So, I cited the paper in this article last semester. I spent a whole depressed semester navel-gazing about depression and I discovered a concept that is really very important to understanding how depression hits me: motivational anhedonia.
I’m going to tell you how the process of repairing my car would go for a neurotypical person:
♥ Renew AAA membership.
♥ Call desired garage, ask if they’ll take my 2000 Chevy Cavalier with very few miles on it but a few issues.
♥ Call AAA, get them to tow it there.
♥ Wait for phone call saying everything’s fine and I can come pay for it now.
And this is how it goes for me:
♥ Realise AAA membership has expired.
♥ Go back to bed because I can’t make that phone call today. OR stare at a computer screen doing sweet f.a. for hours.
♥ Resent not having a car for fun things like Ingress (because walking to portals in this neck of the woods just ain’t happenin’).
This is how most people handle finalising important essays for their degree:
♥ Reread essay.
♥ Edit essay accordingly.
This is how I am doing it:
♥ Reread essay.
♥ When checking on grad school requirements, discover that I do not actually have as many options as I thought in that respect.
♥ Spend a good month and a half panicking about that part, even though the other grad school I’ve been looking at has no such requirements. Look for even more grad schools? Why would I do that?
I turn around and there’s, well, a month and a half gone. I had a decently busy June and early July, no question. The trouble with “decently busy” is that it does require support, and in early July, my therapist dropped me. He decided that, instead of continuing my care with the next student in line after him, I had achieved so much that I couldn’t possibly need help with anything else. I am decent at NONONONO except when I think it will make me look like a flaming hypochondriac. Then I am really very much of a yes-girl.
That has come back to bite me in the bum. I was not ready to go it alone. My therapist did not, in the end, understand that a lot of what looked like my achievements were things that happened to me or occasions to which I rose. I didn’t overcome anything. I coped with things that took me about a yard outside my comfort zone. Given the choice between working on my performance anxiety, because music and I will never part ways, and working on my, um, functioning anxiety? I need the functioning. I really do.
He also seemed impressed that I was in the early days of what turned out not to be a relationship after all. Here’s how I perceive the way monogamous people think about dating:
♥ Meet person you like.
♥ Engage emotions.
♥ Start going steady for the foreseeable future.
♥ Wait, we’re supposed to be determining how our lives will mesh. Crap.
Some poly people date like this, too. I don’t. I date more like this:
♥ Meet person I like.
♥ Get to know each other.
♥ (preferred step) Meet person and OSO(s). Talk about everything.
♥ Go on one date. Keep talking.
♥ Decide whether it’s safe to engage emotions at this point. If YES, continue dating.
I hate NRE. I avoid it where possible. I don’t like the butterflies. I like situations where all quantities are known (as much as one can do this with humans) and everything can just tick along nicely. A lot of monogamous people look at me in the early steps of my process and decide I’ve found a new SO. Eleven does not assume this, which is part of why the process went so smoothly for us. We date the same way.
And none of that has anything to do with graduating from therapy, to be honest. Relationships aren’t achievements. They’re an ongoing, evolving piece of a person’s life. I could have used my therapist to help me evaluate what happened next — but he had other places to be and, I guess, thought it would be unnecessary to train a successor.
But I could always call and get set up with someone else if I needed! Now run that through the motivational anhedonia machine:
♥ I need help.
♥ Argh, getting help the first time was such a hassle. I don’t feel like calling today.
♥ Stay in bed/stare at computer screen until life has all but spiraled out of control.
What did it take for me to find a new dentist? Lying in the chair screaming from behind a dental dam because the dentist-at-large at my practice couldn’t numb my tooth for crap. “Everything okay?” the staff kept asking when I made stuck-pig noises. No, nothing was okay. I was in pain. It was a ten. I was not merely psyching myself out. I kept kicking the chair: help me. They were drilling and filling a live tooth (as opposed to a tooth whose electricity has been shut off for the nonce). I came out crying and barely coherent. That broke through the barrier long enough for me to hit up Google and dial a number. And then I fell asleep, because holy Hannah, hurting on top of the sedation left me exhausted.
What did it take for me to tell Dad, “I have a problem and I need you to kick off the change”? Bizarrely, it was the suicide of Robin Williams. It hit me like lightning forking through my body, looking for ground. It was one of those “no way, man, that might’ve been me” moments, because let’s face it, we’re not very far removed from the last time I had those thoughts. Not comparatively. I’m somewhere between remission and relapse. Maintenance? And maintenant, you may be amused to note, is French for “at this time”. I am at this time, taking it one stressor at a go, neither gaining nor losing. Maintaining. Able to see clearly what the last month and a half of sleepiness and fog has been, when I haven’t caffeinated myself to cover it. (Lord, some people need cocaine…)
This may be the most coherent thing I’ve written all summer.
For those of you playing along at home, yes, I’m going to autocrat next year’s Pax Interruptus. No, this is not going to aggravate the motivational anhedonia. One of the best ways through it is close guidance, and that is exactly what I will have because I am an autocrat-in-training. This is SCA parlance for “Lady El has never run an event before, so she will have a mentor to show her the way.” Also, and this is perhaps weird, the part of me that is Lady Elen Woderose has very little trouble getting things done. I’m being trusted with something huge, yet I know I can trust in return that if I need help, I will find it.
Maybe the SCA knows something about growing up that the rest of us have left behind in our rush to be modern and detached. Maybe there’s something to an interdependent society after all, only we’re fiercely independent, break-your-plate people. Well, not my family. Come to think of it, the families I’m seeing in the SCA tend to embrace multiple generations of adults coexisting closely, sometimes to the point of living in the same household.
I don’t think living with my parents is weird because none of my cousins bothered leaving home either — but that’s the German half. In America they do things differently, only I’m discovering a possible exception, and a survey worth undertaking at some point. Hm.