Tuesday, November 07, 2006

On Depression - and a picture of a sock

There was a little gnome

And she had a little home

Right in the middle of my forehead.

And when she was good

She was very, very good

And when she was bad, she was horrid fucking awful.

Here's my Interlacements sock (aka The Sock of Infinite Pleasure) so far. It's accompanied by my helper, the Hocus-Pocus Bag.

The rest of this post is more serious and introspective in tone, so if you're not up for that, just distract yourself by looking at the sock.

I've suffered from depression for a long time, but I wasn't formally diagnosed until about a year ago, when my biochemistry marshalled its forces and took over my life. Things got better for a while, but it's reasserted itself, and I'm trying to figure out what to do next.

Some days, I'm fine - some moments, I'm fine. And then something happens to me. It's in part biochemical, but it's often triggered by events - work most often, sometimes family - and I transform into this bloody, suppurating, suffering mass of raw nerve endings, incapable of rational response to what should be normal stresses. Most people, given a healthy enough sense of themselves and their place in the world, would be able to process it, cope, and move on. I am plunged into black despair, unable to see any value or redemption in any part of myself. I take it all in and get lost in it.

In this place, everything bad is true. I am incapable, incompetent, hopeless, irredeemable. I am a deep void of child-fear, rage and paranoia. I project my own worst self-impressions onto my co-workers and am convinced that this is how they see me. I am a failure, and I castigate myself for it. You know the bullies that were horrible to you at school? They got nothin' on the one in my head.

Even outside of these episodes, I'm often paranoid and suspicious, certain that I'm under judgement all the time. I no longer know what is me and what is not-me. This doesn't happen with my friends so much - anywhere that official evaluation has no sway, I'm fine and relatively comfortable. Thank heckins.

I find it interesting, though, to attempt to look at this from the perspective of my observer-self; to muddle through an articulation of what happens in my head when logic and perception go awry. I hope that ultimately, I'll come to understand it better.

I can sound together as I write this, but here's how it looks from the belly of the beast. This was written last week in a few minutes over lunch:

foul demon, corrupted gargoyle, twisted and deformed - I would cast you out but you are my creation, so deeply chained that the links remain unbroken and I cannot find the source.

I am Pompeii, the ashes of Vesuvius so thick and heavy in the air, my silver shadow besmirched and blackened, buried under impenetrable layers of my own devising. My grief is red as blood.

Persephone, how I envy you. What I wouldn't give for even one glowing pomegranate seed here in the dark. At least you could move, and the sun was a certainty.

The soil is frozen hard; no seed of mine will sprout on the plains of desolation.

And so I spin myself a green cocoon here in the black, hunker down under the poisoned ash and the weight of lifetimes and await a sign - any sign - of spring.

Maybe depression needs to be re-marketed as a development opportunity for bad free-form verse. Quality of the writing aside, I think it conveys that this is a very bad place to be. When I'm in it, it seems interminable - there's no hope and no end, and even if it does pass, there's the certain knowledge that I will be engulfed by it again and again. No amount of preparation makes that any easier.

Wow, huh? I try to take the days as they come, and in my more rational moments try to remember all of the people and things for which I'm thankful. I'll spend at least part of this afternoon in a coffee shop, knitting and reading. I'm really looking forward to it - it'll help me recharge and perhaps feel more like myself.


Jen said...

peace out sister. there's light at the end of the neverending tunnel. talk about faith based statements....


Lorena said...

Love the sock. Love the honesty. One is beautiful and one is harsh; both deserve examination. It's interesting that you said "And so I spin"... do you spin? I've found that spinning (on my wheel, not on that cursed drop spindle) puts me in a very zen, very calm, very relaxed state. I don't know if it's the forced slowing down, the sound, the movement, or that I can't do anything other than focus on the fiber... but it puts me in A Place. It worked for Gandhi, maybe it'll work for us.

Robin said...

Hang in there Sophia. If you'd like it, I have a pretty good book to help deal with that gremlin of your's. Just send me an email if you're interested. Love the sock, by the way...

Lorena said...

Okay, so after I wrote that, I felt bad about saying "harsh" because what I *meant* was harsh like a bright light shown on shadows; not harsh like, bad. Ugh, me communicate gooder in future.

jacquieblackman said...

if you need anything you know where to find me. i got yer back, yo!

Nadia said...

Powerfully written post on a difficult subject. Stay strong, there are lots of people who's lives you've touched.
By the way, both my sister and my mom commented on your gorgeous Clapotis after we saw you on Sunday!

Not An Artist said...

I'm always amazed/scared when I hear other people's experiences with depression and how crushingly similar they are to mine. Keep writing it out, it helps to work it out. And enjoy your afternoon of knitting and coffee :) Hugs.

Sandi Purl said...

i may not have advice, but you have my ear(s) and shoulder(s) whenever you need 'em. mucho love, s)

Carol said...

Wow! Thanks so much for your honesty about the space you're in. You are so eloquent.
I've been there too. Several times. Mine just presents a bit differently from yours. But I know where you're at.
It's so wonderful that you can write and knit. Keep doing those things that you get real enjoyment from, and if you need anything, all you have to do is call.

MezzoDiva said...

I'm another card carrying member of the walking wounded society. I've carried the gnome in my head too for much of my life. There were times I was sure the light at the end of the tunnel was nothing but an oncoming train. I'm currently working to shine the light into all the dark places in my soul, adressing the causes both biochemically and psycho-therapeutically.
Just remember: you're fortunate to recognize the demon on your back - so many don't and they succumb to its destructive influence. You have a personal support system and a community of sisters online who care for you. And there ARE creative and spiritual advantages to a legacy of born of hurt - you can transform it, reclaim your natural joy and vitality, and the hardest-won wisdom will become a profound source of truth, strength and peace.