A Dive into Dysthymia and the State of my Earlobes

18 Sep

dys·thy·mi·a

noun /disˈTHīmēə/

  1. Persistent mild depression

Last week suuucked. It was a no-good rotten bad week. Most of it anyway.

Not tragedy bad. No cancer diagnoses. No pet deaths. I didn’t crush my head on the corner of an open kitchen cabinet door after knocking around underneath for some obscure, dusty baking pan. (Jennifer and I are keeping score on how many times this happens to us. Lately, she’s winning, cracking her noggin at least two times since the last time I have.) Yeah, last week I just felt icky and tired and worthless.

I often lose my grasp on what life’s all about. Should I be something more? Something better? I often forget that raising two girls is a tremendous feat in itself. I’m there for them when they climb onto the school bus and I’m there for them when they climb off. That counts for a lot, but I usually shrug that off and ask myself why I’m not a doctor or a lawyer. I have an easy, non-stressful, part-time, online business that inexplicably brings me no pride or sense of accomplishment. I look at my bachelor’s degree and wonder why I don’t have a master’s. (But then when I consider grad school, I tell myself I shouldn’t be spending money on my education when Chloe will be a college freshman in six years.) More than half of Americans are overweight. Yet, I look at my own slender body and wonder why my abs aren’t more defined. I jog three miles and curse at how long it took me.

Forgive the incongruity, but I also noticed this week how much my earlobes have aged. If the rest of my body looked like my earlobes you’d think I was ready for the grave. My left earlobe , pierced 21 years ago, is especially sad. I’m touching it now. Here in Starbucks, I’ll probably look at it later in the restroom. Just call me “sad ears.” Just kidding, please don’t. Seriously, I’ll punch you.

Look at your own place in life and be thankful if you’re consistently comfortable with what you find. It’s all too common in this ultra-competitive, individualistic country to feel like you’re falling behind.

The simple act of writing it down helps. It helps me see how I ignore the positive and dwell on perceived negatives. It’s helpful to notice my mind at work destroying myself. When I’m not aware of this self-destruction I believe what I’m thinking. Don’t believe everything you think! So I draw wide-open eyeballs on my left hand with words like “watch,” “notice” or “breathe.”

Next week I’ll probably be dancing in front of the mirror singing “I’m sexy and I know it.” I’ll notice the tiny strength gains and the fifteen seconds shaved from my 5k time. I’ll realize my current education is adequate and that I can still go back to school at any age if I want. That’s how I roll, like a roller coaster: up one week, down the next.

And my earlobes–not so bad, really. I can’t expect to look at my reflection and see the earlobes of a 12-year-old. Right? I have 40-year-old earlobes. They’ve done a lot of hanging around there on the sides of my face, doing nothing at all. How many people put sunscreen on their earlobes? Actually, I do now. Maybe when I’m 75, I’ll have sexy, young-looking earlobes. “Oh my God, did you see that old man’s sexy earlobes?”

* * *

Update: I wrote all of the above over the weekend, Saturday or Sunday. Monday morning I thought I was prepared for an awesome week, but as soon as the second child walked into her school and I was left alone, I felt empty and overwhelmed. I had so much to do, but couldn’t do anything. It all seemed meaningless anyway. Why work on the business? Money doesn’t make me happy. Why write? It doesn’t contribute to the bank account. Why exercise? It’s hard, boring and probably fruitless. Why clean? Everything gets filthy again. Why read the newspaper? Will knowledge of current events improve my life? Who knows. So I took a nap. For an hour and a half I didn’t have to face these questions.

I know the solution though. It’s to face the questions and do the work anyway. Push through it. Usually everything magically feels better once I get started on … anything. So that’s what I’m going to do today–push through it. Good luck to me.

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