Sorry that it’s been a while. There’s been a lot going on over here and I’ve been a little swamped. The new job has been taking up most of my attention and if I haven’t been there, I’ve been at conventions selling books or trying to write the next one. Busy busy.
So I was at therapy the other week and, in true Craig form, I was actually on my way out when I had an interesting thought (it’s always after the session. Like, seconds after. Weird). Anyway, as I was headed out to the car park, I got thinking about masks and facades. I have quite a robust one. I’ve had it for years. Happy-go-lucky life-of-the-party. It hides the complete wreck that I am underneath, the social anxiety, how I find far too many people ignorant and ill-mannered and how angry that makes me.
The question is, how does that tie in to my Down Days? Surely all of my neuroses and quirks are linked somehow. I don’t know whether it will make any difference to the way I am, but it seems that I’m trying to develop some kind of unifying theory, like the legendary biology/chemistry/physics formula that will eventually come together to predict how all of the things work.
With that in mind, how does my façade link with my depression? Well, now that I’ve thought about it, I’m kind of embarrassed that I didn’t realise it before. They’re directly linked. I often say that my depression makes me “tired”. I’ve heard other people expressing the same kind of feeling. Tiredness. But not of the body. This is exhaustion of the mind. It’s a soul-deep kind of weariness. But what are we tired of? Now that’s a can of worms. And everyone’s list of what drains them will be different, I’m sure. But for me? I think that maybe one of the things that drains me the most is maintaining the mask.
Trying to come across as what society has taught us is the template for a “normal” human being can be fucking exhausting when you’re from a different mould. Smile, be sociable, be only glancingly aware of the world around you, smother yourself in soap operas and “reality” tv to stop you actually thinking about anything deeper and with more meaning. The problem for Those Like Me isn’t that we think too much, it’s that we think more than people like us to. We’re supposed to consume and barf out stupidity and serve a purpose. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy nut, the governments of the world want to keep us stupid and buying. That’s how the world has been forged over hundreds or possibly thousands of years. That is what we’re fighting against. And, of course, Those Like Me often see through that. We’re the fringe-runners. Those with the larger picture in our viewer. We see the world, we hate it, and we hate that we’re powerless to do anything. But still, we must maintain the façade, keep the straps of the mask tight, don’t let on, because to let people know that you know is to be out in the open and there’s very rarely anyone to back you up.
And so, I have Down Days. Those are the days when the mask slips; when I can’t maintain my “real boy” persona anymore. The days when the crushing weight of the human race’s inability to rise to the occasion is too much. I can’t hold the mask up and underneath is the real me. The sad one. The person saddened by what the human race could have and what is dragged away from us by those who search for the abstract concept of “power” over others.
Yes, I have a façade. My Up Day mask, if you like. I maintain it at work every day. I shrug off the ignorant, the arrogant, and by the time I get home, I’m exhausted. But there’s the other times, too. One of those is at conventions or book signings. These are basically work days, too. It’s working retail. And how people see me is how they see my books. My personality when they meet me defines whether they decide to read my books or not. So, I have to be happy, engaging, entertaining, all day long for hundreds of people. This isn’t so bad as most people that I come across at these events are lovely. We often have a lot in common. But still, I can’t let myself relax. If I do, and the depression shows through, that’s a book sale gone, a potential reader gone, and that means that maintaining my dream of being an author slips further away. After these events, I’m usually burnt out for a good couple of days. Useless, really. The longer I hold it for, the heavier the mask gets, you see.
The question now, is what do I do with that? Now that I know that the mask can’t always stay on, and that my Down Days often come as a result of it slipping?
I certainly can’t throw off the mask completely. I’ve talked before about the creative people of the world and how we are linked to depression, and how we slip through society’s cracks far too often. The thing is, I can’t do what really talented people do. I can’t pull the shutters on my day job and bury myself in my work and stay alive and fed by it. I don’t make a damned thing from anything I do. I need a job, to be out in the world with the bigots and racists and idiots. And, to be honest, fighting doesn’t seem like an option anymore. I’m tired. I can’t single-handedly fight these people like I used to. I don’t have the resolve. And so I maintain my mask of quiet, and let the world happen around me, and underneath I grow more weary, more frustrated, until the next Down Day.
How do I break that cycle?
I have no idea.
Thanks for reading.