Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Stranger

It's been a weird week, kind of.  It's always a bit strange when there's a statutory holiday in the middle of it, and it splits the work week up, leaving your body to wonder what the heck is happening, especially when you're used to getting up at 4 in the morning on Tuesdays and Fridays, and it switches to Wednesday and Friday.  But it's all good.  Remembrance Day was the occasion for the holiday.  Not particularly a day for celebration as much as... well, remembrance.

I've been thinking about some Billy Joel songs running through my head in the last while.  Remembrance Day kind of makes me think of 'Goodnight Saigon', although it's a song about some American troops in the Vietnam War.  Men still paid a steep price for that conflict, though, and it just helps you remember others who lost their lives in other conflicts, or even survived.  It's kind of a noir-type song, where the character and his comrades in it don't survive the ending.  There's another song of his called 'The Stranger', which we all can relate to, I think.  We all wear masks in life to suit any given situation we're in, masks that portray us in a different light to others.

I haven't really discussed with anybody how tough my mornings have been this week.  In particular Monday and Wednesday mornings.  I'm at a loss to explain why I'm having trouble with the start of my days lately; just that a very dark cloud seems to hover around until mid-afternoon or so.  I choose not to discuss it very much verbally so as not to bring anyone else down with me.  I mean, what's to gain, right?  And besides, if there's one thing I've learned, it seems nobody really likes to hear from a depressed person, unless they're well-paid psychiatrists.

So I put on a brave face.  Not that brave, it's not hard to do.  A lot of us who go through depression issues would know exactly what I'm talking about.  In fact, the majority of people I work with have no idea whatsoever about my disability.  And yes, it is a disability.  No, you can't see it; nor can you detect it for the most part from people like me, unless we tell you.  And why we would want to tell you, at this point with me, escapes me.  I've discovered you lose the people you reach out to.  The one person outside of my wife that I've found really, truly gets it, was a counselor who talked to my family and myself to tell us that my mom was ill with Pick's Disease.  She'd turned to me at the roundtable with a genuine look of concern and asked me, having been living with my mom longer than anyone else, how I was, and how I felt.  How I felt?  I didn't know how to answer that.  And I don't believe I did, as words failed me.

I hear sometimes, "just let it go!"  That's another thing you don't tell a person suffering from mental illness.  You have no idea how much we would just love to "let it go".  No idea.  But our brains are dysfunctional and unable, for most of us anyway, to do this relatively simple task.  For somebody like me, just being around some crowds of people are a massive undertaking.  Or talking on the phone.  It's debilitating... hence, the disability.  Making new friends is harder, because we know nobody really wants to be around folks like us, and we don't want people to expect normal everyday things to be easy sometimes.  So we create distance.

Oddly enough, when I used to perform in a band and do some gigs, the stage was the most comfortable place for me to be.  Maybe because the stage in its own way is kind of isolating and distancing.  When I do readings at church, I feel no nervous apprehension at all.

Recently I read about Jerry Seinfeld, how he wonders if he might be on the autism spectrum because of his own social inability and similar behaviors to mine.  Then I wondered... could I be on the autism spectrum myself?  I actually doubt it, but I do wonder sometimes.  I do exhibit some of the symptoms of it.  Quite a few, really.  Although I'm not dependent like some autism patients are.  Maybe my wife would disagree with that!  She wouldn't outright, maybe.  But, I get a very small idea what these people deal with and go through, on a minuscule level.  I wouldn't necessarily say I 'suffer' from it.  It's depression I deal with, I believe.  But on some days, particularly mornings, that overwhelming feeling of isolationism is stark.

And so, like 'The Stranger' in the song, I wear the mask of a person who's not suffering from anything.  Sometimes people do see behind it, but most times, they don't.  But it's well-worn, and used every day for decades now.

Thanks for going on the journey with me via Ragnar Station, and staying in orbit.