What Flips Your Mental Switch?


Ok, I’m going all out on the mental boat again and I’m looking for some passengers.  So to answer Denise’s question about how crazy I am, I’ve got some more homework.  We got onto another subject in my ongoing therapy the other week so I got another subject to write about.

It wasn’t last week because that was Thanksgiving and pretty much EVERYONE needs to be in therapy after that.

So anyway, my psychologist knows I like to write and he gets to use it to his advantage.  He’s crafty like that and I’m on to his shenanigans, but it’s cool.  I get it.  It’s good for me.  It’s good for him.  It’s good for society in general and I’m here in front of the computer instead of out on the streets.

So win/win/win.

It’s not a hard subject, or terribly long.

Hell, I don’t even know how to answer it, but here goes nothin’.

Maybe literally.

We were discussing what it feels like when I’m in a depressed state, or how I would describe it to someone else.  This also stemmed from the previous homework where I compared a clinically educated therapist to a therapist who gained a good part of his knowledge “from the streets” so  to speak.

What goes through my mind?  Why am I more inclined to grab a drink when my emotional status is on the downside?

More importantly, why am I not inclined to do so now?

We’ve got the easy answers nailed down already.  My living conditions are exponentially better than they were.  I’m working and things are looking up for the future and I survived the DMV debacle.  I am in therapy and I enjoy it and I don’t really want to have to stop going but I’m pretty sure the VA will put a halt to it eventually.

I’m medicated.  Duh.

So I’m trying to determine what the mental switch was that got me to the point that I am now.  IF that can even be determined without some consequences.  Because there would be consequences.

When I was trying to express what those feelings and emotions are like when I am at the low end of the depression bell curve, I found them difficult to verbalize.

I know, you’re all saying, “NO, ERIC!!  You’re a writer for cryin’ out loud!  I can’t EVEN!!”

It’s true.  It’s WHY I’d rather write.  Face to face trips me up every time.  I don’t have time to think and re-think and edit and reconsider and spell check and all that stuff.  Plus, that filter between my brain and my tongue are nearly non-existent and sometimes shit just kinda rolls out of there that I don’t really intend.

Anyway, so now I’m at the top of the curve and feeling pretty good and asking me what it’s like at the other end is difficult for me to grasp.  Honestly, I don’t remember what I was thinking or how I felt.  The environment isn’t the same and I can’t recreate it.  I don’t know which of the switches that was flipped actually got me here.  Or if it was all of them.  Or some of them.

Or none of them.

So the big question is, am I willing to UNflip them to find out?  And would I be afraid of whether or not I could flip them back again?  What in the hell are they to begin with?

So let’s name my “switches”. . . .

  • We’ll start with the anti-depressant/anti-anxiety med
  • Therapy
  • Employment and income
  • A stable home
  • This blog and the people I’ve met here
  • The friends and family I have that are closer by to support me

I think those are really the base 6, and I currently have all of them.

Take them all away and it would probably be pretty easy for my fucked up brain to backslide.

Let’s not do that.  I genuinely do fear unflipping all those switches and who in their right mind would want to.

Let’s be honest though, they aren’t all switches I have control over.  Employment and income is nice but if someone else decides they don’t want me to be employed anymore, that’s not really a decision I have to make unless I work for myself.

Which would then lead to the stable home not being so stable anymore.

In which case I might not have internet and not be able to blog or lean on my friends.

There go half the switches right there.

I don’t think the VA is going to deny me therapy or medication if I need it.  They seem to have been pretty cool about it thus far.  But would they try a different, cheaper medication?  Would they give me a different therapist?  A new kid right out of school?


They are good shenanigans and they work, so why screw with it?

So I’m really just trying to grasp what the one switch is that does the trick, or maybe it isn’t just one switch.  I personally believe that it is a combination of several.  My own history shows me that one thing getting undone is not necessarily going to be my “undoing” for lack of a better term in this case.  I’ve lost jobs before and not drank over it.  I’ve had to move before and not drank over it.

Start to pile things up, however and the risk for me grows exponentially.  My diagnosis isn’t really that simple.  I’m not JUST an alcoholic.  I’m not even an alcoholic because I’m an alcoholic.  I don’t get depressed because I drink, I drink because I get depressed and therefore, STAY depressed.  My own cure is my own sickness.  It’s a twisted, screwed up self-deprecating circle that can be impossible to escape when you’re stuck inside of it.

The best real-life example I can give is undertow at the beach.  If you’ve ever gone into the water when the waves are really good, there is a wicked undertow that tries to pull you back out into the ocean despite the fact that you think the waves are going to pull you back to shore, and no matter how hard you fight, this is a force of nature that is going to take you where it wants you to go.  If it’s really got you, the only way you are getting out is if somebody on solid ground throws you a rope.

The very same thing holds true for the cycle of depression and alcohol.  There is more than one time I don’t know if I would have made it back if it weren’t for someone with a rope.

In this particular metaphor, my “switches” would be a life jacket, a boat and perhaps a couple of airplane seat cushions.

So does that mean, in real life and everything is going just fine and life is good that I can go out and have 3 or 4 beers with my buddies on the weekend?  Well, I’ve done it in the past and actually made it work and been ok.

But why poke the proverbial bear?

Best to stay with the switches I’ve got going for me now and learn the skills necessary to maintain above depression level even if one of the switches gets flipped against my will.

After all, that’s what we go to therapy for, right?

I’m anticipating the probably 17 “Tell me about that’s” that I will get from my psychologist after he reads this, but I’m cool with that.  Mostly because he can’t say it without laughing anymore since the last assignment and that kind of entertains me.

That’s my shenanigans!

So help me out, my fellow blogolites and life-strugglers . . . what are you switches and can you even identify them, and what do you do when they get switched off?  Leave me your thoughts and comments and tell me how you keep your head above water when the tide gets violent!!


I am going to skip a *insert social media* of the Day event here in order to maintain the serious note of this post . . . even though I joked anyway.  But c’mon, this is some serious shit, ya’ll!!

One thought on “What Flips Your Mental Switch?

  1. Well, when I was not on meds it did not take much to flip my switch so to say…. but if a shit storm really hit me… like no job or , or, or, yea that would probably flip my switch real quick.

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