Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Letter to A Deep Depression

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
The Gospel of Thomas

How do you think it feels,
and when do you think it stops?
Lou Reed

I’ve read some powerful blog posts about depression recently (I’d give links, but always half-feel like I’m trespassing when I wander onto this stuff, myself...though any of their creators who might be reading this—you know who you are—and who you’re not—are welcome to leave links in the Comments), and was inspired to dig out something I wrote a while ago.

Winston Churchill called depression his black dog. The particular metaphor doesn’t work so well for me—dogs generally make me happy—but I like the general idea, so came up with the unwelcome guest.

(I’ll be funny next time—promise)


Here we are again. Here you are, slinking in the door a week ago, just when I was thinking you were gone for good. No doubt about it, you can still surprise me, particularly when you show up on a sunny spring day, just when things were looking up, just when I'd hoped you might be gone for good. And then, of course, you refuse to leave—by all appearances settling in for a lengthy visit—no matter how politely, or forcefully, I point to the door.

Giving credit where it’s due, you can still hit hard. You can still hit really fucking hard. Jesus Christ, I had no idea you could still hit so hard....

But...let’s face it, you’ve lost your luster. Go ahead and scoff; it’s true. Think of the times we once had, the way you wouldn’t let go, enveloped me, ran my life—hell, you nearly ended it more than once—no cigar, but, giving credit where it’s due, pretty fucking close. Hell, I thought you were my life. For a while, I thought you were fucking everything.

So what happened? Seriously, look at you now: a pale, faded, diminished thing. A soiled scrap of your former glories. Little more than the lingering stench of past unpleasantness.

Sure, you walloped me this morning. And no doubt that wasn’t the end of it—you’ll probably keep me up a good portion of the night, or simply be there, lying so naturally in my bed in the morning. But here I am. Quite calm, in fact, seeing little more significant than a recurring headache, or mosquitoes that keep getting in the house, no resemblance to the seductive menace you once appeared to be. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit I was ever so frightened of you, that I ever let you fuck with me like that.

So what to say at this point? You’re a hell of an inconvenience, but that’s all. And, in time, you’ll be gone, again. And I’ll still be here.

21 comments:

Ed T. said...

Wow, great writing, very insightful stuff. I also agree that the dog is a bad choice for a symbol of depression or as it is sometimes portrayed; as evil. Dogs make me happy too, I wonder why they have gotten this negative metaphor about them sometimes. Ed T. (kidicarus333)

Bird said...

This makes me want to buy a punchbag and beat the crap out of it for half an hour solid. Not I hasten to add as a reaction to you personally, but because being newly un-depressed is so damn invigorating. Ok, now I'll go back home to write something sweet and fluffy 'bout animals.

tata said...

Spot on.

Great letter to that fucker, depression.

John T. said...

Interesting........

"Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional."

Lana Gramlich said...

Very honest of you. Thanks for sharing. I've found that writing about the experience of depression can be theraputic. Fortunately we haven't crossed paths in years.

Grumpus said...

It's been my experience that depression manifests as boredom and it's such a wasteful, awful feeling. Of course, a cursory scratch at the surface reveals it is not boredom but inertia...one is rendered immobile by a chemical tide. Staying inside is safe, staying in bed is safe, interactions are impossible. The sick part you have to watch for is when the depression starts feeling safe.

Sometimes it's impossible to remember it will pass, that it always passes. Then there's knowledge that no matter how well you feel later, it is waiting somewhere to come in again.

I think we can attribute too much power to it if there aren't other, productive/creative things in life we take very seriously.

C. J. Serling said...

A beautiful and heartbreaking post. Thank you for sharing with us your suffering, it is a solace to others who experience the same pain.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

I tend to think of depression as being like a big cloud that hangs over everything till you can't see anything else and the cloud fills your mind.

My cats think depression is an empty bowl - so they come and sit on me and together we find solace

RBV said...

As I'm reading your words, I can only think that I wish that it were an "unwelcome guest." While I don't actively welcome it, I must welcome it on some level, since it's the only lover with which I share the bed these days.

I continually applaud your insight.

Jenny F said...

Very remarkable! Wow, I love the way you write, the way you put things up.

I'm not sure I can relate to what Churchill said either. We have a black dog at home and he is the nicest and cutest ever, very not depressing. :) I prefer to call depression black hole or down-swing. xD

The Clandestine Samurai said...

Well, it's at the point in your life where depression and your own being are two different entities. You can push it away, and it may come back but you kick her out again. But, what if you were one with the depression?

Depression used to stay at my house quite often, and I let her. But over the years she's changed.......into anger.

Ingrid said...

Thank you for sharing this post with me, and well all the others as well :)
And The Gospel of Thomas quote, .. was so true, show your Being and you will fill with joy.. suppress it and it will eat you alive.

Thanks again for sharing.

Chris Wood said...

Hello Dr Jay

I've just chanced across your wise words about the word 'fuck.' Bravo sir! Excellent points & nice to hear it from one of the medical establishment, who can offer an insider's perspective.

Best, Chris Wood

Gypsy at Heart said...

Jay: I was going to write you some crap (true crap but crap nonetheless) about how we fight our battles better when we have a number on WHO we are fighting them with BUT, what I really wanted to say is: I'm glad for you. See? No huggy feely stuff. I'm just plain glad.

As always, your writing stops me in my tracks. Milena

Lydia said...

Brilliant.
Brilliant.
I'll go cry now, but not necessarily in a depressed way.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Enjoyed this post - especially "a pale, faded, diminished thing".

svasti said...

Crap! How annoying and as you say, inconvenient!

On the flip side, it is great to get to that point where you know depression inside out. You understand its approach and what happens on that slippery slide. Or perhaps its not even a slide... more like suddenly being surrounded by a fog?

Still sucks, the pain, the time it takes. But it sounds like you have a good handle on the waiting it out process.

*hugs*

human being said...

oh... when we are depressed we are not diminishing... we are everything... we have lots of energy trapped in...
you know, just because there is no way out, we get heavy... depressed... i've experienced this in my life several times...
we should find a way to vent out... sure a creative one is the best... like your way... writing...

blessings

JelO said...

Wow,, very intense feelings wrapped up into one.. but yeah.. this is a better way to face it rather than mope and wallow in it.. better tell it to its face.. like an in-your-face way of approach! Good insight...

kikolani said...

It sounds like you are taking over the depression, as opposed to letting it take over you. Sure, sometimes it still can sink itself in, but it is great when we realize it and are able to not let it go as far as it wants. Great writing and description of this experience.

Jennifer TFFQ said...

Thank you. I love those quotes. I have not heard the one from Thomas before. It's like DEAD on.