“There was no reason behind it; it was just the way things were.” In which I say way too much.

pillsYesterday I heard Terry Gross interview Allie Brosh whose blog, “Hyperbole and a Half” is one of the most popular blogs in the world. A million followers. She’s even published a book of her postings. Wow! I’m jealous.

In her postings she tackles (and in her interview with Gross) depression. I know how dangerous it is to write about depression here. Lots of people get upset and think I’m about to off myself or something. I get loving and caring messages from friends and loved ones—I am not being in the least sarcastic: they are loving and caring, and I love and care for them in return, and I am grateful for them.

I was put off a bit by Ms. Brosh. Why should she get rich and famous off of her depression when I just struggle? I heard her driving home from an appointment with my psychiatrist.  An appointment Dr. Bret had shuffled her schedule to accommodate because I sent her an email that began, “I am so fucking depressed I can’t work. . .”

Ms. Brosh said (in the midst of a long conversation—which you know was fascinating because Terry Gross was guiding it),

I think there’s a common misconception that depression is about something or depression is sadness or some form of negativity. It can represent a sadness or a self-loathing . . . [my depression] circled back on itself and made me dislike myself more because I was so sad and I didn’t know why and I felt like I needed a reason. … It took me a long time to figure out that something was broken on a fundamental level. There was no reason behind it; it was just the way things were. (Brosh, Allie. “Even When It Hurts ‘ALOT,’ Brosh Faces Life With Plenty Of ‘Hyperbole’ .” Interview with Terry Gross.  Fresh Air.  NPR. Nov. 12, 2013. Web.)

At that point I ceased being put off by Ms. Brosh. “There was no  reason behind it.” Let me tell you the reasons behind my depression: yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my partner’s death (12 years we were together); I have agreed that, after a 30-year career, my teaching will end next spring; I am about to have (next Monday) surgery on another joint (first my right hip, now my left shoulder); the person with whom I have shared for five years the most arcane and shocking of my political views and he his with me—and we have loved and respected each other deeply—died last Thursday; my health insurance issues and paperwork for the year have piled up and become so complex that I cannot figure the mess out; I can’t figure out how to be in love and have a relationship at the same time (the two are, I’ve decided, mutually exclusive); and I am so far behind in my work that I’ll never catch up and feel total failure and incompetence as a result.

I hope this isn't copyrighted.

I hope this isn’t copyrighted.

Now listen. It is not in any way dangerous for me to say these things here. I said them in email yesterday so we all know the NSA and God-knows-what-other federal agency has record of it although I am probably not a person of interest to them except for my continuing friendship with many Palestinians, who, because they want their land back and want to be free are—by virtue of the US indenturedness to Israel—the next best thing to terrorists, and a bunch of them are probably reading this right now. Oh, speaking of depression.

So Dr. Bret upped the dosage of my SSRI anti-depressant to see if that will do anything to make it so I’m not so fucking depressed I can’t work. Thank the gods for this writing stuff that I have to do so I can feel every day like I’m accomplishing something, even though it’s just spilling my guts out here in public. But more important than the massive doses of Prozac (there are, of course, other drugs involved in the cocktail) she has cleared a weekly hour for me to see her even though she’s not a talk therapist.

Now if you are still reading, you know more about me than even my sister or my AA sponsor should, and you’re probably thinking, “What’s wrong with him? Doesn’t he have good sense?” Well, no. He doesn’t. Listen to Ms. Brosh. She’s the now-published authority on the subject (if that sounds like sour grapes, it is except that I thank her for saying what every clinically depressed person in the world knows), that “. . . It took [us] a long time to figure out that something was broken on a fundamental level. There was no reason behind it; it was just the way things were.”

Dr. Bret reminded me yesterday of a few things about myself. First, I do remarkably well for a guy who is saddled with both Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and (presumed, although who the fuck knows for sure?) Bipolar II Disorder. Boy, I really shouldn’t say that in public. I do remarkably well. I may not be the chair of an English department (I used to be chair of a music department), and I haven’t published the great American novel (yet). And I’ve never played an organ recital at Notre Dame in Paris (or even at Highland Park Methodist Church in Dallas).

I thought taking pictures when I was crying would make me laugh. Not.

One evening I thought taking pictures when I was crying would make me laugh. Not.

But through all of this shit, I have pretty much supported myself, made a few friends, stayed sober for three days short of twenty-seven years, and learned how to get eleven black members of a university football team to sit around a table with me and talk about such things as what is “conformity” and how do we all buy into it, and how does that show up in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Body Snatcher,” and how are they related. Not bad for a 68-year-old white faggot about to lose his job because he can’t teach any more.

So fie on depression! If I have to sit at home and cry alone on my sofa while I watch “Project Runway” or “America’s Funniest Home Videos” in order to summon the courage to face the world, so be it. This too shall pass. Or perhaps not. And I have to write this or go through the day like a madman wondering why I’ve got all these pent-up feelings, and if that happens, you better watch out or you’ll be on the receiving end of some explosion.

3 Responses to “There was no reason behind it; it was just the way things were.” In which I say way too much.

  1. bobritzema says:

    You may not feel that spilling your guts is all that big a deal, but it takes a lot of courage to do that when you don’t have any answers, just questions. I’m glad to hear that you’ll be seeing your psychiatrist once a week. Having that relationship–any caring relationship–is essential when you’re in such a pit. Best wishes at getting out of it.

  2. Pingback: Depression is a spiritual disease: too personal to send irretrievably into cyberspace | Sumnonrabidus's Blog

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