For crap's sake, weather, could you be a better metaphor for depression?
I had an epiphany last night that part of my recent issues has been a kind of pavlovian training to not let myself be happy. My counselor told me earlier this week to sit down and make a list of all the stuff that I like and why I like it, and basically try to remember times that I have been just plain happy and what the circumstances were.
When I started doing that, I started having flashbacks to a long series of events as a kid where I was happy, and every single time, something stomped on me for it. I remembered jumping up and down to cheer for my team at kickball, accidentally stepping on a teacher's foot and having her explode at me in a rage. I remembered being excited about a car chase on a TV show, and having my brother sneer and mock what a stupid show it was and what a loser I was for liking it. I remember all the times growing up as a geek kid with often less-than-macho interests, having the things I liked make me open target for being beaten, humiliated, and generally treated like trash by other kids and/or the teachers/administrators at school.
In that context, my recent inability to become enthused about anything is hardly a mystery at all. If anything, the mystery is why I'm not more of a basket case than I already am. If I had to make a guess, I would say that the decision to not move to California just yet, even though it's the right decision logistically, was the final disappointment that broke the camel's back, so to speak. When I described myself as being like Legolas after hearing the seagulls– never able to be truly happy in Middle-earth again, I was more right than I realized. The truth is, the decision to stay here, even for just one more year, was making me depressed.
So I'm going to start working to counter that. Among other things, I now have this list of things that make me happy: besides using it as a self-evaluation tool, I'm going to treat it as a to-do list. If these things make me happy, then FFS I need to do that. And I'm going to focus on the fact that we are moving towards the changes I want, even if I can't have them right away.
Today we're going to make a banzai trip* to Charlottesville, scoping out a couple of neighborhoods, grabbing some lunch, then zipping back here in time for D&D. This is just an initial scouting trip, to see if there's any real point to even looking there. On paper, C'ville has better weather and a noticeably lower cost of living, but we've only ever been there once so we don't really have a clear idea of what it's actually like.
Incremental improvements are still improvements. Being slightly more happy, is still making progress. And that's what I need to focus on.
*As mammallamadevil used to call them.