Sunday, September 24, 2006

Depression Is The Mark Of A Coward--And Who Knows Better Than Me?

Courting controversy In all sufferers from depression there is strong evidence of anger. What at? Everything. A world that just doesn't love you enough. It's anger in an introverted form. Depression is the coward's rage. Even the word "suffer" has overtones of self-pity.

Post-existentialist twentieth century culture validated depression as intellectually serious. As evidence of insight into the absurdity of human existence. You're born to die. Making the most of it was for people who couldn't see into the depths because of limited intellect. Oh, f*ck off.

I have no right to be angry at anyone. I make my own mistakes. People didn't always do what I wanted them to, but since when was that their duty? Who died and left me prince of the world?

My "depression" won't go away because I cling onto it like a scared child who won't leave his mother. What do I see with my greatly enhanced vision? What insights come to this philosophical genius when he looks into the darkness? Nothing. But people can't tackle me as their equal in life because I have disconnected myself from the process.

Coward. Coward. Arrogant coward. How about taking on a real challenge--to swallow your infantile anger and look the world in the eye? To develop an emotional response to the world that requires resilience and doesn't come as naturally as beard hair in the morning?

3 comments:

Janey... said...

It would be awesome if we could throw the switch and turn off depression, wouldn't it? Let me know if you ever find it...
lordy knows there's a whole pharmacological kingdom in search of the magic happy pill...Billions upon billions of dollars dedicated to finding that switch...

You are absolutely right...Lift the looming clouds of depression and you will find anger...and sometimes it exceeds anger and you will find rage...But don't forget...depression had quite some time to steep over the years...like a fine wine...or a wheel of mellowed cheese...
There's depth interwoven into depression...that's why it's so damn seductive...It is sometimes the absolute only constant we have to create for ourselves...And as you well know...it didn't get there overnight...it ain't going away overnight either...

You know...in the 20 years that I've worked with adolescent Depression...one of the important
steps is helping them prepare for the anger that will uncork...it is a given there is anger stifled beneath depression...
Of course, sometimes they deny there is any anger at all...hell, anger is much scarier and unpredictable...And sometimes they know the anger is there because they've spent tireless years clinging onto controlling it...keeping a lid on it...and just barely managing...It's not about cowardice at all...it's about desperation and confusion while trying to muddle through alone...And when you're feeling like you're just barely managing...depression is actually the lesser of the two evils...I've never once thought of the depressed kids I work with as being a coward...

But back to coping...the key is "preparing" them...you can't just pull the plug on well built defenses to leave nothing but an avalanche of raw, out of control emotions...not unless you're in a controlled environment(and out in society isn't it)...I have witnessed someone being stripped of their defenses...it's not pretty...in fact, I don't consider it humane...and it leaves it's own trauma of sorts...Unfortunately, when the wall has been built brick by brick...sending in the wrecking ball leaves quite a damn mess...It might take more patience and work...but dismantling it brick by brick will leave much less casualties and scarring in the end...

bruce said...

Yes, I suppose you're right, it IS desperation and confusion. Calling my own thing cowardice is just evidence of the uncorked anger, I guess. And flaying yourself for not being Doris Day straight away isn't going to be any more helpful than blaming everybody else.

The darkness IS seductive. You DO start to believe that the key to something or other lies in it--especially (or perhaps not especially) when you're an artist of any sort. Because you have swallowed whole the twentieth century truism (or untruism), about the corruption and absurdity that underlies human existence, and the ability to perceive that rot that lies at its heart as evidence of higher intellectual function. It is as comforting, in its harrowing way, as a baby blanket or the skirts of your mother,and it seduces you into believing that it may even be the source of whatever power you have...though it isn't.

So there's a cultural as well as a personal element to depression, don't you think? We look at those who don't have depression, who enjoy life, who "skate on the surface" (as depressives would describe their existence), as intellectually inadequate somehow, as not sufficiently serious, as people who haven't looked closely enough at the facts. And I for one have an innate fear of being one of those people...when I feel good, which I have done more and more lately, I feel somehow compromised when I'm talking to my depressed artist friends, as if I've sold out the truth and allowed them to move past me in the legitimate poet hero stakes. It may sound like I'm being flippant now, but I'm completely serious--though this may be a mental formulation only twisted me could come up with. I thought I had thrown such pretentious bullshit overboard a couple of months ago, but I haven't yet (I will keep trying).

I guess the truth (or this moment's truth), is that I don't know who I am without the darkness and I fear moving beyond it, once and for all, in the same way that I would fear stepping out of an aeroplane, even WITH a parachute on my back. There is too much that is unknown about the journey I am on. What shape will I be in when I
land? But fear or no fear, I intend to make the leap. I just need God and my friends and family and Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen and the ghost of John Peel to help prise my fingers off the inside of the aircraft cabin.

Janey... said...

There's definately a cultural bias that contributes to depression...I say that blindly since I've only lived in the U.S. culture, though...
We have inflicted some pretty high expectations upon ourselves... Expectations that are more likely to not be achieved than achieved...We lay the groundwork for failure rather than success...and our expectations for our children are even higher than those for ourselves...Maybe they can compensate for our failures? It's an ugly cycle, isn't it???

There was a study done years ago by some University...I don't have a reference to point to it's been so long ago...but anyway...the results indicated that those experiencing Depression were more based in reality... Their perceptions of the world and of themselves were more accurate...
And on the otherhand...those who had created a pollyanna version of their world...who saw things through rose colored glasses where the glass was always half full...who were comfortably happy...were NOT accurately based in reality...
Interesting stuff...how the hell are you supposed to point yourself in the right direction when reality brings depression...and distortion brings happiness...
It all goes back to the TRUTH you spoke of...For reasons of our own, it's important to us to uncover truth...even though it's like lassoing an amoeba...

I agree that we can "feel" the greater answers if we could just bust through to the other side of this damn wall of depression...so we keep going back...just in case some magical portal opens...just like I do in a manic state in Las Vegas, sure that the slot machine is finally ready to dump the big payback...mmmm...I can just feeeeeeeeeeel it....and well, if it doesn't pay out...I already know what I'm dealing with...

My boss and I have an ongoing whine(btw, we're just as arrogant as each other).......... "All I want is to be a happy idiot...to drive a mint green mini-van in the fast lane, and not only would I not care about the line of of screaming, fist shaking drivers behind me, I wouldn't even notice them!!! THAT is nirvana"
Think about it though...it's true...oh to be a happy idiot...
I wonder if happiness is really that boring......We should conduct our own survey!!!