Zen and the Art of Squirrel – predicting the cycle

For every up there is a down.
The scale of the up, corresponds with the scale of the down.
These are like the laws of thermodynamics for cyclic depression.  The size, scale, duration and abruptness of cycles are inter-related.  Thankfully, if you actually get ahead of the cycle you can start to do something about it, but you have to be aware of the signs.
I am sure that there are a lot of people who are pondering what the hell I am talking about.  But there are also a lot of people who are going to be in complete agreement.
I have found that when I start feeling jumpy, agitated, twitchy, and like my brain does not want to shut up I am hitting the top portion of a cycle and I need to shut that down.  I am aware of it now.  I do not just let it go where it is going to go because it is momentarily fun anymore.
It is momentarily fun, but payback is a bitch.
When I start to feel that way I know that I am hitting an episode and I need to be conscious of what I am doing and how I am coping right away before things get out of hand.  You can be in control, but you have to grab the reigns immediately because once it starts going to fast you can no longer reach for them, lest you get tossed off.
There really should be a third law that states that the up always precedes the down, or so I have noticed anyway.
This morning I was feeling a little up.  I seemed to have peaked around dinner time and now I am hitting the slide.  I know that I often cycle really fast, so I try to pay attention.  I have been meaning to start making a journal, I am just not that organized.
It would be a wonderful idea however.
The short nature of this episode makes it so that a large portion of the immediate down may occur while I am asleep, which will make for some mighty interesting dreams, but I will only have to deal with it sub-consciously.
This is going to be alright.
Really, no matter what is happening you have to remember that it is going to be alright.
 There are a few things that you need to do when you have to ride these waves.  They may not all work for everyone, but I have found them very helpful in my life.
Know yourself.  Episodes have a cycle, and the rhythms that control moods, for me at least, seem to follow the same cycles somewhat consistently.
Have a buddy.  You need to have someone that you can talk to about things.  Some times the person that you can talk to, and will actually have the best ear to listen, and should to lean on comes in the weirdest places.
There was an older gentleman who post retirement decided that he really wanted to know about geology and ended up auditing several of the classes that I was in.  He turned out to have dealt with many of the same struggles as I had and was a great guy to talk to when I needed someone who would just listen.
Sadly, although your cat/dog will listen, he/she may not be your best friend.  Sometimes you need someone who will respond as well.  The most important thing is to have someone who will respond productively without being judgmental.  Judgement is the last thing you need.
Plan ahead.  Think ahead of time about what it takes to break a cycle, and what it takes to get through a cycle.  Maybe you need ice cream, I know that what I need is a book, or three, and a supply of sunflower seeds.
Remember that there are lots of things, other than the cycles that have an effect on your cycles.
I drink beer, I actually like the taste.  I try to avoid drinking in excess and I stay aware of my consumption.  In a typical night out I will have three beers and go home.  This has several advantages, one of which is that three beers is far below what it will take to get be near the legal limit for driving.
I also have a tendency to drink far slower now that I used to.  I will often sit and read, or work on something else and it may be twenty minutes before I get around to even taking a sip of my beer.  Unless I have someplace that I have to be it will usually take me around one hour to drink one beer. I am also unafraid to leave a beer unfinished.
There are things in life that do not have to be completed every time, despite my jokes to the contrary, abandonment is not alcohol abuse.
I actually grabbed a beer before I started writing this chapter, I haven’t opened it yet.  I did not do so intentionally, I just had better things to do than open the beer.
Alcohol, much as we get reminded every day, and ignore, every day, is a depressant.  You have to make the pay back for that as well.  I have made a point of talking the reigns on that one by never going out to start drinking before about eight PM.  When I go out I do not go on a bender, I get about three hours, then I go to bed.  I how many drinks I can have.  I make sure I always drink the same beers so that I know exactly what I am going to have to counteract later.
This is something you have to be aware of.   I drink shitty beer, it is in the 4% alcohol range on a good day.  If I were to switch to drinking a craft beer the equivalence to my three shitty beers may only be one really strong craft beer.  Maybe two medium strength ones.  Also, craft beers theoretically come in pints, that is already 1.33:1 ratio on alcohol consumption.  If your craft beer is 6% alcohol instead of my 4%, one of your craft beers may be the equivalent of two of mine.
In all reality I would much rather drink coffee, or maybe some unsweetened tea at night, but they do not offer these things at the places I go to hang out, and there is not a single late night coffee shop in this town, something I think is a horrible shame.
Back to our point, I should note that the occasional ramble is going to be a theme as this project goes along, you have to pay back for all of those beers with your mood later.  In the short term you get to loosen your inhibitions and think you feel all happy and grand as your body consumes all the sugars, but you are going to drop off later.  Then you are going to have to deal with the depression side.  He worst thing you could do is to bite the dog back, but I know a lot of people who have gone that route.
Not all of them are still with us, and I am going to predict that the numbers that still are with us will continue to decrease.
I don’t want to bury any more friends.
Be conscious, be aware, be self-limiting.
If you can’t be self limiting have a buddy who will limit for you.
If that does not work chain yourself to a rock and don’t allow yourself to risk temptation.
At some point I want a sailboat.  Part of he logic behind this is that I will be able to go out an explore, see wonderful new things, and have a plethora of time in which I can study and write.
The other half of the logic is that I will be able to leave all of the temptations of beer and cigarettes on the shore and be off.
I have enough self-control to say I have had enough, but not enough to just say no.
Not everyone can be a superman.

The tides go in, the tides go out, no one understands that.  At least Bill O’Rielly doesn’t understand that.  I think that I can, and I think that I am going to make an effort to do what I can to stop the tides, or at least control how much damage they do.  

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