June 21, 2019

the big fat porcupine of anhedonia

Last night, I sat re-watching Good Omens while the laundry tumbled obediently in the dryer.  P.J. finished her work shift and came downstairs to join me.

I let her in on the growing despair, the feeling I was trying to mute by turning up the volume on the TV.  "When that laundry finishes drying and I fold it, I will officially be out of Things To Do," I blurted out.  "I have three whole days in front of me and nothing to do.  I don't want to do anything entertaining, like computer games or puzzles.  I can't write.  I don't have any projects that need work.  I guess I could hunt for something to do around the house.  There's always stuff.  But we're going up to The Lodge and I will have nothing to do.  I'm just going to exist for three days.  I can't stand that.  I'm full of dread.  I hate relaxation.  I need utility."

P.J. sat and thought. 

"I can mow up there," I continued.  "At least I can be useful for an hour."  I was rapidly descending into the place where I hurl javelins at myself, with each new spoken sentence.  Into a dark place.

"Why don't you ... ?" she began.

"Please, please do not suggest things for me to do," I barked.  "That just makes it worse."

She was just trying to help, but the great Porcupine of Anhedonia reared up and shot quills. 

I don't understand why I get bristly when someone tries to fix me, or fix things for me.  It's as though the coming dark refuses any role other than master and won't let anything else through.

Or maybe I turned into a porcupine because each suggestion would just highlight my indifference and mock my inability to be interested in anything, to engage.  A porcupine's quills evolved for protection.

Then I hated myself because P.J. is the last person I'd cover in quills.  So even though I wasn't interested in going to sleep, I turned off the TV and climbed into bed, so I could be near her, and to make up for the bristling by performing this tiny act of self-care. 

Yes, and you have to drug yourself to do even that much, my brain reminded me.

I can't remember how to brace myself when I know depression is on the horizon.  Don't touch me.  I'm alone inside my coat of quills.


  1. I just realized... depression is like a hellish, adult version of being bored. I wonder if kids being bored is the miniature, kid version of depression?
    Words of wisdom from my father: "If you are bored, you can clean the toilets." If only this applied. Maybe, being anhedonic, cleaning the toilets won't hold the horror for you it normally would. Or maybe it'd hold the twice the horror.
    I know I'm not helpful. I love you. Take care of yourself.

  2. Lille, I have a hug waiting for you whenever you're ready. I'm not far away. I'm just over here minding my own business.

  3. I love you, our little porcupine. In the wilderness, remember I've got a candle lit for you, so there's a light in the dark that has love in it for you.

    Absolutely no bleedin' help at this moment in time, I know. But it's there anyway.