Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Grand Funk, Not the Railroad...

Depression is rage spread thin.  ---  George Santayana

In the films, actresses such as Garbo made melancholy and depression seem so...attractive. Almost glamorous.

Well, baby, that's only in the movies.

This is not a pretty subject, but it's a real one. It's not pleasant to discuss, but to try to silence it and confine it only seems to give it strength.

To voice it seems to lift the handle on its dark cage and releases it out into the light so you can see it, so you can face it.

If you ever suffer from bouts of---yes, say it---depression, you may just recognize some of the symptoms. Many of these feelings are continuous for some. For me, fortunately, they're only occasional. But even those occasions are potent enough to knock me to my knees.

Everyone hates you. Everyone is out to get you. Every bad thing that happens is your fault. Somehow---even though it has nothing to do with you or is a million miles across the globe---it is your fault. You cry.

Every nasty word spoken on the social networks, in groups, all over the world, is directed at you. A perpetual condemning finger is pointed in your face. You cry a little more.

Your writing sucks. You can receive a million wonderful comments on your book and you smile; yet even one mockery, one snarky comment sends you into fits of horrific insecurity about your talent. You cry even more.

The world plays favorites and you're the oddball left out of life's game of Red Rover, Red Rover. Nobody likes you. Nobody wants you on their team. You're nobody's favorite. Tune up for more tears.

You don't fit in anywhere. Being a square peg in a round hole, for some, is just wonderful individuality. For you, it's glaring, humiliating case of not being cool. You simply don't belong. Bawl fest.

Everyone's talking about you behind your back. Major waterworks.

Everybody's work is better than yours. If you can't be like them, write what they write, you're a failure. It's no matter that you have your own indivudual talent. You aren't happy with that. You want to be the other authors. Cry me a river.

You want to be alone, very alone, yet the 'aloneness' is unbearable as it leaves nobody in the room but you and the entity called depression. You crave support and a kind word but, like a vampire to a cross, you cringe and hiss when it's offered. Hell, you even bite the friendly hand sometimes.

As an author,you can't get recognized fast enough and not only are you angry at yourself for this, you're angry at those who are recognized already.

Mix all this together and you have one huge, boiling-over-the-rim pot of frustration and self-loathing. Like I said, such emotions are a regular state of mind for some. They have never been so for me; and, to feel them at all is intolerable.

And the worst part of it all---for me, anyway---is that this condition seems to be more powerful because I am a writer. I'd suffered with minor bouts of depression off an on for years; but their strength has increased since I began to write.

A little bit, I think, is 'post partum' depression from having released my first new work in over a year. I always say writing and book publishing are like childbirth. Well, they are---complete with the after-the-beautiful-high plummet into melancholy.

A lot, I know, is the loss of my son-in-law this year. Oh, there is so much unaddressed anger, grief, frustration, confusion inside me and it makes me so goddamn, crazy furious I'm afraid I'm going to self-combust soon. But I don't know how to address it.

Whatever the cause of my dark season, no matter where it comes from or why, it is no excuse to lose control and take the fear and discomfort out on others. And yet I have done just that.

I've aliented those who are usually there. Not even they are able to be the comforting rocks they usually are. I'm too angry to want a Rock of Gibralter, I want to flounder right now and lick my wounds. I want to feel sorry for myself, it seems the only sensible thing right now. See? Just another side effect---the sincere feeling that I deserve to flounder and sink.

It reminds me of my attempt at swimming lessons years ago. Upon my sinking in the huge, Olympic size pool, the instructor jumped in to save me. Panicking, I clawed at his head in an effort to push myself above water and nearly drowned him. I needed to be rescued but I resisted it.

This unsettled state causes resentment toward things where no resentment should be.

It's a state of pettiness, demanding attention. I look in the mirror and see a prima donna. Me, me, me. To most, I'd be willing to bet, it appears to be a severe case of narcicism. Yet, deep in my heart, I know the selfishness is merely a stubborn clinging---a realization that I really, really do not want to sink. And I'm screaming, shouting, hating, crying, loving, fearing, clawing so someone will notice that I am adrift. I'd probably, as usual, deny the helping hand. As Garbo would say, I want to be left alone.

Maybe I do need to be left alone. But I don't want to be left alone.

If you've stuck with me to the end of this diatribe, I thank you. It's not my customary type of blog, but sometimes that thing inside us gets too big and, unless it's addressed, it consumes.

And...well...I refuse to be consumed by it.


Jaime Samms said...

You know where I am. Hugs.

Vastine Bondurant said...

Hugs, Jaime.

Dorien/Roger said...

Being depressed from time to time is part of the human condition, but true depression is a terrible thing that can't really be understood by those who have never fully experienced it. It appears you are blessed on the one hand by its not being a full-time, ALL-the-time thing, but on the other hand it only intensifies the feelings when you are once again immersed in it. Please talk with your doctor and see what he can do for you. You can't lose anything, and you stand to gain a lot. My thought are with you

Vastine Bondurant said...

Dorien, thank you.
It's hard to give in and admit you're up agaisnt something bigger than what your normal strengths can deal with.

andys said...

I totally understand. I think I'm fighting a bout of it right now. And that's why one of my characters struggles with depression too, because it allows me an outlet to talk about it, while also being removed from me, if that makes sense. Depression just sucks balls.

Vastine Bondurant said...

Hey, Andy!
That is a benefit of writing, for sure! Being able to somehow channel emotions into our stories.

(((Hugs)) to you with your bouts! And I'm here if you ever need to talk.

Joylene said...

Somethings need to be said. As someone who suffers occasionally from depression, my biggest dislike is when I hate myself. I feel like a terrible mother, a lousy wife, an ungrateful friend, and all around cold, unfeeling bitch. Those times are the absolute worst. So, what do I do? I write, I surf, I read wonderful blogs like yours, Carol, and slowly my perspective clears, and all's right with the world again.


Joylene said...

ps. I love Garbo, and Susan Hayworth, and Susan Hayward. Oh, and Carole Lombard.

Vastine Bondurant said...

Oh, Joylene, thank you for sharing. I know those feelings exactly. You're a bad everything, no matter what you do. So miserable with that burden.

Love you, lady. Thank you for sharing.

And I love Hayward, Hayworth and Lombard, too.

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

Been to the depression well and got angry at its depth. CRAWLED out. Hated it because I could not write while in it, the drugs made it impossible.
Thanks for writing about this...and being creative when in the throes.
terrible time to be depressed.
never want to go there again.
HAPPY to find a new friend in you!

Vastine Bondurant said...

Cerise, thank you so much for visiting! It's good to meet you!

Oh, that crawling out sounds so familiar. And crawling it is, too, isn't it?

Glad to have a new friend in you as well! (((Hugs)))

Kathy K said...

Depression; even the name is enough to take the sunshine out of my day.

Vastine, my heart goes out to you for all that you've been through--it would be amazing had you not encountered your version of the life-stealer. I can't relate to the form your depression's taken, but I do know that your fighting spirit, your heart, and those in your life are what will carry you through. And like Jaime, I, too, am here.

I've been struggling with depression, off and on, for years--since I was about 11. Unfortunately forty-some years ago depression was something nobody talked about and it never, ever occurred in children. It wasn't until after my second miscarriage that it got bad enough that something my husband said to our family doctor got his attention. At this time I had three young children, 4, 2½ and 1, as well. I could barely find the energy to do what I absolutely had to do for my kids. They were my saving grace--as well as my husband and my family doctor.
It took a few weeks for the medication to kick in, and even now, twenty-some years later I can remember the feeling that somewhere, someone had turned on the light. I could not--and still cannot--describe the power of the realisation that this, this was what the majority of people felt and that for twenty-some years I had never experienced.

That's not to say that those twenty years were lived under a dark cloud, but the clarity of feeling, the brightness of each day, the utter... lightness of being was not something I had ever experienced.

I'm fifty-two now, fifty-three this summer, and while the medications have, for the most part, helped me keep that sense of being so present in my life, there have been occasions when the darkness, the vast emptiness, returns--the last few times because I've gotten myself over-involved and over-committed. Unfortunately I'm pulling out of yet another one of these abyss times, but I'm also much more aware of it and I've learned that I have to take stock and cut back. It's never pretty, and it's frustrating, to say the least, that I have limits. But then I have to remember that we all have limits of one kind or another, and I have four beautiful children, all adults now, an extremely supportive husband and a life that is very satisfying.

Depression doesn't run my life anymore and I do have limits, but there are so many more of those days where light is in my life... and for that I am so grateful, because I remember what the other side is like.

And oh my, apologies!