For a change, this daylog is not about my current state of depression. Nor is it (directly) about flying.
I've been depressed for a long time. Since before coming to E2, really, although my level of depression has varied up and down. But basically, all of my time on this site has involved a very different version of me from the version that passed his general exams at MIT.
He came back.
Not the same, no. Not unbowed. Not unscarred. But the younger me was so fiercely sure that whatever he wanted to do, he'd be able to do, that when I finally failed (like they'll tell you you need to - try, fail, try, fail, etc) that I took damage. Many dice of damage.
But a few days ago, I became so frustrated with my job that I walked into the office of a very highly-placed executive at my company, one with whom I've had a good relationship which doesn't involve my working directly for him, and said "Look, the shit is fucked up down here. I can fix it. But you have to give me the team." I have spent a lot of time here building a comfortable nest in this company where I deliberately had no maangement responsibility or authority. Then I spent a lot of time feeling crappy and bitching about the fact that nobody ever took the analyses I'd given them (that they'd asked for) to heart.
I realized that I was at the point where I was willing to leave my job and take my chances without a new job to step into, because it was making me miserable enough.
Right at that moment, I realized: there's nothing they can do to me.
And with that, I realized that in no way would what I did at work, henceforth, touch me as a person. It wouldn't say anything about how good or bad a person I was. Fuck it. It's a chess game. I might lose the myriad fights that I'll probably have; I might fail at tasks I've taken on. But it wouldn't affect how happy I was. Might affect how my week is going, sure, but that's it.
I felt like I was in cold, clear water. I felt like nothing could touch me. I thought about all the parts of my life that had caused me such pain for so long; all the parts I felt were mistakes, fuckups, things that meant I was a loser, and so forth. I looked at them, and I felt myself pull them out of my body into that cold water. I felt the twang as they snapped loose. I looked at them there, murky and reddish, and I realized that while I could still feel them, I could now see them clearly. I could rearrange them, like blocks. I could do things about them without feeling them twist in my chest.
Is this how Charlie Sheen felt when he had his public bout of flamboyant DILLIGAF those months ago?
I don't know. I know I went in and fairly ruthlessly made three or four political moves, moves I wouldn't have contemplated even a month ago. I know that when I was done, the dice cast and the results not yet known, I wasn't anxious. I wasn't stressed. I wasn't worried. No, I felt the singing of a fading adrenaline rush, and I still felt the gentle currents of the ice water. It was so, so, fucking clear there.
I realized that while I didn't know it fifteen years ago, I suddenly had a better handle on what 'winning' meant. I had a list of things I like and like doing, and I realized that anything that didn't involve me getting to do those things, more, was automatically not winning. I had a compass. Every situation, or potential struggle or conflict, I can look at: is there any potential outcome of that which lets me do more of those things? If so, then it's something I should do, or try; it's something worth putting energy into. If not? Forget it.
And if I get into turbulence, on one of these situations? As I have over the past month? I realized I could articulate my response to adversity and confusion and chaos and change, in three words.
Fuck it; win.
That's it. That's the response. Someone tries to fuck over my project? Fuck it; win. Something I was driving for is no longer available, and I'm not sure what to do with the energy I was using there? Fuck it; win. I don't like some part of my life? Fuck it; win. Win. Not because I'm better than other people, not because I'm special, not because I'm going to change the world, not because I'm a special snowflake, not because I have an obligation to do so.
Win because I want to. Win because I know what that means to me. Win because I can make things better on WHATEVER scale, if not the world. Fuck it; win.
I looked in the mirror this morning, and instead of feeling a sort of hollow pain at how overweight and gray I looked in it, I saw something else. I saw someone who's still active, who is still skilled at some things, who can still make himself happy, who can make other people happy, who wasn't a fucking waste of protoplasm, because he had agency and will.
Oh, don't worry, Ayn Rand can still suck my entire taint.
But damn it.
Fuck it; win.
I think - no, I know - that I'll wake up, or leave work, or find myself sitting around and realize "I'm depressed" again in the future. Maybe many times. Maybe just as many times as over the past six months. But I think that when it happens - because it will - I will also be able to say "Yes, but remember that feeling? You do, right? Because you got there. You can get there again. You will get there again."
I'm not saying I won't fall back into the place I was 18 months ago. But I will say that the arc is upward, right now - and I've reached a place I haven't seen in far too long.
I think getting my pilot's license - finishing one of those big tasks I set for myself long ago, and thought I'd failed - was really part of the catalyst. Finding a new friend, starting to learn about shooting - a whole other new area of knowledge and entertainment and hobby - and realizing that unlike many people I know, I'm financially independent, functional, and now have a short list of things I know can make me feel better - all those things and more pulled my mood up above some critical level, and that cold clear water became familiar, in my memory, from those years ago. But clearer, now, because I've failed, since. Before, I was young, and hadn't faced things, and hadn't really failed - and I was swimming atop that water, blissfully self-confident, but not knowing what was below the surface. Now? I'm hanging in space, floating, and I can see for miles and miles and miles.
Fuck it; win.
I like winning.