Back in December of 2006, I published this post about how I felt totally unmotivated and lacking in passion. Some anonymous commenter who is suffering the same problem asked me to post an update, hopefully with some advice on overcoming this lack of passion.
I wish I had some real advice to give. Most advice is so general and hypothetical that it's utterly useless. For example, this morning at work, a friend outlined a process to get out of a bout of negativity (she was talking about her own mother at the time). The process was simple: when you feel negative thoughts coming on, stop yourself and whatever you're doing and think of one little thing that makes you smile.
She said it worked for her in the past. More power to her, but I had to bite my tongue to keep from lashing sarcastic at this idea.
Negativity -- or depression, which is really what we're talking about here -- isn't like hiccups. It isn't like a bug bite. It isn't something that starts at a specific point and interrupts the "normal flow" of things. You can't hold your breath until it stops, or rub it until the pain subsides.
It isn't a feeling, it's a sense of being. It's like the fish that someone heated up in the office microwave: You can wave your hand in front of your face or even hold your nose so that you don't smell it, but the odor is still there, and now what you're doing to avoid that odor is getting in the way of what you really need to do.
Depression is also, I've found, like writing a novel. Everyone has to find his own way to get through it, to find the motivation to work away at it day after day. To some people, it's just a matter of setting aside some time to oneself to focus. Others really need a support group just to get started. Still others see it as an insurmountable task and never even try.
This is really a bad time for me to write this particular post. I'm in a hole right now. A couple of them. Right now, the clock reads 1:53 a.m. I can't sleep. My checking account is currently over $400 in the red, and I don't get paid for three more days. My food supply is dwindling, and what food I have doesn't lean toward the healthy side. Fresh fruits and veggies? Try Ramen noodles. Which I know isn't good for my already high cholesterol and my too high and getting higher weight, but what choices do I have? I have no clean pants, and no quarters to do a load of laundry. And little extra time to do it.
I'm behind at work, too. I have enough to keep me busy for the next three weeks. Of course, three more weeks' worth of work will come in during that time, too. And I get little satisfaction from it anymore.
On top of it all, I've been feeling lonelier than usual. My ex took our two boys out of school for a week (which I admit isn't the greatest idea, but what can I really do about it?) to spend 10 days in Florida, hopping from one theme park to the next. I haven't seen them in almost a week, and I miss them more than I thought I would.
I honestly don't think I've been touched -- not so much as a handshake or even just someone brushing up against me -- since Friday, five days ago. That isn't good for the soul or the ego. Nothing seems to be going my way, and I see little change and few prospects in the near future.
I know I'm just feeling sorry for myself. It's very easy. (If you're reading this, please don't leave your own sob story in the comments, letting me know how much worse you've got it. I don't need to add guilt on top of everything else.)
There have been some brighter points, though. Of late, I've taken to writing sonnets in my spare time -- or in meetings at work. I do get a brief rush of satisfaction and pride when I click that Publish Post button the sends a new poem up to my other blog. As always, it's the act of creation that gives me a sense of self in this world. And there are always people to "talk to" on Twitter.
I did have a young lady over last Friday -- all afternoon and most of the evening -- to help me with the visual presentation I'm doing for the IWS concert this Saturday. After we hit a stopping point, she stayed and kept me company for a while. It was nice, but it really emphasized how lonely it was when I was by myself on Saturday. How's that for instant karma?
Still, it gave me some hope that I wasn't a total outcast. That someone out there actually knew I existed and thought I had some worth.
And I think that is the first breeze that will get you over these oppressive doldrums: Hope. If you have some hope, if you have something to look forward to, to strive for, it gives you focus. Hope isn't always easy to find, though. Sometimes it's downright difficult. Like now.
I'm done whining. I'm going to try to get some sleep now, knowing full well that I'll be dragging myself around all day tomorrow, zombified. Maybe next week I'll have something more helpful and more inspiring to write or write about. Baby steps.