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Buster Benson

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What the opposite of mania feels like to me
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The last two days I’ve felt like an emotional wreck. Everything that I thought was going so well now seems to be going not so well. I can’t tell whether or not the emotional wreckedness is what is making me think that everything is broken, or that everything being broken has caused the emotional wreckage. All I know is that I feel horrible, literally. But not horrible as in sick, horrible as in mentally and physically drained. I still feel this way so I want to try to find words to describe the physical sensation of emotional wreckage.

My lungs. The air in my lungs seems to be dragging. As if it were heavier or slimier and my lungs were having to pull with a little extra strength to get the air in. And the air is contaminated. It enters my body and it feels wrong.

My neck. My neck hurts. There’s a sharp pain at the top of my back that I almost can’t feel, but if I think about it, it’s there and it feels like it has been there for a long time, but because it hasn’t changed in intensity I don’t notice it consciously. Maybe my subconscious is straining under the dull pain and is able to filter it all out because it is predictable and uninteresting.

My joints. My fingers and elbows are sore.

My back. My back is sore.

My shoulders. I feel like there’s a density in my shoulders that has an emotional weight to it. As if all the cells in my shoulders were crying. Not exactly though. I can’t quite pinpoint the feeling. I keep on saying that it all feels wrong, or evil, or bad, but it’s much more personal than that. It’s how I feel when I’ve made a horrible mistake. The kind that you can’t reverse or apologize for, the kind that you have to simply admit and watch as people create new impressions of you, the kind that marks the change of an era where the previous era was golden and the new era will be rotten.

My stomach. My stomach tells me to eat and to drink and at the same time feels sick from too much eating and too much drinking. But it’s willing to take one for the team if it means getting the shoulders, lungs, neck, joints, and back back in order. It has good intentions but I think is misguided. Luckily, I’m not the kind of person that eats and drinks when depressed... during these times I starve myself and try to rid myself of that constant feeling of “fullness” that depression has. I always feel like puking but the physical mechanisms of puking aren’t engaged. The body chemistry is already too fucked up to have to worry about introducing more confusing elements.

My arms. They feel like swinging, punching. Someone else, or myself, doesn’t matter. But at the same time they’re too tired to do anything. There is this potential energy that’s locked up and repressed, waiting for a trigger possibly. But I’ve never really met that trigger. Instead, I know that exercise is one way of forcing that repressed energy out. Knowing that that’s the way to let it out, however, doesn’t always mean I actually go do that though. Sometimes a nap is a better escape, evidenced by how I slept 12 hours last night.

My legs. They don’t care about anything. I might as well chop them off... they’re dead weight.

What a mess. And the sum of this physical sensation is an emotional and pseudo-rational reaction. The physical sensation is so close and so personal that it’s almost impossible to notice it being there at all. It’s immediately translated into emotions (depression, funk, anger, impatience, irritation, fight or flight, hate, self-pity, carelessness, self-hate). And then it’s translated into reasons, thoughts, causes, evaluations for error and wrongness in my life (I don’t like being around people, people don’t like being around me, I am too fake, I keep a cold distance from people, I am insincere and manufacture false confidence, people see right through me, I’m an asshole, I cause my own problems, it’s all a big farce, nothing has changed, I am asking for too much, I need to purge my life of all this madness, I need to start over, this sucks, why is it so difficult, it’s futile, we’re doomed, it’s over).

The weird thing is that there’s something about this anti-mania that I want to experience. If someone were to say, “here’s the way out” I would resist and think that it would be wrong to leave this state. Us depressives are very possessive of our depression... it's most likely another part of the delusion. However, this state feels real when I’m here, the emotions and thoughts seem valid, even though they’re derived from physical sensations in my body. Maybe it’s another ego thing... where I think that this cycle of build build build build destroy build build build build destroy is a healthy cycle that leads to better and better perspective of myself and the world. To continue building without destroying would lead to old walls and steps and archways that were out of style and falling apart and no longer aesthetically pleasing.

However, at the same time, maybe the destroying and depression could be achieved in a less painful way. Maybe it could be as simple as shaking an etch-a-sketch and the start the building over? I should intent manifest that cycle. But depression and self-hate are constraints that pressure you into tossing everything that’s even slightly unhelpful because it physically hurts to keep anything at all. Or it could all be self-inflicted... as this state also makes me completely lose faith in the upward spiral of self-improvement. It’s all futile, it’s an self-delusional riptide of self-worth. When I’m maniacal, I register the times that it hurt with times of growth, the same way you can justify the usefulness of a deadend job or relationship by saying that “it’s tough work!” and translating that into fake money.

Anyway, this is about how anti-mania feels to me, not trying to solve the problems that mania and anti-mania create for themselves. So I’m done.

PS. I'm dying my hair gray again today.

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oof. Well...it's probably not worth much to you right now but I think you are really amazing and doing super interesting things, and I love reading your new blog. It's made me think about a lot of things I don't usually think about and I'm looking forward to our adventures even though some of this stuff is really difficult. I've been feeling sort of awful too...I think there's something in the air. I wish you weren't feeling this way, though. If I can do anything to help--backrubs, hotdogs, rollerskates, sweet potatoes--let me know. I love you.

thanks maggles. i mean, that's right! i think may new gray! hair may have been the best medicine.

really??? did your hair come out how you want this time? I can't wait to see it. getting my hair done always makes me feel good too. i also recommend pedicures, bikini waxes and long baths.

it's not perfect but closer i think. maybe i just have lower expectations though... it's still blondie around the sides.

i don't think my depression is going to last long enough to get an appointment... but have you tried this recently?

yeah, i go once a week. also i get ear seeds and they make me feel better. i forgot the name of my acupuncturist in seattle, but she was across the street from the zoo. i like non-chinese acupuncturists best because they are a little more gentle and nice.

I'm sorry the good Erik vibe hasn't returned. I was hoping it was just a temporary thing that could be cured with pho.

nah, that was just the beginning... but the last hour hasn't been so bad. maybe things are up and up from here.

yes for sure - we depressives own our depression - it is part of our identity and we are resistant to giving it up!

that's weird right? if we could find a way to gain the benefits of being depressed without actually thinking that EVERYTHING IS MEANINGLESS and I AM A STUPID IDIOT, i think we may be able to market it and make a million bucks... and plus, maybe even care about things.

i read something interesting recently about it being an actual, physical misconnection in the brain. i have to think about where i read it. recently i've been reading so much about it and have so many books and magazines - i can't remember where i get stuff from. you seem very well-read- i imagine you have the same problem.
also my therapist suggests it's an addiction to feeling bad, which would mean that we get squirts of dopamine in the brain from emotional self-abuse.

there's a new psychology from some dude named Hanes at Yale wherein one doesn't "get over" depression but keeps it as a badge and reminder at all times - contrasting with cognitive therapy. i dunno which one's right; i just know when i'm happy/stable and when i'm not! whichever one works is the right one!

oh, i'm not really that well read compared to some, but i do have a bad memory so i know what you're talking about. :)

i watched a movie yesterday that lele recommended to me called "What the $#!@ do we know" and it talks about this addiction to emotions. without being actually knowledgable about this stuff as you probably are, it talked about how people can get physically addicted to the peptides released by the hippocampus which correspond with the emotions we physically feel. any emotion becomes addictive in that sense... maybe we only notice depression and the negative emotions because people who are "strangely happy all the time" aren't as whiny (though they can be annoying too).

what about this wacky theory: junkies cause the brain to become resistent to certain happy emotions and build up sensitivity to negative emotions in order to balance things out. what if depressed people are creating that same resistance except to negative emotions? by being depressed we're trying to convince our brains to try to balance things out and we then can experience greater sensitivity to the happy peptides? the reverse direction, but the same effect? that feeling i had when coming out of a bad relationship/depression is the opposite of withdrawal... it's living off of the imbalance created by overexposure to one unnatural set of emotions. sounds a bit wacky i guess.

ha! i recommended it to Lele! that's a fascinating film. the newsletter and cult that's formed around it is a little scary, though. i just bought my bf Masaru Emoto's "Hidden Messages in Water" and I'm still not convinced, but that's another story. sort of.

there's a new book out about happiness, and i think it's called "Happiness" - i think it's main point is that it's not healthy or normal to be happy all the time and a lot people expect or act like it is.

your latter theory is definitely relevant and true, i think. the depressed (truly depressed) are just so damn sensitive. and when i'm not sensitive, i'm so much happier. suzybuzz posted this article and it's a great one i think:


that's funny! we're all on the same track with our thoughts i think. where will it lead us? are you going to be part of our cult? and yes, parts of that movie gave me the shivers... they were using the same tone of voice and expressions and even some of the same phrases that crazy religious people do. our cult will be much better than that one.

i've read that happiness book and didn't really like it. most of the points it made were pretty obvious and i don't think it was written by someone who's ever been depressed (at least, not the kind that i have/get).

that you link to that article is also funny... i had the "where have i read about this recently?" feeling and realized that that study it talks about was mentioned in a book i just read called "strangers to ourselves" which i HIGHLY recommend. i totally agree with the premise... that we can't fix problems in our subconscious by just thinking our way through it. we're blind to most of our real needs and will prioritize things all wacky if we consciously try to figure that stuff out.

my favorite new activity is to think about a difficult problem right before i go to sleep, or to state something that i'd like to have fixed or changed and then go on a walk. it lets the subconscious mull it over and get back to you, and generally leads to making simpler choices that you don't have to force yourself to implement and which don't work anyway.

yeah that book sounds good - strangers to ourselves - i will add it to the list after the Dalai Lama's Destructive Emotions - have you read that?

i haven't read that... i'll check it out if you recommend it.

yep, mols is the one who got me on the What the Bleep train! i want to know more about the masaru emoto stuff.

of course, he has a blog:

and of course also a website to thank water:

"Will you join us to say "I love you" and "Thank you" to all the water on Planet Earth and fill it with the highest vibration (HADO) of Love and Thanks that we can possibly experience?"

yes i WILL say "i love you" and "thank you" to all the water in the world. EASY! i love this cult.

hey, i got a thing in the mail inviting me to learn how to become a millionaire from some conference. brian told me that he went to it and the guy is a hack. how many make-a-million guys are there? this one didn't seem particularly charming, and that's why i think our cult will beat the pants off of any other cult because DAMNIT you and i are extremely charming.

who is this millionaire hack you speak of? is it marc allen? in any case, brian's probably right.

there are probably more make-a-million hacks out there than there are millionaires. maggie made the observation the other day that most of these people make their million by selling books to people about making a million... which seems a little suspicious to me. didn't stop me from buying the book though. haha.

i want to make a million dollars by saying "i love you" and "thank you" to all the water on Planet Earth. screw water on other planets! :)

our cult is going to beat the pants off of all the other cults because we'll be the only ones sending out invitations to the pants party.

it wasn't marc allen. it was some HACK. a million dollars is so little these days anyhow. we should shoot for more. a BILLION trillion.

pants pants pants.

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yes, falling apart indeed. though, it might sound worse than it is... i'm always falling apart a little bit, but usually don't bother articulating it.

I get a little suspicious, though, of people that don't go through this type of thing. Even beyond the whole creative destruction element, it seems like you need to cleanse yourself of all of the bad mojo that tends to pile up on your soul over time. I always imagine that people that don't go into a mood periodically will release it in one powerful, maniacal surge once in their lifetime, like some kind of massive emotional nuclear bomb. And that could be dangerous.

So do you really have a new super-sekrit blog?

yes, that's the logic i use too. :)

and yes, i do have a new super secret blog all about self-help and how it ties in to science, religion, technology, psychology, dating, and being a lost soul. i'll tell you where it is if you come to office hours next week... but in general i'm trying to keep it separate from my other internet presences just to see if i can invent something slightly different from the others.

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