Head down, and plod

cmdrkitten perfect loop anxiety panic looping GIF

You know that feeling you get when you drink too much coffee? Jittery – an invisible tremor under your skin, a fist around your chest that makes breathing just a little harder, a steel band that keeps your head from exploding but you wish it weren’t quite so tight?

Turns out this is one of the side-effects of taking fluoxetine, aka Prozac. Apparently it wears off, eventually.

It’s also a side-effect of compulsively reading the news. Trump … Trump … Trump … I am so damn sick of the sound of that name! I swipe left on my phone and up comes the news and everything is Trump. My eyes skitter in an effort to avoid it as my fingers flickscroll fast through the headlines, but it’s inescapable. I switch to YouTube, and there it is again, thumping and jeering.

Warren is in the lead, both among the Democratic candidates (you can tell this is true because the other Democratic candidates are attacking her like a pack of mad dogs) and against Trump. But pundits say he’s going to win again. A landslide next time, they say. Because when you take a well-aged lump of Electoral College and drizzle on an oily slick of clever gerrymandering, that’s what you get.

Impeachment? Apparently there’s nothing to stop an impeached president from running for a second term. And if he does, how will we stop him from grabbing a third term, if he wants to? Don’t tell me the system won’t allow it. “The system” wasn’t supposed to allow any of this! Do you think the founding fathers would be proud of the noxious Thing that’s bubbled forth from their Great Experiment?

I wish I could run away, but where to? South Africa is crumbling under the terrible weight of systemic graft, ignorance and inefficiency. And while I know there’s a whole world of other options, from here, peering out from under the looming weight of Trumpian America, it’s hard to believe there’s anywhere that one might simply be free to live peacefully, attending to one’s personal daily interests, pleasantly bored by politics.

I’ve tried to go cold turkey on the news. Most of my friends manage to ignore it … My conservative friends, that is. As a result, they’re comfortably in denial, so if I rage about children in cages, or allies abandoned to be slaughtered, or the intentional collapse of scientific studies of random shit like weather, or violation of the Constitution, they go, “Huh? Wha’?” And then they shake their heads gently and say, “Oh, I don’t follow the news – it’s all fake.”

Elephant in the room

I have learned that the survival of many of my most important relationships depends on ignoring the elephant, no matter how much of the room it’s taking up, no matter how deep and pungent the piles of shit. You have to turn your back and look through the window – or, if there is no window in your part of the room, focus on the paint on the wall.

So anyway … I’m back on anti-depressants. I’m trying not to feel like a quitter. I really, really don’t want this … I want to manage my own brain, damn it! And I was doing so well! It’s more than a year since I quit, and actually I thought the Black Dog and I were getting along okay, moseying along life’s path, not worrying too much about the periodic dearth of primroses and simply taking in whatever view there happened to be. But that bastard Dog sneaked up on me. I realized a couple weeks ago that I’d pretty much stopped moseying, and was standing with my nose against the wall, staring at the paint. And then I realized that the Dog had become very large and was leaning in and crushing me, its hot, moist breath fouling the air.

The thing about clinical depression is, sometimes you don’t feel especially … well … depressed. Or, if you do, you look at the news, and there are so many excellent reasons to feel sad or hopeless that the way you’re feeling makes perfect sense. It can take a while to recognize that the rational sad feelings actually aren’t the reason you’re binge-watching “Hoarders” while your own home sinks under a pile of dog hair and dirty laundry.

So that’s why, once again, I’m shoving the damn Black Dog off of me by the power of my nightly happy capsule. On the downside, I’m uncomfortably jittery; on the upside, I’ve turned my gaze away from the wall and am getting through most days without falling over the Dog.

As for the White House … fuck ’em all, I say. I’m going to keep my eyes fixed on what I can fix – at least for the rest of today.

It’s a start.

Okay … talk to me. Do you struggle with depression? What do you do about it? Does politics make you feel good or bad about being alive?


Author: Belladonna Took

Well into my second half-century and still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. Born South African, naturalized American, perpetually at risk of losing my balance and landing ass-first in the Atlantic.

21 thoughts on “Head down, and plod”

  1. Well that is the most lovely piece of writing.

    My wife, Tamara, says how difficult it must be to be young growing up in the present day – too much information, the environment shaking under our feet, economic jitters. And we live in England, so we have idiotic Brexit to worry about as well.

    Tamara is affected by it too. We all are. But when she talks about how growing up now must be difficult because of … etc. then I usually start to picture a cowboy on a horse, riding in a semi-desert area. It’s a soothing image.


    1. Hi David! A cowboy on a horse … Yeah … Except that the cowboy types around my part of the world (Eastern Washington State) are all Trumpkins. More sad than soothing, unfortunately.

      I agree that it must be hard to grow up today. We’re quick to mock the “millennial snowflakes”, but they’re living through what Toffler predicted, and then some.


      1. Ah, I didn’t say (I should have) – the cowboy is back in the 1800s. He’s my image of something simpler and also something more attractive – the view in front of him is not full like a tropical jungle. It doesn’t feast the eyes whichever way one looks. But it has space, and it gives room to breathe.


  2. I’m just lifting my head up from my own personal battles, and that’s when I noticed what was happening in Syria. I just about crawled back into my hole. Actually, I just took a four-hour nap and, if not more hopeful, I at least feel like facing some of this sh*t and dealing with the angst of it all.

    The thought of another four years of Trumpian Nightmare makes me more than despondent. Fortunately, I have my life that keeps me on my toes. I can only hope that Death has a conscience and he will eventually get all the most deserving and bring them home to a worm-filled sort of justice. One can dream.


  3. I think that keeping your eyes on what you can fix is the only way through for any of us any more. You’re not a quitter. You are powerful and WISE for recognising when you need to get some external help. I love you. Hang in there. Try take some of that jitter and turn it to dusting – it does work 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ah, Val. I take my hat off to you for trying for so long without the shelter of mother’s little helper. Especially after Mr Took’s misadventures met sy gunstelung trekker! That said, sometimes the fncking chemicals do have to be taken in hand and strength of mind and spirit (and your’s, I know, are very strong) are just not enough. And with the approach of winter? You don’t need more SAD.

    The jitters, I’m sure will pass and you won’t fall over the Dog.

    As for Trump, I can only say that I’m glad we no longer have Zuma. Although there is a legacy…. sigh…


    1. Hey, Fiona, sorry about the slow response. I got sidetracked by Die Boer Van Amerika Uit. I appreciate the kind words, thank you. Starting to feel better, but sometimes it feels as though it’s just never going to stop!


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