Wednesday, October 30, 2013

So it's been a year. How am I?

(from left to right) Me as I appear now; me as I appeared one year ago. 

"So how have you been?"

Every Wednesday afternoon at around 3:59, I pull into the parking lot of the Arlington Professional Center, an uninspiring complex of squat brown office buildings, in my battered, decade-old silver Cavalier and walk to Suite J for my weekly therapy session. I try not to arrive even a minute early, because I want to spend as little time as possible in the waiting room. Suite J of the Arlington Professional Center has the worst waiting room in the history of people waiting in rooms. Auschwitz had nicer waiting rooms than this place. It is a cramped and ugly space which, if anything, would deepen a patient's sense of hopelessness. There's a faded poster of a wolf on one wall and a table piled high with useless, glossy, oversized magazines filled with pictures of expensive furniture. Certainly, the room's oddest touch is a shelf with a hopelessly outdated and never-used boombox, along with a stack of never-played CDs (classical, new age, lite jazz) and even one sad, neglected cassette. Fortunately, my therapist's own office is much more inviting, with its soothing, dim lighting and comfy, tasteful furniture. Each week, at around 4:01, I haul my depleted husk of a body into this room and plop down on an overstuffed black couch. My therapist, a 50-ish Polish woman with spiky blue hair and the wardrobe of a bohemian artist, asks me how I've been that week.

"Oh, I don't know," I'll usually say. "The same, I guess..."

And the conversation will go from there. Generally, I free-associate for about an hour while my therapist says things like, "That's interesting. Go on." and "Why do you think that is?" Most weeks, I'll start out with the same petty complaints everyone has (the difficulties of dealing with other people, be it at work or in social situations) and then segue into more generalized fears and anxieties, namely that life a meaningless and pointless obstacle course and that I'm no damned good at it anyway so why should I even bother. My therapist, decent person that she is, assures me that these feelings are not uncommon and encourages me to vent the frustration and disappointment that has built up within me over the course of the previous seven days. By the time I stagger out of Suite J at roughly 5:01, I am a little dizzy from the experience, but I honestly do feel a little better.

I've been attending these therapy sessions for a year now. It's one part of my treatment for depression and anxiety. Last October, I had what I can only term a "meltdown," which led to a week-long hospitalization in a psych ward. I'm neither ashamed nor proud of that fact. In addition to therapy, I've been on medication: three generic Xanaxes and a generic Wellbutrin a day. "Zannies and Wellies," I call 'em, sometimes "happy pills" or "crazy pills." Xanax has quite the reputation in popular culture and is frequently referenced in sitcoms and rap songs. You'd think it was some kind of party drug. But I take three a day, and I'm here to tell you exactly what it feels like to be on Xanax: nothing. Xanax feels like nothing. No high. No low. No buzz. No noticeable effect whatsoever. You'd get more of a bang out of NyQuil or Tylenol Allergy Sinus. Heck, you'd get more of a bang out of spinning around really fast in one spot. For all I know, the Osco pharmacy is giving me sugar pills. I can't honestly say whether or not they've affected my mental processes or personality in any measurable way. You'd have to ask the people around me for that, I guess.

I will say this: depression is, was, and will likely always be a big part of my life. It's just something basic about the way I process information and see the world. I am, at my core, a bleak and pessimistic person, dubious of others, and relentlessly critical of myself. No happy pills or therapy sessions are ever going to change that. And you know what? I'm fine with that. It's who I am. In the past year, I have not made any particular strides toward improving my life. I don't even know what that would entail. A "better" job? Nah. I'm not the least bit ambitious. I'm not really clamoring for more money or more possessions, so what would be the point? I've got enough. More social interaction? Nah. Other people just get on my nerves after a while. I try to be nice, but all the while I'm hoping that the roof will cave in and crush whomever I'm with so I can escape without having to think of an excuse. ("Well, you seem to be buried under a pile of rubble, so I'm just gonna go. Been great seeing you, though.") Oh, certainly there are moments when I get lonely and long for the company of others. But it passes. I guess my main problem is that I'm not convinced that life is inherently meaningful or worthwhile, so it's difficult to stay motivated and keep running through the maze like a good little lab rat every day. So if there's a main issue I'm "working on," that would be it. To some extent, the treatment must be working. I'm still here. Still getting up every day. Still at it.

Someone pointed out to me recently that I don't do many personal posts on this blog anymore. I agreed and said I would likely post an update on my health and well-being soon. That's what this is. But in a larger sense, every single thing I post to Dead 2 Rights is intensely personal, even if it's not directly about my own life. If you really want to know me -- and there's no reason that you should want to -- read the stuff I've written about music or movies or whatever. There's more of the "real me" in those than you'll find in an autobiographical post like this.

By the way, I should point out that today is also the fourth anniversary of the Dead 2 Rights blog. Recently, the odometer passed the 2 million mark for page views. That only averages out  about 1300-1400 people a day -- chicken feed by the standards of the Internet. But I'm grateful for every single view I get, even from those confused people who find this blog while searching for information on the Dead 2 Rights video game, to which  I have no connection, real or imagined. I plan to use this blog to write about whatever interests me, and I would be very pleased if you were there to read it.

Thank you.


  1. Has it really been a year? The time, as they say, does fly. Glad you're still with us, Joe.

    Oh, and Happy Halloween!

    1. Happy Halloween to you, too, Craig. It's harder for me to believe it's been FOUR years since I started writing this blog... as a fictional character. Jeez, how nerdy can you get?

  2. You are and continue to be one of my favorite people out there in the vast world of Internetdom. How I wish things were easier for you, but I continue to be blown away by your talent as a writer and strength as a human being. Please know that you always have fans and friends, even if we're just voices on podcasts and thumbnails on websites.

    1. Emily, you were one of the earliest people to start giving me positive feedback from my podcast appearances. And you've been there all along with encouragement about my various online endeavors. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. Thank you. And thank you. And thank you.

  3. i'm a bit late to the game, as always-particularly funny if you know me in person and realise that i make every effort in the world to be early to everything. i have really enjoyed the wayne kotke oeuvre, and i really think that stuff is genius. unfortunately, brilliance rarely comes from happiness or contentedness, which sounds like a stereotype-tortured artist and all that, but it's really not. of course, there are some like me, who are fucked up with no commensurate talent, but i guess exception, proof rule-or whatever that means-i failed algebra thrice. so, i guess my point is that depression is rough, and harder to get rid of than roaches-and a lot of people spend much of their lives in its thrall. and some don't make it. i spent most of my life miserable. not really miserable enough to kill myself, because that would interfere with my sixteen hour sleeping schedule, but enough to not want to be alive. if that makes sense at all. i'm glad you're kind of figuring it out. and of course, we always say-well, *I* was depressed, so i know what it's like for you. but we don't. it's different for everyone. we can see our experiences mirrored in other peoples' but it's never the same, not really. ah, i'm not even sure what i'm saying here, except that i really am impressed by your creativity and talent-and maybe there's a relationship between your mental health/state and your talent.