Friday, April 28, 2006

Final library note

I also picked up a book called My Depression, a Picture Book by Elizabeth Swados. I think I need to own this book. I kept holding it up for my husband and we both just nodded in recognition. She's not us, but she's been there. That's been the hardest thing in my life--to be a depressive and to be married to a depressive. In many ways we haven't been good for each other. In many ways we've been the only one who understands the other.

"My depression begins with a little cloud at the edge of my vision. I only sense it's there.
"I begin to hear every word that every negative critic, professional or otherwise, has said or written about me."

When I'm sliding back I replay every dumb thing I think I've ever said from childhood on. I relive every time I was selfish or rude. I stage fights in my head with every person who's ever hurt me (and I don't even win then!). Really strolling memory lane tonight. This is one of the clearest things I've ever written about depression.

For Those for Whom the Ground Beneath Their Feet is Always Even


There is a moment, a moment of release as your tires unclench and lose contact with the road, when the car is free floating on the hydroplane, when nothing has happened and yet you and the car must be aware of the inevitable collision, and yet you can do nothing to turn away. In some ways I imagine it must be like the moment when a frayed rope unclasps and lets go its last gasp and the boat it has protected is released to shiver downstream towards the falls. After you are well, or at least stable, this moment becomes completely visible to you and almost more terrifying than a life and death moment, because unlike the car crash, which takes place in real time, and is therefore over, almost before your conscious mind can register, and the mind gently protects you by overwriting the memory by all that comes after--after all, the crash is external; the moment when you are aware that this medication is no longer working, or some trigger, as yet unresolved in therapy has been sprung, or that after a relative period of halcyon peace, something inside has shifted over and left you defenseless becomes like Trinity's leap in "The Matrix," frozen in digital perfection and examined from all sides, and what comes after will seem as nothing because you are examining that moment over and over again in your own mental time--in perpetual loop, and like digital, whatever is lost with time is repaired or replaced by the system, so that there is no fading, or skipping. And unlike the car crash, or the old tether, there is a terrible societal pressure and therefore, an internal pressure to believe that this was somehow avoidable. That you must not want to be well, when no one believes that you wanted to hydroplane.

I resist the overmedication of America, a vision of Soma doused generations, smiling benignly and advancing not at all, is horrifying, and resisted medicating myself for years, but the truth of the matter, and what is wrong with the Prozac Panacea is that if you are using it to be happy and not unhappy then you don't understand. We who must medicate don't use it to be HAPPY. By the time most of us have reached the point where we are willing to be chemically changed, to be dependent upon 24 hour pharmacies and some form of prescription plan for the REST OF OUR LIVES, happy is the furthest thing from our minds. We have come to believe that HAPPY does not really exist. We believe that we have more chance of going to Narnia or Oz than to Happy. What we are looking for is the ability to remain upright, to continue putting one foot in front of the other in our day to day lives, let alone to actually be able to be Unhappy pursuing our dreams and goals and taking all of the daily risks that most people encounter without feeling either happy or unhappy.


I eat sugar for the rush of madness on my tongue, a flash in some fleshly way like joy, and I am forever longing for that lost moment.

It isn't fair that joy is, by definition, so brief, but despair lingers for seasons, clinging like leaches or ticks, waiting for the bare foot in the warm grass, the bather in the soft water, pivoting that delicate moment of happiness. The grass becomes itchy and uncomfortable, the seaweed grabs at your ankles, and I have never learned to smear these lesser moments together into some form of contentment.

Perhaps, that is it, then. Despair requires nothing on your part, in fact, demands nothing on your part to thrive, while joy says, "Chase me! Do something! Do Something!" and the chase is part and parcel, but how long can a person run?

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