Depression

So, I haven’t posted in a long while, and basically, that has all been down to a massive depressive episode. Going through a huge mental health crash and sorta coming out the other side has left me without much left that I do. But I have had time to think, and pondering about how I could think all the things I did when depressed and how I could act the way I acted. It was very weird, it left me feeling at the mercy of random moods and unsure of who I was. When I’m thinking about the impact depression had, it’s not the few weeks where I was incredibly suicidal, it’s the slump afterwards, the constant feeling that I was worthless, hopeless and without happiness that I think of. It’s the slow recovery from that, into a state of trying to deal with the state you are in now, it’s like emerging out of a vault into a irradiated wasteland and wondering how on earth you build your life up again, and what the hell happened.

So, I’m in a weird spot, but I’ve had time to try to figure out the process of depression, I play a lot of games, and it’s fun picking apart their systems, so that’s what I did. I have tried to figure out how depression works and why it affected me the way it did, and I’m blogging about it so it seems less of this mysterious force and more understandable, and when things are understandable, you can fight them better. All of it might not apply to you, and my be complete bollocks, but it’s how I understand things right now.

So the things depression seems to do is, for one, stop normal things feeling good. Like eating, sleeping, having a good shit, masturbation, all these basic biological acts that at least leave us feeling relived, and often positive for having done, just don’t feel like that anymore, it just becomes stuff you have to do. And this resulted in me desperately eating takeout food because I didn’t care, stuffing my face. Not caring about my appearance because it didn’t feel different either way.

The second thing is it stops you being able to make yourself feel good. When you something productive, or something you consciously understand and enjoy doing, I imagine it as you telling your body, yes, that was good, that was a positive experience. And your body usually goes with that and you feel good. And depression comes in and stops that happening, or you end up in a bad situation for so long you forget how to do that. And you just can’t seem to figure out why things don’t feel good anymore, and you never come up with the explanation of “I’m just not able to feel things right now.” you go for more logical, but wrong, thoughts about how the activity is going, and you often conclude that maybe you just don’t like it anymore.

The final thing it does follows on from that, it stops you being able to remember anything good. It’s like google searching and nothing coming up, you assume there is nothing there, but rather it might there but you can’t find a path to it. It’s like the tag for “Happy” got deleted and you can’t search for those things. If you do remember them, you can’t recreate that happy feeling, there is no warm nostalgic glow, just a cold memory, or a memory with only the bad feelings and none of the good. It really taints how you feel about anything, suddenly *nothing* was ever fun for you, you have never been happy, and you have nothing to refute that claim. That for me was the feeling that completely crushed me, it made life seem pointless. And it’s important to note how sensible that seems when you literally can’t feel anything good.

Getting to a doctor and getting Citalopram pushed the depression away, but getting through it, to get to that stage where I could do that, involved remembering those things that I *knew* were happy memories, doing things that I *knew* were good and would always make me feel happy and that disconnect that I couldn’t remember them, or couldn’t feel them, sort of shocked me enough to realise something was deeply wrong, that it was my mood, and not the world.

It will sound soppy this, but the main thought that made me realise something was wrong was of Hannah, my now fiancée. I couldn’t feel happy with her at the time, but I knew I loved her, and that drive of depression to push everything away and sink down clashed with the love I had. It didn’t cure me, it didn’t save me, it didn’t always happen either, but it always made me realise I was in a depressive phase whenever that happened, and it allowed me to get back control, even if I couldn’t feel anything at all. So thank you so much Hannah.

And thank you to Becca, https://twitter.com/starsandspirals for giving inspiration to write about this. I know you’ve recently posted “I am not your inspiration” but I genuinely couldn’t think of any other word to describe that I’m writing this because you wrote stuff.

This Blog

I use this blog for many things, but I sadly find it rare that I have something I want to say. I mean there is plenty of stuff I can put here, but writing takes a lot of time, effort and, very often, a spark of creativity to word a sentence right. So, working up the desire to sit down and try to wrangle words to convey how I feel about something requires passion. Now, not much passion, but more than I have for the vast majority of the things I could write about. There are things I’d like to say, but that I wouldn’t want to read or want anyone else to read for that matter. The just random thoughts on life and suchlike. And my interest and feelings about them appear and fade constantly. Writing a blog post where the things you say, (about your own feelings!), that is out of date in a few hours is probably not a good use of writing time!

Of course I still seem to write, angsty, somewhat whining blog posts. But I only seem to write those when I’m in that mood. It’s something at the time that I want to write about, and want to read about. However, I hope I’ve written those sorts of posts with some humour still left. So that you, and less moody me, can read it and laugh at this slightly exaggerated version of myself. Though, I’m glad I stash these away here, where you can read only if you want to. Rather than being more open about it on Twitter or Facebook.

Though, if there’s one practical use this blog has above all the others, it’s getting practice writing. Writing is great, it’s an easier way of saying my thoughts and ideas than speaking. For the simple reason that I’m quite clumsy when speaking, I trip over my words and sometimes I stop being able to concentrate on what I’m saying. Writing and, in particular, typing are great because I can constantly see how something sounds, and edit it so what I say is the best I could have said it. Which is a warning to those who only know me online: If you ever saw me in real life, and tried to speak to me, I might be a disappointment relative to whatever opinion you might have made of me. I could say you would find me to as the unpolished diamond. But it’s more comparable to say that, upon closer inspection, I’m merely Quartz.

Despite my preference for writing, I still make lots of mistakes in what I write, and wish I’d written it better or I wish I’d seen how it might be taken the wrong way. So, I’d like to practice and perhaps experiment with writing a bit. Even if just to cut down on the vast amount of emotions, particularly :P, that I use so often to try to convey that I am actually joking.

But, the nicest part of blogging is finding out I actually enjoy blogging. It’s not just something I do to get something out of my system. It can just be a fun thing to do. It’s a similar realisation to “Hey, I actually like doing Physics”, but that’s a blog for another time!

The Delivery

So today, I went downstairs to see this:

Which contained this:

I’m trying to rekindle a love of reading, it hasn’t really deteriorated I just haven’t done it as much as I want to, and it has been a while since I just sat down and read a good book.  So I’ve splurged a bit of my student loan I had saved, because alcohol tastes horrid, on books. I bought a lot of Feynman, as you can see, because frankly it was getting embarrassing that I was studying physics and didn’t have tonnes of it. The Top right and left are two text books for next year, they felt useful having around, the rest of next years text books are mostly covered by what I already have from the last time I went mad and bought loads of books.

I also have Paradox by Jim Al-Khalili and Quirkology by Richard Wiseman on the left. A friend suggested… well demanded, that I get The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. It seems to be a source of shame that I haven’t read it. The other two were suggestions from the lovely Alice Sheppard. The magic furnace is something I hope fleshes out my pretty poor knowledge of science history, whilst “What Einstein told his cook.” is a wonderfully futile attempt by me to try to improve my cooking. I’m hoping that understanding a little of how it works might help me cook. And if not, it looks to be an interesting read all the same.

That just about rounds it up. What I start with though… I have no idea, there are still unread books lingering on my shelf. But, I’m not doing anything else during these weeks without lectures, so I should have plenty of time, I just wonder if I can tear myself away from the internet and distractions long enough to sit down and have a good read.

I just hope the Feynman lectures don’t break my shelf.

On a Rainy Day

Don’t worry, the rain is not here yet. I just couldn’t sleep tonight, so I ended up rediscovering a mad game I remember very fondly, and it seemed to be the perfect game if the rain arrives this week and you start feeling down. It’s called On a Rainy Day, and it’s incredibly simple, and it will take at most 20 minutes to exhaust everything about it. But after doing that, I hope it will have cheered you up. Download it direct from here  (PC only I think, sadly). If you want to jump right in and mess about without knowing anything, then play it before reading the rest of this, because I will now try to explain the sheer weirdness of this game, and me for playing it. Spoilers ahoy! Continue reading “On a Rainy Day”

Feeling rubbish.

Everyone knows what to eat and drink when ill. The default drink is honey and lemon. When I had a cold I used up half a tin of honey in a weekend. I’m going to start drinking them regularly, they taste fantastic and it should serve as a preventative measure. Against what I don’t know, having honey go past it’s sell by date perhaps. The default food is Chicken soup. I’ve had two tins of it today alone. The first was Heinz and the second wasn’t. The second was disappointing. Despite the cliché, yes, Heinz just is better than all the other soups.

The part I’m struggling with though is what to do with my time. Being ill like I am is a matter of waiting and being incapable of higher brain functions. I just want to sit, be excessively warm, and idle my brain for hours. I have a steam account full of PC games to play, and a vast back catalogue, but I can’t find one to satisfy me when I am most in need of it. This is irksome.

The trouble is, I just want to sit and build something for ages, but everything has a little flaw. Minecraft is great, but gets tedious. Theres only so much clicking on dirt you can handle. I want one of the old fashion dungeon building games, to while away the hours, but they are all flawed:

  • The classic “Dungeon Keeper [2]” should be satisfactory, but it wont work on any of my PCs. I’ve also played it to death, (quite literally given it’s setting) and it runs out of ideas. It’s fun to build up and watch things interact for a while. But you can place your buildings any way you want and things don’t change. The end result of all your building is to have a load of creatures to do battle with. But all you can do then is win the mission. There is nothing left to do. It all feels a bit pointless.
  • Evil genius had the good grace of making your base feel important. Trap setups were always fun to do, and the layout of your base mattered. However, it was really fucking difficult. It wasn’t a challenge, a challenge can be fun. Evil genius was almost spitefully difficult. You could never sit and focus on the layout of the base because you constantly needed to manually tag the intruders into your base, flick to an entirely different screen in order to check that your agents weren’t randomly killed. There was no thinking in this, the response to events was entirely binary, you became a cog in the machine, rather than the commander of the machine. I still sometimes fire it up, with all the cheats to full, and craft out a base. But that is all the fun I can extract from it, because the game itself decided to get in the way. It’s one of the tragedies of gaming.
  • Dungeons.  I think everyone wanted it to be a prettier, working, dungeon keeper. It changes the formula a bit, it’s an interesting concept. But sadly it ruined the concept by being just too damn fiddle. It’s the same problem evil genius had, you could never relax and just plan out a bit of your base, because it demanded that you personally see to the resource collecting. Okay, the resource collecting was a fight, but a particularly boring one. You just right-click the enemy and wait a bit. The whole thing felt a bit hollow. Things were just as effective lumped together haphazardly than with any sort of planning. Another disappointment.

I ended up mashing through an entire Civilization 5 game instead. Just quietly researching and managing my way through, was relaxing. But now I’ve done that, all the rest of my games are too fast paced and require far too much thought. I have nothing left to while away the time with. Except writing this blog post. But even that has now ended.

So, where were you yesterday?

For those that want to know, and for those that asked, here’s what happened to me this Wednesday.

I had a wonderful, busy Tuesday. Got home at about 12pm from an enjoyable MathsJam, where over the 4 hours I drank just 2 pints of Guiness, (the first time I’d had a drink since 2 months ago, at a previous MathsJam). I then set about trying to get something to eat, quickly catching up on twitter, and then getting stuff ready for tomorrow morning. I had a 9am start, which involves me waking up at about 7:30 and rushing to hopefully catch a bus that will hopefully be there in time. I set two alarms, one for 6:30 to boost me awake, and the next for 7:30. I climbed in to bed at quarter to 1, and manged to get to sleep at 1:30, which wasn’t bad for me. I knew I would be very tired in the morning, but I was optimistic about getting in on time.

What actually happened was that I slept through both, all the way to 11:30. I had missed all the lectures, but I could still make the tutorial, and maybe see friends. But for the life of me, I could barely move. Not only was I still incredibly tired, I could hardly move a muscle, it was as if I was frozen in place. It took me ages to try to haul myself to sit upright and try to get dressed. But then I stood up to find some jeans to wear, and then I just collapsed. My legs just seemed to give up, and I dropped to the floor and ended up in an uncomfortable position that I just didn’t have the energy to do anything about. It was already 12, and was sat that till about 12:30, where I tried to move, and fell forwards onto the pile of clothes on the floor. I just lay there for half an hour. Totally exhausted. I eventually moved, and crawled back into bed. I woke up sometime later, my body still almost immovable. I looked at the time; 19:00. I was amazed. I’d slept for about 16 hours in total then, and was still ruined. I’ve spent the rest of the day exhausted, I sat on twitter for a while, and did practically nothing except eat a takeout. I just didn’t have the energy for anything else.

The worrying part is that this sort of thing happens to me a lot, seemingly at random. It happened last monday and last saturday, and I think for many years previously. It just seems to have become more frequent recently. I have no idea what is going on, but the following is some tedious speculation on my part.

I tried searching through symptoms, but the internet is hardly the best source. And nothing quite seems to fit. I suppose I should go to a doctor, but I don’t know who or where one is. And to be honest, I’m nervous going to places at the best of times. I’m definitely nervous about going to a doctor to explain that I am, what “Tired and exhausted”? I hardly feel justified in that, when there are probably people with more important issues, where they at least have an idea what is wrong with them.

I wonder if I am too desperate to seek a medical justification for this, at least so that I have an answer to questions that isn’t just “I don’t know! I just miss whole days randomly.” A nice simple disease, or an ailment would be nice, one that’s easily curable or at least easily pronounceable. But I fear the answer won’t be as easy as that. I currently worry that I’m just burning myself out with University work, and then on certain days my mind can’t think any more and just crashes. But I don’t know about that, it seems to paint me as a hardworking person, and I know for a fact that I can be a lazy git. Other people seem to manage this easily. I know plenty of people, all of whom have the same, or more, work that I have. And they seem to manage to do it all, and go out at night, without collapsing to a heap. So, why can’t I?

I really hope this isn’t something I just have to learn to live with, or I’m screwed.

Things that cheer me up. Part 1

A few things that made me smile in the last few days.

Music:

Malukah, (real name, Judith de Los Santos). I recommended her music on twitter, but i’ll put it here again, because it’s just great. She recently covered “Age of Oppression”, which is good even if you’ve never played, or even heard of, Skyrim.

http://soundcloud.com/malukah/sets/singer-songwriter/ – A few songs from the album “All of the Above”, which you should probably buy if you liked those.

On an entirely different note. Orks in pirate hats.

An Ork Warboss in a Pirate Hat.

A friend recently grabbed Dawn of War 2: Retribution in the steam sale, and it instantly brought back a surge of hilarious memories from when I last played it. The Ork campaign is just mad and silly, with very little trace of the “Grim Dark Future” it’s meant to be set in. The ork above speaks in a wonderful kind of Jamaican – Irish, which just has me in fits of laughter no matter what he says. But aside from that, you can upgrade your heroes with sillier and siller abilities, and even the ones that sound “boring but useful” end up hilarious in practice.

For example, one of the items you loot allows the ork who equips it to explode on demand and be propelled skywards. The ork in question can survive, but most of what is around him doesn’t. You can then give this frankly awesome piece of kit to the stealth commando Ork. I hope you can see what happens next.

That is why I like games, it’s not so much the violence or the explosions, I could easily watch a film, or stay out late in Manchester for that. For me, it’s about seeing the systems in place, and then spotting a way that they can all come together to make something happen. I study physics for much the same reasons. It’s a wonderful mix of logic and creativity, and I love doing it.

I like that the odds are good that I will be able to enjoy both Physics and Gaming for a long time. Part of me cannot wait to grow old and retire from whatever it is I’d be doing. Just so I could have whole days to sit around, read books, play games and think. It’s something I have to look forward to, rather than worry about, and that is a nice feeling.