17 July 2016

Dreams, Being a Boy and Depression

I had a dream a few nights ago in which I reluctantly went to see my former psychiatrist, a man who I no longer respect professionally. In the dream his office was re-located to a drafty old building with gaping holes in it and litter strewn about. I sat on a lumpy mattress in the waiting room. I was unhappy about being there but had — for reasons unclear — no alternative. Finally I was summoned by a young lady to the Doctor’s office. I sat down quite far from the doctor as that was the positioning of the chairs in this large room. There was another patient in the room standing talking to the doctor. Another older woman came in who seemed to be the doctor’s assistant. She informed me that there would be two patients in this session. I said I refused to share my session with another person and determined that I would walk out if the other patient was not dismissed. Before that matter was decided the older woman strapped some sort of metal contraption on my head that ran in a circle from chin to top of forehead and back. She produced a drill and said that she would drill into my teeth to test my reaction to pain. She commenced. I protested loudly but the woman carried on. Thus I removed the device from my head — with great effort — and stormed out of the office shouting invectives at one and all. The entire time the psychiatrist had remained silent.

In another dream I had my brother was alive again. He was in excellent health and attributed his recovery to a cat with magical powers that had been formed out of a small object that had recently landed on Earth and bore magical powers. He presented the cat and it said “no” over and over again in a perfect voice. I tried to get it to say something else but it just gave me a bemused look. It was clear the cat did in fact possess special powers.


Last night I dreamt that I was a kid again and engaging in rock fights. When I was growing up there was always talk of rock fights occurring “somewhere else” involving “other people.” It was presumed that only really bad kids participated in rock fights and injuries of a serious nature were common. We threw rocks “towards” each other a few times but always from a great distance. Depending on how one looks at it we were either too cowardly or too smart to have a real rock fight. Rocks were central to a childhood. They had many uses. Sometimes they were carried for protection should a “gang” approach (gangs never approached). Sometimes they were skipped across lakes. Sometimes they were thrown into the air to measure how far or high one could toss them. Sometimes they were studied and wondered upon as they might be thousands of years old and had been trod upon by famous historical figures. If in a particular shape they might be considered to have been employed as tools or weapons by “Indians.” Rocks could also be collected and piled together to later be knocked about. Part of being a boy was breaking things and that could require making the thing that was to be broken.

Activities engaged in by boys could be pretty damn stupid. This of course included ringing door bells and then running like the wind. When indoors one could always make prank calls. I sometimes called numbers at random and pretended to be a little boy looking for his mommy and asserting that this was the number she left for me and sobbing that I didn’t know what to do. This gambit was only attempted if the phone was answered by a woman. Once Mark Norman and I stuffed a mailbox with dirt clods. We loved dirt clods. They could be smashed on sidewalks or against walls.

I used to do a lot of tree climbing when I was a kid. We had both a walnut tree and redwood tree in our backyard. I could only access the lower branches of the redwood by climbing on the roof of my treehouse. This I did. I would climb to heights that would make me dizzy just to look at today. I never once worried about falling and doubt I ever came close to doing so. Trees and bushes also served as excellent sets for playing “army.” There my friends and I or just me alone could pretend to be doing battle in World War II. Actually I didn’t rely solely on outdoor “sets” to pretend to be a soldier in battle. I could just as easily do it on the living room sofa or even on my bed. I was adept at making the sounds of different weapons. I had noises for machine guns, rifles, pistols and cannons. We had a lot of fun as kids and managed it without a computer screen. We did, however, require and employ fertile imaginations. I hope kids today get to use theirs.


Imagine having a persistent and awful physical pain. The doctor prescribes some medication and says it may be awhile before it takes effect and we’ll check in two weeks hence. A week and half later the pain is only a little better.

That’s what depression can be like. It’s goddamned awful, though you can sometimes distract yourself from it, sometimes by writing — if you can get started. There are several activities that will distract you from the pain but starting them isn’t always so easy. Work does the trick (at least my line which is teaching) and because I have to do it there’s no question about getting started. But in other cases it’s not so easy. Watching a comedy on TV can help but sometimes you just hold the remote control in your hand and stare glumly into nothing as a family member tries to encourage you to turn the blasted TV on. I'm under the assumption that some day I'll be free of depression although when it's really bad a future without sadness seems an impossibility.

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