Saturday, December 28, 2013

Depression - it doesn't take time off over Christmas

Maybe I'm coming out of yet another depressive spell, and soon it will be completely wiped from my memory. I hope so. In case it does get wiped, I'll mention right now that things got seriously shitty.

I've had all the physical symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, without (yet) the chronic bit, plus a whole load of really crappy stuff going on in my head.

I was able to finish work at three on Christmas Eve, but still felt (and looked) completely shattered when I got home. I remember it being an unpleasantly weird day for me, but I've mostly forgotten the details. Dad was also struggling: his tablets to help him pee less often during the night had the side-effect of reducing his blood pressure. We went to church at St Joseph's, a modern building just around the corner. The sermon was unlike anything you'd get in Geraldine. The priest told a story, but not the nativity story, and even used a spade as a prop. At times he switched to Spanish - he must have spent some time in South America. There was also a lot of Maori being spoken, even though I could hardly see any Maori among the 400-plus-strong congregation.

On Christmas morning Mum put the turkey in the oven, then we went for a long walk (at least 10 km) around the bays. It was good to make the most of the sunny weather, but neither Dad nor I was quite in the right state for that sort of distance. Mum forged on ahead, anxious that the whole apartment block might have burnt down, though at least the seismic risk problem would have been solved. The building was still intact when we finally got home, and we had a good Christmas dinner: turkey, ham, lots of vegetables, Christmas pudding, not much alcohol. Mum even made those extremely tasty devils on horseback (prunes wrapped in bacon). It made a nice change having it in my flat with the sun streaming in, and with just the three of us. (I don't think I could have faced a big extended-family Christmas, and I'm pretty sure Dad couldn't have faced that prospect either.) It turns out my brother also had a quiet Christmas with a friend of his - they go back a long way. We then went over to my cousin's place and sat outside (and grazed, as if we needed more food) in the early evening sun.

On Boxing Day we took my old TV to the tip (that cost $5), picked up a few $2 books from there, then drove around the coast. Mum and Dad had their eyes on properties and for-sale signs - they'd like to buy an apartment here at some stage. That evening we played Scrabble. Mum had a really good game, as evidenced by the speed at which she played (the whole game only lasted an hour) and how little complaining she did. I didn't do so well. I had a bunch of letters that didn't go together (F, U, V, W) and no esses or blanks or anything remotely useful like that. I did have the J and the X - at the same time, quite late in the game. Mum must have beaten me by forty-odd, with Dad, who was unlucky to get stuck with the Q, a bit further behind.

Yesterday I was at work, and it was a shocker of a day. At one point I ended up in the store room. I couldn't find anything I needed, and I must have balanced myself on two box trolleys, rocking back and forth, knocking brochures and letterhead and envelopes off shelves, not really caring. It wasn't too bad being in the store room really, as long as I didn't attract anyone's attention, or heaven forbid, someone actually came in. They didn't. At lunchtime I ventured outside, as always, even though the weather was horrible. I sat in the food court and opened Love in the Time of Cholera at page one. I read and re-read the first few lines over and over, not getting anywhere. As far as work was concerned, I might easily have entered incorrect bank account details and a lot worse. Walking to and from work, and even just around the office, was painfully slow. Later we saw the second Hobbit movie, which I thought was very good, even if I struggled to concentrate for 2¾ hours. If I suffered from arachnophobia I probably wouldn't have lasted very long. The end, which absolutely invites you to see part three in a year's time, was a bit of a surprise to me.

Mum and Dad flew back home this morning. We'd had a pretty good Christmas together, even if both Dad and I were struggling. No arguments, apart from the one on Monday when I broached the topic of work. That's always been the number one source of arguments with my parents. After dropping them off at the airport I went to the market then attempted to put up a small ad for a flatmate in New World in Newtown. I asked one of the staff who wasn't very helpful - they don't have that facility - and in reply I dropped the F-bomb on her. When I got home, for some reason I remembered that the darts would be on so I found a live stream. I saw an extremely high-quality match where a bloke by the name of Peter Wright, sporting a mohican and a tattoo of a snake on his face, averaged a whopping 106 but still only squeaked past his younger opponent 4-3 in sets. It's changed so much since I watched it as a kid - with all the walk-on music and cheerleaders, it's become a lot like the rugby sevens. I received a website-related email that I was supposed to act on, but it was all beyond me. I got very frustrated and rolled around on the floor shouting. I walked into town and sat out on the waterfront for a while. There's nothing like Christmas to make me even more aware of the passing of time, and I just sat there with my head in my hands. Life is slipping away and Mum and Dad and me, we're all getting older and it's all happening so damn fast. My brother's getting older too and I have no idea when I'll see him next. I've now had eleven Christmases since I landed in Christchurch. Christmas in 2023 or 2024 doesn't even bear thinking about. I happened to bump into my cousin and her family. Their youngest was riding a bike; he picked it up almost instantly just a few days ago. When I got home I made myself go to the gym. That's probably the best thing I could have done. I then spoke to Richard, and I'm certainly feeling better now. I came off the Efexor a few days earlier than planned (because I was feeling terrible) and that might have made me feel even more terrible. It's anyone's guess.

The 60th anniversary of the Tangiwai disaster, which killed 151 people, received some media attention (including a very unjolly radio programme on Christmas afternoon) and with such a huge death toll I'm utterly ashamed that I didn't know anything about it before.

Sometimes I think they should bring back public flogging. Those teenagers who attacked that German couple camping in Whakatane on Boxing Day certainly deserve it.

About ten days ago Louis Theroux did a programme on American autistic kids and their incredible parents. Boy do those parents have it tough. I'm glad they touched on life for these kids after childhood. The saddest bit for me was when the mother of an autistic boy talked about praying for a miracle every time she goes to church. Her (non-autistic) daughter said, "Mom, God made him that way" to which the mother said, "Yes, God made him that way to teach me a lesson."

Here's hoping my mini-revival continues. I'll be catching up with Martin tomorrow.

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