Wednesday, April 09, 2014


“It would seem that emotions are the curse, not death - emotions that appear to have developed upon a few freaks as a special curse from Malevolence. All right then. It is our emotions that are amiss. We are freaks, the world is fine, and us all go have lobotomies to restore us to a natural state. We can leave the library then, go back to the creek lobotomized, and live on its banks as untroubled as any muskrat or reed. You first.”
- Annie Dillard

I am a depressive-depressive. Not manic-depressive. I don’t have episodes where I want to stay up all night cleaning, or dancing, or doing whatever manic people do. I am melancholy. I wrote the epitaph for my tombstone when I was nine years old. True story. I wrote after-the-nuclear-holocaust short stories on the elementary school playground while everybody else was playing kickball. I see the world through black-colored lenses. I brood. I fret my hour upon the stage. Occasionally I shift in my chair. That is one of my manic moments. Often I feel horrible. Not physically, although sometimes that too. Psychologically. Emotionally. Spiritually.

But I’m getting better. And sometimes better scares me.

I discovered quick fixes, as many people do. Anything to feel better. And the quick fixes work, for a while, until they end up using you instead of you using them, and you find yourself weighing the quick fix on one hand and your marriage and your kids and your sanity and everything that you claim to believe as true on the other, and you actually find yourself thinking, “Well, the quick fix doesn’t look so bad.” You’re in some deep shit by that point.

So here’s what recovery looks like with the demons in the rear-view mirror, from a little piece down the road. It looks like a lot of meetings; meetings with 12-step groups, and sponsors, and spiritual directors, and therapists. It’s a multi-pronged issue, so you approach it from several different directions simultaneously. But it also looks like a lot of sitting, because that’s what we depressive people do. The sitting sometimes looks like nothing is happening, but that’s not true. What, in fact, is happening is deep melancholy; feeling like shit, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually. And just living with it. Sitting with it. Praying with it. Pounding on a keyboard with it. Not running away from it. This can be the hardest thing in the world.

All my life I have worn depression like a badge. I haven’t necessarily liked it; many days I’ve hated it, in fact. But it’s been the dues for entrance into the artistic community. Flash the badge, and enter the club. And what I need to understand now – at this critical juncture of my life, where I’m actually approaching the time where I can put this corporate drudgery in the rear-view mirror as well, and focus all my energy on creating what I want to create, on being that ARTIST – is what to do with the melancholy. Is it part of who I am? Is it what drives me, for both good and evil? Or is it something I can cast off like shackles? Good riddance, or riddance of good? Those are the questions I grapple with. Annie Dillard’s nightmare is my nightmare, too. There is a part of me that is convinced that I need to be that freak, and that losing that is to return to the creek lobotomized, as untroubled as any muskrat or reed. And I’d rather be anything than that unfeeling, vacant drone with the lifeless eyes. In the words of the infamous bathroom graffiti, I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. You first.


teaii said...

As a fellow melancholy, I just wanted to say thanks for this, a reminder that for all the voices in my head, I'm not the only one. And for the Dillard. I can never get enough of her.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I often feel like the only person in my recovery group who is not happy with putting the medicine I used behind me. It was necessary, but I don't have to like it yet.