Mood swings

Mood swings, oh how I hate them.

Right now I’ve swung to the bottom of one. Working on the comic is difficult, and planning the work for next week and next month is oppressive. Contemplating financial matters is horrifying. I have a long list of recent personal failures, and each of them stands as if a member of some dark choir. Together they chant something that sounds a lot like “you can’t do it.”

For whatever reason the choir of my personal successes can’t seem to get its collective act together. Maybe the mood swing has scored them into forty measures of lacuna. It’s all I can do to remember they’re there. The lights are off where they’re sitting, so I can’t even look over at them for moral support.


37 thoughts on “Mood swings”

  1. Normally, my symapathy mood resembles that of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from “Full Metal Jacket”, but I will cut you a brake this time. Pull out your Bible. Flip open to any area of the Old Testament. Read. Most of the people there lived through more trying times than we can imagine, so it makes the day to day trials we face seem like a walk in the park. Second, I find that reading the Word helps me find my center, and helps get my priorities back on track. If all else fails, go into the kitchen, get a can of chili, a small block of mexican style veveeta cheese, and some cream cheese. Dump it in a pot, and heat until it’s goopy and artery clogging. Get some tortilla chips and throw yourself a pity party.

    1. Normally I’m not pedantic about spelling/grammar, I’m bad enough at it myself, but “cut you a brake” sounds alot closer to a murder attempt than sympathy.

  2. We believe in you, Howard.

    Perhaps you need to take a break this afternoon and reading some Chicken Soup type stuff.

    In the meanwhile, I’ll leave you with my Dancing Uruk icon…

  3. I am frequently plagued by the recitals of the dark choir myself – I find that certain music helps drown them out and helps the choir of personal successes find their voice.
    That or spending time with my daughter – she cracks me up and lifts me out of any funk.
    Hope you swing back up soon.

  4. Well, for what it’s worth, I’ve been loving Schlock lately.

    One voice in a multitude, I know, but this voice has been going “hahaha” at the writing, and “ooooh, shiny” at the artwork.

  5. Ever consider seeing a counsellor or therapist? You don’t have to make a habit of it if you don’t want to, just go once or twice and see if they can help you out. Or if you don’t like that idea, perhaps your church (temple?) can recommend a support group.

    1. First off, I am a firm believer in counseling. I’m even planning to be one myself.

      However, as someone who’s been through it and who is studying it, I must point out two things. One, Howard is not showing a constant depression. It must last at least two weeks or more (preferably six) before it can be considered something necessary for counseling. And two, nothing is more of a blow to one’s ego than to have someone suggest at the first mention of being down that they “need to see a counselor.” It’s the equivalent to giving someone who is competant a handout the moment they’ve been laid off, before they can even start to use their own resources.

      Downs are part of life. You only need counseling when they become too big for one person’s shoulder. Don’t jump the gun. As a member of the same religion as Howard, I know first hand that those resources are available for him and I’m sure he knows that too. In fact, we have several avenues of moral support. The first should always be family and friends – for everyone when possible. Humans need to nuture their own support systems.

      A book you should really think of reading if you’re going to go around tell people to get counseling is Sacred Sorrows. Another suggestion is to see about getting some training from the local Contact or Heartland crisis volunteer organization. It’s like a 20 hour course and does cost a nominal fee, but the experience and knowledge you can get from it is priceless.

      1. Ouch! Please don’t jump down my throat, I meant it as a helpful suggestion though it may not have come out that way.

        I am no expert, but I had heard that (as you confirmed) clinical depression refers to a long standing condition, and because of that a person may wish to seek treatment. But someone who’s feeling “down” temporarily may still wish to pursue additional forms of support or third-party opinions, and that was my intent. My apologies for any confusion or inadvertently hurt feelings.

        1. Relax, everybody.

          1) Thanks for the suggestion.

          2) I don’t need counseling. I won’t trouble you with the details. Suffice it to say that I my coping strategies are such that my own particular lapses in sanity do not result in harm to myself or others. In fact, most of the time I’m pretty happy. I just have these mood swings, which I don’t like, but which I can cope with. Yeah, yeah, “I don’t need therapy” is a common response from those who really do. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

          3) As was stated above, I have PLENTY of therapy just lying around in my community waiting for me to take advantage of it should I need to. Sandra and I both know this, and we have friends who are good enough and close enough to suggest it should I actually cross a line and end up needing it.


        2. Sorry, I came down on you. I understand you meant well, but it really is discouraging to be told you need help when you’re just experiencing a normal reaction.

          I have personally suffered from depression and anxiety – and it really was hard when my family and some former friends would tell me I had to go back into treatment just because I had a moment of normal anxiety or depression. I’ve talked to other people who have had the same thing happened to them. It’s like you are not allowed to be human.

          What Howard described is called situational depression. It’s normal and all a counselor will do is let him talked things out and solve his own problems.

          Now, let me ask you – wouldn’t you rather know this now, then perhaps say the wrong thing to someone who is on the verge of becoming completely fuctional and sending them into a tail-spinning regression? Not that Howard is anywhere near that, but depression and anxiety are common and chances are sooner or later, you will find someone in that situation…

          1. You know, that’s a great point. Rather than saying “you should see a therapist,” people should try saying “would you like to talk to me about it?” After all, most of us only need to talk things out in order to straighten them out, and that’s all most counselors end up helping with. ANYBODY can listen well, provided they make up their minds to not interrupt.


          2. Thanks.

            I apparently need to figure out how to educate people a bit softer. I reread what I wrote and I didn’t think I was being harsh, but I do have a tendency for being thorough.

          3. wouldn’t you rather know this now, then perhaps say the wrong thing to someone who is on the verge of becoming completely fuctional and sending them into a tail-spinning regression?

            Good point. I have friends who’ve suffered from depression and anxiety, and I’d like to think that when they have everyday difficulties I talk with them about it rather than just saying “go talk to your therapist.” When things have seemed significantly difficult for them (or for me trying to support them!) I may have asked if it’s something they should see their therapist about, but I hope that I have done so more as a question where I was trying to understand my friend’s condition than saying that my friend is incompetent. I will keep an eye on myself if such a situation comes up again.

            The other thought that was going through my mind when I wrote the initial comment is that many people today still stigmatize depression … Thinking about it now, I probably should’ve just kept my virtual mouth shut since I don’t know Mr. Tayler’s situation personally. 😛

  6. Congratulations! You’ve caught Satan’s attention! “Men are that they might have joy.” Of course the demons in black are going to try to bring you down: you help thousands (tens of thousands?) of people every day to fulfill the purpose of their existence.

      1. Okay, THAT made me grin.
        Woot! Just counting one grin per strip (sometimes you make me grin several times, sometimes I just don’t get it), the score is now around… just a sec…

        (First published mid-June, 2000, so 5*365.25 to get to mid-June, 2005; four more months to get to mid-October makes 4*30.5 days, so around…)

        1,950 to 1!

        (You must keep count of how many strips you’ve done; how close did I come?)

  7. You can do it!!!

    A tallented guy like you should be able to make things work out. Are you not generating enough revenue from the strip any more? I try to follow your journal, but don’t always catch them all.


  8. We’ve all been there. Some more often than others, but that’s rarely an indication of skill or lack of, just insecurity… and the occasional influence from those who don’t want you to succeed. Hang in there. You rock, and we all know it.

    (PS: Mind if I metaquote you?)

  9. Make you Believe

    You don’t have to believe in yourself all the time, I believe in you enough for the all of us. I think almost everyone here would agree with me.

    If you’d like to talk about it, I guess I’m a nut that would be more than happy to offer a sympathetic ear and commiserate. Goodness knows I need one more often than not, I imagine. That’s an open invitation.

  10. A Fangirl Hoping to add a little Cheer…

    I made some banners and LiveJournal avatars.

    They use some of my favorite quotes from “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates”, and all have the comic’s URL on them. But, they are quite plain.

    If you don’t like them, that’s cool. Say the word and I’ll take them off my computer and Livejournal. If you do happen to like them, though, they’re yours.

    Image hosted by Image hosted by
    Image hosted by Image hosted by Image hosted by

    1. Re: A Fangirl Hoping to add a little Cheer…

      Very nice, I like the idea. Try them again in either GIF or PNG and they’ll look clearer and have a smaller file size. JPEG is a great image format, but it’s meant for photos. It isn’t really suitable for text on a one-colour background.

        1. Re: A Fangirl Hoping to add a little Cheer…

          I always go with PNG for word graphics simply because it can be small, yet handle the thousands of colors that JPEGs can. ’nuff said on that subject. If you need an example, go look at any of the avatars in the member list at –they’re all PNGs.

          ’nuff said on this subject. (After all, it’s my major this second time around in college. ;> )

  11. Howard, hon – I sympathize; I do go to counseling, but only because I was born with ADHD. (that and the one medicine that seems to help my moods from going on a roller coaster.) I also get depressed from time to time, but it’s not enough to take anti-depressants. Why?

    Because I go to my room, hug my pillow, and have a good cry. Once it’s out of my system, I deal with the puffy eyes for a day, then I’m done until the next one hits. (Knowing that the depression is part of my crazy condition has helped.)

    My advice? Go have a good cry with Sandra –and don’t give me that BS that men shouldn’t cry. (Your wife is THE exception to this.) Get it out of your system, then have her make you laugh, or go watch/listen to something funny together. (Weird Al Yankovic is very good for a pick-me-up. If you manage to cameo him in the strip, be sure to send him a copy via his website – .) This is the recipe I’ve been using for years now, and it has always helped me through the down times.

    See? You’re not the only one who’s been there, hon. I’ve been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt….. and used said T-shirt as either a cleaning rag, cover for the cat’s scratching post, or shredded it myself…. ;>

    and yes, the post icon is there to help with the pick-me-up advice. The latest film did a pretty good job and was better than the BBC version.

  12. Your personal choir

    1. Go back and read your own Sept. 21, 2005 entry for a reminder of some of your personal successes.

    2. I am impressed by the number of friends who jumped in to help lift your spirits, offer friendly advice, offer help and simply reach out to you. You mean a lot to many people.

    3. You always have something to say–even when you are at the bottom of a mood swing. I used to love to swing when I was a child and I remember that after you swing down, you swing up. It’s the going down and up that is exciting. Simply sitting in a swing isn’t much fun and doesn’t get you anywhere!

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