"Hey, Ray, I never went down, man! You never got me down, Ray! You hear me, you never got me down." -- Jake LaMotta to Ray Robinson in Raging Bull.
It’s been over a week since I was able to write more than a few paragraphs. In the same time period I’ve been unable to so much as start to practice my Finnish. I’ve meanwhile managed to read only a little. Meditation has proven impossible. Such is the power of the depression that currently occupies my mind, my body, my soul. I am a listless, lethargic lump only able to carry out everyday chores and work. Even sleep is difficult, unless it is day time in which I’m prone to lengthy naps. My body is full of chemicals, those that are supposed to combat depression, those that are supposed to aid sleep and those that successfully stave of panic attack. I’m too numb to feel panic.
Depression has been a constant in my life for 14 months now taking occasional breaks, the longest of which was for two weeks. Depression is the type of thing that makes you feel bad and makes you feel bad for feeling bad. Depression about depression. I write about my depression a lot. It helps to do so. It is also easy to write about because it is so clear and obvious. There is no ambiguity to it. A clear and present danger.
The depression has been given added fuel by the death of one of my closest friends and the fact that a second close friend is in hospice. That’s two major presences in my life that will be forever silent. I feel a little bit more alone. Also I had a horrible reaction to one anti depressant that gave me vicious rash all over my body. It was replaced by a second anti depressant to which my body reacted with the exact same kind of rash.
Yet I can say in all honestly that I’m happy. My life is a treasure trove of gifts and joys. Wife. Children. Nieces and nephews. Grand nieces and nephews. Friends. Co workers. Job. Physical health. The ongoing presence of books, music and films in my life. Travel plans. Exercise. All range from excellent to sublime. Much to celebrate and appreciate. Without these things perhaps I’d be on the verge of suicide. Perhaps not. I don’t know.
I don’t know is a constant theme of mine these days. This lack of surety in all things. This inability to affirm all but the most basic and obvious truths and realities. It is an overwhelming feeling of weakness. At least I know for sure that I suffer from depression.
But I don’t feel sorry for myself. I’m just depressed. I happen to be dealing with an emotional malady rather than a physical one and it does not prevent me for performing necessary tasks like going to work. I also am confident that it will pass. To feel any other way — as admittedly I sometimes do while in the midst of a particularly bad bout of depression — would destroy me. Without hope there is nothing. And I want something.
As I’ve been struggling to write this the depression has had a firm grip on me, a veritable strange hold. But I feel victorious because for the first time in days I’ve managed to write over 500 words. I’ve further managed to address IT. The pain cannot win if I can point to it, identify it, name it, call it out and spit in its face. Obviously I’m down, but not out. Depression deals some pretty powerful blows that can fell me for a time. But I always get up. I've got that and nothing can take it away from me.