Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Putting My Finger in the Dam

So far I'm holding depression at bay, thanks to several people in several different ways. I've also found that anger is a good way to fight depression, because there's no room for apathy. But I don't recommend it (anger nor apathy). But then again, a little apathy is good now and then; sometimes the problem in depression is taking (the dark things in) life too seriously. But then again, anger is the opposite of apathy, and sometimes that can give meaning to what seems otherwise vacuous.

lol. I sound half-baked, don't I?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

It Lurks

It's been 4 months or so since I quit taking my antidepressant medication. Lately I'm frankly quite scared. I can feel depression, as if it has physical substance, and it is pushing against the door to my room. I try to evade it by closing out thoughts about it, but it is starting to seep through, even without my conscious consent. I'm having fits of anger and bitter thoughts and Eeyore thoughts. It is getting much harder to shut down the engine of gloom once it starts up. I've been in a general malaise for a few weeks; I have to expend so much effort to do the simplest things.

I don't understand what causes this or why it seems to be a separate parasitic entity, sucking life from me. Isn't all of it just Me?

While I was on the medication I read a book or two about depression. A main emphasis in all the (good) books was on building healthy patterns into one's life while under the "protective" influence of medication, so that when the medication safety net is removed and depression lurks (and it will), there will be "checks and balances" in place to combat it with.

Yeah, so I didn't really do that.

I haven't wanted to write. I've been avoiding other people, public places, and personal hygiene.
An ironic aspect of depression is that it shuts me down and cuts me off from everyone but what I need is people and exercise and action. The thing is I don't want to do anything or see anyone or talk.

At this point, having known for a 3/4 of a year what it is to think like a "normal", relatively healthy person, I'm terrified of going back. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do, but I need to make a plan. And part of that is writing about it (after all, a said purpose of this blog is personal journaling). Also (and this is new for me) it means that a few other people know my secret. That's uncomfortable. But maybe voicing some things outside my own head will propel me into action. Just don't anybody call me. ;)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

My Son the Comedian

The other day on our way to school, I told my ten-year-old son, Marshall, that he is a good writer.

"Really?" he asked, "What do you mean?"

"I mean that you write well. You use good words and know how to put them together."

"Oh." He paused long enough to let a smile twist his lips. "Mommy, you mean I have a 'rich vocabulary'?"

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Orual and Psyche

A friend of mine brought into a discussion on my last post, the story of Orual and Psyche, as told by C. S. Lewis in Till We Have Faces. I am reading a book in which the author retells the story of Orual reading her complaint angainst the gods. It's been a few years since I've read the story and it affected me again much the way it did the first time- like a slap in the face.

I am Queen Orual; angry, stripped of what what I love, jealous, jilted and for most of my adult life I've been keeping my book of charges against God. Yet when I stand before Him intending to read my book, I am uncovered, like Orual:
"Orual's nakedness and physical diminishment and her resemblance to Ungit [a false and malicious goddess] symbolize the ugly self-pity and self-justification that she has cherished at the core of her soul all her life. Now these are all she has left. She begins to read her book aloud but it comes out all different from how she thought she wrote it. Her accusation against the gods becomes a childish rant in which she simultaneously discovers and admits that her love for Psyche was not love at all but a fierce, possesive jealousy..."

Later, awaiting the true god, who is coming to judge her actions, Orual feels "terror, joy, overpowering sweetness." She describes what happens to her in his presence:

"I was being unmade. I was no one, " she says, and yet she feels genuine love for Psyche and sees a vision of herself as whole and beautiful for the first time."

(both excerpts from Debra Rienstra's recent book, So Much More: An Invitation to Christian Spirituality)

I think this is what my friend, Andrew, meant when he said, "Maybe that's how God responds [to our anger] sometimes - He returns it and says 'Look at the plank in your own eye'.

What is uncanny to me is that this ruthless stripping of our pretense is, at the same time, the most shaming, painful thing we have ever experienced and the most joyful and liberating.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Of Gods and Children

Sometimes I curse the gods for pestering my tiny brain with so many thoughts, both useless and important. It's funny how the cursing of mythological characters cracks open the pot and lets some steam out, a second before the whole thing blows. I'm thinking of fashioning my own personal god and affixing him (of course he will be male) to the top of my brain, as a sort of steam-release valve.

I've spent years yelling at the real God and have decided it's no good; as recondite as He often is, He always pulls out the "Absolute Perfection" card and trumps my ( less impressive) run of moral failures.

In all seriousness and before I dive head-first into the shallow pool of Sacrilege (have I jumped already?) I'll get to my point: Life is maddening.

I wonder if human life has always been so difficult. My guess is that it's never been a cake-walk. Perhaps it's a bit more like Musical Chairs; we're all running around with a nervousness in our gut, looking out for a small slice of space to squeeze into, while keeping half an eye on the person with the boom box. When the music stops, we've somehow managed to miss the signs and stand enfeebled, shocked senseless; that mangled piece in our middles drops clear through to the floor.

Children's games are altered since I was a girl. Musical Chairs now boasts a merciful 1:1 ratio of chairs to children. Red Rover isn't a Keeping Out; it's a Welcoming In. Kids can't even be on a winning team, anymore; the Law of Opposite's would rear it's head and call the other team losers. This is all part of the big conspiracy we adults concoct to hide from our children the genuine, cut-throat nature of life. I don't know why today's parents try to hide it while yesterday's parents practically created it; maybe, in the face of near-miraculous technology, we're more optimistic about the future of the human race. Maybe, as we move into a global society, we're sure that education and tolerance is the sanity that delivers us from evil. Or maybe each of us is still the red-faced girl who knows the game is over and she doesn't have a chair to sit on.

Kids seem to know our little secret; with the adults gone back inside, they pick up a game of Dodge-Ball. The stronger children pelt the smaller, slower, weaker ones, until somebody bursts apart the illusion of a gentle world with hot tears. They all think this is great fun and will play again tomorrow.

I think there is a sort of counter-intuitive wisdom in this, as there is in most things children do and adults frown upon. While I'm stuck inventing gods to yell at and chasing my tail around inside my head, weaving an impossible knot, the neighborhood ruffians are learning that they've got to run with all their might to evade a hit; that everyone trips over his own feet now and then; that sometimes the little ones deserve a head-start and that a ball can only be thrown so hard before someone gets hurt.

Sunday, April 10, 2005



I love the sea:
the sea's great passion and mine
are of the same kind -
without mercy

A beautiful enchantress is she;
dazzling deep -
When I am standing
(as I am now)
under her great, towering hand
I understand
what the fear of God is

Red Sea water-wall will thunder
and fall -
Sweep back into the great
I, limp, breathing liquid sand
my glassy eyes wide
and my skin cold

I love the sea -
and I fear her;
with that sort of fear
which prompts me to revere -
breathing steadily
until the air turns too thick
to exhale

Monday, April 04, 2005

Synopsis of a Writing Life

I've always wanted to write a book. The only two really major hang-ups in the whole process are:
a) I rarely write
b) I have no idea what to write about

As you can see, the two things play on and off each other, creating one massive cycle of non-writing, which I call, My Life.

I suppose you could say I always knew I was meant to be a writer. I've been a bit crotchety, reclusive, depressed and a hypochondriac since the day I was born (just ask my mom). I wrote my first story when I was six and my first poem at ten. While my older brother devoured book after book, upside down on the couch, his head on the floor and a popsicle in his mouth, I sat in my favorite tree and wrote awful rhymes and stories that never went anywhere but had alot of fun getting there (adjectives, adjectives). An ironic twist to all of this is that my brother is now a freelance writer, with a book contract. Apparently reading books helps one to write them. Who knew? But I have better teeth.

Around the age of ten, when I began writing regularly, I decided it was better kept to my self. If other people saw an awkward, uninteresting, disheveled little girl with run-away hair and throw-away clothes, all the better. It kept me undercover. This is why careers such as Actor and Spy and Superhero appeal to so many of us; who doesn't want to be the unassuming genius? Admit it, you'd rather be Clark Kent, nerdy glasses to boot, than that really successful, good-looking, charming, popular, talented and obscenely rich guy that you work with. It makes being you not just okay but superior; a study in martyrdom, as you carry the cross of average-ness for the sake of the world. So I wrote in secret and tried to imagine the way in which I would one day be "discovered" and how all of humanity would be blessed because of me.

Pretty early on in my writing career I realized that happy things weren't worth writing about; they lacked a dramatic edge. Who wants to read about butterflies and lazy, green fields when there are Rodents Of Unusual Size just beyond in the Fire Swamp? Unfortunately I wasn't able to invent anything quite so interesting as an R.O.U.S. Instead I wrote into my stories something called "Character development" which really just means that they were devoid of plot and action and heavy with sentences like, "She felt sad and alone as she looked at the dark, stormy sky and she wondered gloomily if anyone would ever love her." Later I wrote poems and prose at moments of Great Despair, which always included the words dark, lost, pain, and death.

It was around this time that I discovered books. I read "A separate Peace" and "The Odyssey" and some Aurthur Conan-Doyle for a high-school class. Then we were assigned, "Crime and Punishment" by Fyoder Dostoyevsky and I stopped writing. I spent the next 10 years reading.

Currently I find myself wanting to write. I've outgrown (mostly) my delusions of grandeur and my fascination with the darkness. I still use way too many flowery, descriptive, crowding, inappropriate, superfluous adjectives. But in spite of all that, here I am looking at the dark, stormy computer screen, wondering gloomily what to write.