Saturday, December 21, 2013

Judgment Daze

I'm one of those folks that has a bit of a tough time with the holiday season.  I fell into quite a funk over the past week or so, actually.  I certainly won't point fingers at even one single person, because I've determined that it's me who's messed up more than anything.

But, I think I'm a victim of what many others are, too, as well: the dreaded Seasonal Affective Disorder (or, appropriately abbreviated, SAD).  This, compounded with the fact that I've got depressive issues, likely for life.  Poor me, eh?

There's a great show that was on HBO a few years ago called "Six Feet Under".  It ran for a too-short five seasons, and ages remarkably well upon repeat viewings over the years.  There's a character on it named Billy, with whom I see some parallels with myself.  Over the past little while, HBO has been airing all the "Six Feet Under" series chronologically on one of its channels, and on-demand on another one.  On the random channel, I re-watched a couple of episodes from the stellar second season, the best season in my opinion, and became enthralled with Jeremy Sisto's "Billy" character more than when I first viewed it.  I think because I can relate a lot more.

In the first season when Billy is introduced, he seems like this flippant, off-kilter character that you would sense is ultimately going to wind up being one of the chief antagonists on the show.  As season one churns on, he indeed does become the main concern for arguably the program's main protagonist, Nate Fisher Jr. (or just Nate).  Nate hooked up with Billy's sister, Brenda, immediately in the grab-you-by-the-throat premiere episode.  Once Billy is introduced, you ask yourself all kinds of questions, and make assumptions about him that are inevitable; that you don't question until you see him return in season two.  It's at this time, in the second season, that I found myself relating to him.  In season one, he came off his 'meds', and was wildly unpredictable.  He preferred to take action first and ask questions later, most of the time not asking questions at all, regardless of the impact of his actions.  At the end of season one, he unravelled and hit the bottom, and was admitted to psychiatric care, apparently even enduring electro shock therapy, as the dialogue hints: "They've pumped enough electricity through me to light up the eastern seaboard."

But this Billy we see in season two is significantly more grounded.  Ultimately, we see him when he's on his meds, and when he's not.  By his own admission, he's sick, always will be, and those are the cards he was dealt.

I sat watching it and thinking of my own self, when I came off my own meds.  I realized my judgment was quite off compared to when I was on them.  When I first started taking meds in '96, it wasn't long before I realized that the person I'd just become is radically different from the person I was.  Oddly enough, I felt 'normal'.  Could this be?  How could I be normal if I take pills that obviously changes who I naturally was?

You hear a whole lot about contact sports these days, and the ramifications of when thing get too out of hand, namely regarding concussions.  Football being the biggest example.  Hockey being the next.  MMA really concerns me.  Boxing is completely frowned upon these days, for good reason.  When someone sustains a concussion, the brain is permanently compromised.  A person's head will not work quite the same way as it did prior to sustaining one of these injuries.

This doesn't mean you're screwed if you wind up with a concussion.  I've had probably half a dozen of them in my life, three of them major.  I was in a coma twice.  The worst of them came when I was in my formative years, just after my father died when I was 12.  The others I wound up with were almost all self inflicted.  The last one being only about ten years ago, at a time when I was off my meds.

But I'm a great believer in that your body is an amazing machine that goes to great lengths to heal itself, if it can.  I've read that the brain is able to make alternate neural connections to get things done the way it used to when it sustains injury.  I do believe something like this takes time.  But the brain is far, far more complex than any man-made intelligence.  I doubt we will ever fully understand to the extent of what it's capable of.

I think that I'm in the bracket of people who have mental and emotional difficulty who have suffered any brain injuries over the years.  The so-called "depression" that I deal with is a permanent, dare I say it, disability.  I'm fine with knowing that.  I'm actually thankful.  Things could have ended up a whole lot worse, after my face had been blackened after being slammed into the pavement from being hit by a car on the very same rainy December night that John Lennon was murdered.  I could have died, or worse, become vegetative.  So yeah, I'll take this little bit of flakyness that peppers my personality from time to time.  I admit to my own eccentricities.  I embrace a lot of them, in fact.

Back to my original intent of the subject... here I am, four days removed from Christmas of 2013,  trying to justify to myself why sometimes I come home when no one's around yet, and I go to bed a cry a little while.  I think back on Christmases past, when my whole family was together.  Mom and Dad were alive, and everyone converged on 136 Emmerson Street where we grew up to celebrate the holidays as a complete unit.  Even after Dad died, we still came together there at Mom's house, where I lived until she was relocated to a nursing home.  There was a genuine Christmas spirit in the air that was palpable to all of us.  We were a family of nine before Dad passed, and we all loved each other, and showed it the most during the holidays.

Mom's gone now.  We lost her in '98 after a lengthy battle with disease.  That hit us all pretty hard.  I won't say I felt it the worst, because everyone deals in their own way.  Speaking for myself, though, I live with a lot of regret, in part because of this damning depression-like condition I have to wake up with and confront every day; regret that I could have done more for Mom than I did, way more.  I can't go home to see her now.  Being the youngest of seven, I get to have the least amount of time in my life to have been with her, and thus, less time to make up for any wrong I've done.

However, I'm a dad now, married to the mother of my own little girl.  This is my chance to make things right with Mom.  I've screwed up an awful lot along the way, but I learn every day, too.  I take a lot from my own mom in how I treat Alexandra.  The good that's in me today is because it was instilled in me from my own mother.

Now it's up to me, with Janice, to make sure Alexandra has the same great childhood memories that I was treated to.  With no concussions, though.  So far, it's just been a very broken arm, during a time that was a tad bit scary.  But, so far, so good.

The medicated Billy would be proud, I think.


  1. Thanks for sharing Mike :) That was a good Sunday morning read. You are very special to me so hang in there, you are doing great! xo

  2. Oh I forgot to sign, lol, it's Kim in case you were wondering who wrote the above comment :-) Loved reading it and anticipating more ((((hugs))))

  3. Keep your chin up Jose CanCookster and your stick on the ice - you are doing a fine job. Your friend always - Tim

    1. SuperTim. Actually, better known as Will the Thrill Churchill around these parts. Thanks buddy.