I’m not sure when the downward trend started, but Sunday night I went to bed at about 9:30. I didn’t bother setting my alarm; I’m used to sleeping 7-8 hours, which would mean I’d get up on my own before 6 am. Well, at about 8:37 I sat up, looked at the clock, and realized I was way late for work.
When I’m not sick, I can’t sleep more than 9 hours. I’ve tried. It doesn’t matter how tired I am.

I was down all day. I asked my sister what the difference between anxiety and depression are. From what she said, it sounded like I’m dealing with anxiety.

At one point today I remembered when I read The Vita-Nutrient Solution, by the infamous Dr. Atkins, that he talked a lot about depression. Now I remember when I read it that the only way to get any useful information out of it is to read it with a notepad in hand and take notes, because the book is organized very poorly, and the index only gets you about half of what he has to say on the given subject. In short, Atkins is a poor writer, and his indexer is even worse. But I didn’t have time for that. I flipped through the index and I realized something. For repetitive stress injury, skin problems, and depression, there’s a good deal of overlap in the vitamins and herbals that help. I’m prone to all three, and I’ve been prone to all three for a very long time. And my arms have been fine for a long time, so I haven’t been very good about taking my regimen of vitamins. So I took my daily dose, kicking up the B complex, since it’s vitamin B1 and B2 that are more important for mental health. B6 is useful too, but not as useful as the others.

Atkins also said a few other things. The only source for one of the nutrients he recommended is raw, fresh produce. I haven’t been eating much of that for the past month or so. And he said that fats are fuel for the brain. When you’re not bringing in enough fats, your brain doesn’t work right. I haven’t been eating much of those either. So I guess that double burger, chili, fries and milkshake at Steak ‘n’ Shake I was craving Sunday night was actually pretty good for me.

I asked my sister if she thought I might need to see a doctor, since my tendencies in the mental health area seem to recur a lot. I’ll go in for counseling, then I’ll be fine for a couple of years, then I eventually find myself back in the same place again. She said to do it as a last resort, because dosing you on antidepressants is very hit and miss. You try a dose, and if it doesn’t improve, you try a different dosage. Plus the side effects suck. Atkins’ supplement dosages are pretty tight and don’t have the side effects.

And my pastor has said, repeatedly, that if you’re not feeling right, you need to go do something for someone else. I had my opportunity. After work, I stopped in at the grocery store because about the only thing I had left at home to eat was a box of mostaccioli noodles (and no sauce). As I checked out, the cashier was a younger girl. I couldn’t place her age, but I’m pretty sure she was younger than me. She greeted me with a really warm smile. As I was getting ready to pay, we made eye contact again, and she smiled again. And I seem to recall that as I bagged my groceries, she looked over and flashed me that same smile. I didn’t say anything and I found myself regretting it.

As I drove home, and as I fixed dinner, I found myself running dozens of conversations through my head. I had to make things right, I hoped I’d have the opportunity. I made a mental list of other groceries I could get. I always buy just what I need to get by for a couple of days or a week–I’m a bachelor, after all. And when it comes to things like groceries I hate planning ahead. So I drove back to the store. I scanned the checkers as I walked in. She was still there, in aisle 6. So I grabbed some things like potatoes, pancake mix, boxed soup–stuff that keeps forever so you only buy it occasionally, then you only buy it again when you miss it. I got in her line and no one got in behind me. She gave me a knowing look. “Weren’t you here earlier?” she asked.

“Yeah. I forgot some stuff,” I said. Well, it was sort of true.

“Is it cold out?” she asked.

“It’s not bad,” I said.

At some point she flashed that smile again.

“I wanted to tell you, you have the prettiest smile I’ve seen in a really long time,” I said.

Her eyes lit up. “Thank you,” she said. It was really cool.

I didn’t need to say anything else. I’d made her day. I paid and bagged my groceries as she started ringing up the person in line behind me.

As I left, she glanced back in my direction. I mouthed the words, “Good night.” I don’t know what exactly the look she gave me meant, but it definitely didn’t look bad.

Twelve words to make someone’s day. Not bad for a superintrovert like me.

And you know something? I felt a whole lot better too. And I doubt it was the B complex.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll deal with some mail. I haven’t done it yet because I haven’t really felt up to it.