The Black Dog: Suffering from Someone Else’s Depression

This also appeared on the Good Men Project, December 2016.

Throw a proverbial rock somewhere on the internet and you’re going to run across at least one essay trying to tell a non-depressed person what it feels like to have depression.  It’s not just feeling sad all the time or having no energy, it’s a complex emotional state that is defined more by its self-perpetuation than exclusively by what emotions are experienced.  (I know, I know… blasphemy.)  Maybe it sounds callous to say, “Okay, we get it,” but seriously – we do.

Yes, I know that many, many people who suffer from depression would like their loved ones to know that they can’t just “snap out of it”, that it’s not about “adjusting attitude”.  Most people these days are in such a state for whatever reasons that drugs are heavily indicated.  It sucks.  I’ve been there myself, and I know how rough it is.  I really, really do.

But…

There’s a whole other side of the story that seems to get left out.

The Black Dog

The best description of clinical depression that I’ve ever seen is the Black Dog analogy.  Imagine that this emotion is a large shaggy black dog that has a particularly pungent air.  It follows you around, sits on your lap when you’re trying to get close to pretty much anyone else, and actively interferes with life.  It eats your food before you have a chance.  It flounces around at night and keeps you from sleeping.  It sits on you during the day, keeping you from getting up and being productive.  Even if you manage to leave the dog in another room, you can still smell it.  It’s still there.  It’s always affecting you, anytime, day or night, even if sometimes aren’t quite as bad as others.

I make the differentiation between “clinical depression” and “situational depression” deliberately.  Frankly, there are sometimes when, yes, you have every reason in the world to be depressed.  You got fired from a job you loved for reasons you don’t understand.  A very close and dear loved one died.  Your job and living situation sucks balls, and there’s no real clear pathway to making it better.  As the wise man once said, “Before diagnosing yourself with depression, make sure first you are not merely surrounded by assholes.”  That is situational depression.

Clinical depression is when, for all intents and purposes, everything around you is great (or at least not awful), but you just can’t enjoy it.  Maybe it’s a projection from the past coloring this moment, such as with PTSD.  Maybe it’s a chemical imbalance.  Maybe it’s a little bit of both.  The point is that, for whatever reason, you are unable to see anything except the dull grey darkness, occasionally punctuated by fits of anger or guilt or shame.  One friendly moment does not a cure make, and efforts to “snap out of it” are often fruitless.  Nothing that made you happy before works, and everything tastes bland and distant.

It doesn’t just suck for you

The Black Dog sucks to live with as a constant companion, I know it.  You know what else sucks?  Living with someone who lives with a Black Dog, especially when they refuse to acknowledge it.

Imagine hanging out with your friend and having this huge smelly nasty wet beast taking up three-quarters of the couch while you’re trying to have a conversation.  It doesn’t just sit there, no: it fidgets and it whines and it constantly gets between the two of you.  You try to point out to your friend that it’s really hard to talk with this ridiculous dog in the way, but they say, “It’s not a big deal, just ignore it, that’s what I do.”

Ha effin’ ha.  No.  You’re not just ignoring it.  You’re complicit in its game to consume you whole.  It’s isolating you from the people closest to you, and you seem to be letting it.  To my gentle readers: don’t jump down my throat just yet.  I know, some people are awesome about listening to feedback from loved ones and recognizing that maybe they’ve sunk further than they thought.  I’m specifically talking about the scenario where someone is reeking of nasty wet dog fur all the time and they make every excuse to ignore it.

“That’s not wet dog smell, it’s just the trash that wasn’t taken out.”

“I’m not pinned to the couch right now, I just really want to watch this ninth hour of ‘CSI’ reruns, again, in case I missed something.”

“I don’t really want to snuggle right now, I really have my hands full with this do– I mean, I’m not in the mood.”

The absolute worst part is that it’s a talking dog, but it only speaks vague-truths and lies.  It dresses up the slightest detail to be the biggest deal, it ignores critical information, it hijacks entire conversations if they look like they might be productive… and by “productive”, of course I mean “contributing to working through the depression”.  It speaks for the person it’s stalking, and it says really sh*tty things to their loved ones and it whispers back to its person even worse things.  (I named my own Black Dog “Bad Voice” for exactly this reason.)

Let’s say it’s you that has the Black Dog.  Here’s what your loved ones experience:  You no longer take part in anything that requires effort.  Your cycle of insomnia and lethargy completely remove you from any kind of family or social life.  If someone does manage to get you involved in a social event, it takes you so long to recharge from that experience that you’ll miss the next two or three opportunities if you can.  You say really fucking awful things to your S.O.  The dark thoughts in your head that you think are “just thoughts” influence your decisions and set you up to look like a proper asshole.  You beg off when people are supposed to rely on you.  You get really selfish over stupid things.  You ignore the things that were more precious and important to you before.  All of your emotional investments are turned upside down and everything that you ever loved is called into question.  Everything is left for someone else to carry, and you don’t seem to care if things get done or not.

If you’re really, really lucky, your S.O. will be understanding and compassionate, but if you’re actively ignoring the Black Dog, how far do you think that’s going to take you?  How patient can they really be and for how long?  If your S.O. knows you’re depressed, knows about the Black Dog, that buys you time, but it doesn’t buy you forever.

No one wants to be in a relationship with a person that they can’t touch or talk to or be intimate with.  No one wants to choose to sleep with a revolting matted malodorous Black Dog.  Some people do anyway with the faith that it’s really only temporary.

I’m not telling you this to make you feel guilty.  I’m pretty sure you’re already there and probably live there.  I’m telling you this because one of the most common lies that the Black Dog tells is that you don’t matter, that your actions or your presence don’t matter.  You have no impact on anything around you, and if anyone wants you around, it’s for what you give, not what you are.

If you knew how much the Black Dog steals away from the people who love you, would you fight it?

It’s probably never going to go away, but it can be tamed

Again, this is coming straight from personal experience.

Once you have a Black Dog, you’re not going to get rid of it.  I’ve come to think of mine as a “canine of variable size and shade”.  If you focus on getting rid of the Black Dog as the “victory scenario”, you’re setting yourself up for failure.  In fact, it’s probably the Black Dog telling you this, that the only way to be happy again is to get rid of it, but that’s not strictly true.

Imagine now that the Black Dog is actually an important and vital part of your personality, but because it was injured at some point, it spun out of control.  The way through is not to get rid of it but to tame it.  It’s trying to tell you things, and while those things are dangerous and destructive, they can’t resonate with you unless they have a tiny little core of truth.  The trick is to find it and understand what it means outside of the context of the dark words the Black Dog speaks.  Sometimes it’s that your fly really was undone the whole time you were on stage in front a thousand people.  Sometimes it’s just a need to bolster your confidence.

Open your mouth and talk.  Any therapist will tell you that the most important step in any kind of recovery is to actually acknowledge the beast and talk about the feelings.  BUT, you have to remember that they are just feelings.  If they were facts, they would feel totally different.  Black Dog might try to tell you that they’re facts, but Black Dog doesn’t know any facts.  (Black Dog is a liar, remember.)  Talk to a counselor, talk to a lover, talk to a parent, a best friend, anyone.  Preface with, “I don’t need advice, I just need to get this off of my chest.”  If your talking partner is clever, they’ll know that this moment has to be about you – not about them, and not about the Black Dog itself.

Trust your loved ones.  If someone is calling you out on depressive behaviors, pay attention.  Black Dog is an abusive partner, and relationships don’t get abusive all at once; they ease you into it.  Sometimes it takes someone else pointing out what may or may not be okay to trigger recognition from you that, hey, you haven’t bathed in a week and when was the last time you had an actual meal.  The very fact that someone was willing to ask if you’re okay already points that they care about you.  (I promise, it’s not the week-long shower-less funk motivating the question, this time.)

If you don’t think you can trust anyone else, turn to a blank page.  Get the thoughts out of your head and onto the paper to see if they are really worth considering.  Most of the time, once you’ve done that two or three times for about twenty minutes each, you’ll find that you can think of at least one person who would be willing and able to listen, or you’ll at least have a better understanding of your own thought processes.

Not gonna lie, it’s really hard.  The single most difficult thing I have every done was force myself to get up off the couch and make the Black Dog stay behind – and I’ve had multiple natural childbirths.  As I pointed out at the beginning, the very nature of clinical depression is that it is self-perpetuating.  It can come up with thousands of excuses to justify itself, but in the end, they are only just excuses.  The good news is, if you can just break out once, get a little exercise in once, let yourself be cuddled and snuggled, the next time is going to be just a little easier.  It’s still not going to be a cakewalk, but it won’t be as hard as the first time.

And if you still can’t get the dog smell off, fix your nose.  By that, I mean talk to your doctor about medication.  A lot of times, you’ll only need meds for a short period of time so that you can adjust your perspective while you learn better coping mechanisms.  No one on the planet is suffering from a “Prozac deficiency”.

Finally, please remember:  you’re not less of a man/woman/winner by asking for help, you’re more of a human.

Deconstructing Me: Adult Autism

autistic-kids-rockWhen I found out a few years ago that I was on the autistic spectrum, it was a huge relief.  It made so much of my life suddenly make sense.  My shoddy school behavior and difficulty with monotonous jobs was all attributed to ADD!  The social awkwardness that I could never get over?  Totally autism!  Still, for the most part, the discovery was a novelty.  I figured that I’d just go along with my life like I always had, and maybe being aware of my quirks and weirdnesses from a different angle would give me more power over them.

Well, I was a little right, but not quite enough.  Actually, nowhere near enough.  I mean, I was able to identify my quirks as relating to my neuro-atypical-ness, but it’s taken even more to figure out the difference between what made me “me” and what was an affectation that I’d developed for getting on in the world.

See, when you don’t know that you’re an autie and you feel separated and different from other people, you try to hide it, compensate for it.  After all, why can’t you stay interested in regular subjects or sports?  Why don’t you like the things everyone else likes?  Why can’t you pay attention?  What can’t you just suck it up and be like everyone else?  What the hell is wrong with you?!

You try to act like other people do, you try to blend in with their weird little social rituals.  You try to understand why they do what they do from their perspective, ideally, but you can’t necessarily relate to why they do what they do.  You do your best to mimic them and go through the motions, and you can pass as them for a little while, but it’s hard.  Like, really hard.

Hard maybe isn’t the most accurate word, though.  Maybe that’s part of it, but more accurately, it’s exhausting.

Birds and Fish

Imagine being a bird in a world of fishes.  You’re on the shore, and you’re supposed to go to school (heh) with them, and you’re supposed to get on with them, but you’re still a bird.  But, it’s what you’re supposed to do.  So, you dive in, hold your breath, do your best to make friends.  After a while, you can’t hold your breath anymore.  You have to come up for air, to get back to your own element.  Your fish friends and lovers sometimes get pissed off because you leave them suddenly.  Some understand, or at least accept, that you literally cannot help it.  You have to breathe, for fucks’ sake.

Some auties learn to get through this by holding their breath for a really, really long time – unnaturally long, even – and then when they have to come up for air, it’s a huge explosion of flailing and gasping and sometimes people get hurt (fish and birds alike).  Others work out ways to only spend a little time hanging out with the fishes and then hiding on the shore so that no one realizes they’re not in the water all the time.  Still others use drugs or other tricks.

Me, I kinda want some SCUBA gear, I think that would work best, but I also want to have permission to not be in the water all the time.  SCUBA gear would make it so that I could be comfortable hanging out with my fish friends.  I wouldn’t have to think about how the fuck to breathe when I’m around them after more than a few minutes.

Another big problem is that the world is made for fishes, so a lot of the mapping and processes that we’re taught in school and for work only apply to fishes and to the life underwater.  When you’re a bird, you can’t use the aquatic navigation methods to get around the sky.  And because no one teaches bird-type things as a regular course of life, most of us are on our own trying to sort it out.

And that means that when we do finally find each other, we’re often just as confused as everyone else as to what it takes to get on in the world.  And then it’s even more complicated because there’s more variation in birds than in fish, it seems, so what works for a sparrow isn’t going to work for an ostrich or a hawk.  We have to take bigger and bigger perspectives of the world in order to make any kinds of real general statements about our condition.

So, that’s how it feels when we’re trying to get on in the world.  It sucks a lot. We’re all in unmapped territories, trying to find our way.  It’s difficult living with fish-things, but in general, we like fish.  We like hanging out with them and making friends with them and sometimes even being lovers and getting married and having biish or fiirds or whatever they end up being (usually birds, fucking thanks, genetics).  We want to try to get along with them.

We just can’t be the only ones making an effort.

The Glass Wall

There are lots of different types of birds/auties, and it really seems that no two are the same.  There are general “symptoms”, of course, that get mixed and matched together into every one, but sometimes that’s just presentation.  What works to help control the less desirable behaviors in one might not work in another.  This makes ideas like “treatment” really touchy, especially when words like “treatment” come out as synonymous with “because there’s something wrong with you”.  Our greatest commonality is that we are fully human, and we want to be treated as such.

For all that any general statement is hard to make about auties, there are some commonalities that I’ve observed.  I’m not saying this is true for every last person on the spectrum, but it does seem to be holding up a great deal to scrutiny.  (Your input, gentle reader, is encouraged.)

Specifically, we auties are behind the Glass Wall.  For some of us like my non-verbal son, that wall is super-thick and full of occlusions.  He can’t communicate effectively or regularly from his inside world, and he can only sometimes make out what’s being told to him from the outside.  He does have a brilliant and vivid world going on in there, clearly, but good luck finding out what it is past the wall.

A lot of us “higher functioning” types have thinner walls, but we still have occlusions.  That glass acts as a fun-house-mirror type lens.  We tend to take things super-literally, for instance, because we can’t always “see” body language to indicate a joke or sarcasm.  We miss critical cues that tell us whether or not someone is a threat.  If we tend to underplay threats, one bad experience makes us doubt all future experiences that might look kind of like that one bad time.  We have a hard time discerning the factors and variables of interactions because the world is written in fish-language, which will never be our native tongue, no matter how much we study it.

Some parts of the wall become telescopic lenses, and these are our fixations.  OCD behaviors, for instance, are when we notice this One Thing.  It’s the Most Important Thing.  It could be how the towels are folded (one of my big ones) or how the pencils are aligned or putting all the little cars in a row or only eating the vowels out of the Alphabits cereal.  (I’m not kidding, I’ve seen this happen.)  It could be texture issues, touch issues, certain types of sounds, control of our bodies… any of these things become so much bigger than neurotypical people experience.  We’re not being “overly sensitive”, we’re seriously experiencing this Thing more than they are.

Just to make things a little more “fun”, the thicknesses of the walls change with many factors.  Food sensitivities, hormonal cycles, extended forced social interaction, money problems, relationship issues, and pretty much any kind of stress you can imagine will thicken that wall.  “Go-to occlusions” – usually false ideas that we fixate on in anxious states – start to color the world.  Everything is a threat, everything is bad, everything is dangerous.  Our fixations are bigger than anything else, so much that we don’t know they’re false in that moment.  Any other time, sure, we’re logical people, but when we’re stressed out and melting down?  Nah.

It’s the “high-functioning” adult version of sensory overstimulation.  Some of us have meltdowns and literally table-flip.  Some of us shut down into deep depressions.  Some of us run away, some of us lock up behind an impenetrable wall of blank, but almost always, there’s a neurotypical person looking at us in confusion, trying to figure out what the big deal is.

What to do, what to do

It would be super if we could start building a world that was equally suitable for fish and birds.  Some of the things that birds really need to feel comfortable would make the world a better place in general, and fish definitely seem to benefit.

For instance, most of us have food sensitivities, but those reactions are to things that most people shouldn’t eat anyway, like Red Dye 40 and enriched bleached flour.  (Some of us can’t eat wheat at all, and we are very sad bagel-less people.)  Because we are so literal minded, we also have an intense sense of fairness and rightness.  If we are taught that the Rule is This, but then people start behaving like That, and no one gets called out about it, this creates enormous anxiety.  What’s even worse is when we are taught the Rule is This, and we act according to This to the best of our ability, but then we’re reprimanded for it.

Justice and fairness are big deals.

We like true things, we like things we can trust.  We like transparency and for topics to be fully explored and explained.  We like knowing all there is on a subject, digging in deep to something we love and finding out everything we can about it, and we like sharing that knowledge with others.

We have needs, just like neurotypical people, but what confounds us “high-functioning” folk a lot is how often neurotypical people don’t seem to pay attention to their own needs.  Our perspective makes our needs loud and impossible to ignore, but that doesn’t make them less than yours.  Your alarms are quieter, I think.

Maybe if you fish could make room for us birds in the world, we birds could teach you fish how to take better care of yourselves.  And given our love for you in general, we’d probably help take care of you, too.

It’s only fair.

 

Evolution is happening

This is the current evolution of dinosaurs.
This is the current evolution of dinosaurs. Image complements of S. Monroe.

What really defines evolution, when we get down to it?  Those of us who science with any level of decency know that there are constant physical and genetic changes being made regularly.  Species adapt to environmental changes at a remarkable rate, mutations happen on subtle and gross levels, but there is not a single completely proven definition on what really makes evolution.

In particular, what drives it?  If it’s purely a matter of propagation of any given species, then homosexuality and non-reproductive coitus would be selected against.  Wait… sexual deviation from heteronormative behavior isn’t something that can be selected for or against because it often happens spontaneously.  And non-reproductive coitus is one of the things that makes life worth living, I’m sure most species would agree.

But when we look to examine evolution, we turn first to a Darwinian approach (draconian in its cold selection process) and then to adaptive mutations (sometimes random, sometimes not), but while we absolutely and unequivocally know that evolution is a real thing, understanding why and how it works is only just now coming into focus.

(That’s why it’s called a theory – because we don’t have all the pieces of it yet, not that it’s not real, just like the theory of plate tectonics.  So there.)

Now, something amazing is happening: tribes of chimpanzees are entering the Stone Age.  They are persistently, from generation to generation, using complex tools and developing those tools to become more efficient.  Interestingly, though, the chimps pale in comparison to crows, and crows aren’t even the only birds to use tools.

Except, from where I’m sitting – while it is utterly awesome to observe – it’s not all that amazing.  Evidence of complex social structures, generational knowledge, cultural geneaology, epigenetic inheritances, and various other previously human-only traits are now observed extensively across the entire animal kingdom.  More than that, animals adapt to and with other species, much in the way canines adapted to be more acceptable to humans while felines domesticated us instead.

Humans just like to think that they’re the special little snowflakes in the universe.  I think that what we’re observing right now is not a new thing that has never happened before: I think it’s been going on this entire time, and our species-wide arrogance forced us to ignore it.

I propose that in the question of evolution, we cannot limit the idea of evolution purely to genetically traceable data.  I suggest that we must be open to observing culture and everything that goes with it.  We must be willing to finally acknowledge that language is not the sole realm of the homo sapien.  We must be willing to perceive that the many and sundry ways in which other non-human species have altered their environments instead of taking what was provided (nests are a prime example) are evidence of a cultural intelligence and not merely habitually happy coincidence or some kind of R-level instinct.

Play with this idea.  Think about it.  Mull it over.  And then watch Zoo and prepare to get ooked out like no one’s business.  (I developed this idea before starting to watch that, but dang.)

Your Religious Freedoms Are YOUR Religious Freedoms

Gay marriageThe SCOTUS decision on June 26, 2015, is that marriage is a right that can be carried out between any two individuals who elect to marry and that this right cannot be denied based on color, creed, or gender.

And there was much rejoicing, and in my hometown of Dallas, a pair of gentlemen who have been together for 55 years were the first to get hitched.  It was a beautiful and momentous occasion.  I teared up, I was just so blissfully happy for them (and even now, I gots a little feel in my eye), and then I turned on the radio.

NPR is having wall-to-wall coverage on the topic, which is totally fantastic and I wholeheartedly support, and then this minister from some town in Texas came on and basically said that he was going to fight this, tooth and nail, because SCOTUS was sending the message that he could no longer discriminate against his employees for being gay without risking the loss of his tax-exempt status.

I’m not kidding.  I wish I was.  It was the ultimate WTF moment for me as I was driving down the highway, until he said, “And we’re going to do our best to find a candidate that will repeal this decision and defend religious freedoms.”

Then that became the ultimate WTF moment.

There are two things about this that completely blow my mind.  The first was that this pastor of an allegedly love-based religion was essentially saying that he loved the gays, except for the fact that they were gay, and therefore felt it was his religious right to be able to fire them if they came in all “gay-married” one day.  This was the actual example that he used as the justification for his vitriol, that he wouldn’t be able to fire someone for being gay-married.

The second thing that nearly caused me to veer off the road was when he suggested that discriminating would endanger his tax exempt status.

Now, before I pick this apart, let me first say that I have founded and run not one but two non-profit organizations with specialized tax status.  While I was establishing that specialized tax status, I learned a lot about what could and couldn’t be done with various types of statuses.  The fact that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts seems to think that if churches refuse to perform the marriage ceremonies of people who are gay that they will endanger their exempt status just goes to show that this guy has no clue what he’s on about.

Churches refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for people all the time.  In fact, that’s one of the best things about marriage being a civil liberty that it can be carried out by a Justice of the Peace – churches are optional.  Catholic churches at least used to not re-wed people who had been divorced, Mormon churches will not perform ceremonies for people who are both Mormon, and the list goes on.  In fact, any minister, pastor, priest, or other officiant who does not feel in their bones that a union between two humans is a good idea is more than welcome to not perform that ceremony.

I myself have refused to unite several couples because I just didn’t feel like it was a smart match, and I’ve usually been right.  It had nothing to do with the shapes of their nether bits.

Now, back to the tax exempt thing.  In all fairness, churches could continue to reject the performance of gay unions (and miss out on the cash cow that some of those gorgeous weddings would be), and it won’t matter one bit.  In your own house of worship, you can be as hateful and snotty as you like.  Since the licensing was really the important bit, and that’s now firmly set as a right that the individual states cannot deny, then this part becomes kind of silly.

However, what will endanger your tax exempt status is “political campaign intervention”, such as officially advocating, endorsing, or otherwise supporting any candidate in an election.

Gasp!  Shock!

And that guy just said that he was going to find candidates that would repeal this decision!

That sounds like intervention with very specifically stated intentions!  (Get his number, we’ll get to him later.)

Here’s the thing about religious freedom:  it’s your religious freedom.  It’s not “yours and everyone else’s as long as their religion is the same as yours”.  Religion is a personal thing.  It’s not genetic, it’s not even particularly endemic, and it’s not compulsory.

Religion is a choice.

People change religions all the time.  People convert, leave the church, go back to a different church, start their own… and they have the right to that because our nation protects religious freedom.

BUT, religious tenets do not under any circumstances supersede the law.

Let me say that again:  RELIGIOUS TENETS DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES EVER SUPERSEDE THE LAW!!!

If SCOTUS says that people of the same gender can marry, then they can legally marry.  They don’t have to religiously marry – and, frankly, with as horribly as so many of them have been treated by churches, I don’t know why they would.

And let’s get down to the real “Christian issue”.  The popular attitude (according to Leviticus, in the OLD Testament, by the way, before the Christ came along up UPDATED THE LAW) is that homosexuality is not natural, that it’s a lifestyle choice.  They said the same thing about left-handed people, incidentally.  In much the same why that they learned the left-handed people weren’t demonic or touched by the devil or anything like that, science has indicated that homosexuality is not only completely natural but actually aids in evolution of the species.

MORE GASP!  MORE SHOCK!

Those who fight this have to know that they’re on the wrong side of history.  They have to know in some part of their being that to stand in the way of the happiness of so many people is completely counter to what their god tells them.

They have to know this.

Please, let them figure this out.

Any religion should really start as a solitary practice, a means of exploring the depths of one’s own soul.  Even the Big Guy himself said not to judge, and yet…

Maybe if they actually followed their religion, they’d know where their freedom is.

Sorry, not sorry

corporate-ladderThis is me shuffling things around a little bit more so that I can make room for my crazy awesome creativity processes.

Just for the record, the Normality Factor Publishing projects are not cancelled, they’re just moved to their own page for a bit while I continue to blog my little heart out.  Also, I draw gude.

Blah blah update blah blah blah…

I realize that I’m probably jinxing myself, but I’m pretty much giving up on the corporate world altogether.  I’d like to think that it’s because I have some sort of brilliant superior enlightened thing going on – and there is a part of me that is giddy as hell that I’m not directly supporting any number of bloody awful businesses shilling the public out of gods-know-what kind of health money stability future etc – but the real reason is, I am both over-qualified and under-qualified for any position out there, hands down.

I suppose I could try to squeeze myself back into the box, but the fact is, even working at a company that I adored (on principle, not so much in practice), I still suffered the nearly daily irritation of having to be complicit in attitudes and practices that I could not really ethically stand by.  Marketing, for instance, should not be solely devoted to convincing people that they need things that they don’t need.

“You have a need?  Awesome, we can answer that!” — AWESOME.

“Your life is incomplete without our cheaply-made and mostly-useless crap because FEAR MONEY FEAR!!!!” — Shitty.

But I don’t naturally fit into that box.  What astounds me is that when I looked around in that environment, no one fits in the box.  Every single person working on my level (and below, and at least one tier above) was not a box-fitter.  And of the higher ups, only about thirty percent of them were box-fitters, everyone else was just doing their best for their own reasons.

Why one the gods’ green earth do we glorify an economic lifestyle that, by its very nature, forces people to act against their own best interest?

(This is a rhetorical question.  I already know about history industrialism capitalism social etc.)

A weird part of me wants to fit in, or at least wants to know that I could fake it pretty well if I needed to, but the wiser part of me knows that that’s not really a thing.  It’s a lie that I think we were all raised with (at least in the 70s and 80s, and probably a good portion of the 90s) to believe that we could walk in both worlds without compromising ourselves.

The real “tragedy” here is not that I have a hard time fitting into that world.  (We already knew that.)  The problem is that I can’t “pass”, and therefore I am rejected by that world.

I know, I know, cry me a river… except that I really, really like having money of my own.  I like being able to buy treats, pay my bills, contribute significantly to my household, get things for people…

There’s nothing for it, then.  It’s self-employment again, and I might as well stick with what I’m good at and do the art…

If you want to support me (and I know you totally do), you’ll keep an eye on that aforementioned comic (it updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), and if you like what you see, you can kick me a chip through Patreon (and/or tell your friends about it).  If you’re more an old-school type, be patient and I’ll be offering the collections of comics later on in book form, with added content and expanded commentary.

I love you guys, I really do.  Help a sista out.