Thursday, May 20, 2010

Keep Passing the Open Windows.

Where does this thing called depression come from? Once, teaching a Psychology class, a fistfight nearly broke out because a boy said he didn't believe it was real. A girl, who clearly knew it was all too real, told him he was a selfish prick and didn't know what the hell he was talking about. She told him that she'd lost several family members to suicide and that she'd battled with it her entire life. The guy felt terrible, and I think it genuinely made him see things differently. He and I had a talk later and he asked me if he had just been blind and born lucky. I was much more gentle at the time, telling him something along the lines of "those that haven't experienced certain things can't be expected to understand them." In reality, though, yeah. He'd been blind. And he'd been born lucky.

Some people seem to think that depression is when you feel a little blue because you've lost something that mattered, or when you just lack the energy to do the sorts of things you'd normally like doing. You feel down, and it kind of sucks, but you'll bounce back. Even at the time, you know you'll bounce back. That's not depression. Depression is Sylvia Plath's bell jar. The goddamn thing just descends down upon you from fucking nowhere. You can see life around you, a little distorted perhaps, but it's all still visible. None of it can reach you, though. All that you can feel is the hell that exists inside your suffocating cage.

I've suffered from clinical depression from the time that I was three. I know it well. I do what I am supposed to do to keep it at bay. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not work. Sometimes it hits and I can muddle through, put up a decent front, feign that things are all basically alright. Other times, it is totally incapacitating. Sleep is the only drug that works, because it is the closest you can come to death while still holding out hope for a better tomorrow.

I was fine yesterday. A little angsty, perhaps, but nothing too severe. And then down it descended. Really rough night, really rough day today. I'll sleep some, maybe put in a movie and try to get lost in someone else's life for awhile. I don't plan on telling anyone about it, though. People don't get it, or they make far too much of it and that ends up making it worse.

JK Rowling apparently suffers from pretty intense depression. She said the Death Eaters that haunt poor Harry were based on the sensation of depression at its worse. Weird what people do to try to battle their demons. A former boss suffered from it terribly. We once discussed how he dealt with it and he said that he just did. He'd had three suicides in his family and his father had become a pastor hoping that religion would be the cure he needed. Clearly, none of those had worked, so this guy just did what most of us do. He hoped for the best, took some meds and muddled through.

I've always been a fan of this story from John Irving's Hotel New Hampshire. It seems appropriate enough to include here:
There was a street clown called King of the Mice: he trained rodents, he did horoscopes, he could impersonate Napolean, he could make dogs fart on command. One night he jumped out his window with all his pets in a box. Written on the box was this: "Life is Serious but Art is Fun!" I hear his funeral was a party. A street artist had killed himself. Nobody had supported him but now everybody missed him. Now who make the dogs make music and the mice pant?...It is hard work and great art to make life not so serious. Keep passing the open windows.

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