyss of hopelessness, then maybe things will look up.

It’s the middle of the day, and as I write this, I find myself dozing off – falling asleep – I think it’s a defense mechanism – there’s something I don’t want to face. What is it?

I’m a failure.

The only good news is that I seem to be more and more ok with failing on a daily basis, and occasionally, something successful happens (only because there is no God. If there were, my failure would be more orderly and consistent). And that is life. Failure and occasional moments of synchronicity.

Am I being fair to myself when I say that I am a failure? I suppose it depends upon how I define success. The same way everybody else defines success. Being good at stuff and making money at it. That’s success. If I were any good at anything, I’d be making way more money.

If I tell myself that I am a failure, then I will be a failure.

If I tell myself that I am a success, then I will be a failure in denial.

If I tell myself that “if I keep working at it, I will be a success one day,” then I’m a failure with hope.

And that is my life right now – vacillating between being a hopeless failure and a hopeful failure.

What fuels hope? What is the root of it? Is it a lie? Or is it simply the expectation of positive brain stimulation. A “good” thing happens and it presses the “happy” button in the brain. Is that all it is? But does the happy button mean anything? Does it last? Is it worth striving for?

I’ve been angry at everyone around me, and at life, and at the world. But what have I done to help? How have I been better? I am a failure.

But it’s always important, in times of these personal revelations, to maintain a sense of humor.

True, I may be a failure, but at least I’m not the kind of person who tries to make casual conversation with the baristas at Coffee Bean when they clearly are busy. I may be a failure, but at least I’m not a monster.