17 August 2016

The Default Emotion is 'Meh' -- Life Without Passion



One of the problems with this mental condition is losing enthusiasm for things I used to enjoy.

Over a period of time, I seem to have lost my former passions for the following:


'71 Ike non-silver dollar. Worth $1 but fun to hold
1.       Coin collecting – it is a shame that American silver, my favorite collectable, is only in fashion for the worth of its silver content. I have bundled all of my silver together and plan, at some point, to sell it. Right now, silver is at roughly $20 an ounce on the London spot market, which means if you sell to a silver broker or a coin collector, you’ll be lucky to get $16 an ounce (or less) and it’s really not worth it. I had fun in the past, taking my collection out and looking at it and wondering who passed these coins or bills in the past and where. Much of my collection came from childhood and in many cases, I remembered getting a coin from my grandfather’s collection, or, in one case, the coin display at the old Chardon Woolworths. Now they just sit there, for the most part. I find the paper money more fascinating to look at. My ‘first dollar’ pinned to the wall of my basement bar is a 1957 issue $1 silver certificate.

It has its advantages
2.       The basement and bar itself. After a while, I’ve pretty much been able to complete the bar and the basement. There is little left to display or buy, save a lighted beer sign from the early to mid ’60s, one more wine and glasses rack I’ve had my eye on from Amazon, and a few more newspapers that may be found here or there. I should, perhaps, have not moved so fast to fill the room and bar but I’ve had this strong inclination to finish it, probably due to a lifelong feeling that I should do what I can as soon as I can since one never knows how much time we have to enjoy it. I go down and stare at the whole menagerie and think it well done. Then I go back upstairs.

It's . . . cooler than me.
 3.       The Mustang. Sadly the glitter has faded. Don’t get me wrong: I still like the car, but do not love the car. It has turned, for me, from a lifestyle choice to another, albeit pretty cool, set of wheels that gets me from point A to B. I knew this would happen, so I am not in the least upset. I was always told: do not fall in love with a car; it will not love you back. But I also think that the infatuation with the car fell victim to my habit of having short-term passions about everything – a problem I have had throughout my life but has been more severe in the last five years.

4.       Reading. Another reason for sadness. As a former bookstore owner, I still have quite a library of hundreds of books I have not read, nor probably ever will. I still occasionally buy an actual book (and leave it partially or totally unread) but lately I have bought Kindle books, which I would have never thought I’d do. The thing is they’re so much easier to read in bed. But I rarely read in bed anymore. My love for reading started by hiding books underneath my bed and then taking them out and reading them, sometimes by a night light, until I was tired enough to sleep. You would have much time in the evenings to read if your parents put you to bed at 7:30 p.m. until the fourth grade. Then it was 8 p.m. I find it a great effort now to pay attention to what I’m reading. I tend to read books in dribs and drabs and grow bored with them quickly. This is in part because of my love affair with the Internet which is perfect for people with short attention spans, which, again, I have developed within the last five years. This happens when watching TV as well. Most of the time, the TV is now background noise while I peruse the Internet

5.       Writing. Since my last job in journalism ended in 2005, I have not had the need to write regularly until I came up with this idea for a blog. There have been several other aborted blogs stretching back years but this is the one that I have stuck with and, in it, done what I consider to be my best writing. However, again, I lack the discipline to write regularly and my motivation comes in bursts. If I have a sudden idea for a topic and I’m in front of a keyboard with enough time (which is what happened with this entry), I will write a very fast piece before I forget what the main points were I was trying to make.

6.       Rock music or the music of my youth. I wrote about this briefly in my last post. I pay for Sirius XM in my car and have all the music channels that play the songs of my life programmed, but most of the time I’ll just listen to the local classical station. The songs of the 70s just bore me now and even my favorites like Springsteen, Segar, the Stones, ELO, etc. fail to raise the old passions. Again, I find this saddening, but it is what it is.

7.   Food. Funny thing, since the incident of July 8, 2016, my loss of 55 pounds went to hell as one of the things I sought solace in was food. But it's not like I'm enjoying it like I used to. It just fills up an empty space. All that's left that I really crave is ice cream. It is depressing. 

Best. Antidepressant. Ever

There are other things I’ve lost my passion for, but I’ll stop there. I sense this is a dry enough posting anyway. 

One of the little secrets is that I tend to write in the style of the last book or piece of writing I have been reading. In this case, I have been reading Ernst Hanfstaengl’s memoir of his association with Hitler in his early years. ‘Putzi’ as he was called (ach, to have a complex German last name!), was a cultured and erudite person and when I read something in that style, I write in that style. 

This is why the style of my writing changes radically at times, from one blog post to another. This is also the result of my mental condition which also sees me affect different personalities and manners of speaking at times as well, based on the last person I have been with or talked to.

My writing is also affected by whatever mood I happen to be in that day. This has nothing to do with multiple personalities. I have no idea why this happens.

Back to the subject of losing passion.

I would say much of this is the fault of medications which are designed to smooth out the rough edges of bipolar and depressive traits. You no longer flail about trying to finish four major yard projects in one day or suddenly get the urge to take a road trip to Florida (both of which have I have done in the past). Also, you don’t get so depressed that you start looking for the right doorknob on which to hang yourself.

This is all good, but the downside is, what many call a ‘flat effect’ of personality. Most of the time, my mood is caught in neutral. I can get up and down still, but rarely move to the extreme edges of behavior. And, of course, I literally no longer have a passion for anything. Interest at times, yes, passion, no. 

In many ways I miss that often childlike enthusiasm for things. I suppose in my first two marriages I must have acted very childlike at times when a more sober manner or reasonableness was called for.

Being unreasonable was a hallmark of my behavior through the years and it would come and go. Such is bipolar. Of course, the depressions were awful too, but add to that a lack of restraint and it’s a wonder I had either a wife or friends. 

Too bad it's not true.
So I must accept this. The last time I tried to wean off certain meds (I was taking an improv class and thought my meds were affecting my ‘creativity’), the results were disastrous and my career in local comedy died stillborn. At that point, like most other people with various mental illnesses, you finally give up and admit that you’ll have to take these meds the rest of your life, like it or not. 

Mental illness can steal a lot from a person. One of the worst things for me has been the stealing of my passions for things I used to enjoy. And I know I’m not the only one. 

Even the president needs passion
Everybody I know needs some passion
Some people die and kill for passion
Nobody admits they need passion
Some people are scared of passion
Yeah passion