As the country is wrapping up National Mental Health Awareness Month, it seems to be appropriate to share some of my relatively minor struggles.
I have been depressed most of my adult life. I could go into grim medical descriptions or personal anecdotes, but that should be saved for another blog. Suffice it to say my brain doesn’t produce all the neurotransmitters needed to operate the machinery smoothly. That results in dark moods, generalized pain, muddled thinking, fatigue, and irritability. Depression: it’s not just for moping around anymore!
My GP and I have worked through a variety of pharmaceuticals, alone and in combination, over the last few years. We’ve discovered any number of annoying and embarrassing side effects, but recently my wife and I have had to deal with Vivid Dreams and acting out. I referenced earlier the time I dreamed somebody had been set on fire and I was frantically try to swat out the flames with my bare hands. We both awoke to my slapping my wife’s butt repeatedly. She did not find it stimulating.
My dreams wind up being involved versions of the stories I write, full of action, horror, and ass-kicking. The cats now sleep on Kit’s side of the bed to avoid being launched into space. (catapult)
So, I try to program my dreams. Instead of internalizing all the frustrations of my life and the terror of current events, I focus on happy things. And there is nothing happier than a Quokka. In case you haven’t heard about them, they are cat-sized marsupials that live on a single island off the coast of Australia. They look to be constantly smiling and gleefully pose for selfies with tourists, no matter what PETA and Australian Fish & Game might have to say.
I now have a picture of two Quokkas taped to my wall near my bed. I have named them Graeme and Oista. Each night, I say good night to them, and their cousin Saltine. I tell them to leave the Club and go back to their Townhouse.
Sometimes, I elaborate to get into the happy Quokka groove:
In my best Shirley Temple voice I sing a few bars of “Animal Quokkas in My Soup”.
1980’s marsupial singing sensation: Quokka Khan.
Wallaby-like creature that realigns your spine: a Quokka-practor.
Jason Momoa leading the marsupials in a Maori war chant: An Aquaman Quokka haka.
I’m lucky that my wife hasn’t smothered me with a pillow yet.