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This Bottle’s For All My Fallen Homies And The One’s In Lockdown… these are the blogs which have been deleted or abandoned by people who have left responses on this blog over the past six months.
I can’t see the point in another day
When nobody listens to a word I say
You can call it lack of confidence
But to carry on living doesn’t make no sense…
I guess this is our last goodbye
And you don’t care, so I won’t cry
But you’ll be sorry when I’m dead
And all this guilt will be on your head
I guess you’d call it suicide
But I’m too full to swallow my pride
“Can’t Stand Losing You”; ‘Outlandos d’Amour’, The Police (1978)
Is it possible for people with manic depression… to synch our cycles together when surrounded by a community of people with the disease, therefore being regularly exposed to material and information about the debilitating effects of the disease written by people with manic depression?
Granted, it would be pretty fucking weird to be living in a community of people with manic depression, but maybe that’s what we’re starting to do with these blogs… manic depression is a rare disease, of the 20% of people in Canada who will suffer through a single clinical depression in their lives we’re the 2% who do it professionally. But despite the incredibly low number of incidence, most of my considerable blogging life is spent reading and responding to blogs about or by people with manic depression. It would be next to impossible to attain this level of interaction between people with manic depression out in the real world.
Consider that, except for Heroes and The Office, no one watches television anymore and we’re now taking that time — hours a day and days a month — and putting it into Web Surfing. And consider that, as human beings, we seek out the familiar and this applies to opinion as well. In my blogroll alone — on this site — there are thirty-seven blogs written by people with manic depression. My guess is, if you’re reading this and having been diagnosed with manic depression and having created a blog to discuss the disease or to write about your recovery, you’ve got a blogroll a mile long and they’re mostly about manic depression.
Now, while manic depression brings on depressions randomly, they’re not entirely random. There are, or can be, triggers. There’s also the fact that most people with manic depression, if not all, have crippling clinical depressions which are hidden by the disease and clinical depressions definitely have triggers. So seasonal light availability is a factor of course, so is weather, then there are always the reminders of past tragedies we encounter… fuck, stubbing your toe twice in a morning can be a trigger to feelings of worthlessness.
I can honestly say that blogging has introduced some triggers for my depressions, and even low-level manics as well. Small things like a down trend in visits, or a relatively long time between responses, or something larger like a post lost to a computer freezing or the vagaries of WordPress. Then there are the conversations I’ve had on other blogs, and on my blogs, where I not only thought I was helping someone through a crisis or an episode but I was told as much, only to return a few days later to find the blog has been deleted.
We spend months posting and reading and joking and helping then we’re hit with “The authors have deleted this blog. The content is no longer available.” and a long string of unanswered emails. There is this thing with people going through suicide fantasies where we want people to think, just for a second, that we’ve done it. That we’re swinging from a tree in our backyard, or we’ve tossed back three handfuls of Seroquel and half a bottle of Peach Schnapps. It gives us a sense of control we really don’t have. We don’t answer the phone for a few days, but listen to the messages. We tip toe around the apartment when someone knocks on the door, then watch them drive away.
Deleting your blog might seem a drastic way to gain some attention, but leaving your blog with a cryptic “That’s all folks” post fits with the ‘real world’ examples of ringing phones and unanswered doors. Are people really reading? Do people care enough to ask me to come back? But consider this… when we’re depressed enough to think suicidal thoughts and let the phone ring and the responses pile up, we’re making the people calling and posting and knocking depressed just like us.
And when the people doing all that physical activity are like us, with a disease which causes depressions and with all those hidden clinical depressions, are we creating a situation where we’re forcing our cycle onto them? And not just with the deleted or abandoned blogs, but with the constant stream of postings discussing in detail the effects our disease, or our clinical depressions, are having on our individual lives?
When a community of like minded individuals is created the opinions and beliefs of those people can actually become more extreme — a pack of knitters, for example, may become more and more involved with their knitting based on the feedback from their blogging community. There is also the reward system where, when I post something particularly tragic or heartbreaking, I get more feedback and longer, more involved responses — the warm and easy to attain blanket of compassion which is great for my short term needs, but shit on yours.
So I post “that’s it, I can’t fucking hang on anymore”, you respond “think of all the good shit” then I stay away for a few days… how does that make you feel? Because, for a time period based on how emotionally involved I am with you and your blog, I feel anxious and will generally fall into a funk. Then there are the two, maybe three times I’ve come close to deleting this blog out of depressions based entirely on other people deleting their blogs — fuck, there was once I logged in with the intention of suiciding all three of my blogs.
None of this is new, this is the way Cults are formed. A bunch of like-minded individuals come together based on philosophical beliefs or physical and emotional needs then, given time, the original ideals become more extreme as everyone evolves together. I’m not suggesting that Manic Depression Blogging Groups are leading to Heaven’s Gate scenario’s, but manic depression isn’t about suicide. Our cycles are debilitating but they’re not deadly — very few people with manic depression commit suicide… otherwise it’d be raining manic depressives from every bridge and rooftop.
But it does lead me to believe that we are having a very real effect on each others cycles. My depressing anecdotes drop your Normal Mood down two notches, or a few days of no one responding to your post leading to “why should I even bother” episode. This is a theory I’ve been working* on for awhile, and the fact I can’t find anything on Google about it leads me to believe maybe I’ve read too much Martin Amis and not enough Christopher Hitchens, or no one has given it much thought. Considering the still novelty factor of blogs and blogging groups, and the lack of manic depressive communities in the past to perform studies on, I’m leaning towards the latter… which would mean, if found to be true, this observation should solidify my standing as a Freaking Genius… or Master Of The Obvious. I’m good either way.
*Hours of mayhem on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Litres of Diet Pepsi and chunks of St. Albert’s Medium-Old CheddEr Cheese.
And just to be fair to the BiPOnes in da house, I’m confident I’ve gotten into low-level manic phases through conversations on my blogs and through other blogs… never from just reading a post, however.