5:11 AM

In the mid 90’s, when I used to drink like a different person, I would relish Monday afternoons. Sundays were drunk karaoke nights, and Monday was sleep-off-the-regrettable-night-before day. I would wake up around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, the last remnants of the hangover fading into memory, and I would spend the afternoon with a wonderful feeling — probably relative, a contrast to feeling like death had set up camp in my head and gut — of clarity, and maybe even a little peace.

One thing I’ve learned about depressive episodes is that they tend to follow a similar pattern: lots of pain that it’s easier to sleep through, followed by a time of calm and, when you’re lucky, understanding.

Over the past two days, I’ve dealt with both. Hangover on Saturday, followed by a brief time of clearheadedness; and a fairly intense depression last night. I’m writing this during the clearing following the latter.

You have to take advantage of these things when they come, anticipating them if you can but being ready to recognize them regardless. You don’t know when the clouds will finally dissipate (and if I knew the why, I could make a fortune).

The brain — the spirit, maybe, or the emotional segments — is nothing more than a small pet. It may be willful, and seemingly stronger than you think, but it can be trained to do what you want it to do. It’s not easy work, and it takes determination and stubborn perserverance, but it can be done.

Sometimes, though, it’s easier to just let the dog piss on the floor, and you realize that, for a little while, you don’t feel like cleaning up the mess, or even punishing the puppy. That’s what it can be like to wake up on the wrong side of the head, too; it’s easier to wallow in the misery, to feed the fire with images and memories that torture yourself.

Surviving happily and without stress requires a certain amount of arrogance, if only internally. I have to believe in myself, and sometimes that means putting me above others in my head. It’s not an issue of elevating myself by putting other people down, but rather knowing that where I am is where I should be, that all is as it should be. This may make sense to no one but me, but then, that’s all that matters, on the other hand.

I can’t change other people, and so my happiness is not based on other people’s actions or reactions. I can’t change the past, so I have to let go of things that, lessons learned, no longer matter. I can only affect the now and the tomorrow, and energy spent worrying worthlessly about anything else is wasted.

And the moment of clarity
Faded like charity does
Sometimes
I opened one eye
And I put out my hand just to touch your soft hair
To make sure in the darkness that you were still there
And I have to admit
I was just a little afraid, oh yeah
But then…
I had a little bit of luck
You were awake
I couldn’t take another moment alone.
Roger Waters, 5.11 AM (The Moment of Clarity)

As a postscript, none of us needs any of the rest of us. But it doesn’t mean that we should ever be unappreciative of what and who we do have. We may not need anything other than shelter, food, and water, but the other things in our lives make the journey from point a to point b much more pleasant, possibly even enjoyable.

I would have gotten up on my own, eventually, but it was a lot easier with CL’s help. Thanks, angel.

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