The Numbness And The Intensity

Despite my suspicions concerning its effectiveness, I refilled my prescription for Lexapro today, which meant a trip to the local pharmacy I use. As I walked in, I could hear a television broadcasting some kind of sporting event. I then glanced upward and spotted an NCAA Tournament basketball game being played.

I had forgotten the games started today.

One might read that last sentence and give me the benefit of the doubt, pointing to a busy schedule and a million
NCAA Middle Tennessee Basketballdifferent things on my mind this week. In reality, though, it is a giant red flag. I never forget the day the NCAA Tournament begins. I don’t recall that ever happening to me before. This was tantamount to Popeye forgetting to eat his spinach or Batman forgetting his utility belt.

It should have concerned me.

It didn’t.

I’ve been feeling a strange sort of numbness these days. It feels as if I am walking around in a thick fog or wrapped in some heavy blanket. The sharp edges of experience seem dulled. The snow has finally melted, and the early signs of spring are starting to show. I stand at my window and think of the grass that will soon need to be mowed and the bicycle that has lingered in storage since last summer. Both thoughts should bring me joy. Instead, I feel nothing.

Such a numbness would logically indicate a lack of ability to feel emotions. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Every emotion which does manage to crack the shell I feel around myself right now is multiplied a hundredfold. I laugh louder than I should. My anger goes from a simmer to a boil in seconds. Every perceived slight drives tiny pins into my soul. My sadness descends to frightening depths, with tears sometimes following on the way down.

The language in the previous two paragraphs may have veered too heavily into melodrama, but I wanted to point out the strange contradictions that a life with depression can present. It can jump randomly from not being able to feel anything at all to suddenly experiencing the weight of every feeling in the known universe. Such acceleration and stopping would drop the transmission out of a car, and it drains the energy out of a human being. It is like a constant tugging from the time a person wakes up until they close their eyes to go to sleep.

How is this possible? How can a person be caught between such extremes? Well, my answer is, “I don’t know.” Perhaps it comes from a person’s body adjusting to taking an antidepressant, with the old self and the new drug-altered one constantly at war with one another. Perhaps it is caused by the simple ups and downs of everyday life. Maybe a person’s spiritual state of mind can influence it, with the flesh and the spirit locked in eternal conflict. Maybe it is a slow descent into hell, and we just don’t realize it.

I am sitting on my couch right now watching basketball. My hands are typing on a keyboard. A book is lying next to me. I feel right for the first time all day. The numbness I felt earlier today as I stared blankly at that TV screen seems to have dissipated for the moment. It’s a place I want to stay, but I can feel the pull of the abyss behind me. To be able to feel anything, though, should be counted as a blessing. The alternative can be even worse.

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What The Shirt Says

0829140705I’m wearing a Batman T-shirt today … and I’m very nervous about that.

I don’t like stuff on my shirts. I just want a shirt that is plain – no logos, no slogans, no jokes, no band names, no television shows, no tags, no nothin’. I own the shirt I’m wearing today and a Captain America T-shirt only because I bought them to fit in with friends who bought comic book T-shirts to wear to comic book movie premieres. Ask me what my favorite shirt is and I’m likely to respond, “The blue one.”

As with most things in my life, though, this goes beyond just personal fashion sense. Fact is, I put way too much thought into what I’m going to wear each day. You wouldn’t know that by looking at me, since my daily wardrobe generally consists of a polo shirt or T-shirt with jeans or a pair of shorts, but you’d be amazed at how much thought I put into just picking out the color of the shirt I’m going to wear each day.

A poor choice of color, however, isn’t going to cause me that much stress. There’s just something about having something on my clothes that attracts people’s attention that bothers me, which is odd because one of my big frustrations in life is that I don’t feel like people pay much attention to me. No, my problem has to do with perceptions. People are going to make fun of a comic book shirt on a 40-year-old guy. People will think I’m poor because the brand name is cheap. People won’t like the band I’m a fan of. People will think the event I went to is silly.

In other words, whatever negative connotation that could be attached to what I’m wearing, that’s what I’m thinking of, so I assume that must be the first thing everyone else is thinking of.

The more self-confident readers are probably saying “Who cares what someone else thinks about your shirt?”, and I understand that. I’m a pessimist, though, whose view is often filtered through the lens of depression, so I almost instinctively find the silliness in things. Here’s an example of how I’ve been on the other end of this…

I noticed someone on Facebook the other day mentioned how much they loved the sports teams at the high school I graduated from. I’ve written here before about how youth and high school sports basically chewed me up and spit me out, so I stopped caring about how my school fared while I was still a student there. In fact, I don’t think I attended another sporting event at my high school after my sophomore year. Anyway, my first thought when I saw this on Facebook was, “Who the heck cares? I can’t believe someone would care that much about something so stupid.”

As soon as I thought this, I felt immediate conviction. This person actually did love the local high school sports teams. They would wear their T-shirts out in public and root for them on social media. Just because I didn’t think it was worth my time didn’t mean they should think it wasn’t worth theirs. Did that mean I had to share their enthusiasm? I don’t think so (Or, at least, I hope not.). I should at least be respectful of their passion, though.

In the end, though, it didn’t matter what I thought. They loved their high school sports, and who cares what I think about it? In the same vein, shouldn’t I be able to love comic books, video games, social media, ’80s rock, etc., etc.?

So I’m wearing a Batman shirt today … and it’s still bugging me.