Saturday, July 15, 2006

Changing the subject

I hate to change the subject, so I won't. Depression, wasn't it? We've taken a look at it over the past few days, and discovered it's well-nigh universal, seemingly a fact of human life, or at least of writerly human life. It takes us all down different paths through the same shadowy forest. It comes and goes. It's reliable, if not exactly predictable. All well and good.

But we seem to have taken it for granted that there's nothing to be done about it, nothing much good. Waiting it out--a non-answer--looks like the best answer. The pills make us someone we hardly recognize and don't particularly enjoy, the shocks make us forget too much, or make us unsure what, if anything, we are forgetting. The talking cure just yammers on and on. The remedies are as bad as the disease.

So how do we cope with it? All of us have strategems, I'm sure. If you've found a way to snap yourself out of it, even temporarily, please share.

The one thing I've found that always helps me is a large jolt of adrenaline. Hate to be crass, but getting the living crap scared out of you does wonders for depression. It works. I hate the way it feels, but as the stimulation clears, the depression does too. Immediately the minutes cease to be a burden, and reveal themselves to be the precious, irreplaceable, one-time-only gifts they actually are. - JTA


  1. Good post jta

    Back to that fear thing again. Once I realised that I wasn't scared of this 'thing'that invaded mind and soul, I just put up the white flag and sank gracefully to the floor.
    The bastard likes you to be scared, so I don't give it the satisfaction these days!
    I come through it much quicker than I did before, knowing that I have bottomed out, and the only way to go is up.

  2. Thanks, Minx.

    The more I think about your recent post on fear--that it's the basis of everything negative in our psyches-- the more it seems likely to be true. Might be worth working it out on paper--Minx's Ab-Psych Unified Field Theory.

    We'd probably be beter off with a psychology based on your theory than on that of the coke-addicted, mother-obsessed bag of ambition than was Sigmund.

  3. ...mother-obsessed bag of ambition THAT was Sigmund.

  4. I don't mean to be crass or simplistic, but for me it has been blogging.

    I have tried therapy about six or seven times in my life -- ranging from a couple of years psychotherapy (twice in different places), six weeks seeing a cognitive psychologist, group stress-management course. I have tried different kinds of medication, including straight sleeping pills of various kinds as well as antidepressants (also various kinds).
    I've tried power of positive thinking, living in denial, taking a short break from work. Going to a gym regularly. Reading every book ever written on the subject. Doing lots of tests and self-analysis.
    I have to admit my own personal life events have been harrowing and still are, so they don't help.

    Although some of the aforementioned strategies have been more helpful than others (I've got better at filtering out good things out of therapy or books over the years), without a doubt for me blogging has "worked" more than anything.

    I still get suicidally depressed, have sustained periods of low-level depression, have impulses of self-violence or plunges into despair, have days or weeks when I feel it is all too much and if anyone speaks to me I will burst into tears.

    However, that half hour a night I manage to spend posting on my blog lets out a creative spirit that does me good in some way I can't analyse. Writing a blog post is easy for me-- it is spontaneous, short, doesn't require you to understand some nicety of electron exchange or microarray technology first before you write it, you are just writing for yourself.

    And reading what other people of similar interests but perhaps very different personality to me write on their blogs, and being able to interact with those people by email or comment, is heady. Reading what they think, how they deal with life's challenges, or anything they write really (becuase they become personalities that you get to know, and then they become friends), is a real boost. When these or other people comment on my blog or give me positive feedback, I feel that someone is taking an interest in me (not me as a partner or mother) but just because of something I have written. For me, this is a real antidote to the "I don't matter and I might as well not be there, nobody would notice" part of depression.

  5. No worries about simplistic or crass, Maxine. Not here.

    Blogging, eh? Not being a full-time blogger, I have to take this on faith, but blogging would seem to short-circuit the Black Dog's way of damping out communication. When I'm down, the idea of explaining myself-or anything else-to anyone--usually seems too monumental a task. I can only admire your ability to keep at it, because Petrona is a worthy effort and an ongoing gift to your readers.

    Hmm. So Pundy's right again. The black and twisted tree of depression does bear its occasional fruits.

  6. Yeah, jta, black and twisted, that's it.
    Not exactly Meg Cabot, but never mind.
    Thanks for your kind words, much appreciated.
    Don't think I could explain myself to anyone (least of all me) apart from the depths of Pundy's comments which have a strange and bizarre life of their own in the netherworld. But just writing about some rubbish or other I've seen on a blog somwhere or thought about on the train seems to do a sort of a trick -- sometimes.

  7. Anonymous4:58 am

    Super color scheme, I like it! Good job. Go on.