My bout of serious depression gave me the first draft of my novel "A Half Life of One". I consider that to be a very fair bargain indeed.
It wasn't a perfect exchange. I've said before that I consider the main failing of the book to be its lack of colour: it's all shades of grey. That's how I saw the world at the time, and even now the landscape sometimes seems a little bleached. I've re-written the book many times (I guess around twenty) but I've never been able to add the tones I wanted, the different hues, to give it added depth. No matter. The book is finished now and I'm happy with it.
I read once, long ago, on the blurb of a Scott Fitzgerald novel something to the effect that "he writes of despair but his style sings of hope". That's exactly the effect I wanted to achieve - I wanted to be up there with Fitzgerald. But I'll never be as good a stylist as him - I'm just not that talented. There is no hint of redemption in my book. But my book is okay because out of my despair I got the chance to create something unique. How lucky is that?
Emotionally I guess I'm back on a pretty even keel these days. Okay, occasionally a bit manic, a bit over the top, but in a drab, scary world, so what? We have a little fun don't we, and if there's a price to pay, well, there's always a price to pay. I consider it worth it. The low level stuff I can deal with. Even the stress. Without stress there is no life. I'm enjoying the challenge of trying to become a normal human being. And hey, I think I'm winning.
When I was at my lowest in life I read a book which, rather surprisingly, gave me hope for the future. The book was the autobiography of Phil Silvers - the man who played Sergeant Bilko. In his middle age Silvers suffered terribly from depression. It nearly killed him. He could find no cure, no relief. I think, from memory, this period lasted seven years or so. He was at his wits end, close to giving up. And then one day he woke up and the black dog had vanished. It never came back.
So there is hope, isn't there? There's always hope.
I'd like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who left their Comments on the various depression-related posts over the last few days. I know how hard it is - and emotionally draining - to pluck up the courage to bear one's soul on this topic. Thank you.
I'm going to be away for a few days - I need to recuperate after all this confessional stuff, apart from anything else.
John Ahearn - the poet guy - has kindly agreed to look after the Pundy House in my absence. I've given him the keys even though he's a complete neophyte at blogging, he's extremely sensitive and thin-skinned and what he writes doesn't always make much sense. But please, don't give him any less consideration than the zero tolerance you afford me.
He's American so hopefully he'll tell you all about hominy grits, and good ole boys and his buddy George Bush and how to brand animals and make moonshine and guacamole and all that good stuff.