Josh Vs. Depression: Day 23

Guilt. Finally, a topic of conversation that I can discuss with expertise. Whether or not I made a mistake in a situation, I can find the guilt. (By the way, sorry about the election). I can use whatever I did or didn’t do as evidence to myself that I am not worthy of happiness. Onstage, I will joke about how, by doing this, I am essentially practicing Judaism. That is a joke that is only 99.9999999% based in truth.

I remember taking a test in fourth or fifth grade. We were grading ourselves. I got two problems wrong, but the number I had written on a third answer was not very legible. So I went ahead and graded myself down. I don’t remember rationally why I did this, but I do remember feeling depressed about it. I injured myself on purpose.

I’m punishing myself with depression. I’ve done this for years. I did this in high school when I didn’t get into Advanced Acting, and I do it to this day.

“You enjoy being in your own pain,” my teacher once told me. The general feeling I get from people is this: “Some part of you must get off on it. That’s why you keep doing it.” That’s the common wisdom that’s thrown at me by people who have more traditional and accepted neuroses.

I’m beginning to think that guilt is easier than fear. Beating myself up is vastly preferable to admitting that I was wrong, or admitting that I was right, or taking an even greater risk: letting go and moving on. If I am feeling guilty, it means I am thinking instead of doing. The greatest advice I ever got was from my sixth grade history teacher. “When you stop to think, don’t forget to start again.”

Josh Vs. Depression: Day 22

I’m in the bitterness part of the cycle. This is where things are starting to better, and I need to do everything in my power to mitigate that, before God finds out and does it for me. So I complain about (insert meaningless detail about daily life that won’t matter in five years here).

This is the part of the cycle where I go on imaginary rants in my car and in the shower. I used to feel ashamed of doing this. Now I’m seeing the value in it. I rant to myself to get it out of my system so that I don’t do it in real life and say something I regret. I’m pretty sure He-Man does the same thing, standing in his shower –

Though, this brings up an interesting question. Does He-Man shower as He-Man or as Prince Adam? I would imagine that he showers when he’s Prince Adam. Because to shower while being He-Man would more than likely prove to be a breach in protocol. Then again, did the Sorceress ever say he couldn’t shower as He-Man? If it were up to me, I would probably shower as Prince Adam, because my body mass would be smaller and I wouldn’t use as much soap. It would be a good cost-cutting measure. And though he is a Prince, I would hazard to guess that he has a sound financial sense.

But at any rate, I’m sure that He-Man and/or Prince Adam lectures people in the shower:

“Well, that’s why you shouldn’t investigate something before calling me, Man At Arms! None of you are as powerful as I am. They shouldn’t even call us ‘Masters of the Universe.’ I’m the Master of the Universe, the rest of you are more like ‘middle management of the Universe.’ Don’t be offended, it’s the truth. And what the hell is that mouth guard thing you have? I can barely understand you. And for God’s sake, shave the moustache.”

Skeletor definitely screams in the shower. And it’s muffled because he has to put a plastic bag over his head so water doesn’t flow in through his eye sockets.

Is there a correlation between loneliness and depression? I used to think there was, but now I’m not so sure. As my mother is so fond of pointing out, even people who are in relationships are lonely. And surely, many of them are also depressed.

Perhaps, in the end, the emotional journey towards inner tranquility is a path that we must all walk alone, and rest assured, the flowers along that path will be murder on my sinuses.

Josh Vs. Depression: Day 21

To cheer myself up, I like inventing quotes by Confucius. Here’s one of my favorites:

“You’re an idiot.”
-Confucius

What it lacks in irony and poetry, it makes up for with the perfection of reality.

But I digress. I remember being told in college that we experience all emotions simultaneously. That is to say, at any given moment, we have the ability to feel any emotion. Emotions are like different paints on a palette. Granted, I’m not an expert in either psychology or biology, by my palette seems to have an inordinate amount of blue paint.

Or is that an illusion? Have I convinced myself of a reality about myself that is not, in fact, reality? Is the concept of “depression” simply a concept. A construct that exists only because the THOUGHT of it exists?

Or is it a habit? A pattern of behavior, established at an early age, that becomes very difficult to break?

This is where people would tell me “it is what it is,” which is the worst phrase of the 21st century, and I know this to be true because Seinfeld was making fun of the phrase on one of the latest episodes of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. If a phrase or a thing has been noticed by Seinfeld, that means it is annoying. All Supreme Court Justices would side with me on this.

The best wisdom I’ve ever heard is this: if you want something to change, the first thing you have to do is accept it for what it is. I accept my depression for what it is. Sometimes it is standing in front of me. Sometimes it is standing miles away. I just realized I’m basically saying “it is what it is,” which torments me.

Josh Vs. Depression: Day 20

I’m stressed and overwhelmed, which is one of the only ways that I can avoid depression. In other words, my primary coping mechanism for depression is panic. It sounds like a full-proof plan, doesn’t it?

And yet, a part of me longs to get to point in my life where I live near enough to the beach to feel the salt air, but far enough away to avoid the tsunami and/or rising ocean levels and/or invasion from New Zealand. (Why New Zealand? Because nobody would expect it, to paraphrase the Monty Python bit). And I would sit at a coffee shop every day, and every joke I would tweet would earn me billions – that would be the life. Sometimes I wonder if such a life would lead me to boredom and depression – the grass is always greener, people say. Here’s the thing about the expression “The grass is always greener.” Sometimes, it is actually greener. I’m saying “the grass is only greener” to myself because I’m HOPING it’s not greener. Because if it IS greener, then that will reaffirm that life is hell.

Fewer annoying people are at the coffee shop today – I shouldn’t write that, because as soon as I write that, God will say “Oh, sorry. I’ll get right on it.”

Where was I – sorry, I was fast forwarding to a part of the day where I’m planning on getting frustrated.

Maybe I need to turn my view of self-fulfilling prophecy around. What I don’t mean by that is that I should start focusing on positive self-fulfilling prophecies. I mean, haven’t I made God laugh enough? What I like about focusing on negative self-fulfilling prophecies is that I can choose when and how I’m miserable – it’s like “On Demand” for depression. The alternative is letting the outside world affect my mood- I refuse. By the way, mark your calendars for the 25th. That’s going to be a whopper of a downer. What will be the cause? Let’s go with the old reliable “I hope my epididymitis isn’t getting worse.”

I’ve also been wondering how much further I should take this blog. Theoretically, I could write this every day for the rest of my life. But then this thought crosses my mind: what if I am no longer depressed? Because I refuse to write a blog about being happy and fulfilled – I wouldn’t wish that blog on my greatest enemies.

SKELETOR: It was horrible.

EVILYN: what happened?

SKELETOR: He-Man forced me to read his happy journal.

EVILYN: You must be avenged.

SKELETOR: Yes. Summon Hordac. And the Snake Men. And Steve.

EVELYN: Who’s Steve?

SKELETOR: He’s the barista at Starbucks who tries really hard to be cheerful, but you can tell that he’s broken inside, and as a result, he comes off as really annoying. We need to put him on the front lines.

Josh Vs. Depression: Day 19

It doesn’t matter how good I feel. The fear of falling back into depression is always there. Lurking. Sitting next to the fear of death. I’m pretty sure they carpool.

Maybe the lurking is a good thing. The sheer irony of depression is that, when it lifts, I almost feel a hesitation to let it go. Depression is a safety blanket. If I remain depressed, then I don’t have to go through the enormous pain of falling from a good mood.

I’m not sure if my goal is happiness. My goal is quiet, mixed with not spending money.

There’s a – I don’t know what they are, a family – of people sitting next to me – they have a loud energy. There’s only three of them, but they make enough noise for five or six. And they make annoying noises in very odd ways – the way the shake their sugar packets endlessly – it grates on my nerves. Surely the real problem is within me. I am not satisfied with my life, and as a result, the life around me bothers me. On the other hand, stop shaking a sugar packet non stop. And why are you putting that much sugar in coffee? Just eat a pastry, for God’s sake. Where are these thoughts coming from?

I’m sorry that I am interrupting this blog with complaining about these people, but they’re at this Coffee Bean many times – and I don’t know what it is about them, but they get on my nerves. They’re the kind of family that lives next door to Chevy Chase in an 80’s movie. They’re funny to watch from a distance, but annoying up close.

I’m not even being fair to these people – I’m sure they’re not the monsters I am saying they are.

Granted, as I’m writing this, I am rocking back and forth, and I know that action annoys people. When I sit down at the coffee shop and rock back and forth, people around me very quickly get up and leave. I know I should work on centering myself, but at the same time, if you have a problem with me rocking back and forth, then stop shaking your sugar packets like an animal.

Where was I? Depression. That’s where I was. I’m actually feeling worse now, which is refreshing. For a second there, I was afraid things were going to look up too much.

Maybe it’s because I’m tired. Maybe that’s why these people are annoying me. I stayed up late watching Castlevania last night – it’s a great animated series based on a video game. It’s based, specifically, on Castlevania 3. Yet another example of a Vampire story in which nobody asks the Rabbi for help. Surely Rabbis can fight vampires just as well as priests? The Star of David is practically a throwing star. You know this, don’t you?

Josh Vs. Depression: Day 18

Josh Vs. Depression: Day 18

If you’re depressed today, remember: so is everybody else.

A friend of mine questioned whether or not depression is a label. Not to be confused with the label of a fine wine.

“Ah yes, I’ll have a glass of the dry, white depression, please. Yes, the ‘57 Chateu Des Miserables.”

By the way, if depression were a musical, it would be Les Mis. What is the lesson of Les Mis? Don’t try to navigate through a war unless your an ingenue.

But back to the matter at hand – regarding depression as a label.

The disadvantage: that the potential exists for depression to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The advantage: that the label somehow helps me get girls.

The second one is not so much an “advantage” as it is a “pipe dream.”

Speaking of labels, I might also be a little bisexual. I’m sensing a running theme in my life. Mild depression, mild bisexuality. Joshua Snyder: a touch of sad. I say this because, in any of the preceding or following blogs, when I say “I hope I get the girl,” what I mean to say is “I hope I get the girl and/or maybe a guy, just to try it once.” But that second way of saying it takes a lot more words.

Mild bisexuality does not help mild depression – not for a lack of support. I am blessed with having supportive parents and friends, so I’m not worried about a lack of acceptance. What I am worried about is that, by being heterosexual light, I am appealing to neither sex. But then I console myself with the fact that my sexual identity is not what is keeping me single – it’s my personality. It’s a non-sexual element. And remember, everybody else is miserable!

So where does that leave me for today? With a knot in my back.

I’m also having a lot of trouble falling asleep. Is this depression? Or is it the oppressive heat? Oppressive heat and depression have a lot of similarities. Depression is the psychological South Florida.

Josh Vs. Depression: Day 17

Feeling better today, emotionally. Feeling worse, physically. I should not have eaten those Lunchables at midnight last night. I figured that if I chose the turkey Lunchables over the ham Lunchables, I would be making the healthier choice. By choosing Turkey, I’m only going to suffer half the day today.

Depression effects what and how I eat. I have tried, in vein, to quit sugar. I use sugar as a pick-me-up, which is unhealthy. I heard recently that eating processed sugar is just as bad for me as smoking. That’s why those 1940’s movies are a bad influence – you know the ones – where the bombshell blonde walks into the detectives office and starts binge eating rice krispy treats.

That’s my current poison – the Starbucks rice krispy treat. According to the packaging, the treat is gluten free. “Well, there you have it,” I tell myself. “I’m turning over a new leaf with regard to my personal health.” You know what else is gluten free? Fallout from a nuclear weapon.

Underneath all of this is the dread of what I like to call “the oncoming storm.” What’s going to come along that will cause me distress. What mistake will I make, or have I already made without me knowing it, that will trigger my depression? It feels like a ticking time bomb.

Oddly, that’s why I have full confidence in continuing this blog. Even though I’m feeling better now, what are the chances that I won’t be better in one, two, or three days? Profoundly high.

So even when I am not depressed, I am still suffering from depression. What a brilliant disorder!

I’m writing this here at the Coffee Bean I always go to. Every day, an older woman comes in. She ties her dog to one of the chairs outside and goes into the Coffee Shop. While she is in the coffee shop, the dog barks non-stop. This is why I hate the human race. If aliens were watching that, they would say to themselves “you know what, we should feel no guilt in wiping this species off of the face of the earth – we mean the humans, not the dogs. The dogs deserve a medal after dealing with these idiots.”

And yet, part of me envies the dog. All the dog needs is to be close to its master. Once that happens, the dog is fine. What the hell am I saying? I have no idea what the dog is thinking. It could be a lose-lose situation for the dog. The dog barks when the master is out of sight, and when the master is there, the dog feels like nobody appreciates the novel he just self-published.

Josh Vs. Depression: Day 16

I bombed last night, but I’m not depressed about it today, which means I’m comfortably back in denial!

I watched all the new episodes of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, taking care to assume Seinfeld was talking about me whenever he talked about what he hated seeing in comedy.

I’m starting to get bored writing this blog, which can only mean one thing: another external trigger that will normally cause a major wave of depression is about to strike. Me getting bored with depression is the equivalent of all the animals going quiet right before the big predator walks through the woods.

Is this a self-fulfilling prophecy? No. Because if it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that bad things never stop happening. That’s why I shouldn’t be as worried as I am about not being able to come up with new material.

I remember the Zen story of the woman being chased by a Tiger. She finds herself dangling over a cliff, about to fall. The tiger is above her, clawing at her. Below her is a life-ending drop. She notices a flower growing on the cliff wall next to her, and she takes a moment to appreciate it….

Total waste of time, if you ask me. She’s about to die, and she’s looking at a flower? There won’t be any time left to wallow in bitterness.

Here’s the other moral of the story: don’t go on safaris. Stay in the suburbs. Remember – as bad as quiet desperation is, it’s better than loud “oh my God it’s a tiger” desperation.

Pretty sure I nailed my interpretation of that Buddhist story.

Josh Vs. Depression: Day 15

“Treat others how you would be treated, unless you’re the guy living in the house to the left of mine. Screw you, you prick, and trim your bushes!”
-Confucius

I’m having a very difficult time writing this blog today because I’m feeling better. Depression is my muse, and she is cheating on me with some other poor bastard who also liked Star Trek V.

Even though I am not feeling sad, I am not better. I’ll go even further than that. I don’t want to be better. I want to continue to be broken – because I feel the worst when I am trying to fix myself.

I’m beginning to think that depression is actually only a larger part of a destructive cycle that occurs when a person is preventing him or herself from fully expressing who they are.

I will spend three days being depressed because something triggered me, and in the moment that I was triggered, instead of expressing who I am (crying and screaming and saying something to the effect of “you are an idiot”), I said what I had to say to survive in a communal society (nodding and smiling and saying something to the effect of “I see your point. You are not at all an idiot.”).

“Expressing who you are” goes beyond artistic expression. It could mean any of the following.
*Saying what you feel
*Doing what you want to do
*Loving who you want to love
*Hating who you want to hate
*Reserving the right to make 180-degree turns on any of the above at the drop of a dime.

I keep thinking about babies. Do they hold grudges? Do they hold anything? They scream at you one second, and hug you the next. When something negative happens to a baby, they react with their full voice and body – the reaction is merely the processing of new information (I might be paraphrasing something Seinfeld said about failure).

But when we get older, and we are trained that we cannot “act like babies” (ironic, because all we’re doing after we’re babies is ‘acting’) we cannot react to new information with our full voices and bodies – and yet, those same IMPULSES to act with our full voices and bodies are still there. The hammer has been slammed onto our knee, and we have taught ourselves to keep from kicking. But the energy of that hammer is still in our bodies – clanging around. We hold it in. It’s why I’m finding, lately, that the greatest cure for insomnia is crying.

But this is an oversimplification. If I don’t get what I want in a situation, my instinct is to scream and cry – but is that fair to the other parties? What about the notion that I am trying to be a better person – that I want to rise above hatred – that, if I feel I have been unjustly treated, and my instinct is to fight back, I will have the presence of mind to transcend these primal feelings and, instead, forgive. And so I repress my emotions in order to fabricate the appearance of civility, like everyone else.

Maybe I’m going about it the wrong way – maybe I should cry and scream more. But that doesn’t feel right to me, either.

So far, the only solution that makes sense to me is the following:

If something bad happens to me, or somebody says something to trigger me, I try to be as polite as possible, and then I go to some place private and try to let myself process it the way I want to process it. I can’t tell you the number of arguments I’ve had with people in the shower. My solution, in other words, is to be a total asshole in private. A secret asshole. That’s what I strive to be. Like Batman, but with less heroism and more crying myself to sleep.

Josh Vs. Depression: Day 14

Horrible.

I think that could be it for the whole blog.

There’s a link between the times when my depression flares and the times when I fail at something. AKA, I’m failing every day.

If I succeed at something, I’m happy about it for about five minutes. If I fail at something, the fallout can last up to two years. I’ve read about the importance of failure. I understand, on an intellectual level, that failure is required in order for us to learn. On an emotional level, I want perfection NOW!

I believe I tie my identity to success. I’ve wrapped my entire life around trying to get approval from others, and on trying to be the best. But if I remove that from the equation, then who am I?

As a card-carrying adult child of an alcoholic, I have discovered that this intense desire for approval comes with the territory. “We seek approval and lose our identity in the process.” So I ask myself again – if I remove approval from the equation, who am I?”

According to the movie Total Recall (the Schwarzenegger version) – we are defined by what we do, not by “who we are.” That is to say, we are the sum of our actions. I can have all the different kind of emotional responses I want if somebody cuts me off in traffic, but the action I take (driving on vs taking out a bazooka and blowing the car into the next ice age) determines who I am as a person. I don’t currently own a bazooka, nor would I trust myself to be able to aim it properly.

All this is fine and dandy – but surely the emotions I feel mean something. Surely the sadness and the anger is — perhaps not tangible — but it exists. So that has to be a part of me as well, doesn’t it?

I’ve often asked myself if I could just turn depression off. Right there, in the moment, could I just snap my fingers and not be depressed – do I have that ability? There are a lot of people out there who would say “yes,” and they would smile and beam with positivity. How much is a bazooka?

But I haven’t answered my own question. Who am I? What is my identity? I’m a huge sci fi fan, but is it because science fiction represents an escape – an escape from depression? If I remove depression from my life, will I no longer be interested in science fiction? Will I suddenly have a desire to watch Mad Men? I find myself suddenly afraid of letting go of depression. Depression is what led me to the glory and beauty of the Enterprise E, the most advanced Starship in Starfleet, designed to fight the Borg.