Life – The Director’s Cut
In National Depression Week: A Tribute to Friends and Anyone Suffering from Any Form of Mental Discontent
I’m never really here, only briefly through moments of short-lived clarity. I see and appreciate the good things, but as if they are only copies of the Devine originals that plato told me about thousands of years before my birth… It’s as if everything lacks the vibrant buzz it used to have. Something else has taken over, an inner noise that is neither sensational nor inspiring. Like trying to tune an old TV in to a grainy analog channel full of white noise – it’s interpretable, but clarity is lost and open for interpretation. It’s is as if I have a disgruntled and dissatisfied entity living within me now. A parasite, not picked up from a South-East Asian adventure (Trust me I’ve been on plenty!) that allured me in to trying a street food experience that smelt 20 times better than the bacteria it likely contained, but a common yet sneaky modern-day experience of life with our new heightened negative senses!
My perception seems tainted yet heightened to the point where other people’s negative moods spill on to me and affect me as if they were my own. Everyone gets wet when it rains, and if I’m around similar ‘bad vibes’ I also get drenched in un-related negativity despite I may think the sun’s shinning on me from above or I have the best golf umbrella invented!… I sense tense vibes like an Aboriginal tracker senses foot tracks left in the red dirt of the Australian outback from weeks prior.
An inner frustration persists at my conscience, robbing me of any ability to settle, be still and relax. Fear of wasting the day, wasting the night, wasting my life encourages me to drive, walk, run from one side of the city to another looking to quench an everlasting thirst for any raw happy experience.
I lie on the beach and I enjoy it but I think I will look back more fondly on the memory of the experience of being here rather than this very moment, lying in the warm sun with sand at my toes, thinking incessant and irrelevant things.
It is as if the mind is being used at one hundred-percent capacity when it retrieves an old memory so you only experience the memory. For a short moment as the mental movie is playing there is no more mind space to judge, criticise, label or comment on the memory being played. It is because of this I feel my memories possess more stillness, more peace, more clarity than the actual moment itself. They are a much less complex representations of a real moment but without all the unnecessary noise and judgement that haunts me in real-time during the moment itself.
Now it has become as if I am wandering looking for experiences to add to my ‘memory bank’ to be edited and retrieved later without the present associated mental noise, as if my memories are digitally remastered versions of an old show real. Like a tourist who views his holiday through the viewfinder of his camcorder, I too am viewing my present life in retrospect but as it happens.
Yet sometimes my memory becomes the director’s cut as it hijacks my experiences and puts a negative spin on them, choosing and editing particular snippets to make a moment totally different to the actual event when I retrieve it in my head. As if my mind knows I prefer thrillers, horrors and dramas, its crafts mental movies with an intimate knowledge of the number one audience member… me… This director knows his target audience well and plays on my fears, paranoia and insecurity as he selects particular takes on things to play on my emotion, insecurities and existing negative biases.
I sit in the cafe, trying to be still and calm, sitting in the sun and enjoying the view. But I want to leave… Where to? I don’t know, but I force myself to sit here longer, I force the experience for fear of regret? Maybe but perhaps to finish the mental movies of ‘me enjoying the sun and a coffee’ or ‘me enjoying the beach on a summer’s day’. What does this mean? I am the star of these mental films yet prefer to watch them rather than enjoy acting out the scene as it happens because it feels too contrived?
As many, I am still waiting, waiting to start living when this or that is achieved, when the situation I strive for comes to fruition, but… Why not today, why not now? Stress and anxiety buzz around my head as not only am I inundated by mental movies of actual events but those of fictitious possible future situations, worst case scenarios if you like that in retrospect never actually occur… What a waste! But that is what anxiety really is, fear of a possible future situation or predicament. The anxiety however is caused by the mental movie in your head that is poorly written, directed and acted but to you it is a real possible future situation, produced exclusively for you with all your insecurities built-in to the storyline… And this is no accident for the director of your mind loves to mock you as it sits up there in it’s ever important chair, dressing you in motley and laughing at your actions.
The reason for its really is because it’s usually yourself who is the ‘pro’, bias, inexperienced and naive director whose sub-consciously editing your film for a small audience (of one)… As you sit in a small smoke-filled room, consuming your stale and dry popcorn along with your large-gulp soda of self-indulgence… It makes sense to you. Yet your soda’s not quite quenching your thirst… why?… Because it’s bullshit.
Anxiety is very rarely in the present. When it is encountered in the present moment and not that of fictitious mental movies, your body takes over through fight or flight and you just deal with it. You don’t think, ponder, wonder nor do you rehearse scripts in your head of things you might want to say to people, or re-run certain situations from every different angle until you’re exhausted, you just do what is needed. This is why people who suffer great tragedy often seem calm in stressful situations and know what to do.
I experienced this myself when working for Melbourne Australia’s triple zero police emergency call centre (the equivalent to 911). I would get some calls in which people would be hysterical and screaming. However when the police arrived on scene they would find that in fact the situation was highly exaggerated by the person who called it in and at best vaguely resembled the original scenario stated by the hysterical caller at the time. It was the callers who were calm, placid and logical. They would call to report a murder with such absolute matter of fact calmness and rationale that at first I would think it was a prank caller. However these are the ones where the police would arrive on scene to discover a bloody and violent crime. I began to understand this and would shudder as I spoke to these calm, rational and matter of fact callers as they reported to me they had killed their father, mother, lover or friend.
So why is anxiety such a useless and modern-day disease? We are so saturated by the media who love embellishing the truth, putting images of war and tragedy on a dramatic soundtrack with a catchy heading that we have begun to do the same to our own lives. We envisage our dramatic life being played out. Something dramatic will happen during our day and afterwards as we will drive home to our partners or family, we begin rehearsing in our own heads how we will tell the story to others. We get a warped sort of excitement about break the news story ‘what just happened to me’…. Exclusive to your living room – first at six!
This is depression, lack of interest, lack of energy, lack of being able to connect with positive vibes and situations. A bitter, twisted and resentful director sits in your head calling the shots putting a negative spin on everything to increase the drama. Just don’t get addicted to it. Conflict is, after all, the centre of drama and the source of most entertainment we see every day. Is this creating a culture where we are addicted to drama to the point we act it out, even fictitiously, in our own head? Do we view life as not entertaining if there’s no drama? I think it gets to a point where we actually identify with drama and connect with it on a deep unconscious level….
People without drama we judge as boring or leaving a ‘bogan’ or simplistic life. It’s gotten to the point where we think that people who live without drama and challenge lack life experience, wisdom and that the knowledge, drama ,conflict and familiarity with depression are almost worn as a badge of honour in-which one wears proudly on their lapel to display to others that they’re not as naive and incapable of understanding the world as these other ‘simple’ types
In a sense… We enjoy drama. It’s entertainment and has been since Shakespeare thrust it in to the mainstream in Elizabethan theatre… We enjoy The spectrum that emotion and human conflicts evokes, and the catharsis we go through at the end of it and it all becomes ‘normal’ when in actual fact it’s not, well it never used to be, but maybe now it is. Maybe with depression being one of the most commonly diagnosed illnesses, this is in fact the new world that we live in, hanging in suspense everyday waiting for the next episode as we play the ‘next week in my life’ teasers in our head. We wait to relate, exclaiming – “God that’s me!” as we enter in to an un-settling yet collective catharsis that in essence confirms, we’re all a bit ‘normally’ crazy.