I’ve come to fully understand—on a personal level, from personal experience—that the myriad possible mental disorders tend to bleed into each other for one with the proclivity for mental issues. That is to say, I primarily have OCD. At the same time, I have major anxiety issues. And then down the line, I can see hints of bipolar and other such things in me. One disorder I actually rarely encounter is depression.
However, that is somewhat by design. The one thing that does cause me to feel depression (and not just temporarily) is thoughts of the past. And by design, I’ve worked to ignore the past as best I can. I don’t know if this is a constructive remedy, but I don’t write self-help books, so I just go with what works for me in the now.
The past. Well, that’s a big one!
I’m only in my mid-forties, but I have lived a life of pretty extreme ups and downs. I’ve been in some of the worst possible situations one can be in living in a first-world country. As well I’ve “had a lot.” I put that in quotes because I still don’t quite know what to feel about the times when I’ve “had a lot.” I have a much different view of material things right now in my life than I did years ago, and when I did “have a lot,” a lot of it was material stuff to please others.
At the same time, one can’t say that having a better financial situation doesn’t bring about solidly good things like safety and security. And personal safety is my number one value above all else. And right now I can say I have that.
I suppose I could write an entire biography here, but let’s leave it at that for the sake of brevity.
I’ve been in abusive situations, and my childhood was filled with fear—but that isn’t the aspect of my past that brings about depression. I’m actually proud that I’m much higher functioning after getting rid of the dead weight of abuse and fear (as it presented itself way back in the day.)
Rather, my past is a fabric of missed opportunities and energy I can’t tap into anymore. It is these two vast subjects that do (or would) cause me deep, lengthy depression if I focused on them.
Missed opportunities. I am not just socially awkward, I am socially blind. I cannot read social cues from others pretty much at all. Therefore, most of my life has been longing for a solid social foundation that I just could not access. I don’t think I present myself as a typical outcast, but I’ve embraced the outcast experience by virtue of the fact that I’m just not good socially. I would probably have more friends right now if I was better at it back twenty-some years ago. I think about this a lot. Or I start to, then I shut it down.
Beyond socially, I squandered a good decade of my life focused solely on a business that was doing superb and bringing in more money—through my own doing—than I ever imagined. But I did not know how to handle that money, and I spent a very good chunk of it on others—which actually was a mechanism to combat social issues.
But it wasn’t just social. I held on to this business for far too long because it was my baby. This caused me to go into a downward spiral that left me exposed to the worst of my mental conditions. That’s righted itself pretty well, but my OCD leaves me obsessed over the amount of money I lost and could have today if I didn’t spend it on others’ needs, and saved it. This depresses me.
The second thing that depresses me is my level of energy for curiosity and creativity. I am still highly creative. But I used to be beyond prolific. I used to record a song a day. I used to make a painting a day. I used to obsessively photograph subjects of all sorts. I used to write well beyond just personal stories, and with vigor.
I had so much adventure in my own mind that I couldn’t stop the flood of what I think was good work.
Now, it is so much more difficult. As my OCD has gained more strength in my life, I’m more prone to overthink any creative endeavor I wish to begin. And thus there are so many more layers to work within than pure curiosity and desire to communicate good stuff. So while my work may be as good as it used to be—but, of course, different—it is less in quantity. And my OCD causes me to value quantity and quality all the same.
So what do I do? I try very hard not to think about the past. I don’t have any tricks or “life hacks” or any of that junk. I just stop thinking about it. Because when I do, I want to enter an alternate universe where I can go back in time and be a better 1994.
But 1994 is over now.
And that is depressing.