Devil was my angel

18 10 2008

Depression is a thief.

Back up a step or two: Jon Katz blogs at Bedlam Farm, the last thing I read before turning off my computer at night, and I generally find his posts calming, and, perhaps, chastening in that just-so manner. I recommend him.

That said, I’ve been catching up on his archives, and just finished the December 2007 (and am into the Jan 2008) posts. Having read an advanced reader’s copy of his book Izzy & Lenore, I knew that he fell into a hole in this period—he refers to the ‘Black Dog’ of depression—so the posts were not unfamiliar. Still, he treats this Black Dog far more generously in these posts than he does in the book: whereas in the book he rasps to his (long-estranged/newly-reconciled) sister ‘I’m in real trouble here!’, in the posts he speaks of the redemptive power of pain, of what can be gained, of the connection between madness and creativity.

I cannot believe this. I used to, and it almost killed me.

Shit. It was probably too late to start this post, given how much there is to say. But I do at least want to note that, for some us, pain cannot be harnessed to redemption, nor can depression enable art. Believing so made it easy for me to feed my disorders, and made it even harder to leave them behind.

Depression was the thief that stayed in my home, stole my things, dismantled the framing, smashed the foundations, and cooed that it was all for the best, that, really, I couldn’t live without it. I clung to this, trusting this hollowing out of my life far more than I trusted life itself. I didn’t just believe, I knew that depression would lead me to the only redemption possible for such a deracinated life. It was only a chance un-knowing which allowed me steal back my life.

I’m glad Jon Katz made his way through his troubles, and if believing that there were some point to them helped him get through, I’m not about to criticize him. I simply cannot believe it.


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19 10 2008
lucretia

I leaned on depression for a long time, always thinking that when I was “really ready,” it would just… go away somehow. And when it finally flared up into something I couldn’t deal with at all, I also almost died. That I managed to get through that has a lot to do with learning to live with pain, and that was a redemptive experience. It’s like a zen trick; it’s not that “suffering ennobles” or some bullshit like that. But, by accepting that the pain was there whether I wanted it or not, and there was nothing I could do about it and nothing redemptive about it, that’s how I set my feet back on the path to redemption. And how the pain finally started to recede.

That and Zoloft.

This probably doesn’t make sense. It’s hard to talk about this without sounding like, oh, I recommend a nervous breakdown for everyone! Not everybody comes through it. It’s mostly ugly and always messy. Depression sucks and there’s nothing good about it, except that maybe it lets you live and maybe you get to learn something. But there are no guarantees. Ever.

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