Archive for the ‘Despair’ Category

This is going to piss off a lot of readers, but I don’t care. The people it will piss off are the ones who have already pissed me off by their uneducated, ignorant claim in the first place.

The first thing I’m going to say that will piss them off is this:

If you have never been plagued by depression, or never watched a loved one crippled by this disease, kindly shut the fuck up.

I can’t state this enough. You have no business pontificating on a subject about which you know nothing. And by making your statement, all I hear is, “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’m going to give you my opinion anyway, because I know more about it than you do.”

I hate to burst your bubble, but here’s an uncomfortable truth: People with depression don’t want to die!

People with depression don’t want to die!

Here’s the thing: on both occasions I tried suicide, it wasn’t because I wanted to die; I simply wanted the pain to stop. I was in a place where I could no longer think rationally. After all, do you really think that if I could see any other solution I wouldn’t have chosen it instead?

And that, dear friends and critics, is the difference between my depression and your “sanity:” the inability to think clearly and rationally. Did I really want to die? Did I consider how my death would affect my family? My friends?

Of course I didn’t: I was so overwhelmed by my depression and its pain and agony that I was incapable of any thought at all, much less rational thought.

Was I a coward? Or was I in a state where suicide was my only rational choice?

Do you see the contradiction here? That I was in such pain that I was incapable of clear, rational thought that to me, suicide seemed to be the only rational solution.

Unless you’ve been there, you won’t understand. And being there, you don’t see any other solution. Which is why depression can so often be a fatal disease.

So before you call suicide “Cowardly,” or “The easy way out,” or any other stupid thing, stop and think: what would you do if you saw no other way out of a soul-deadening, horrifying life of agony, with no hope of improvement?

One more thing: there’s a reason J. K. Rowling modeled the Dementors on her own depression.


‘“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”’—Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

One of the greatest coping skills I learned after yet another failed suicide attempt (have you ever had a tube inserted in your nose and snaked down to your stomach as part of a gastric lavage?) was something I realized when my therapist told me: “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

The realization—or rather, the skill—was so simple I was amazed that I hadn’t thought of it before was this: when things get so dark that I start to consider simply ending it all, I put on my headphones, fire up iTunes on my laptop, and put George Harrison on a loop. All Things Must Pass is my mantra. I listen to it over and over again until finally, I believe it.

The other realization changed my entire outlook on life in general and my lifelong chronic depression. This time it was something I read:

The question we should be asking is not “What’s wrong with you?” Rather, we should be asking “What happened to you?”

That changed my perspective from “What did I do to deserve this?” to “What caused this to happen to me?” And even then, it took a much longer time to drop the “to me” and stop looking at myself as a victim.

I am not a “victim of depression;” I am a survivor. I now approach this struggle in much the same way practitioners of Aikido approach their opponents: find your enemy’s strength—in this case, his energy—and turn it against him.

I’ve spent years discovering my enemy’s strengths. Knowing them, I have learned how to turn them against what Churchill called his “black dog,” and what Rowling put a face to with the Dementors.

The result? Between those two realizations, new medications, and therapy, it’s been over 3 years since my last suicide attempt, and 2 years since I’ve had even so much as a thought of harming myself.

We may be, as the Cheshire Cat claims, “all mad here.” But that’s no reason we can’t fight back. That’s no reason we can’t be mental health ninjas.


Do you suffer from depression? Do you have thoughts of self-harm? Of suicide? You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8255. Even though I’m on the mend, I still keep the number on speed dial.

The Guardian recently published an article claiming that

When our daily news is apocalyptic, it’s irresponsible to read made-up stories. It’s time to start reading the serious stuff instead.

Go ahead and read the article. This post won’t make sense otherwise.

This was my initial response on Facebook. Why Facebook? Well, that’s where I discovered the link to the article.

Nonsense. What better time to use one’s imagination than during a crisis? It was a lack of imagination that created the crisis in the first place, or more to the point, a lack of understanding possibilities.

Tom Clancy wrote about a 747 crashing into the Capitol building years before 9/11. In fact, after that tragedy, intelligence experts interviewed Hollywood writers about possible similar events.

The discussion on Facebook turned out to be just that: an actual discussion as opposed to the usual "You doodoo head! You don’t know what you’re talking about!" free-for-all insult exchange that usually passes for discussion on Facebook.

By the time I had finished reading the entire thread (as of 8:30 this morning), I was more convinced than ever that we absolutely need fiction now more than ever before.

(By the way, the Clancy novel I referred to was Debt of Honor. Like all of Clancy’s works, it can be summed up with a quote from the late Ronald Reagan: " A good yarn.")

To write at all you’ve got to be creative. To write fiction you’ve got to have a plot. And to write good fiction, you’ve got to have a good imagination.

Last night I watched The Fellowship of the Ring on Netflix. Sure, I had seen it before, but this time, watching the Orcs tearing down trees and creating a barren wilderness where there once was beauty, my own imagination immediately saw a connection between those scenes and Donald Trump’s slash-and-burn, scorched earth approach to the environment.

From there, my mind jumped to Dr. Seuss’ classic tale of The Lorax, and once more I wondered why people who insist on poisoning the air and water, destroying forests, and levelling mountains in the name of profit have the nerve to call themselves conservatives. Just what the hell are they conserving? Wall Street?

You know Tyrannosaurus Rex was destroyed before
By a furry little ball that crawled along
The primeval jungle floor
He stole the eggs of the dinosaur
CLOSE YOUR EYES & CREATE THE SOUND
OPEN YOUR HANDS & REBUILD THE GROUND
We are egg snatchers –
flashin’ sunshine children
Bunch of diamond thieves
Mau Mau (Amerikon)

Paul Kantner wrote that song back in the ’70s for the very first Jefferson Starship album, Blows Against the Empire.

Our own empire is falling all around us while the Emperor plays not the fiddle but the back 9 at his golf resort, and all of his sycophants exclaim over how lovely his new clothes look. The barbarians are not only at the gates but they have actually broken through and are now looting the nation’s treasury.

Will we survive? Can we survive? Or will some future Edward Gibbon chronicle these days as The Decline and Fall of the American Empire?

Or is this just a prelude to the decline and fall of Western civilization?

A Distinct Lack of Energy

Posted: 3 February, 2018 in Depression, Despair
Tags:

I posted this on Facebook this morning:

AN EXPLANATION
And an apology.

If you FB Messenger me and don’t get a reply, I’m not ignoring you. If I wanted to ignore you, I wouldn’t have accepted your friend request in the first place.

It’s just that I’m plagued with chronic depression and far too many other mental health issues that I can’t carry on extended interactions with anyone.

Please don’t take it personally. Just know that I appreciate your friendship; right now, I just don’t have it in me to be polite.

The same holds true here. I know I’ve developed a following, and a few of you have even commented on some of my posts. I really do try to moderate your comments, but when it’s all I can do to even post a new entry, I simply can’t do it.

Thank you for your patience and your understanding.

cohen

“I would like to remind
the management
that the drinks are watered
and the hat-check girl
has syphilis
and the band is composed
of former ss monsters.
However since it is
new year’s eve
and i have lip cancer
i will place my
paper hat on my
concussion and dance.”
–Leonard Cohen

The title of this entry is a quote from T. S. Eliot, Ol’ Possum himself. For a poet, he seemed to be very much in tune with the principles of Eastern mysticism, or quantum physics, the modern science which seems to be a scientific way of proving its tenets.

“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.”

What I find the most interesting about my own writing is that no matter how much I plan, or how many outlines I create, when I actually sit down and start to write, the writing itself takes over and controls me.

I first noticed this when I took a class entitled “Selected Masterpieces of American Literature at university. Most of us who took the class knew from the previous semester that what we were going to be doing was reading and studying on William Faulkner novel a week. One newcomer, who hadn’t been in on “the secret,” complained to the professor that the course title was rather deceptive. “Well, he replied, “these books are classics of American literature, and I selected them, so I don’t see the problem.”

For our final paper we had a choice: write a scholarly paper related to Faulkner or his works, or write a short story emulating his style.

I chose the former.

But when I finally printed out the results, I realized that once again the mule had taken the lead and wandered down dusty backroads, past corn and cotton fields, and somehow ended up in Faulkner’s backyard in Oxford, Mississippi.

It’s the same with this post: I was going to recap the past year of my life, and maybe compare it with what I hoped the coming year would be like. But there’s this mule, see….

I’d Like To Close the Year With a Ray of Hope

And once again, to do that, I’m going to quote William Faulkner. This time, it is the text of his acceptance speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1950:

Ladies and gentlemen,

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work – a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand here where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.

I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.


Amaan Khan

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