Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us like a good revenge story. Almost every Clint Eastwood movie from the 1970s was about revenge. You know the plot. Cowboy gets beat up. Cowboy goes into hiding. Cowboy emerges as mysterious character. Cowboy recruits townspeople in elaborate scheme to get back at villains. Cowboy rides out of town with asking any thanks. But most of all, cowboy got revenge.
Life is typically not that simple and satisfying for the rest of us. We still encounter villains in this world, but sweet revenge is not that easy to attain. Nor is it very biblical. Which is why one of Clint Eastwood’s revenge character in the movie Pale Rider was actually called Preacher. Movies thrive on flaunting the taboo. Mix a little faux religion with a bit of murder and people will flock to the theaters. Or the voting booths.
Real life is different
But real life is different. Without the benefits of scriptwriters to coiffe our fate or celluloid and digital control to craft the story, our notions of revenge must be claimed under other terms.
But first, let’s identify the villain. The thief. The bad guy. And the accomplice.
The Dragoon and The Blaggard
The Thief in our plot is familiar to millions of people. His or Her name is Depression. But let’s give it a creative name. Winston Churchill, who for years fought through depression to accomplish great things, named it the Black Dog.
But for our purposes, we’ll call depression The Dragoon, a colorful term that by definition means “coerce (someone) into doing something,” or in the case of depression, sometimes convincing you to do nothing. At all. Just lie there. Miserable and angry and scared and all that horrible lack of will. The Dragoon. Dragging you down.
The Dragoon is a thief of normalcy. Of happiness. Of hope.
And The Dragoon has an accomplice. It is called anxiety. And just like many villains in literature, the accomplice can be worse than the main villain. The accomplice does the Dirty Work. In the case of anxiety, it works through Dread. That feeling that something bad is going to happen. Bound to happen.
Anxiety is also crafty and smart. It knows how to keep you from acting when you should, and how to make you react when you shouldn’t.
So we’ll call anxiety The Blaggard, defined as “A villain, a rogue, an evil or “black-hearted” person, hence abreviated low brow U.K. style to “blaggard”
An evil pair
In most villain movies, the plot starts when the bad guys show up and begin to get the upper hand. So it is with The Dragoon and The Blaggard. If you know someone who suffers from depression and/or anxiety, it often isn’t evident they need help until the plot thickens. That doesn’t mean it’s too late. It might mean they’re gotten really good at hiding signs and manifestations of depression and anxiety. Many people are high-functioning despite the daily hit that the Dragoon and the Blaggard leverages on their mind and soul.
Combatting anxiety and depression takes calculated will and persistence. It might require medication to get in front of the condition. It might also take exercise and scheduling and cognitive therapy (talk about it, for God’s sake!) to stay ahead of the dirty work done by The Dragoon and The Blaggard.
It’s the daily run or ride or swim that puts you just a bit out of front. That makes it harder for the Dragoon to keep up. Depression may be a heavy partner, but it is also fortunately slow afoot. It can take major effort to drag yourself out of the grip of The Dragoon, but once you get ahead you can look back a bit and say to yourself, “I’m not letting you catch me. Not today.”
Of course you still sometimes have to deal with the real-time, sneaky tactics of The Blaggard as well. After all, this wouldn’t be an interesting movie plot if there weren’t a few twists and turns to deal with. The Blaggard is a bit more adept and nimble than The Dragoon, which prefers to sink you into it’s lair and suck you down into nothingness. The Blaggard can go wherever you go. The sneaky bastard.
Outrunning The Blaggard
The Blaggard loves to run alongside you, chirping little negative thoughts and threats as you move along. “You don’t deserve this,” The Blaggard will tell you. “You always give up. You know you do. You know it’s true. You’ve always failed before. That’s who you are.”
Yes, The Blaggard is a wicked accomplice to The Dragoon. So you must learn to be quick on your feet. It helps to arm yourself with quick retorts to the ever-present taunts of The Blaggard. “I don’t need to deserve anything,” you can reply. “But I choose to be rid of you.”
Even if there are failures in your life that were caused by The Blaggard, that is not who you ultimately are as a person. It is also not who you are destined to become. Even The Blaggard knows that. Yet like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, the goal of The Blaggard is to control you. Without that control of your conscience and soul, The Blaggard begins to fade like the Chesire Cat.
Sure, you may never be completely free of the wicked smile of The Blaggard as it seeks to pierce you with dull arrows of self-doubt and fear. But it is sweet revenge to beat back the insults and the trepidations until The Blaggard fades and fades. Sometimes it is possible to vanish it entirely.
When you do this work, you can literally feel The Dragoon fall behind and see The Blaggard fade before your eyes when you get out there and run, ride or swim. That is some sweet revenge, right there.
More than everything
But let’s be clear. The Dragoon and The Blaggard are real. This is not Pretendland. The conditions we know as depression and anxiety are actual mental and physical conditions. You can’t just wish them away.
People who live with The penetrating reality of The Dragoon and The Blaggard know all too well how forcefully they can slam you suddenly, and without warning.
Sometimes this must be done daily. Cast off the Black Socks of The Dragoon and The Blaggard as needed. One must be vigilant as a superhero and forthright as a cowboy on the open range in order to live with anxiety and depression. The Dragoon and the Blaggard.
It can be exhausting at times. But it can also be exhilarating to triumph on a daily and long term basis. Find the resources that help you accomplish those aims. See your doctor. Trust your friends. Take your meds and get out there and exercise.
And may you leave The Dragoon and The Blaggard far behind.
Note: The artwork in this blog is produced by an art associate of mine, Joe Gagnepaign, who suffers from bipolar disorder. His daily wrestling match with the condition is extremely difficult. We are raising funds to help him with his medical and practical needs. If you are interested in helping by contributing a few dollars, there is a GoFundMe page open at the link above. If you want more information, please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Will send details.