second is the best

i decided to reboot this blog because:

1. it's winter, and i'm spending a lot of time in front of the computer.
2. i'm depressed, and i want to track my progress.
3. there's an idea kicking around in my head for a book, and i'm out of practice at writing and researching. this can be a place to practice my craft and compile notes.

the book is going to be a fable about depression. i hope it will be more than that. i hope it will be anything at all.

wikipedia's article on major depressive disorder was a good jumping-off point. it was surprisingly informative and links to a lot of source material. that's crucial; in my opinion, there's no such thing as too much information or too many opinions on depression. it affects so many people and since everyone has a different experience of it, everyone is an expert in their own way. everyone who's lived inside the monster, anyway.

at the same time, there are plenty of accurate and scholarly articles by medical professionals, advocacy groups, and people with lots of sound data and double-blind placebo studies and all that. it's so easy, with something as subjective as mental illness, to get swept away in the outpouring of emotion and lose sight of the actual research.

that being said, i want to look at depression from a lot of different angles - culturally, socially, economically. i want to scrutinize it and crystallize my own feelings and thoughts on the matter. there are a lot of tricky questions - can it really be called a disease, or is it more like a functional disorder? what is the difference between having depressive moods and being depressed? is it a problem of chemistry, biology, philosophy, or something else entirely? and those are just the easy generalizations.

i would like to find myself, the root of myself, inside the dense tangle of thorns and brambles that comprise the complex flora of my depression - my black moods, self-destructive tendencies, pessimistic worldview. my poetry. my insomnia and somnolence, my rage and bitterness and grief.

more than anything, i am looking to make a pretty simple distinction. either depression is a parasitic plant, choking off my fresh air and sunlight, that i must shake off or die from, or it exists with my self (whatever that is) in a somewhat more symbiotic capacity, and is a burden i have to carry, and actually try to thrive under, because it is a part of me.

so that's what i want to accomplish, or move toward accomplishing, with this book. the very least that will come of my research is that i'll be slightly more knowledgeable about a condition that most clinical physicians would almost certainly diagnose me with.

at the bottom of it all, i believe that depression, and most human hangups, are about our fear of death and dissolution. as death is an intractible problem, i don't think that it's one i'll be solving any time in the near future. but i have to fly in its face anyway. call me crazy.

most people do.

i'll update later with more thoughts and fun factoids on the subject of the smiling skull-head and other hilarious jokes.

(picture - blue nude by picasso)


Phillip said...

I always thought depression at its worst was kind of a dumb pain, like when you stub your toe and someone says something immediately like "are you ok?" and normally you'd say "Yeah, i'm good" but you just stubbed your toe so you're likely to start screaming at them.
At its best, depression can be breathtakingly beautiful. If you've never experienced this, it's pretty amazing.

AmyWeen said...

ah La Vie. This is my favorite painting of his. I use to sit at the art museum with Olivia and stare at it for,well, lots of minutes.

It's a great idea to do the project you're describing. good luck.

Carmen said...

Phil - i wouldn't say that "dumb pain" accurately describes depression at its worst. depression at its worst feels like a crippling grief over the very facts of your existence and an overwhelming desire to end it all, at least in my experience.

irritability and irrational reactions, while these are certainly symptoms of depression, are certainly not the worst of it.

i have experienced that point where you break through and everything is so tragic that it's beautiful all over again. there's really nothing like it.

Amy - thank you for wishing me good luck, as i'm going to need as much of it as i can get.

Clark D. McEwen said...

I'm in the middle of the a similar depression. Every once in a while I hit that ugly realization that I am who I am, and the events leading my life to now are my own unremovable property. I divine the future and see no silver linings, and in those grotesque moments, the shock of perception it's like being mired in quicksand, and no degree of scrambling serves to shake off the imminent destruction.

Medication comes in the form of booze, pot, acid, and any other 'out of touch' arousing chemical available. Long gone are the people I was, and when I seek to see myself through their eyes it is ultimately disappointing.

I progress via illusions.