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1:31 PM - SAT 08.26.23
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Death and Depression (And Other Fun Stuff)

Bob Barker has died.

I watched Truth or Consequences when I was a little kid, then later, in junior high and high school, on days off from school or during the summer, I watched The Price Is Right.

(And even though I'm not a big Happy Gilmore fan - It's okay - I appreciated his bit in the movie, imagining how much fun it must have been for him to do.)

He didn't mean a great deal to me, and I'm not particularly rocked by his passing - Ninety-nine is a pretty good run (Certainly longer than I'm expecting to get), and his place in TV history is secure - but that said, this person has been part of my "landscape" for almost my whole life, so the fact that he no longer exists does register with me.

While there are occasional deaths that genuinely sadden me when I hear about them on Facebook or CNN or wherever (Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robin Williams come to mind), I rarely have much of a response to a public figure's passing. The way I see it, when an artist or author or musician or actor dies - if they haven't been "cut down in the prime of life" somehow - I haven't really lost much. After all, we weren't friends, and in most instances, they've left a "body of work" that's available for me to revisit whenever I want.

But in recent years, I am starting to feel a touch of melancholy whenever someone disappears from my "landscape", public figure or personal acquaintance, however important or unimportant.

It strikes me that, as time passes, more and more of my references will be to dead people, and in effect, eventually, to a world that no longer exists.

And someday I'll be the dead person being referred to, as a small part of someone else's world that "no longer exists".

I know - "Circle of Life" and all that.

Doesn't mean I have to be comfortable with it.

_________________________

One thing about me, is I think I know myself as well as anyone possibly could.
Certainly, I'm more of an expert on myself than anyone else I know - I've kept a journal for over 40 years and have been in therapy on and off throughout my life.

I am constantly thinking about myself.

Constantly.

And yet it surprised me recently to think I have probably been "depressed" all my life (At least all my conscious life).

If you know me, you might think I've always felt that way - "I've just always been depressed" - and certainly, by this point, it does feel like just "who I am" (It's definitely a big part of how I self-identify. I've often thought that "I wouldn't know who I'd be" without it).

But I've thought of my depression as something that "developed", early on, due to my response to circumstances, and later perhaps as a reflection of "disappointment in myself" (I've always seen a gulf between my intellect and abilities, on the one hand, and my drive to capitalize on them on the other. And for years, I didn't define that gulf as "depression" - I defined it as "laziness").

What's "opened my eyes" has been the Internet, and the lifting of the taboo against talking about mental health issues.

When other people dealing with depression (and anxiety) talk about their challenges in life, I've read/listened to what they described and thought, "It's always been that way for me...".

I don't recall a time when I didn't struggle with my self-image, when caring for myself wasn't a challenge (I've always lived in mess), and a challenge I constantly felt myself failing at.

And I think the piece of the puzzle I've not really focused on was just how shitty my life was in those first years - I can read that I had diaper rash so bad my legs and buttocks were red and blistered, that I was in and out of the hospital that first year from pneumonia and malnourishment, that I didn't walk or talk till I was two-three years old, that Mrs DeHaven's treatment of my diaper rash (Epsom salt baths) hurt so bad my "screams could be heard outside the house", that I had to wear corrective shoes to learn how to walk, that the first part of my education was in a special school because they thought I was "retarded" (And after I started going to regular school, I had to deal with kids calling me "retard" because I'd started school late and they knew where I'd come from). But reading it and actually "taking it in" are two different things.

I've tended to acknowledge the stuff I remember but kind of gloss over the stuff I don't.

And that stuff probably assured "the die was cast" while my little brain was still smooth and pliable, before I even knew I was "Butch DeHaven" (On my way to realizing I was actually "Jim Hoffmaster", before then realizing that name was just a life-long placeholder, the real name to be forever a mystery).

What does all this mean? I don't know, not that much, probably. Except that maybe I can further "cut myself a break" from feeling like my depression & anxiety/depression and anxiety symptoms are somehow my own damn fault and realize I got really fucking hobbled out of the goddamn gate.

I didn't do it. It's not my fault.

I have to deal with it, but I didn't do it.

It's not my fault.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

(Till next time...)



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