Friday, May 2, 2008


I tell the assembled that I don’t lapse into depression; that I have never dealt with that incomprehensible enemy so many people are wont to claim. The diagnoses abound, and the description is bantered about among all types of speakers, in so many conversations. Really? Have I never felt this sinking touch in my chest before? It defies description; it is so cold and formless, right here to be felt, yet existing beyond a description that my language has words for. A shape-no, I would have to make one up. Colorless, because blackness is not the essence, although black hole might be true, for it seems to swallow my vision as I try to examine it. The sheer weight of it hangs heavy in my thoracic cavity, and I can point to it, but yet I know that it is not really there. It is precisely my inability to describe it that is so unnerving, for the speechlessness makes me feel as if I don’t know myself, even as I know that is not true. It is haunting; a feeling that can be seen vaguely by those near me, that I know is visible to all, yet when the question is put forth, what am I to say? Nothing can be said that makes the tiniest ounce of sense, in fact the descriptions are more likely to leave others looking at me askance, murmuring their apologies as they excuse themselves, casting glances back at me and the aura which surrounds me. How did it get so big that all in the room can see? Where does it come from…stealthily creeping in unseen, entrenching itself like an enemy soldier in a foxhole, preparing for a battle. Yet it doesn’t sit and wait, it grows. It chokes. It darkens and deadens the air all around. The air I breathe. The air I see. The resonance of my words even sounds hollower. Sunlight becomes harder and harder to bear. Night time is no better, because the dark breeds the dark. An oversized knot never leaves my throat, and no amount of swallowing or spitting can free this passageway from its grasp. I choke down…what? Sadness? Despair? Absolute submission and defeat? How do I make it stop? Can I? Then it takes control of my thoughts and points them towards the darkest reaches of my mind. Maybe it is cancer, and I am dying. Or maybe there is something else wrong with me, something more fundamental…maybe I am crazy. Insane. Feeble-minded and weak of resolve.
All this is extreme, but it is as close as I can come to describing the tiny, brief glimpses I have had into the soul-sickness so commonly referred to as depression. Maybe it is clinical, maybe medicine can help it. I don’t know. I do know that I am so glad that these feelings have always been relatively brief, and have never lasted any significant time, for me. They have come to me in different times of my life, at different junctures, sometimes unexpected, often right on time. I felt it tonight, following, of all things, a study of spiritual writings with a new friend here on the island. It shook tears loose from my eyes, it made me want to curl up in a ball, it made me want to call my father and ask for his help and-god damn it-it made me hate myself. More than anything else it always makes me mad at myself! So all I could think of was sitting down and writing this out. I played some music as I wrote, and at the beginning of this paragraph, a song started which always uplifts me. (It’s #8 on the first cd I made you Liz) and it did not fail this time. I can’t believe how quickly it exposed my spiraling thinking as the perpetuating cause of my own depression.
“when its cold outside, there’s no need to worry, cuz I’m so warm inside, you give me peace, when the storm’s outside, cuz we’re in love I know, it’ll be alright, alright yes alright”
It is the song that touched my soul and gave me that moment of clarity so often alluded to-it’s the song that made me realize I had to change my life. I heard it for the first time on May 7th, 2006.
Regardless, of what did it, it was gone. And I am reminded how amazingly blessed I am to not have to fight this battle on a more regular basis. To all of my friends who face feelings like this, know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Thank you for all you’ve ever shared with me about your lives.
Lastly, I am as I should be. Please don’t worry too much. I am just going through a natural process, (i believe) that involves assimilating myself into a new place with new people. I'll be thinking of you all often. And everything WILL be alright.


ryran said...

My bro, you continue to surprise me. I miss you.

sonya said...

As a person who lived with some pretty severe depression for a pretty severely long time, this was really interesting for me to read. I'm not really sure what my thoughts are, actually....

ksawhill said...

Even while I deeply believe it will be alright--it IS alright--I still want to try and make it better (read, "pain-free"). B/c I believe in you, I can talk myself out of trying to do anything to "fix it". Never worked in the past; don't know why it would now!
I remember some of the loneliness and unhappiness (depression?) when we were in the Cooks, esp. the 1st year, and I remember the Peace Corps people in Washington urged us to stick it out at least a year, b/c it's so common for people to give up and go home. Is it b/c of depression? Something like that. I love you. I believe in you. I'm right here. Love, Mom