Sunday, November 11, 2012

YESvember 06 - Trying to Stay on Course

I remember one time I was riding in the passenger seat of what ended up being one of my all-time favorite cars, my friend Mark's Nova. That photo ain't HIS, but I don't have the time to dig around to see if I have a pic of the actual Biggermobile. Not that the car was anything special, it was a turd. But maybe that was WHY I loved it. It had character.

Not unlike the beat up Van that I got to drive for a while, or the Buick Century I bought for 300 bucks and a trade-in of my fried Nissan Toyota truck. These cars were crap, but they had a certain style.

What I want to talk about is TOTALLY unrelated to cars though. Shocker, right? But I was riding in that Nova one day, and Mark related an observation that a friend of his made about me who had only recently met me. Mind you, this was when I was in my twenties.

His friend had said something like 'Ken seems like a nice guy, but I dunno, he always looks like his dog just died.'

What does that MEAN, exactly?

It means that all my life I have battled depression. I have always had an uphill climb when it comes to taking a positive slant on things instead of the negative slant. It is work for me to find happiness. Real, labor-intensive work, to see a glass as half-full compared to half-empty.

And that's when things are going WELL. When they aren't? That struggle becomes something that can often send me into a tailspin. The battles I fight in my head can very easily turn into full-scale wars.

That is the nature of a Major Depressive Disorder, for those of you who have never suffered from it. To you folks, I have to say I envy you. And yet, I also have to admit that on the other hand I am also very, very wary of you sometimes. I keep my distance. That might be WHY Mark's friend saw what he did. I remember how even back then I kept so many people at a long arm's length until I knew them and knew them well.

That is mostly because I often find that we so easily pass judgment against each other.

Many so-called 'mentally healthy' people have said either behind my back or even to my face that I just need to 'Çheer the fuck up.', maybe 'Watch some cartoons.' or 'Çan't you just move on...get over it?' Essentially implying that I have complete control over this thing. I won't go into all of the aspects of Clinical Depression and how out of control it can get when you add in any kind of Anxiety or PTSD as a side dish.

I get it though. I don't BLAME people for 'going there'. It's like back pain to a degree, which I also have and have to deal with the inability to truly be able to SHOW people something tangible. And people question whether it is real, with not just me but with a large segment of our population.

The tendency likely comes from the fact that both of these things are so badly abused in our health care, welfare and judicial systems. People claim to be mentally deficient in a serious way maybe when they really aren't to get something they shouldn't, or people abuse the back thing to achieve similar goals.

There is reverse discrimination too though. I know I often experience it. I used to think that those who have not known a certain level of pain and hardship can't understand things in a way that I think they should. And I have had to learn that this way of thinking is monumentally short-sighted of me.

So, why am I talking about all of this right now?

Not sure, other than the fact that I stumbled a little late last week and realized that I felt really down. Though I am fairly sure of the reasons why, with the primary one being the fact that it was Bennett's 5th birthday on Saturday.

Huh?!? Shouldn't a birthday be a time for celebration?

Yes, it should. But with Bennett that particular day is very...complicated. at least it is for me. It trips me up a lot, and for some reason the main issue is that at least right now he is 100% unaware of the fact that it actually IS his birthday.

Bennett, like I said earlier this month, has come a LONG way. A long way. He can communicate quite a few basic needs, some non-basic ones. And I am grateful for it. He is alive and healthy, with no tumor regrowth as of this past week, and I am grateful for that too.

And yet, when his birthday came yesterday, maybe even a few days leading up to it, I found myself overcome with a sadness I can't describe. And on the actual DAY as I interacted with him and tried to tell him things about his birthday and the fact that he was five years old I felt like I was rowing a boat tied to a dock. I felt like I was getting nowhere. He never really caught on, and I did not expect him to.

It did not help that the majority of the weekend his behavior was god-awful either. I mean, really bad. He has an appointment this Tuesday with an all-new Behavioral Psychiatrist, so there is that, and I am cautiously optimistic that we can make some headway with it. As I am about a new home program that is starting up next week for him a couple of nights a week with some home-based ABA therapy.

I think these two things will help him a lot. And he needs it.

Tomorrow, I'll show all the pictures of the 'birthday' celebration we are having for him tonight, which is to be fairly small. But for today I just needed to get some of this off my chest. I understand it is a bit more NO than YESvember, but I'm never going to let some theme I started make me sugar coat the fact that I feel a certain way about something like Bennett's birthday.

And besides...we DID have some very nice moments this weekend. I'm evolved enough now to acknowledge them both while talking about the fact that some days, birthdays and holidays in many cases, can be forever altered in the universe of Special Needs.



  1. Well, happy birthday to your Bennett. I am here to tell you that the milestone birthdays (5, 10, 15) are very, very difficult. It has been my experience, though, that they don't actually get HARDER. They don't get easier, and they continue to wipe you out on one level (at least for me), but as time goes by, one gets stronger and more resigned. That, at least, has been my experience. I'll let you know when Sophie turns eighteen in March if this is still true or if I decide to finally throw myself in front of a train like a middle-aged Anna Karenina.

    As for depression, I am grateful for not having had to suffer it in any clinical or serious form. However, my youngest sister has, to the point of EST, so I can understand on some level what pain and suffering you deal with. Those who blow it off? Fuck 'em.

    Sending love and continued support in the coming days and months and years --

  2. I was suppose to have my grandmother's Nova. I was 17. She was this no fuss, feisty, active lady who decided that she would "walk across town"for all that she needed and take the bus otherwise. Wouldn't miss the car. My dad hadn't even got the chance to tell her he would buy it from her when she sold it to the teenager up the street for ... 75 dollars. I ended up getting my license at 24. don't ask.

    Anyway my friend, I would have to agree with Elizabeth on the 5. Difficult. Really was. The gap just continues to widen and sometimes that break in your heart, even more so.

    And, although I have the major anxiety deal, the depression side, I dodged. Not so lucky were a few of my family members. So I get it. I do.

    And I am here and so are a whole bunch of other people who will ride the ebbs and flow with you and help how ever we are able. Mainly, just being your friend.

  3. Whay can’t you let it go? Whay can’t you just cheer the fuck up?

    Why can’t they have some empathy? Whay can’t they show some compassion? Why can’t they accept that we ALL are whacked-out amalgamations of blessings and curses?

    In dealing with the mental illness in my household, I’ve found it easier to think of it as Thought Cancer. Sometimes, it’s in remission and there is light and laughter. Often, though, it rages back and that SUCKS…for all of us. As long as the patient is doing what he can (taking the needed meds, making time to breathe, eating well), I must keep my anger focused at the disease, not the sufferer. It’s the only logical course. To be anything other than supportive and patient punishes me and everyone else.

    Maybe the folks close to you won’t be able to trust that you are doing all you can to be happy and healthy. Maybe they will make you a focus of the anger they have about their lives because they know you can handle it. Maybe they are not cognitively capable of realizing that not everyone is like them. That’s a pity – for you and for them.

    I’m sending you and yours wishes of peace and hope. Fingers crossed that the new stuff rolling into Bennett’s world will make things easier for all of you.


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