“Up in Pocahontas in the Cranberry Glades,
“Ain’t got bars nor the charge to call her anyway,
“My mind’s a mile a minute, my mind that barks like hounds,
“I’m focused on my breathin’ and the universal sound.”
~Tyler Childers, Universal Sound
I have a lot of issues. I was diagnosed with ADHD ten years ago, but I am also sensitive to sensory input (sometimes I overstimulated and sometimes I am sensory seeking), I am adverse to crowded spaces and moving crowds (to the point of panic), I don’t read people well, I don’t convey myself well, I am motivated—even driven—but I’m not a people pleaser so my energies are mostly self-serving, and ultimately I suffer from depression, suicidal thoughts, and the complete and total absence of self-esteem. Well, maybe I have a shred.
Yesterday I went to my second therapy session. I’m 43 years old. You can probably see I carry around a lot of rotting garbage in my head.
I have hope. I used to say I was simply a realist. I didn’t feel like I tended toward optimism or pessimism. And that may have been true when I was younger. But when you’re in the middle of a depressive state, walking through that dark valley, you will reach for whatever light there is. You scrabble for the life preservers, and if you find yourself doing it often enough you become practiced at finding something to keep you afloat. It’s a survival mechanism pure and simple. It may not even be healthy. But it keeps you going another day and staves off ruinous consequences.
Maybe I am still simply a realist. I guess you can be a realist and have hope. You don’t have to be an optimist and be hopeful. But my hope is dogged. Even in my deepest depression I still have dreams for the future. I lose the drive to pursue them, but I hope that when the light returns the dreams won’t have left me. Maybe I’m an optimist after all. I don’t let little things like depression and adversity hinder my dreams. I don’t let life get me down too bad.
What I struggle with of late is the uncertainty of not knowing where I want to go. My biggest problem in life is I am constantly trying to escape the dark situations I find myself in while ignoring all of the good around me. I want out of the cubicle so bad I would trade a good job and being in a place where I am able to good things for something less good. But then I get caught up in arguments that money isn’t everything and my values are being battered while my body is knotted up from sitting in the damn cubicle and that maybe I would be better suited to other work, and I’m missing the boat on other opportunities, and why did I ever leave the outdoor industry to begin with, to I’d love to get back in shape for climbing, to I don’t have enough time to ride my bike, to a sudden and crippling guilt that I’m focused on myself and not my family, to another layer of guilt that I’m neglecting things that need to be done at home and at work, to hoping again that maybe I can get in shape to do endurance mountain bike events again, to wondering if I’ll ever be able to stop all of these voices. These barking hounds. My mind is ever going a mile a minute and never stops, never pauses, never gives me a second to catch my breath and figure out where I am and where I need to be going.
The garbage continues to rot and I continue failing to figure out a way to haul it off.
My amazing wife has asked me in the past: “You’ll never be content, will you?” in regards to some new scheme I’ve been brainstorming. At first I was defensive, but the past few times she’s asked I’ve simply answered: “No.” I don’t think I could be content if I got my every wish granted by some all-powerful genie. Part of my wiring is to be ever-moving. Part of my neurosis is an insatiable desire for the new and novel experience. If tomorrow I walked into the woods and found a hundred miles of mountain bike trails in my backyard by next month I’d be looking elsewhere for new experiences.
I always thought those songs about being a rambling man were silly, but the truth is that’s me. I want to always be moving. The curse of that programming is that the natural desire for stability and of being part of a family and passing on myself to the next generation was not deleted from it. My urges are in conflict all the time.
I’ve been reading The Power of Myth which is written as a conversation between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell. There’s a passage that struck me pretty hard and I want to share it. The excerpt is from a longer passage that better informs the sentiment, but I think this captures the essence:
“Moyers: So if my private dreams are in accord with the public mythology, I’m more likely to live healthily in that society. But if my private dreams are out of step with the public—
“Campbell: —you’ll be in trouble. If you’re forced to live in that system, you’ll be a neurotic.”
To me this seems to explain exactly why so many people are living with depression and anxiety. We all understand the current social arrangement doesn’t conform to a logical structure and that it’s simply propped up by artificial edifices. Sooner rather than later the bill is going to come due and we definitely can’t cover the check. But we think it should not be that way. We want to be in harmony with our culture. Our tribe.
I just can’t believe the depression and anxiety that afflicts so many of us has any evolutionary or spiritual value. The likely culprits are the prevalence of unnatural chemical combinations in our environment, genetic decline, and the expectations of a free market which has no regard for human need, only in generating more and more capital at the expense of resources. As human beings we can sense that we have no societal value beyond our contribution to the market and we despair.
I’m trying to find a clear view of my value.