Flatter Than a Toad Frog…

 

…on a four-lane highway.

It’s mid-November and I’m cold…freezing in my fleece sweats.  I feel the cold deep in my bones and today was quite mild.  The cold days are long, but the nights are even longer.  The darkness fogs my brain and waterlogs my soul….even in the brightest sunlight.

It’s months before the days begin to lengthen…well, a month before the Winter Solstice.  I can’t be wishing my life away; I don’t have enough life left.  This is the winter before my seventieth year.  What is it?  Four scores and seven…and we are certainly not guaranteed that.

Mid-November and I’m flatter than a toad frog on a four-lane.  December, January, and February could be a test of my waning resolve.  My cornbread already ain’t done in the middle and maybe a gooey mess before I feel the winds of March.

There is absolutely no reason for me to be flat…well, I’ve been seeing Christmas decorations in stores since mid-August it seems.  It’s Halloween, then Thanksgiving and then Christmas.  I’m waiting on April Fool’s Day.  For some reason holidays are tough.

It’s five forty-three in the evening.  We have a small mountain range to our west. The sun disappeared a half-hour ago.  It is five-fifty now and darker than the inside of a cow.  I think I know why people went to bed and rose with the chickens…boredom.  I also know why old-timey farm families were huge.

I try to stay busy during the in-between time when it is too dark to do anything constructive and too early to go to bed.  I fill the time as best I can.  Obviously, I write badly, I read, I watch TV, I play online Scrabble, I click on Facebook…sometimes I do all at the same time, slowly flipping from one to the other and then back again.  Sometimes I catch myself simply staring off into space.  Everything in a dim, soft focus, wondering how long I’ve sat with my mind in neutral.

It’s part of my affliction.  I can’t seem to stay focused on any one thing.  I’m fragmented. If I didn’t know I was clinically depressed I’d swear I was suffering from ADD on steroids.  Anxiety?  I’m driving my wife to distraction.  When I’m not bouncing from thought to thought I have a desire to sleep but even my dreams are fragmented.  At night, when I do sleep, dreams are wild and in 3D.  Luckily that is all I remember.

“Are you listening to me?” she asked.  “I told you that five minutes ago.”  “How many times are you going to ask me that?”  “You sure are sleeping a lot.”  “I’m beginning to worry about you.”  Like you don’t have worries of your own.  I have no answers to her questions or her observations.

Clinical depression with a good dose of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I just searched Amazon for a Happy Light…I do spend too much time in the dark.  I should have been a vampire…or a mushroom.

What I hate most?  The depression strips you of the desire to be productive but not the guilt of failing productivity.  Like a vampire, it saps your energy upon rising from bed.  It is a thief stealing my joy and happiness.

The very idea of going for my morning walk triggers an argument with the voices screaming in my head.  Faceless voices screaming “Gooooo!  It will do you good!”  Other’s yelling, “Stayyyyy!  Keep your rear end in that recliner!”  That might be a wee embellishment or I’m actually crazier than even I thought.

Like many, I am high functioning.  I hide my sadness and anxiety from those around me.  I am the subject of Smokey Robinson’s opening lyrics from “Tracks of My Tears”, “People say I’m the life of the party ‘cause I tell a joke or two.  Although I might be laughing loud and hard, deep inside I’m blue.”  It is easier to share this with people I don’t know on a blog than to confess to those closest to me.

Time drags, sleep is fitful and dream-filled.  it is the next morning, exactly twelve hours since I began this pity party, and it is even darker than it was last night.  It seems an unexpected rain shower decided to make its way north and camp over my head.  I must have been playing Scrabble during last night’s weather report.

Over an hour before the official sunrise…add another fifteen minutes for Old Sol to climb above the ridge and its trees to the east.  I guess I will add gloomy to the darkness.  Hopefully, the front will get out soon enough to trigger my morning voices spatting over to walk or not to walk.  That is always the question.

The good news?  I haven’t given in yet.  The bad?  I so want to.  My resolve is eroding.  I want to take to my bed and suck on my thumb.  Instead, I will put on my shoes and begin the day putting one foot in front of the other.  I’ll put on my rain gear and be confident no one will see the “tracks of my tears.” I will battle with myself.  I will climb the hills and try to use music to drown out my voices.  Hopefully, the walk back will be easier, hopefully, the malaise will pass…as it does.

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image was from https://werunandride.com/2017/07/11/frogs-on-the-highway/ July 11, 2017

 

 

Nevah Endin’ Loop

 

I don’t know why I’m thinking in my womanly, Southern voice,  “Nevahhhhhhhh Endin’ Loop.”  Elongated syllables and soft gees.  It is about my lack of sleep or the Southern character I’m trying to write.  My night was like the opening lines of a famous novel…”It was the best of nights, it was the worst of nights,” from A Tale of Two Darknesses.

I slept hard for four hours…and then awoke with a mind that simply refused to turn off.  Negative thoughts chased one another like wolves chasing the sheep I counted as I tried to get back to sleep.  I finally tried to write…and failed to write.  A loop of gloomy, bleak and fatalistic thoughts flicker like old black and white movies from a nickelodeon kept getting in the way.

Because I’m fragmented…History lesson alert!  A nickelodeon NOT Nickelodeon.   Many of you may be unaware that back in the day, there were motion picture machines found in storefronts called nickelodeons.  In the middle of the first decade of the 1900s, for a nickel, you could watch silent shorts or “peep shows” of people sneezing, silent vaudeville acts and women taking their clothes off.  This was before VHS, smart cards, flash drives, streaming, satellite TV and Pornhub.

Images were imprinted on “a strip or sheet of transparent plastic film base coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion containing microscopically small light-sensitive silver halide crystals” and ran as a film loop over a hand-cranked projector.

The loop continued to repeat as long as you desired to crank.   Thank you, Wikipedia. No, I have no idea what I quoted means…magic maybe! Exactly how did that image of a Victorian lady taking off her clothes get on to film?  Research to come.

At three in the morning my mind decided, on its own, to begin running an imaginary film loop of everything that was bothering me, ovah, and ovah, and ovah again.  A never-ending, mental, horror movie loop of sick and blind puppies, aging puppy parents not able to take care of themselves much less their puppies.  A friend who had emergency bypass surgery, home, and yard work that must be done, a tractor that does not run like a Deere, and two vehicles with over four hundred thousand miles combined with strange noises emanating from them.  Worse is my total lack of motivation to do anything other than sleep…except I can’t…even…sleep.   I have presents to deliver to my grandchildren…from Valentine’s Day.  Ah sweet depression, a depression by any other name is still a depression.

Can you be losing the battle if you are worrying you are losing the battle?  Did that make sense?  Probably not to anyone other than me.

It is late-morning now.  A gloomy mid-morning that matches my mood.  I walked in the sleet until I said ‘Oh Fudgenuts’ and went home.   Not because I was cold, I was.  Not because sharp, minute chunks of ice were hitting me in the face, they were.  Not because the weather gurus had missed the forecast, they had.  I could have overcome all that.  It is the never-ending loop running in my head…never quite ending and adding frames as it continues along.   Now I’m watching the sleet bounce off my metal roof.  The sleet is not helping me end the loop nor is writing this.  Wait…I just yawned…maybe a nap?  Ah, sweet silence.

For other musings, https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image is from https://www.britannica.com/technology/projector/media/478521/95460

Winter…Sucks

 

It is still over a month away from the winter solstice… the darkness is oppressive.  Last night was thirteen hours, thirty-nine minutes and thirty seconds of rainy, cold darkness.  It seemed longer… I was awake for much of it.  I feel the darkness in my bones…in my soul.  Tonight, darkness will be a minute and a half longer than last.  I am already dreading it.

It’s not just the darkness, it is the angle of the sun, rising low in the southeastern sky and staying low, lower, lowest for the next…forever.  I never saw the sun yesterday and won’t see it today.  Wet, winter doldrums and it’s only the mid-way point in November.

The acronym SAD just doesn’t seem strong enough.  Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I don’t guess miserable fits…as an acronym.  “I have MISERABLE!”  Or WRETCHED…or DISMAL.  On top of my spurts of just plain depression.

I have inherited much from my Grandmother.  Love for growing tomatoes, reading, bird watching, and wildlife in general.  I also inherited her depression.  Gray days sitting, wishing, gazing out at the winter contemplating when the sun will return.  I remember her “blue.”  Wilting and turning brown like plants touched with a frost.  I also remember her blooming in the Spring.  Hope “springs” eternal.

I see people gaily dressed in ugly sweaters and hoodies.  Embracing pumpkin spice and reveling in falling leaves and bonfires.  Elves in red who can’t wait to get through Thanksgiving.

Give me the sun.  Give me the hot and humid weather with mosquitoes and thunderstorms, lightning bugs and hoot owls to chase the darkness away.  Give me the sun, long and high in the sky.

Daylight is finally upon me…its still raining so I can’t see the sun.  A gloomy day that I feel cutting deep.  I can’t seem to concentrate or sleep.  My wife may be in for a rough day.  I write, check social media, pick up a book and stare at pages without reading, walk around the fireplace and then do it all over again.  I have a book ending to complete…maybe in the spring…or the summer, when my mind is not so fragmented by the dark.

Don Miller’s author’s page can be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Don Miller writing as Lena Christenson can be found at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD1

The image is from https://harrisrichard.com/tag/winter-sucks/

A SLIP OR A SLIDE

When does the slip become a slide? A slide an uncontrolled skid? Or when does a skid become a full-fledged plunge over a cliff, my arms and legs flailing against air, hoping against hope to gain purchase, pinwheeling into the abyss. Everyone laughs when the comedic actor slips on a banana peel. I don’t. It reminds me of my metaphorical banana peel, depression. I don’t even laugh when Wile E. Coyote goes over the edge. I know he will survive the sudden stop at the end of his fall. I sometimes wonder if I want to survive mine…just go ahead, take that step. Falls have never killed anyone…but what about the crash at the end?

My depression hasn’t hit full force in decades. It doesn’t have to. My mini-depressions have hit like Wile E.’s anvil, just not in full force. Depression is a constant companion, offering me a taste, a bit of the poison, waiting for its chance to kick me over the edge. Every time my “blues” hit, I wonder, is this it? Is this going to be the one that lasts for a lifetime instead of two or three days? All I need is the memory, or is the remembrance a self-fulfilling prophecy? Does remembering make it more probable? Do all the questions with no answers depress me even more?

I napped heavily yesterday, a harbinger of depression? Was it the gloomy weather, lousy football games or my depression returning to sap not only my strength but my will to stay awake? Early the next morning I awoke in the darkness made heavier by the continued gloom and argued with two of the dozen or so voices normally residing in my head.

The feminine voice, one as smooth as aged whiskey implores, “Stay, pull the covers over your head. You have nothing to do…just stay, stay here with me.”

The other, a deep voice on steroids orders, “You lazy sumbitch, get your ass up, you’re burning daylight!”

They argued on and on until the drill sergeant’s voice wins and kicks me out of bed. Will there be a time when I ignore his deep baritone and succumb to the siren’s call of smooth whiskey, pulling the covers over my head and giving up? Is this the slip that starts it all?

Normally my exercise unscrambles and silences the voices. This morning the voices become shadows, flying behind my eyes in shapes and patterns resembling those found in a broken kaleidoscope. The colors and forms are there but I can make no sense of them. Is this the slide? The skid sending me over the edge?

Tomorrow is a new day. I pray for sunlight…bright and glorious sunlight to burn away the depression…if it will. In the winter of the year, my depression’s whisper become deafening, the slide more out of control. The nights are too long and the sun is still low in the sky. I pray for the sun and short nights. I dream of long days and a sun high in the sky even if it brings the heat, humidity and mosquitos of summer.

Until then I will have to try and battle my voices, wrap up against the cold when I go for a run, hoping the voices are silenced or at least softened and my slide ends up against a wall instead of over the edge and the abyss below.

For more of Don Miller’s unique views of life, humor and Southern stories of a bygone time, try http://goo.gl/lomuQf