In prison movies, the hero is either broken by solitary confinement or by being sent to the bathroom. I remember watching Shawshank Redemption – the solitary scene, not the bathroom scene – and wondering why they got so spooked. I remember Andy coming out of that room smiling, and I thought, ‘Exactly! It’s not so bad!’
But then I also remember Michael Scofield writing on the wall with his blood, and he’s a s heroic as they come.
I call myself a loner. I enjoy my own company, and I often wish I could lock the world away and have the planet all to myself. So I don’t think solitary is a bad punishment, and I wonder how isolation can make anyone mad. But then again, when Princess went to visit her cousins, I was bouncing off walls and drinking Baileys, so maybe I’m not quite as solo as I think.
A few days ago, I went home to bury my auntie. It was deep and it was sad, but it was great hanging out with my cousins. I was amused that they consider me an entertainer, and that I was always at the centre of noisemaking. I generally hate crowds and avoid people, and some people think I never, ever speak. If they asked my cousins, they’d think I have a social twin.
I guess it’s all about comfort. At home, I was at ease among my people, so Miss Super Bubbly jumped out. In crowds, I feel hemmed in and scrutinized, so I crawl into my shell.
Yesterday, a reader recommended me a really good book called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns. The title sounds hippie, so I ignored it for a while on account of Flower Power. But I eventually found myself a torrent and loaded it up … er … down. I’ve been reading non-stop, and it’s got some great ideas in it. I finally have some tools to beat depression, and I think everyone should read it. Of course, it’s 700 pages long so …
I read something in a blog yesterday. It said *insert appropriate statistic* % of memories are wrong. The more vivid they are, the more likely they were cooked inside your head. Depression is like that too. You build up this picture of yourself and make it so real that other people see it too. After a while, you’re so used to it that it’s not even conscious. It’s just there. People think you’re doing it on purpose, but it’s really just a part of your nature, because it’s grafted there. Feeling good shows you how you built these illusions in the first place, and gives you steps on how to tear them down. Also, magic tricks. Svengali!
It doesn’t cure depression. It just restores reality, and teaches you how to cope with the sessions when they haunt you. Depression is a disease, and it’s not the kind that goes away. But Feeling good teaches you cognitive therapy, and these are skills that help keep you alive, literally.
The coolest thing I’ve learned is that my ideas of ‘me’ are an illusion, and when I see the real picture, I’m really not that bad. I’m actually pretty nice, and that’s a big thing for a depressive to accept. Thanks Mikhail!
Of course, sometimes, it helps to have a pep talk. I was talking with some clients yesterday, and I stepped outside the picture and did one of those astral projection things. [Relax, I’m not an withchiething. Really, I’m not.] I stood above the group, looked at myself through their eyes, and said, ‘OMG! I’m freaking awesome!’
Then I came back to earth and said, ‘You know, you guys shouldn’t nod quite so happily. You can’t be sure I know just what I’m talking about.’ They kept nodding anyway. The clients are a couple, and it’s weird, but the 2 hours I spent with them restored my faith in marriage. They are the cutest things, they’d keep going off on a tangent and talking to each other like they’d forgotten I was there. It was adorable. When I get married, I want me and the Mr to be just like that. We’ll even call each other Darl, though the accent is tricky to fake.
Back to work now. Enjoy yours, and make somebody smile today. It’s good kharma. Oh, also, this is so cool!