Category archives for depression
Come, Lord Jesus.
I don’t have much to say. I’ll try to write more often.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
I was thinking the other day about Art and how though I think I’d kind of questioned it or given up on it, it has shaped me. Photographs really permanently palpably changed me.
It would be hubris for me to echo all Paul claims, and I don’t mean to do so, but still, it makes sense right now.
We’re a houseful of bloggers these days, me and Sarah and Hannah bedding among nurses and other artists in one house. The two of them both have much more seen and to say than me. I’m in awe of them . . .
Last night, Sarah checked in on me in my room. I was sitting on the top of a bunk-bed frame, staring at nothing with my computer and a tall plastic mug of tea and a half-drunk beer and a pile of papers arrayed around me. Our mattresses were on the floor blocking the door, where they’ve been for the past two weeks because the bed’s so creaky. Startled by the scene, she asked how I was. I tried to answer, speaking very slowly, but I sobbed through my words anyway. And so she collapsed onto my mattress to look at me as I wiped my eyes raw.
It has been a perfectly all-right semester, but I’ve been pretty terrible throughout it. This fall, the depression had reappeared, incited by a rough summer. It chained me to my bed and in my empty head. I didn’t want to go anywhere, do anything, or see almost anyone. I was unkind and selfish and rude to the people I did see, fighting over whatever I could. It’s difficult to reach the end of the semester now and be so so sorry and so regretful and not know at all how or whether anything can be fixed.
Sarah talked, awhile. So well; so kindly. Later that evening she sent me a song to hear and read, and I thought of the Prodigal Son and all that meant to me and still does. It means a lot. Things will be okay.
I think coming up on Christmas is a good place to be; it will be a good several final days of Advent to think before the holiday once I get out of school. Things might, in the spring, be more okay then; will be more okay than I think.
I read David Foster Wallace’s short story “The Depressed Person” about a week after I withdrew from study abroad. The story is eight pages in Harper’s (January 1998; you can download the PDF from their website). It took me several hours to finish. It was too hard to read in one go.
When I Googled it later — but why would I ever? — I saw words like “hilarious,” “self-obsessed,” “parody.” Embarrassing: that was not what I’d thought. I can tell now, looking back at the story, how insane it is, but at the time it only felt like Wallace had broken into my brain because it was so incredibly, intensely true for me.
I sent a quotation from the story to a few close friends who had played that “Support System” role. They did not recognize me in it. That was horrifying, because, I (using the royal “we,” I suppose; I don’t want to speak for others) wrote —
It’s really hard to say I identify with this story. It’s dramatic and narcissistic — though the second adjective, I didn’t realize till an article used the word. That girl, though — to everyone except the Support System to whom she seems like an insecure, blabbering narcissist, seems normal and happy. She looks all right. Maybe she’s a little sad, or a little stressed, or a little frazzled, but she’s all right. She might be having a bad week or going through a challenging phase, like the rest of us.
It’s dramatic and narcissistic, but it is no less true. It is no less fucking true. Life like this might seem fine and livable, and that’s part of what makes it so so horrible and hard and horrible and horrible. We hate imposing on you. We hate being different. We hate being sad and miserable. We hate ourselves. We despise ourselves. We mock ourselves.
In a piece for Thought Catalog, Liz Colville writes of how “we long to feel our abnormal is normal” and to feel “less alone, less different, less damaged, less strange.” Wallace’s story did that.
I want art to continue to acknowledge and see the human condition, with depression and everything, everything else. I want everyone, depressed or not, to read, and to grow quiet, under a grave cloud of thought, and to go forward: live with hope.