Still Crazy After All These Years

You know how I ask you to indulge me every now and then? Well, this is one of those times. Stop your damned groaning and just deal with it. 

A person that I consider to be a good friend shared with me some of the pain she is currently going through. As I read her words, I realized that I could have written the exact same thing. It was really quite remarkable. Unfortunately, although I feel terrible for her, I am probably the least equipped person in the world to help someone else. So, I thought if I can’t help, at least I can share my own experience and maybe in some odd way, that will help. Kind of a “safety in numbers” thing. 

My most recent doctor told me I am severely depressed. Of course, I already knew this so it came as no surprise. I am a fully functionally but there is no joy in Mudville. Sleep is one of my best companions. My wife is an angel and endures the process which is imminently unfair to her. Still, when we married, this is what we both signed up for. She just happened to get the short end of the stick. 

Honestly, I would have preferred that the doctor had said “severely depressed” in a nicer way. It’s like telling an ugly person, “Jesus Christ! You make the Elephant Man look like a hot piece of ass”. Maybe there just isn’t a nice way to say. It reminds me of another doctor whispering into his tape machine some years ago, “white male, moderately obese”. Moderately obese? Are you fu**ing kidding me? I weighed like 210 at the time and I’m 6’1”. He might as well have said, “white male, kind of looks like John Candy”. Funny how certain words carry more weight than others. 

My newest doctor then went on to ask if I were suicidal and, if not, had I at least put together any kind of plan. I told him no on both counts. Is there a scenario where people say yes? “Well doc, I have been thinking about it and I am leaning towards the David Carradine method. You know, rub one off one more time and then be found in all of my glory”. I guess they have to ask but it seems a little surreal. 

I have been to a psychologist maybe 10 to 15 times in my life. I totally understand why people do it. Who doesn’t want to sit around and talk about nothing but themselves for an hour at a time? It is the ultimate narcissistic endeavor. Not to be demeaning, but these doctors are, in essence, prostitutes of the mind. That let you skull fu** them for 60 minutes. Does it work? Does getting a $25 hummer from Shaniqua downtown solve your problems at home? I don’t know. 

My friend told me about all of the methods she has pursued in achieving a better state of mind. It was an impressive list and I was awed by the amount of work she has put into making herself feel healed. It is a shame that her hard work has not paid off yet. My approach has been to ask for the newest pill. I am a child of the ‘70’s so chemistry is something I have a lot of confidence in. Big Pharma absolutely loves people like me and we are an ever growing army. I know very few people that don’t drug up in one fashion or another. 

I guess where all this leads to is a big honking group of unhappy people. When you ask why, none of us can ever really answer the question. It is an answer that is just always over the horizon and slightly out of reach. I suspect that many of us are consumed by aspiration and can’t quite accept that Nirvana is a cruel hoax. 

So why write about any of this? Because my friend hurts and I just want her to know that I hurt for her. I can’t say these words to her because I don’t have it in me. When I see her next, I am sure I will say something caustic and cynical. Maybe something like, “Heard any good suicide stories lately?” But somewhere deep inside, I will be pulling for her to find a place where she can be comfortable. I think she deserves it. I think we all do. 

Well, this was quite uncomfortable, wasn’t it? As always, thanks for playing along. TL

EDIT: My wife thinks maybe I put too much out there. You know what? Sometime you just have to throw your dick on the table and say, “look at it”. I felt this was one of those times. (I would not encourage you to do this at work or in mixed company).

2nd EDIT: I often wonder why people read this blog. After all, I spend the vast majority of my time alienating people and just generally trying to cause trouble. Now I know the answer.

You people are all crazy! And this makes me happy. Thank you.

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39 Responses to Still Crazy After All These Years

  1. bschooled says:

    Cynicism, Compassion, Courage

    These three C’s are why I revere your blog, TL.

    (although the visual of your dick on the table is something I could have probably done without this morning)

    • Oh, I don’t know. Bschooled.. I’m kinda curious as to what his dick does look like. Hey TL, would you do me a favor? I want to start a collection of plaster of paris penis molds.. really mostly of men I dated and bedded or dated and thankfully never bedded… but, that aside, it might be fun?
      You game? I’m going to mount them on popsicle sticks and make them trees in the forest of my life (copywrited idea, steal it and you die!)

      I’ve seen the milder/moderate side of depression, waded in it and came out alive! Meds were immensely helpful… I spent several years w/ my pal Zoloft..and have been ‘drug-free’ (well,let’s say anti-depressant free) for over 5 or 6 years now.
      Thank you for sharing this story… I just today heard Kay Jameson talk about depression and the need for those who are more ‘normal’ to share their stories.. though I’m not sure you qualify as ‘normal’?????

      • tannerleah says:

        DF – First, I would love to add to your amazing collection of men you have “bedded” but I must decline. It would be unfair of me to make you spend a tremendous amount of money on plaster of paris due to my magnificent endowment. I am trying to help you here.

        My guess is that none of us are “normal”, certainly not me. I am glad that you are feeling good. I would have guessed that anyway due to the copious amounts of sex you seem to always be having. Thank you for sharing.

    • tannerleah says:

      bschooled – Look at it dammit!!! (sorry about ruining your breakfast).

      I like your 3 C’s. I would have used crazy, constipated and curmudgeonly. Thank you.

  2. Sometimes one person’s TMI is another’s support. This isn’t uncomfortable for me, and I can relate to it personally and as someone who’s been a witness to it many times.

    Putting it out there is important. Anything that leads to greater understanding is, so thank you.

    And this seems to be especially prevalent among creative folks, so you’re in good company.

    • Bill Reed says:

      Tanner — I agree with Pamela. The stigma of mental depression is encouraged every time someone decides to not talk of it because of what others think. The World Health Organization reports that Depression is the fastest growing Health issue world wide (I don’t have a reference; this is from memory.) It is important that the stigma be reduced so that people begin seeing that depression is not a moral failure and begin seeking help. I plan on posting a personal reply later, but seeing the comment my Pamela Villars moved to add this immediate response.

      • tannerleah says:

        Pamela and Bill – Thank you. I was pretty conflicted about writing anything but I thought, if just for one time, maybe I should think about someone else out there.

        I agree that bright / creative people seem to struggle more frequently in this area. I also realize that people are reluctant to talk about it. In fact, if I were schizophrenic, I probably would not say a word about it because the stigma attached to it is so demeaning. And that’s just wrong.

        Thank you both for making me feel better about my decision.

  3. Just think of all the people who were saddened when you decided to stop blogging and excited when you decided to stop stop blogging. So you got that going for you.

    I know several people who therapy and/or medication has helped. Hope whatever route you take (even if it is none), you find the answers you need.

  4. art vandelay says:

    I’ve battled depression my entire adult life. Triple, Quadruple, Uber, sucks. The more medication the merrier for me.

  5. art vandelay says:

    btw, is this green princess you’re talking about? Sounds suspiciously familiar.

  6. Sarah says:

    Tl,

    Thank you so very much for such a personal, insightful, important column today.

    I’ve battled depression for the past 15+ years, and it is indeed a bitch. Thankfully, I’ve never been actively suicidal, just passively (not wanting to get out of bed/have a shower, not giving a damn about what happens to me or anyone else, etc.) Even now, I still see my psychiatrist a minimum of 4 times a year, mainly for med checks but also to deal with whatever else might come up in my life (such as a period of hypomania after withdrawal from pain meds following a protracted recovery from orthopedic surgery). I’ve been on at least 8 or 10 different meds, and also tried going off meds, but when your body no longer manufactures the serotonin it needs in order to keep you sane, you gotta do something.

    So I just deal with the side effects (loss of libido and feeling flat emotionally) and do the best I can, but I know I will never be the same, joyful person that I was pre-depression. If I think about it too long, it makes me deeply sad, so I don’t (think about it).

    After I was diagnosed I was terrified that someone would find out that I was “nuts”. And being paranoid and nuts was more than I knew I could take, so I decided to out myself. When the topic came up, I would share my diagnosis, laughingly calling myself “The Poster Child for Depression”, as people were always stunned, they had no idea that I was afflicted. Once I started sharing, I found out that fully *50* percent of my staff had been or were currently on medication.

    Depression is a serious health care problem and needs to be brought out in the open.

    I don’t always agree with you, TL. I was very sad about your column on your Newfie (how is the poor thing now?) and vehemently disagreed with your stance on abortion, but you and I are sympatico today.

    Please take care and know you are not alone.

    • tannerleah says:

      Sarah – Wow…that was pretty amazing. Both for your brutal honesty and the way you pretty much described how I feel and have reacted to the same situation. I haven’t yet accepted that I can’t be who I was but maybe that comes with time.

      You will be glad to know we fixed the stupid dog. As to my stance on abortion, it changes so hang in there and I’m sure we will end up on the same page eventually.

      I don’t want to be a woman about this but thank you for being so honest. I truly appreciate it.

      Now, look at what I just threw on the table again.

  7. TL –

    Not only is Nirvana a cruel hoax, but it’s lead singer has been dead for years now, thanks to an apparent suicide, which left the world in a sadder state because he hadn’t gotten Courtney to sign on for a two-fer.

    As for the depression… that might explain the tiredness you asked us all to diagnose a few weeks ago. It doesn’t explain the constant “pants parties” but it’s probably better (and less legally troublesome) that this aspect goes the way of imagination, rather than clinical detail.

    I’m not sure what to tell you as cheering people up has never really been one of my strong suits. I usually tend to agree with them on the cosmic joke that life frequently takes the form of.

    Not only that, but my strong suit is at the cleaners. I’m trying to rid it of any traces of powders or pills that may shorten my minor league career. I got the strong suit from Jose Canseco who assured me it was “circumstantial” and “unprosecutable.” I’m pretty sure he made the last word up.

    It cost me a small fortune but I was able to help Jose make bail on a quote/enquote “trumped up possession charge.” We met for lunch later that afternoon at a small cafe where over prosciutto and fennel wraps, he frequently challenged me to either “arm wrestle for pinks” or punch him in the stomach. I refused, which seemed to anger him and he proceeded to kick the shit out of me. He also left with my wallet.

    I hope these words bring you some solace. Take care of yourself, TL. The world needs more bitter cynics.

    • tannerleah says:

      I don’t know how any of what you wrote pertains to what I wrote but, somehow, it made me feel better. Sorry that Jose kicked your ass. It’s the roid rage…not you.

      The good news is that as my depression escalates, my cynicism of the world keeps getting sharper. I should be down to 4 readers by the end of next month.

      • Sarah says:

        Tiredness is indeed a major sign of depression. And, believe it or not, “parties in the pants” can also be a sign. For a long time my internist believed I wasn’t bi-polar (manic-depressive) because I was never “up” enough. And my psychiatrist also wondered for years as to whether I fit into that box. But today’s belief is that there is not such a cut and dried distinction between depression and bi-polar, that those who are depressed are just stuck at the depressive location on the points between mania and depression. The main symptom of my hypomania was hypersexuality. Party in the pants! Was taht fun? Wow! You bet! But only for a while…… After that, it was just one more compulsion. Unfortunately, my hypomania didn’t extend to useful things like cleaning up the house, rearranging the closets, etc. So I now take meds for both depression and bi-polar, which seems to have done the trick. Anti-depressant dosage is low enough not to knock out the libido and the bi-polar dosage is high enough to knock out the hypersexuality but not otherwise mess with sexual functioning.

        So if your meds aren’t doing it for you, find a psychiatrist/psychopharmacologist who is willing to work with you to tweak them.

        • tannerleah says:

          Sarah – just between you and I, the party in the pants thing is mostly a ruse. I haven’t had a party in my pants, or anywhere else, for quite some time.

          However, I have an image to uphold so let’s just keep this between you and I, ok?

          And again, thanks for sharing your experience so others can learn from it. It is very kind and thoughtful of you.

    • elizabeth3hersh says:

      CLT, I once had a boyfriend who would inject some ‘Jose Canseco’ humor into my gloomy periods. Talk about a refreshing change of perspective. He would deftly hold my mind’s hand and take it places it did not know exist. I would follow obediently, grateful for the reprieve from madness and laugh through my tears. I think his suit was at the same cleaners as yours.

  8. nonnie9999 says:

    been there, done that. i don’t remember ever being not depressed. the biggest hurdle i had to get over was the thought of needing meds. i fought it tooth and nail (which is why i am toothless now and haven’t been nailed in ages). i finally went to a psychiatrist who sat me down and told me that severe depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. he compared it to having diabetes. he asked me if i would refuse to take insulin to combat a chemical imbalance in my pancreas in order to live (or even save) my life. of course, i said that was different, but i couldn’t really come up with a good argument why. i relented, went on meds, and it was as though i was dorothy waking up in oz. after more than 20 years of debilitating panic attacks and bouts of agoraphobia, i was able to actually live. eventually, i went off meds entirely, and though i’m still depressed, i am able to cope.

    so, now that i’ve rattled on, i guess the bottom line is that depression is a disease that is treatable. it can’t be cured, but it can be managed. there’s no shame in asking for help or in taking meds to help you. i’ll just add one more thing that very wise shrink told me. he said that people like me think of themselves as weak. however, being able to get through a day–working, raising a kid alone, keeping a home, etc.–while depressed is pretty damned impressive, and those who are able to do it are among the strongest people around, not the weakest.

    p.s. get your damned dick off my table!

    • nonnie9999 says:

      p.p.s i just realized i might have gotten you all excited for no reason. i’m not really toothless. see–> 😀

      • tannerleah says:

        Thank you nonnie for laying your dick on the table. I should have asked for permission before flopping mine on there.

        It is interesting how we view ourselves versus how others see us. Of all the words that come to my mind in reading your blog, “weak” is nowhere to be found.

        Too bad about the toothless thing…I felt a tingling.

        Thank you for sharing in such an honest way. It matters and I appreciate it.

  9. dont know if you read my blog…you never comment..AHEM! but seriously..depression is tough. my mom has depression, i have depression, i’m almost positive my therapist might possibly have depression. depression is like being black, no one wants to be black, but at some point your listening to rap, and rocking a gold chain, and hollering at bitches and hoes..okay so maybe being depressed isn’t at all like being depressed, well being depressed is like being depressed..you sleep a lot, you hate the world, and your self…but you know what it is what it is…its just…it’s shit out there man…and you can either sit and sniff it, or bring out the fabreeze…i have no idea what i’m talking about here man…but i’m crazy, and we all know it so read this and comment back because i look forward to your words…

    • tannerleah says:

      TLS – Actually, I read your blog just like I read all who post here (and some that don’t). I just happen to be horrible in commenting and for this I apologize.

      I feel better knowing that depression is like being black. I would look good in a fro and I love the crunk. Plus, gold teeth are the shizzle. Thank you for giving me permission to go out in public looking like Lil Wayne.

      You often talk about your personal struggles on your blog so you are way ahead of the curve. I am always impressed by your honesty and the insight you have at such a young age.

      Sure, you are nuttier than a fruitcake but you are an adorable fruitcake and i love you for it. Now go get your black on, girlfriend! Mazel tov.

  10. nursemyra says:

    depression runs in my family too, I wouldn’t be able to get up and go to work without the assistance of Zoloft. And naturally, since Stephen died, I’ve had to deal with some pretty black holes that threaten to totally engulf me

    as for that “suicide plan” discussion. you’d be amazed at how many times a week I get to listen to a patient’s preferred method for offing themselves. they mostly envisage squeezing themselves out of windows on the 9th floor or raiding the clinic for drugs. Too bad the nurses have already used all the good stuff recreationally…..

    hang in there TL, and *hugs* to your friend

    • tannerleah says:

      Thank you nursemyra. You have also been brutally honest about your life and I admire you for it. If there is someone that seems to live life to its fullest, it is you. You always seem to be off on some adventure and I think of you as bursting with energy and enthusiasm. Now I realize you are just high. I’m not judging.

      My plan would be to jump off of the top of my house. But then I think, “that would really, really hurt” and don’t think about it anymore. (Kidding fam, kidding!)

      Thanks for being so honest. Here and at your place.

  11. elizabeth3hersh says:

    “Sometimes, one person’s TMI is another’s support.”

    It’s funny how you can mention something awkward or intimate and the recipient will latch onto (and respond in kind) what you have revealed. Thanks for sharing your experience TL. Sorry to hear you (AND your friend) are still struggling with demons. By the tone of your blog, one wouldn’t suspect this has been an issue you have been grappling with over the years. Since everyone else has ‘fessed up or offered support, I will add my two shekels. I, too, struggled mightily with debilitating depressive episodes up until age 30 (all exogenous type depression). One determined suicide attempt at age 19, had my stomach pumped and was subsequently hospitalized (was that really me??).

    I don’t like writing about this, not that I mind divulging personal information, but rather my ‘mom mode’ kicks in and I get distressed. Now, I don’t have a mother and never really had a mother (in the traditional sense), but, after becoming a mother, I became nurturing and fiercely protective and that includes nurturing and protecting me. I have coped quite successfully over the years by compartmentalizing these mental health issues and am also a master of detachment which may have a physiological basis (see paragraph 3).

    It is said that every seven years our bodies regenerate. In some ways, I really feel like I have been seven different people. A few of these selves have been radically different from who I am today. Because I have battled a chronic health condition for the last 15 years and came close to death a few times, it changed my perspective toward life. I now love the sh** out of life and would love to live 1,000 years or more (and would have no trouble filling every day with something new and interesting). But, this revelation doesn’t help you or your friend. It does, however, reveal how perspective can be a friend.

    Anti-depressants are certainly worth a shot and many have responded favorably to them. My 16 year old daughter just started taking Prozac two weeks ago. It took me six months to agree to it. For the most part she is a bubbly, fun-loving teenager who never fails to crack a few jokes and laugh every day (perhaps comparable to your humor blogging). She is brilliant (may qualify for National Merit Scholarship), amazingly creative (her SAT tutor thinks she has what it takes to score a perfect 800 on the writing portion of her SATs) and drop dead beautiful, yet, I hear “I hate life” and “life sucks” (she means it) every day. As a parent I can’t help but feel like a failure and this forum is the first time I have shared this with anyone. Why does her life ‘suck?’ Why does she hate life when I model ‘I love the holy hell out of life every single day…CARPE DIEM!!?’ The brain is exceedingly complex and at times, has a mind of its own…stubborn, gloomy, stormy, despondent, dispirited, dejected, disconsolate, despairing, discouraged and DEPRESSED. Can you (mentally or pharmacologically) override it? I think (for most folks and for most of the time) yes, you can. You may have to prod or nudge it along and this effort may have to become second nature. I am still a firm believer that most depression ‘lifts’ (eventually).

    From my cosmology studies, I have learned that it took an infinitesimal number of things to occur for us to EXIST and exist we do in this amazing mind-blowing universe. Perhaps a universe in a multiverse. Perhaps a universe with parallel universes. Perhaps our atoms get recycled and we go on to live in innumerable ways. But, it looks like we have ONE shot at this ONE life (as YOU) here on Mother Earth. You have to ask yourself, can I tip the balance with my THOUGHTS, a situational change, a mind-shift, therapy, a new hobby or some proactive process? If not, SSRIs, SNRIs or tricyclics may be the answer.

    Coming clean is part of the therapeutic process. It’s amazing how much we have in common with each other when we get a peek inside our collective minds. If this is who you are right now, then weave it into your blog. Share your struggles. You may just help yourself, and your friend, and me, and some as yet unknown depressed reader. I care. We care. Deeply.

  12. tannerleah says:

    Ah, my dearest Elizabeth. Your story is so much more complex than you could ever reveal here but this I know. You are the poster child for overcoming a hard knock life.

    You are probably the smartest person I know and an outstanding mother. You are also peculiar but I find this to be an endearing feature.

    Your girls are lucky to have you as a mom. The good news is that they know this and love you dearly. Of course, kids being kids, they are still going to make you fret about every little thing but that is to be expected.

    Frankly, I am done talking about this subject at least for a while. I hope it helped but I can’t live in this state of mind for too long. It’s not healthy for me.

    I appreciate you taking the time to share with others what I already know. You are awesome and I love you.

  13. yorksnbeans says:

    Oops, I’m sorry, never mind me, I was looking for Stop Annoying Me, do you happen to know where he is?

  14. Mrs. Colatrella says:

    WOW- You must be a really good friend to have. Humor has always been and will always be the “great healer.” Why else would Letterman have nailed so many hot interns? Your friend is lucky to have you to confide in (even though you are unfit to advise). Many of us appreciate your transparency in reporting. Keep it real TL!

    • tannerleah says:

      Thank you Mrs. C. I agree, humor goes a long way in getting us all through the day. As for Dave, I wish he would have banged hotter chicks. Quite a disappointment.

      By the way, say hi to the Mr. for me. I hope he finally found a chair that suited his needs.

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