Next week, I will reach the one-year mark of working from home in self-isolation for my university library system (my full-time paying job). As the pandemic drags on, my chronic clinical depression has become worse and worse. I regret that I am now at the point where I have to put this blog on hold. For how long, I don’t know. At least until I can get my worsening depression under some sort of control.
I am really struggling with my mental state, and I need to do this to focus my limited energies on my paying job. I WANT TO MAKE THIS VERY CLEAR: I AM NOT SUICIDAL!!!I just need to take a break from the blog.
I will still be active on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, Twitter, and Clubhouse (where all I have to do is listen), and I will still be showing up at Bray’s Place in Second Life, and perhaps a few other social VR platforms and virtual worlds (I feel very guilty for neglecting Sinespace these past six months). But that’s the extent of what I can do right now.
So this will be my last blogpost for a while. I’m so sorry, you guys. I tried to keep going, but I have to rest and heal for a bit. I hope you understand, but even if you don’t, I am still stepping away from the blog.
Today is Day 358 since I began working in self-isolation from my apartment for my university library system. Next week, on March 16th, 2021, it will be an entire year that I have been operating this way.
I slept so poorly last night that I took another yet sick day from my paying job, and so far, the only things that I have been able to accomplish by 1:00 p.m. today have been:
having a shower and making a pot of coffee;
going for a brief walk outside in the sunshine; and
creating a pile of 14 months’ worth of pharmacy receipts that I need to submit electronically to my insurance company.
Yes, fourteen months of pharmacy receipts (and please do NOT feel sorry for me; I have a 16-month window to submit pharmacy claims to my insurance company, and I have a well-paying, unionized job with excellent benefits, including pharmacy coverage, up to a certain point when the Manitoba PharmaCare program kicks in).
Yes, as a depressive, I have been avoiding this task for a long, long time, which of course, only makes it worse when I finally do attempt to tackle it (I am the same way about doing the dishes and cleaning my apartment). But I find it truly ironic that the most depressing part of being depressed, is going through the procedures that force you to face your depression, head on, such as submitting pharmacy receipts. I’d rather have a root canal than do this. But I have to face it.
As the coronavirus pandemic has dragged on, my chronic clinical depression has slowly and steadily gotten worse and worse. And, at the one-year mark, I now have to put all options on the table, including taking an extended sick leave from my paying job, something I would not have countenanced even a month ago.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Although I suffer from a chronic form of clinical depression, I am not suicidal. I have every intention of living that extra quarter-century to age 80, and beyond! I have to live to witness and document what happens next in the ever-evolving metaverse! But I do need to get some practical matters settled. I hope you understand.
Please don’t worry about me. I am taking good care of myself and coping with the current situation as best I can.
I am doing literally everything I can to take good care of myself (antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication, talk therapy, and leaning on my real-life and virtual world social networks). For example, on Sunday I held a one-hour Zoom call with the friends in my (currently suspended) Arts and Entertainment group, just to vent about the truly epic, roller-coaster twists and turns of the past couple of weeks, which was wonderfully therapeutic. I talk to many people, including professionals, about my problems. I take long naps. I listen to music. I go for walks. Every so often, I have had a good cry, and a good rage at the universe. Everything helps.
In the past, I have landed up in a hospital psychiatric ward for treatment of severe clinical depression twice (once after my marriage fell apart, and a second time after a textbook-classic case of hit-the-wall job burnout). So I need to pay attention to what is happening to me, rather than continue to put on a brave face and say that I am fine.
Today, I have been following the news media as they report breathlessly on every single possible aspect of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey. And I am absolutely incandescent with rage at how people like Piers Morgan have the audacity to say that Meghan is lying when she says she was pushed to the brink of suicide because of her situation. One person tweeted:
WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THAT THEY ARE STRUGGLING, BELIEVE THEM. I AM DONE WITH SUFFERING IN SILENCE. You will hear about it!
By the way, the only Piers Morgan footage that you need to watch is this clip featuring the magnificent Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, a Black woman who quite rightly took Piers to task for his response: “Are you out of your Godforsaken mind?!??”
God bless you, Dr. Mos-Shogbamimu, for daring to speak truth to power.
Anyway, I’ll keep you posted, one way or another, as to what happens over the next few months as I wait to get a vaccine in my arm, somehow, somewhere, somewhen, God knows when.
Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers, and please stay in touch.
Thank you, and God bless.
UPDATE 5:23 p.m.: Well, I finally had a nap this afternoon to catch up on some badly-needed sleep, and I also had a good cry. And I’ve been listening to a great song by Amy Grant and James Taylor called Don’t Try So Hard on an endless loop:
Today has been a pretty horrible day for me, but I believe it will get better.
UPDATE 8:28 p.m.: Finally, some good news today! My mother called, and she and my stepfather (who are both in their eighties) have been able to make appointments to get their COVID-19 vaccines on March 21st. I am so relieved.
UPDATE March 9th, 2021: Today ITV announced that Piers Morgan is quitting his job at Good Morning Britain. Translation: he was fired, but Piers was given the option to say he was leaving rather than he was fired. Good riddance to bad rubbish!
So, I tossed it into YouTube Music to spin up a radio station of related songs, and up pops a song from Casting Crowns, Called Broken Together. It’s actually a good song:
How I wish we could go back to simpler times Before all our scars and all our secrets were in the light…
Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete Could we just be broken together? If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine Could healing still be spoken and save us? The only way we’ll last forever is broken together
And “broken together” seems like an apt two-word description of what all of us, collectively as a society, are going through with this soul-crushing, dream-deferring coronavirus pandemic. I find myself wandering through my rarely-left-behind apartment like a zombie. I pause on my way to the kitchen to refill my coffee cup, and suddenly feel the weight of painful reality come crashing down upon me again, and I lean against the wall and close my eyes for a minute, and steel myself to continue. Keep going, keep moving, keep breathing. Keep living.
The next three to six months of the pandemic are going to be hardest stretch of the marathon yet, I fear. It doesn’t help that I have little to no faith in Brian Pallister’s incompetent, pompous, and adversarial Conservative provincial government here in Manitoba, which has largely mismanaged this crisis almost from day one.
For example, take a look at this map showing the locations of vaccination clinics in two neighbouring provinces, Saskatechewan to the west, and my Manitoba to the east:
God, when you wish you were living in Saskatchewan, you really know your life is going sideways. 😉
(OK, I was joking, people. It was a joke. Check the emoji! Please put your pitchforks and your tar and feathers away. I already got almost-cancelled last week, and I have zero wish to repeat that experience.)
Sometimes my anger, verging on pure volcanic outrage, is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning, the only thing that propels me through my day. But anger is exhausting, and I am already bone tired. So sometimes—often—it slips into depression. I took three sick days from my paying job last week, something I am not proud of. But it was necessary. I need to take care of myself. I am broken.
So many of us are now feeling broken, yearning for the simpler, pre-pandemic times, and that brokenness, and that need to connect, is expressing itself in society in unexpected and weird ways. We now gather and commiserate on Clubhouse and in Twitter Spaces instead of our local community bars and coffee houses.
Last night, as I was listlessly scrolling for some much-needed socialization on Clubhouse, I came across one room with Lindsay Lohan and her acolytes, and a second room where Paris Hilton was presiding over her minions (what, is this 2006 again?!??). All we need is for Britney Spears to pop up on Clubhouse (Free Britney!) and then we’d have the Unholy Trinity riding together again…I mean, if that isn’t a sign of the impending apocalypse, what is?? (Thank God, Margaret Cho was discussing female comedians and comedy with her usual acerbic wit in another room. Some sanity still prevails.)
Use whatever technology you can muster—Clubhouse, Twitter, FaceTime and Zoom, and yes, even social VR and virtual worlds—to maintain our connections, our togetherness, in this time of brokenness. Reach out to each other. Comfort each other.
The RyanSchultz.com blog will be closed for an indefinite period. Given my past history of starts and stops over the past 3-1/2 years, I will probably be back at some point. But between the Winnipeg winter, the pandemic, and multiple other stressors, I have been stretched to the breaking point—and today I finally broke. Badly.
I just need to go away and heal for a while. It is now likely that I will have to take some extended sick time from my paying job with the University of Manitoba Libraries. The only thing that I have planned is to sit down for a chat with Kent Bye for his Voices of VR podcast in early March; other than that, I will be staying off Twitter, Reddit, and Discord, not blogging, and not checking my email. Please note that I have turned off the ability to leave comments on all my blogposts. You may have things you want to say to me, but I’m not really in a place to hear them. I’m sorry. I am in tears as I write this. Things are not going well.
My clinical depression, which I have struggled with for most of my teenage and adult life, is slowly getting worse again, but I am getting treatment and I am taking care of myself as best I can.
UPDATE Feb. 25th, 10:11 p,m. The following thread of 5 tweets I pinned to the top of my Twitter profile this evening, I will be taking an extended break from Twitter.
1/4 Everybody is asking me what happened yesterday and if I am OK. I don’t know if my explaining what happened yesterday is going to help. No, I am not OK.
3/5 Christina Kinne (a.k.a XaosPrincess) gave a summary of what happened next: “Political Correctness backfired in the most cruel way on Ryan. He put up this list of 25 social VR people he follows, but he mentioned only a couple of POC folks in this…”
4/5 Xaos: “Therefore he got attacked from the left and the right, and even though he made big amends (expanding the list, inviting the lady who legitimately criticized him for an interview on inclusion), the attacks got viral & someone even told him to “walk directly into the sea”
5/5 Kaos “As much as I love PC for its original intent to change the social narrative in terms of equal rights & representation for everyone, as paradox it gets imo if someone (who has always been transparent about his issues with depression) is prompted to kill themselves.”
End. As a result, I will no longer be cross-posting my blog posts to my Twitter. I am also taking an extended break from all social media as of this evening (Twitter, Reddit, Discord), and taking a break from blogging.