The Mist of Depression, and the Clarity of Awakening

Have you ever felt that you were wasting time? That you need to step up to an opportunity before it was gone? I am sure that most of you have been in that frame of mind at least a time or two. Perhaps it was before asking someone special out on a date, or maybe when a rare financial undertaking makes itself known to you. But in order to take up that undertaking, you must make a large decision that can shake your world and remove you from all that you have grown comfortable with in life.

Now multiply that by years upon years, maybe even a decade or more. That is the feeling of depression, or maybe when one wakes from that state. I can only make cognizance with that feeling after having come out of it. Because while in it the urge to move forward; to risk and grab the rewards of life are subdued in the extreme. So I believe that when I woke and became aware of myself, I was then able to reflect upon what I had been like.

I have been depressed to the extent that I name it depression. While I never sought help for that issue, there is no better word to explain what I had gone through. Though even today I know that I have overcome that pitfall and I am still living with the disruption it has caused me.

The why and how to how I came into my depression is a mystery to me in some ways. Perhaps that is not exactly true, but I have a few guesses to answer that question. Maybe it was a combination of these, or just one alone. The fact is that I will never know for sure. So I blame them all, and above them all I blame myself of course.

In all fairness I should list those reasons to the best of my ability. I will state them in order and explain them after. The first reasons I can image was failing for the first time in a goal I had set for myself. But it was the most important goal in my young life; to achieve a college education and graduate with a degree. Next, I believe the second reason was the affect from not gaining that degree. Entering the workforce as a blue collar worker, working in factories, warehouses, and any job I could acquire at the time. The last reason, might very well be the strongest and possibly the old one that affected me enough to push me into depression. Quite simply, when I was twenty I was pulled into a court case that had lasted well over a year. During that year I had more stress then I could imagine having up to then. That type of stress can shake a person to their core and for a man like me; who always thinks about every move of chess possible before acting; it can shatter the his soul. But all in all, these were bumps in the road that I was unable to deal with; both mentally and emotionally. So I drown in depression and let it suck me into its vial debts, unaware of what I was doing to myself.

Let us speak about my time I went to college (the first time) as my first reason. You should know that I was the first one out of my parents and their parents to go to college. Though at least two cousins and some other extended family had gone to community college. But it was a big thing for me to achieve. I was delighted that I was accepted to college, and at the college I had dreamed of going to; West Virginia University. When I was young we passed through the West Virginia and I had loved the natural beauty of the state. Soon after their teams had become my favorites for college sports. My dream had always been to go there, and I had finally accomplished that goal. I spent a year there, and to my shame now; I partied, fucked, and blew my year away with barely a good grade to account for anything. I failed myself, and well I should had been able to go back.

On my summer break, I found out that the loans my parents had taken out were taxing them. You must understand that until then, and well after then I had always paid my way in things. I believe in taking responsibility with one’s life. I bought two cars in high school, I paid for many of my own things off two jobs. So the fact came crushing down that my parents were having troubles paying for my college, and I had blown the year off and partied my time away. That summer I decided not to go back, even though my step father had told me he wanted me to get my degree. I began working and thinking about going to a community college. But the only job I found was on third shift, and leaving work to go into classes was impossible for me at the time. So after several attempts to take classes while working… I gave up and resigned myself to the work force.

I stated that entering the blue collar work force was the reason. But let me first point out that I come from blue collar people. Hard working men and women that did everything for their families, and that I believe is the most honorable thing in the word. My problem with this is my own experience in those types of places and with the people in them. I had learned that people worked in jobs they hated or were disgruntled with for decades or lifetimes because they had to support their loved ones. I admire that, I do. To be honest, I wanted a job I could love; and still did year later when I went back to college. I wanted money, security, happiness, and all of the things that a good job should had brought to me. With the acceptance that college was not an option anymore, brought the surety that I would be unhappy and would have to claw my way through life… like many of my loved ones. Can you blame me for not wanting that sort of life?

The third and last reason embarrasses me to the core, and is something that I do not wish to comment about at all. So I will move on with as much grace as I can muster.

During those years I extended and fortified my introverted nature. Along with that impossibly high wall that I blocked out people with. I also drove a firm wedge between me and many family or friends. That was a way to protect myself; not allowing anyone to come to my help. The only social life I had was gaming; both online and in person, at work, and with the occasional sex partner; usually befriended online first. I even might had dated a few of those women in a sort of way. But none met family and only a couple met friends, because I could not (or would not) commit. I would not allow that entrance into the shell I had built for myself, so more often or not my relationships were casual. The majority of my social groups were found online, where I could hide from those people, lie, and use subterfuge to dissuade people away from the truth about me. That is the problem with the web, it can be such an intricate design with unseen stands that you will never see. Perhaps that is why many people that indulge in fantasy, are also computer people as well.

By far the greatest disservice I did to myself was to forget about my physical health. Your health is a vital thing in life, and some would say the most important thing. Though I myself believe it is the mind first and the body second; but they are also linked in a fashion and I know that well. The greatest change in my health was my weight. For most of the time, I was working third shift and like many others on that shift; I ate and drank much too much soda to keep myself alert. To compound that problem, I have always had an issue seeing myself gain or lose weight. If I do not weight myself, I could gain twenty, fifty, even hundreds of pounds without knowing. I remember when I finally went to work on my weight, after waking up from depression. I had thought I weight maybe in the upper three hundred pound range (from 350 to 380 was my thought). Then I was sadly disabused to find out that I had gained well past that mark (hundreds of pounds past). And so I was shackled by the harm of my depression, even for years after, and even now.

The day I woke from that depression was quite odd. I will try to explain it to the best of my ability. It was on a weekend day that I had off from work and I had been in my home office. I was watching TV, had the computer on, and was playing a computer game. But I did none of those things that day. I sat down somewhere before lunch time and when I became aware again it was night time. I did nothing for hours upon hours, and when I woke from that hazy state; I saw the computer games log, showing I had lagged out over 8 hours before and I was unaware of anything. I just stared at a wall or the computer, not computing and not digesting any information around me. At that moment I became aware of what I had been doing, which was nothing at all. It was like a fire inside me and the very next day I changed my life. I began reconnecting socially and began to eat health, even to the state of throwing away anything that was junk food in my house. The years after were happier and less depressed, then the years before. But they were slow in progress, with many turns that took me a step back and not ahead.

When you, or when I woke from that state of being. My largest regret is that I had wasted years upon years. Now I know that I have lost my twenties to that disorder and to the effects it has caused me. To this day I have made leaps in progress, I have struggled with overcoming those deep pits, and I have overturned some of those reasons that dropped me into that state. It has now been years since those depressed times, and I wonder if it touches me on occasion still. Going back to college and gaining my bachelor’s degree helped removed two of those burdens from my soul. But some of the damage inflicted in those times still remains. My weight and the question of my future happiness is what troubles me now. And in a way I consider them linked in a way, because most of the things I wish to do, require me to be healthier then I am now; perhaps even the jobs I wish. Let me just say that my weight is a constant struggle that I have not overcome… but I work towards it still. I believe that something is holding me back, and I have yet to find that reason. Lastly, I think I see happiness in the future, my life seems to be taking a turn that might lead me out of New England and perhaps to the south. But with that I will have to make the choice that I spoke of at the start, to move on, to risk, and to grasp the future… letting go of the past and all that is comfortable. I am hopeful.


My Geek Cred: (Part 3) The Final Years Till Now

It was my expectation that the last post would be the final on this subject, but it seems that I am older (or much more long winded) then I had though.  So I hope that I do not sound too pretentious when making what I hope to be the last post finishing out my geek resume.  With my humblest apologizes, I will begin now and wait for the flames to find me.

After reading my past two posts, or perhaps after remembering my history; it seems to me that I might had left certain topics.  Like watching each and every science fiction or fantasy movies that I could find, or even my love of comics for a time or more.  Then I asked myself what topics would truly encompass being a geek? And frankly I came down to the opinion that for some people that could be computers and technology, for others it could be comics or anime, or perhaps fantasy movies and books, maybe it is gaming for some, or even mixed of all of the above.

Still that seemed limited to me!  Yes “geek” culture now encompasses technology with science fiction and fantasy type combinations.  But perhaps it should just be passion that drives one person to be a geek over another.  Could someone be a nature geek?  I believe so, and I am one of those people.  Because of it, I have recently went back to college and gotten a degree in Forest Ecology and Conservation.  Could someone be a NASCAR racing geek, If you’ve ever meet my aunt and uncle, and then seen them off to a race; you would think that they look and seemed incredibly geeky.

But I derail from what my goal today had been.  Let me gather myself, and continue with my life.

Where I had left off, would put me close to 2004.  So I will pick up there, with the first and brightest light in those years.  Do you know where I am heading, it is quite obvious to me of course; and will be to many of you after.  In November of 2004, Blizzard Entertainment released World of Warcraft, and the face of MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) gaming was changed forever.  Perhaps not that drastic, but they did become the new big boy on the block quickly enough.

Though I will first say that I did not buy the game when it first came out.  I had years before tried Everquest, and found myself unhappy with the game.  It was not the size or the time it took to level, for me it was the similarity of characters appearances.  I laugh at that now, but I can be a picky bastard when it comes to my games at times.  Because of that, I never got into many MMO’s at first.

Around 2004 I was playing several games, along with the my MUD’s.  The one game that I spent hours and hours on was then Planetside.  I think I had been playing it since its release, and I had at many times considered playing Star Wars Galaxies as well.  Many of my fellow players on Planetside were also playing Galaxies.  I believe that it was free to those who played Galaxies (though I could be wrong).  But I was so entirely hooked on Planetside that I did not give Star Wars a chance.  I regret that to this day, people still talk fondly about that game.

Then in August of 2005, Planetside became a ghost town.  If you played the game in those days, I am sure you know why.  Sony released a new expansion for their Star Wars Galaxies game, completely destroying their franchise.  In one utterly stupid move, they recreated the entire character system, and took away the one thing that made their game loved.  I do not believe there was another action by a game company as devastating, at least in my option.  So there I was, with nobody to play with on Planetside and in a game that was dependent on other players; it became another failed game.

I left soon after that change and decided to try my hand at World of Warcraft.  I had heard good reviews from both friends and online communities.  It had been many years since I had my disappointment with Everquest and I thought things must had changed since then with fantasy MMO’s.  Well I was surprised and delighted with what I found in that game.  Soon enough, my time online became devoted to WOW and I had discovered that a huge portion of those Star Wars Galaxies players had found their way to the same game.

Many years were devoted to World of Warcraft.  My first and main character had been a paladin.  Like many in those days and now, I tried my hand at Ret Paladin (Retribution).  That satisfied me for a while until I discovered the magic of the reckoning bomb; and from them forth I was a Pro Paladin (Protection).  I must also state that I was not a snob about keeping to my spec and naturally had build up gear for all facets of being a paladin (Healing, Tanking, Fighting).

The entirety of my time playing WOW can be made into a separate section of posts itself.  So let us just say that I PVP’ed my heart out and obtained Grand Master of the Alliance, before it became easier.  I raided with a top 100 guild through Burning Crusade, up through the Sunwell.  Then when Wrath of the Lich King came out, I raided for many months as well.  It was there that I lost steam or even the passion to play.  I retired from World of Warcraft and have only gone back a few times to see if I could rekindle some of that passion again.  It has yet to happen.

I have tried many other MMO’s after World of Warcraft: Everquest 2, Rifts, Age of Conan, Warhammer, Darkfall, Planetside 2 (love this still), Star Wars The Old Republic, EVE, and so many more.  But it seems that WOW has stole the passion for MMO’s from me.  I have since dove more completely back into other things like reading and social gaming.  But I continue to search for a computer game that will allow me to enjoy that type of playing once again.  If not in a more moderated allowance, for I believe MMO’s can suck the life out of a person and the people who want or need their attention.

With the loss of my addiction to MMO’s, I had a gap to fill.  I probably could had filled the time with much of the same things I had done before.  Such as reading, writing, role playing, and all of the things that my geeky heart thrives on.  But I decided for many reasons to head back to college; the time was right and I had gotten put on disability from work.  Oh yes, I did do all of those other things as well… haven’t you been reading?  I am an addict after all.

After 3.5 years, I walked away from college with my bachelors degree and an offer to join a master program.  That masters program will start in a month and a half (as long as I can get the funds required).  As I stated earlier, I received my degree in Forest Ecology and Conservation and hope to begin a masters in Water Sustainability.  I might expect that if you have been reading that these seem to be odd choices for me to have made?  But let me say this… always let your passions guide you and let things that bring you the greatest happiness mark the paths that you walk in life.  It took me a long time to see these things, even with their direct opposition staring me in the face daily.  But we do not always open our minds to what our eyes see and complacency follows, obscuring the difference between what is and what could or should be.  I choose to smile; I choose to walk the paths that I decide and not let them decide for me; and I choose to love: myself, someone special, family and friends, work, hobbies, and of course the most important thing to love, that I am alive (again).