Tag Archives: depression

Fun with Quokkas

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.

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I’m lucky that my wife hasn’t smothered me with a pillow yet.

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Filed under Silly stuff, True Life Misadventure

Sweet dreams

It is no secret that I have been battling depression for the last few decades. It hasn’t really been a battle so much as a game of tag on the slick footing of my cerebral cortex. My doctors have given me a wide range of pharmaceuticals of varying levels of effectiveness, with a plethora of entertaining side effects. The latest set that my wife and I have had to deal with is vivid dreams.

As a horror writer, I’m not bothered by nightmares. I have them, but I just consider it working while I sleep. The problem with some of the latest drugs is that they weaken the failsafe mechanisms that normally would keep the sleeping body from taking orders from the dreaming mind.

The first time we noticed that problem, I had been escaping from bad guys with flamethrowers. An innocent bystander had been ignited and my dream self was smothering the fire. Kit awoke to me slapping out the imaginary flames on her thighs and buttocks. Neither one of us enjoyed that.

I’ve switched to different medications and the acting out in my sleep has diminished. I will still have some physical movements and vocalizations, but Kit just wakes me up gently, usually asking what I was doing at that moment. I blearily try to sum up the plot without too many gory details. Recently, she interrupted me as I was repeatedly punching a serial killer in the face through the service window of a food truck. No spouses or innocent bystanders were injured, fortunately.

When subconscious is pretty much filled with bizarre and violent creatures. REM state lets them act out scenarios that make my most over-the-top writing seem like a four-year-old’s tea party. There is no way I can stop them, and I don’t really want to, but I figured I could inflict some control over them.

One night, I decided I was going to try for sweet dreams. I didn’t concentrate on specific details, just the phrase “sweet dreams”.

In my dream, I flew to a warehouse on the Ohio State Campus, because I can usually fly in my dreams. Once I’d cleared the low-hanging power lines and branches, I came upon the architecture schools Home of the Future. It was white and blocky, with a definite Minecraft look to it. On careful inspection, I discovered everything was made of sugar cubes. These weren’t the tiny half-inch sugar lumps I was used to, but solid, hefty things four to six inches to a side. As I checked the warehouse shelves behind the home, I found any possible shape of compressed sugar a home contractor might need, including sugar toilets and sugar light bulbs.

My wife reports that I did not thrash or moan with this, or wake her in the middle of the night. I will most likely try this again, carefully choosing my focus. “Sweet dreams” worked out just fine, but who knows what eldritch horrors could be inspired by “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams”?

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Filed under Silly stuff, True Life Misadventure