Monday, March 1, 2010

...and THIS is your blogger on drugs.

(warning: introspective angst)

(VERY INCOHERENT introspective angst) (...) (EVEN A SPONGE HAS MORE LIFE THAN I DO!) (hah, I just wanted to write that coz the last traces of alcohol in my system make it seem a bit funny... I'm adding this retrospectively, so look for a * for the point I decided to do it. Back to when I was sober. Oh, how wibbly-wobbly-timy-wimy this all is...)

I've been a bit reluctant to blog of late, as a couple of weeks ago I had a bit of a breakdown. I should have seen the things - increasing anxiety, inability to sleep, sudden vicious desires to let out my Inner Weevil and slaughter pedestrians, not eating for a week...

The real cracks began to show when my mum suggested that with me being a quarter of a century old now I should try and go on the dole in the New Friendly Centrelink, and when I went there I found that the New Friendly Centrelink hadn't changed a damn since I was last there. There were no schemes or things I could sign up to get me work, and they'd just refer me to the job centre down the road - basically a very poor internet cafe and coffee place that allows you to read papers, email job applications and drink weak coffee (I mean, it's a decent place, but I can honestly say I get a lot more done staying at home looking through my daily job mail).

So, stuck in the antithesis of my comfort zone surrounded by depressed and lonely job seekers and stuck next to this fat old lady with no short-term memory who I seem to bump into wherever I go (she is terrified of me as she fears she owes me money, and then asks me for spare change), I managed to avoid either screaming or going on a psychotic rampage by digging my fingernails into my right forearm and then dragging very slowly upwards which, a day later, left an injury my dad described as "a tiger scratch".

That Friday I went to this Centrelink Job Expo entirely of my own free will. For added points, it was held at Bankstown, one of the few places I've worked at (albeit briefly) where I was an uncontested success. And as I go to the town hall that disturbingly resembles university (pausing to boggle at a hairdresser who thinks the locals will fall for putting the entire cast of Angel in the shop window as past clients), I'm left standing in the baking sun with hundreds (and I MEAN hundreds) of other people in a queue stretching for nearly a kilometre to get into the town hall. The police are there, making us inch closer in an orderly fashion.

Finally I get inside, and the place is PACKED. By the time I reach the main hall, there are 12000 people altogether, a human tide surging between tiny cubicles offering different employment agencies, taxi colleges, indigenous advice and the like. The noise of the people makes speech impossible. You can't choose where to go. The big gimmick is a wall covered in ads for different jobs - 2000 on offer, go to work today - but there's the Woodstock audience between the wall and me and try as I might, I can't get any damn closer.

Resigned, I float with the crowd, snatching every pamphlet and brochure I can find in the hope for something remotely good to arrive. Finally I get spat out into the burning light of day once more. The queue has TRIPPLED. Someone has opened a hotdog stand halfway a long. A choir sings "Stand By You" off-key in a way scientifically designed to make me want to kill. Rather than spend the rest of the day trying to climb back into the expo, I storm off home with my ill-gotten gains - and it quickly turns out they're mostly useless. Different internet cafe job places I could join. The best bet for work involves me being a bloody volunteer for no pay and deliberately sacrificing any kind of social life I possess.

The weekend passes more or less OK, with me still avoiding this pesky little thing called "food" with no obvious side effects and going for long walks that leave the Rat exhausted and me needed to carry him. At one point I was horrified to idly consider throwing the useless black animal onto a railway line so I could walk at my own rage-induced speed without him slowing me up. No jobs, no DWM, no improvement, oh, and my dad might have a hereditary brain tumor (turns out he didn't, indeed as tumors go, his brain is better than average), and I'm generally pissed off in the week following my birthday. The blinding headaches drove me to knock down a worrying amount of panadol and red wine, to the horror of Chris Hale and co when they found out. My self-destructive behavior hasn't been so obvious since I dived off a railway platform to rescue a magazine I'd stolen from the tracks.

Then Monday, I head off to a place called Maxx Employment that seem to be a good bet. I expect the day to pass with me filling out forms or watching videos in a nice cool little office just outside a shopping centre. I arrive in good time, wait patiently for some Office-style antics to subside (the boss ordered pizza without telling anyone, let alone the receptionist who had to pay for it all), and ask to sign up. The receptionist explains that Centrelink have nailed my name down to the other employment place and if I want to change I'll have to deal with my own rigmarole, sorry.

So I stormed out. I mean, they weren't rude or anything. But something snapped at that point. The realization it was a slightly more organized but no less worthless office to the one I'd been avoiding drove it home inside my own head the thought that had been troubling me:

It's not going to get any better.
Things were not going to improve. I wasn't going to find happiness. Just the same soul-destroying hell before. With no way out. And of course not only was it my fault for getting into this mess, I wasn't going to be able to change my behavior pattern to get out of it. I mean, what was I doing? Storming off, walking home even though I'd bought a return train ticket. And I wasn't going to Centrelink to do anything that could be construed as "constructive". But what was the point? Why would going to Campsie instead of Marrickville improve anything? Me actually having a job was one of the worst times of my life, but being unemployed wasn't actually a bundle of laughs either.

Lumbering past Cook's River as I was, I would probably have thrown myself into it or marched into traffic if I wasn't so terrified of the emotional hell I might put my parents through (see? I automatically believe they'd hate it if I died yet simultaneously am convinced they'd prefer it if I'd never been born), and, having finally run out of adrenaline and, as I once promised, rang my mum to tell her if I'd Lost The Plot. Of course, I waited till lunch because I was mortified of wasting her time. (Oh yeah, real humble me.)

As is always the case, my larynx tries to preserve my hard man image by closing up and preventing me from revealing what an unhappy loser I am to others (and thus, makes such a phone call awkward and difficult). But basically I tell my mum all the previous material of this blog post and she comes to the conclusion I am suffering serious depression - it doesn't SOUND as impressive conclusion as it was, but go with it - and my deliberate malnutrition has lead to me totally losing control of my mighty emotions, and it was a clear sign of my trust and loyalty I hadn't let it drive me to suicide before now. Well, quite.

I agreed to go home and finally eat something for the first time in days, and look up symptoms on Beyond Blue (I do have all the symptoms of Someone To Be Watched, but I feel I must stress they only kicked in during February). My mum eventually comes home and decides I should seek medical and professional help, as she isn't simply qualified. As my major hang-up is Talking About My Hang-Ups, the idea of chatting to a total stranger does not appeal - especially after the last one, a school counsellor, simply shrugged and told me to get a job and stop bothering her. But yeah, I'll go to my GP and confess to my dirty little secret that I haven't been able to keep my artistic angst in control.

I mean, I GET that depression is an illness of the mind and I should be as ashamed of it as much as I am of being the first person in Australia diagnosed with cryptosperidium poisoning. It is, in short, not my fault and as long as I obey doctor's orders, I'm off scott free in terms of responsibility. Do I think any less of Stephen Fry or Spike Milligan or anyone else who appeared in Taking Over The Asylum? Of course not! But that's the thing. On some level, I don't think I believe my depression/despair/whatever is anything other than the usual funk I might descend into. A state I should be able to conquer on my own with judicious use of furry animals, alcohol and Dave Dobbin singing Slice of Heaven (and yes, that probably DOES sound disturbing out of context, but I'm not prepared to argue at the moment). Quite simply, I myself think I should be better than this crap. I mean, my life has been one long luxury cruise compared to my friend Bindie - have I been betrayed by the woman I loved? OK, yes. Every time. But I haven't had them destroy my life and then steal my daughter away to Ipswich of all places. I haven't had parents trying to kill me with broken bottles. I haven't been hospitalized on numerous occassions for epileptic fits. But he's OK. And surely I, who am older and perhaps even cleverer, should be fine?

So I go to my GP. Now, with my health history, a hatred of seeing doctors is as understandable as it is ironic. Quite simply, I trust my local quack with my life - he's a bloody good doctor, no question. But emotions? Feelings? The dark teatime of my own soul? He thinks I like Star Trek for crying out loud!

But it turns out he keeps little booklets about "Handling Depression" in the waiting room, so I guess it's in his purview. We go in and my dad, understanding how tongue-tied I can get, provides an itemized list of my faults and failures ending with the previous day where I was so ashamed of my lack of productivity I couldn't return home and thus was burnt to a crisp (no melananananananin in the skin, don't you know?). My GP asks a few sensible questions and takes a blood test to see... I dunno, if there's something to see. For a week I am given the tantalizing possibility I have some kind of thyroid problem that, if fixed, will cure both my body and mind (do you have any idea how thin my arms and legs are?), but alas, no. I'm actually in surprisingly good physical health, with only a slightly high sugar level (expected what with the deliberate self-starving) and a SLIGHTLY fatty liver to remark upon. So my quack suggests drugs.


I was that enthusiastic as well.

I mean, I've taken all sorts of pills and potions under doctor's orders over my quarter of a century. Every single day I take a tab of polaromine to stop my beloved animals making me sneeze to death. But taking chemicals specifically designed to - as Sil would say - change how my brain works seems... wrong. Even though I've gone to this bloke because my brain isn't working. Perhaps I'm worried that I will lose whatever genius I possess without manic depression. I used to claim I was a manic optimist, but maybe I was just in denial. Anyway... I'm instinctively loathe to take pills.

Of course, depression can be caused by all sorts of wierd shit, but at its most common works like a leaky tap and the 'negative emotion' builds up even though you're past the crap that caused it, and leaves you inexplicably devastated. And these bills help clear that out, slowly but surely. Half a day for a week cause you've been on a diet that Ethiopians would consider severe, then the full dose. The week The Young Ones starts on ABC2. I love The Young Ones, but my parents had their tolerance for it destroyed by my cousin. Which is really sad when you think about it...

Anyway, with my gut reaction to "depression" to think of Neil the hippy or Marvin the paranoid android, I agree to take the pills. Do they work? Well, it's not that simple. Rather like Heidi when she was in labor, these pills stop me feeling overwhelmed by depression, but not the actual cause of the problem. That horrible futility of existence is still there at the back of my mind, but I can speak, move and discuss it without trying to kill anyone. But is the pill doing its business or is it the old "talking about it makes it all better?" business.

My short term memory has been suffering - as a side effect or just general dyspraxia, I do not know - and yesterday I didn't take the pill. I think. Pretty certain I didn't. Anyway, there were no epic side effects bar some incredibly intense and unpleasant dreams I had (a contrast to the blissed out ones I'd had while depressed, which made waking up all the more unpleasant).

[Just incase, I'll explain I started writing this perfectly sober, but then Lewis the Human Black Hole of Intellect arrived with two bottles of champagne and now I'm thoroughly in the warm groggy phase of being drunk (you won't believe just how difficult this has been to type and my god how cool would it have been to go to that all nude thing on the Opera House steps I mean really...)]

OK, where was I? Oh yes. So... Big Finish short story competition. 2500 words. What a freaking joke. Nigel has had longer rants than that. So my idea is to adapt an old idea about an Avengers-style Zygons-in-rural-village frippery as a character building tale about C'rizz (yes, it's written that way, and not C'Rizz like I thought, which looks like it should be pronounced 'Kriz'). And I finish the intro and I'm OVER A THOUSAND WORDS! Gimme strength. I mean, C'Rizz, a lizard with a self-help group in his head, genius, I can work with that! But not enough words! I mean, he's got a DALEK INSIDE HIS BRAIN! That's situation comedy falling off the page BUT I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH WORDS! God damn it!

Anyway, I've worked out roughly what I want to write, but days pass and I can't write. I fear these pills have killed my inspiration but maybe it's the whole "my entire life is pointless and will never improve and my god Larry Miles was right this is going to be shit" vibe? So I've been struggling to type out my story in as few a words as possible. And I am like the poster child for "brevity is not the soul of wit". I can't shut up (unless I've had a nervous breaksodwn and am current in a park on Cook's river trying to explain to my mum that I've become an American cheerleader indulging in bulimia and self harm).

Anyway and I know I've started the last paragraph this way, but gimme a break, I'm drunk and if I was sober I'd be too ashamed to write this - by the way, I love the Hitchhiker's movie, I really do, it is one of the best, it actually has a plot for fuck's sake, I mean, Trillian's a gag for one scene in the book/radio/TV series and is only used to pad out the bits where the Doctor would explain the plot, but in the movie she's an actual character with a POINT to her, and Zaphod calling Ford "Ix"... THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING, DAMN IT! Where was I?

OK. So. Sunday Sunday. I don't take the pill. I write a lot. But I dunno if that's "no pill equals inspiration and typical genius" or maybe it's just me coming to terms with the one thing I prided myself on (that's my mind, BTW, the four girlfriends made it clear the body wasn't up to much) was not working. But maybe I should do something else. I dunno. Is C'Rizz (fuck it, my blog, I'll spell it how I damn well want) wandering about a village thinking bags of gold dust acceptable currency interesting? Maybe, IF I HAD THE WORDS TO DESCRIBE THE NATIVES SCREWING HIM OVER FOR EVERYTHING HE HAS. HMM. CAPS LOCK. BEST fix that. So, anyway, I'm dangerously veering from what might have been the point.

I am taking medication.

The medication alters my medical state, er, I mean, mental state.

Ergo, what I blog may not be my true, naked, unvarnished self. Mmm. Naked. I wonder if I knew any of the girls who were at the Opera House today? HAHA! Oh yeah. The Dark Verkoff side of the mind took over there. Or maybe I just wrote it for a joke. Hard to tell. Am I doing this for my own mental good will or just trying to impress the two or three IMMENSELY COOL AND FROODY people who actually read it? Seriously, whatever these pills do, have not changed my incredible respect for Cam, Jared, Miles, Chris, Matt, or Bernie. You guys freaking rule. When the history of Doctor Who is written, the fact you aren't in charge will be in the errata section. But I doubt I'll get a footnote. Call that pessimistic? I call it realistic, dammit, I haven't been able to live up to my own expectations, let alone other people's.

What else? Oh yeah. Got new glasses. This Friday I get tested for diabetes and I really hope I don't have it because, seriously, it seems like a hassle. I mean, a hassle I think I deserve not to have. Oh, and I'm the Easter Bunny again which means everyone from teenage girls to 60-year-old bogans will come up to me and tell me their intimate sexual problems cause they know I can listen but cannot respond. Plus they seem to think I'm a girl since no man would be pathetic enough to dress up as a giant anthropomorphic fertility figure. But that a rabbit would have eggs made out of chocolate. Morons.

New glasses - did I mention that? Oh I did. My bad. Man, the optometerist has improved over the last seven years. I mean, in 2003, I got my first pair of glasses which (strange buildup of green stuff around the bits that sit on your nose) were OK. But I got them in a place where the eye charts were on school projectors. And now it's all digital plasma screens and this thing SPECIFICALLY designed to fire gas INTO YOUR EYEBALL. Why? I dunno. But I'm 450 bucks poorer for these new brainy specs. And I have a list of things to do every day on the theory that if I have a record of my achievements then that will defeat the purposeless and stuff.

Fuck, I'm starting to sober up because while I've been trying to type this I have been explaining to Lewis that the the guy from House was, once upon a time, the upper-class twit Blackadder had to deal with. Honestly, with him, pop culture is looking down the wrong end of a telescope. So, to summarize...

My muse has dwindled. Is this down to pressure of deadlines, a basic flaw in the story, or the fact I've been deliberately tampering with my own brain?

I have no freaking idea and if you've managed to read this and understand it, good for you, because I'm already sober enough to reconsider if I should post this or not.* Cause I know, I just know, once I click "publish post" I am so going to regret it and will want to delete the post and pretend I'm all normal in the head and not taking pills and that life might improve beyond the shit sandwich of eternity I am currently presented with. DAMN IT, I NEVER STARTED THIS BLOG TO DISCUSS MY FEELINGS, I DID IT BECAUSE ANYTHING SPARACUS COULD DO, I COULD DO BETTER! Oh, that probably says a lot about me, thinking about it again. Man, the alcohol's vanishing from my brain faster than I can type. Damn my hangover-proof heritage. Damn it, Eddie. Unless it's the pills doing it. Is it? Oh, my head. I'm going to be really embarrassed and ashamed I posted this tomorrow. Especially the bit about Cathy. Maybe I should delete that bit? Oh, I can't seem to find it. Wait, yes I did. Haha! Oh my head. Did I say that already? I mean, 'type'? Man, it's not even half-past eight and...why is the TV showing blackness? Why are my toes tingling? Is Steven Moffat following RTD's tradition of ripping me off with his latest take on Amy's destiny? Oh my head.

Better do it before I have second thoughts...


(Hang on, there's another bottle of champers... FANTASTIC!)

It's not fully coloured in, but it's all my own work, honest...


Chris Hale said...

You are and forever will be the geniuse that I met 5 years ago.

Whose work pulled me out of a great depression that I couldn't get out and made me want to better myself as a comic writer.

Im more than confident in your abilities as a writer, both in comedy and in your serious works.

You'll shine dude :D

Youth of Australia said...

I appreciate that, Chris, I really do. I suspect your belief is misplaced - but then, hey, that's me in a nutshell, right?

Oh well, another day, another mind-altering pill, another list to write...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

This felt a lot like something I would write in my blog (erm, if I did actually write in my blog these days) which fascinated me, seeing as in my memory I have never blogged whilst drunk or on medication.

I hope you get better. And, really, you shouldn't think about depression as some sort of fake illness as a lot of people do. It's a real condition that's very, very serious.

Best of luck with everything.

Youth of Australia said...

I hope you get better.
Don't we all.

And, really, you shouldn't think about depression as some sort of fake illness as a lot of people do. It's a real condition that's very, very serious.
Yeah, I know that. It's my own illness I question, not everyone else's.

Best of luck with everything.

Knew I shouldn't blog under the influence...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Maybe I should comment under the influence...

Youth of Australia said...

But you do.



You know when Matt Smith was at school, his nickname was "Dr Who" cause of his beloved multicoloured scarf? Crazy world we live in...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

That's weird. Does this mean I'm destined to portray Sam Gamgee in a new version of Lord of the Rings, or become the new face of Subway's marketing campaign?

Youth of Australia said...


My nickname was "coconuts".

Which I might possibly have gone.

Matthew Blanchette said...

Don't panic, Ewen I've dealt with depression for three years now (ever since my grandfather died), but a Zoloft a day is helping me through it.

Of course, the heady university workload doesn't help matters...

(P.S.: I find Mostly Harmless to be a guilty pleasure.)