Nobody Loves Me, Everybody Hates Me . . . *


. . . Think I’m Gonna Go Eat Worms! [Note: no actual worms were harmed in the making of this photograph.]

Yes, it may be true that no man is an island–we all depend on others far more than we even recognize or comprehend–but conversely, every one of us is his or her own unique and seemingly isolated version of Three Mile Island at times when it comes to having personal meltdowns. It starts right at birth, when most of us scream and complain at having been removed from that ever-so-pleasant resort and spa, Mom’s innards, and ejected unwittingly and unwillingly into the cold, cruel world, and it continues, however sporadically, throughout our lives. We are such fragile creatures.

The majority of humans, happily, are not subject to this dark reality for too large a percentage of our lives, but it’s more common than is commonly discussed that we have trials, tribulations and the varying degrees of inability to cope with them that make us question, if not our sanity, then certainly our ability to rise above what’s bad, get a grasp on the good, and move forward regardless of feeling worthy or curable. Depression truly sucks–not just in the vernacular, but in the sense of pulling one down into a bottomless abyss like an evil and irresistible vortex.

I’m not referring, of course, to ordinary grief or sadness. We all get hit by those monsters at times. We flounder, we suffer, we recover. It may be deep and painful and take a long time to rebound from sorrows of even the most normal sort, but we do, eventually, learn how to go on living and being and take part in the doings of the world. Generally, that sort of difficulty or tragedy even tends to gradually heighten the sense and appreciation of what is good and joyful once we’ve experienced and survived the dark and can see the shining contrast of even a modest pleasure with what appeared insurmountably grim from its midst. True clinical, chemical, physiological depression, well, that’s a different thing.

It resists the most persuasive and intelligent logic. It batters self-worth and love in the most brilliant, gifted and accomplished sufferers. It tears at relationships of any sort with other people or with action, with one’s wit and will to survive. If it doesn’t make one outright, actively suicidal, it can simply kill through atrophy and attrition: sufferers have described the state of longing intensely to kill themselves but having no strength or energy to do so.

Why would I talk of such dire and dreary and horrid stuff, even think of it at all? Because I am reminded sometimes of when I used to be there. My worst bout of depression was perhaps aided and abetted by various situational and temporal aggravations, including the typical catalysts and intensifiers of real-world health and happiness threats: the onset of my spasmodic dysphonia, job problems, the murder of our good friend. These were of course widely different in intensity and timing, but to someone like me, their interaction with my evidently wonky endocrine system or whatever combined forces of chemical and biological imbalance were building in me meant that when I hit bottom, no amount of thoughtful and heartfelt reasoning with myself could ‘fix’ me or my situation.

I am one of the true Lucky Ones. I finally felt so brain-fogged, so unable to resist the pull of that deadly sucking, enervating, soul-destroying feeling of pointlessness and ugliness and being unlovable and incapable of doing anything meaningful or good–well, I got so needy that I actually let others help me. That was it. The only way out of the hole was to grip the hands reaching in toward me and let them do all of the work of pulling me out. Part of it was accepting these helpers’ assurances that they did indeed believe in me and in how I felt, that they loved me and knew that I had worth and potential. Part was letting others lead me around and taking their advice and simply letting go of what little shreds of ego I had left enough to say that I would do better in following an educated and experienced prescription for improvement than I’d been doing on my ever-weakening own two feet. And a part that was essential for me was loosening my grip on my insistence that taking prescribed treatment–both psychological and chemical–without trying to create or control it myself was a sign of weakness or failure. It took, in fact, all of my strength and intelligence to recognize that any strength and intelligence I had couldn’t save me.

The luck involved is clearly that together we (my caregivers–medical and personal–and I) did find the combination of therapeutic treatments, behavioral changes and chemical re-balancing medication that not only unlocked my present emergency state of depressive existence but ultimately proved to let me feel fully, wholly myself for the first time in my life. I know that this is not a cure but an ongoing process for as long as I live. And, having lived both ways, I am more than happy to take on that responsibility. It’s a privilege.

What’s most beautiful of all, for me, is that when it happens (as it has in this last couple of weeks) that several occurrences and situations conspire to remind me of this my past and how it shaped my present life and self, it also reawakens in me the profound gratitude for all of those complex minutiae that converged so miraculously well as to make this life possible. To make my continued existence at all possible, perhaps, but particularly such a happy me. What seemed like the most disastrous and irreparable of confluences instead conspired to make just the right blend at the right moment that finally offered me a rescue.

Turns out that eating worms is the very nourishment that makes some birds healthy enough to sing their hearts out with the pure delight of existing. Last week I was out walking and saw a ditch full of drowned worms, lured into and killed by stormy waters. This week I was walking the same route and the sky was filled with the most spectacular warbling, chirruping, musical bird songs I could hope to hear. Coincidence? Very possibly illustration from a photo

(* from the old campfire song Nobody Loves Me, Everybody Hates Me . . . )


Just be Glad You aren’t Starring in a 1950s Sci-Fi Movie

We are, I am told, going to have a big, I mean BEEEEEEG, year for bugs here in last year’s drought country. And by bugs, I mean insects of the pesky and biting and stinging and flitting and I-won’t-even-post-pictures-of-them (you may thank me now, John, Teri, et al.) varieties, the ones that descend on the garden and leave it as a small quivering heap of dusty tendrils that give a last shudder and fall to the ground, dead. The ones that swarm around my head and ankles in grim, itch-inducing clouds of biblical proportions and leave me wanting to explode into equally lifeless dust.

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Hello, Hell . . .

First we had a dry, hot year that sent a whole lot of bug-dom into hibernatory hiding. (Along with a whole lot of humanity ’round here.) Then there was this thing that purported to be winter but, in its temperate reality, was a very mild-mannered and brief cooling-off period during which the parched local world relaxed and the bugs began to feel quite welcome to reappear mighty early: mosquitoes bit me when I should have been wearing long underwear–though thankfully, not in my long-underwear regions, which would have been just too cruel for words. The return of rain here, which now to our astonishment puts much of Texas back on the plus side of normal precipitation levels and well out of drought status, was a regular engraved invitation to come and goof off at the spa, as far as the local insect population was concerned. Suddenly, flies are humming around in a leisurely landing approach to put their nasty feet and probosces on every morsel of goodness that appears, whether it’s a deliciously pretty bit of food on the table where I do not desire their company or the addition of their delicious crunch and protein to the dish, or it’s insecti-goodness of the garbage and compost varieties. Grubs and mandible-gnashers rolled out their equivalent of the heavy equipment and got down to serious work devouring tender green things left and right. And my quick walk across a grassy area acted like a strafing run in a bomber, sending up masses of craneflies like so much blasted, spiky shrapnel.

I have a special hatred for craneflies, I’ll admit, and for bugs that eat my plants or nip at my personage. I may be truly enamored of all sorts of crawly things as intriguing subjects at least when I’m safely insulated from actual contact with them, say with them in a nice tidy case in an insectarium at the zoo, or pinned on walls as magnificently weird and wonderful specimens in their pretty shadowbox frames. But when it comes to having them looping through the air in apparently aimless cartwheels that I happen to know are really going to have them fly directly down my windpipe or into my defenseless eye-bulbs or up there to nest in my hair or to burrow into my carotid and have a suck-fest on my life’s-blood (have I read too many outlandish horror stories? You be the judge)–well, I’m just not that live-and-let-live and forgiving a character, am I.

So I am arming myself with all sorts of anti-insect remedies, or things that purport to be so, and while I’m attempting with a certain modicum of ecological sensitivity to limit them to entirely natural and inoffensive and not widely toxic treatments, I can’t make any promises when I happen to see the first wave of evil bugs zeroing in on me and mine. It’s a matter of the hunter and the hunted, kill or be bugged. My general pursuit of happiness may have to take a backseat to pursuit of feisty insect vermin. There may be a few small detonations of either disturbed craneflies rocketing out of the lawn as I stroll, or of me spraying them with some wicked-sounding oil-soap-hot-pepper-nuclear-weapon spray intended to mortify and murder them in turn. There will certainly be skirmishes of all sorts. We are at war, sirs and mesdames, and I am not going to sit back and be antennae-whipped into submission without a fierce fight. My fight instinct is slightly higher than the flight one at this moment, so be prepared for bloody messages from the front. Here’s hoping that the message of victory isn’t delivered from Bug-topia. That would just be too tragic. Run for your lives!

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Yikes! Head for the hills!