A couple months ago, I applied for disability for my depression. While I knew it’d be a long and drawn out process, I hadn’t counted on the toll that recounting all of the struggles, therapy visits, hospital stays, and so on, would leave. It’s not for weaklings, that’s for sure. My reasoning is that my day-to-day struggles are pretty hard and it’s been hard for me to find stable employment without quitting or, more often than not, getting fire. A check, if I got accepted, would at least help me get back on my feet as I tried to figure out what I’m doing and where I’m going.
A few days ago, I was notified that I was denied on the grounds that I didn’t qualify. That’s right, I wasn’t depressed enough to be considered disabled. Or something like that. It spurred a pleasant, anxious “Oh fuck, what now?” moment. As I said, getting a disability check would’ve seriously solved my financial issues and set me up for getting back on my feet. However, there was also a part of me that felt relief. Yay! I’m fucked up but not that fucked up. After all, I’m able to wash myself, I keep a good house, and I’m functional enough to hold a conversation with other people. Getting a check would be like a Get Out of Jail Free Card.
What a mindfuck.
These last nine years… eleven if I mark it from the day my mom died… have been brutal on me. I’ve been through a lot and just allowed each traumatic event to wash over me. It confirmed the negative messages that my brain was telling me about how much I sucked. “I couldn’t keep a marriage going. My own child wants nothing to do with me. I’m not responsible enough to have a car or live on my own. I’m not an adult. I deserve to make shit money because I applied myself once and that came to a festering collapse.” And so on.
I failed at being a manager when I worked at WCET-TV. I can admit that and know that it’s true and not some negative chatter my brain churns out. I can admit this because I failed at something I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be a manager but it was the safe choice since 1) it was being shoved at me and 2) my ex always insisted that, despite how happy my job was, I wasn’t making enough money. I took the easy choice. After all, it was more pay, I’d have more responsibility and the manager of the department was going to stick around and help ease me into the position.
Then she abruptly retired.
I floundered. I hired assistants to do the day-to-day stuff of scheduling promo tagging, creating monthly guides, etc. I still could edit video but I was also in charge of the department and had to attend manager meetings, make decisions, apply for grants, create marketing calendars, and a whole host of other things that I frankly wasn’t ready for. I felt like I was running in shoes that were six sizes too big for me. “Hey, wait!” I’d yell as I tried to keep up, my feet barely able to keep the shoes from flying off at each step.
I felt out of my depth and I really wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. And then after my mom died, I lost all fire in my belly to do anything productive. I slacked off at work. When they downsized during the merger, I was one of the first to go. I felt shitty and had no desire to get back into television, deal with marketing/promotion jobs, and basically because a stubborn, depressed shit. That began the avalanche that led to my divorce, bankruptcy, and the other degenerative events that I loving refer to as My Litany.
And I’ve stayed that way for the last nine years. I’ve lost a lot and not once did anything I lose incite any desire to try to regain it. I just accepted it. Because it would be hard trying to win it back, I suppose, and I felt I’ve had all of the fight kicked out of me. This is how I find myself now, a year away from 50 and having spent one fifth of my life in some pretty dank waters.
So when I learned I was denied disability, two things happened. There was the anxiety but there was also the realization that I can’t always go for an easy fix if I’m to get out of this situation. Life isn’t going to hand me a big check just because I say so, it has to be something that I must work at. I’ve not been that happy with how my life has been these last nine years but it’s only been this year and especially these last few months that it’s hit me in the face how little control I exert over it. I want to change that, I want better than what I have now. I want to contribute more to the house and the living situation that I’m in. No longer do I want to just do one job and hope that it’s enough to carry me through, nor do I want to sweat each and every First of the Month to be sure I’ve got enough money in my bank account.
I want to discover what it is that I want to do, how I can make that happen, and develop the determination to get it all done. I need to turn my shoulds into musts. I want to figure out my purpose in life and make money and be able to contribute more to my situation. At the same time, I need to recognize what my gifts are.
Focus. I need focus. Wahey!
For a while now, I’ve been experiencing an existential moment, wondering what the fuck the purpose to all of this searching and seeking is. What is the end game here? What is the meaning that I’m looking for, what is the meaning of any of this endless searching, the reading of the self-help books, the improving of the mind, the yoga, all of this, does it really mean anything and does it get me closer to what I want to do? Hell, do I even know what I want to do? I quite enjoy writing but are these diatribes journals really publishable? Hecky nah. I definitely wouldn’t want anyone reading this stuff.
Except, y’know, that I keep putting this out there.
Why did I quit writing comedy? Because it became hard? Because a lot of the jokes I was making were so self-referential as to be unfunny? Maybe I just got overwhelmed. If anything, I need to get back to writing comedy. And rehearse more because that’s where my performance really worked. I’ve done it. I can do it again. I will do it again.
Why did I quit magick? It worked. Maybe because I got overwhelmed by liturgy when all I should be doing is the rock hard punk DIY shit that got me into it. Who gives a shit that I can’t quote Crowley verbatim?
For that matter, why did I quit writing?