Monday, April 10, 2006

Back to Depression with Kenyon

Kathleen’s in NY until 4/17 and I have sunk into a depression. As a bipolar I, I knew I was in a mixed state at the motel in Fort Bragg. As my last post described, our new abode filled me with anxiety for the very contrast between the starkness of our indoor environment and the luxuriance of the coastal redwoods. I started lithium while there, and by the time I arrived at my daughter’s, near Sacramento, I had all the symptoms of depression, though masked by lithium.

I added olanzapine last night and today obtained a prescription from my new psychiatrist for fluoxetine and buproprion. Unfortunately my debit card won’t work to pay for them yet, as the money I gave my daughter to help obtain a lawyer put me in the hole again, from which my sister again extricated me, generous soul, with the admonition not to try to pay her back her loan until I was settled.

I do not regret the shame I felt in inconveniencing her, as the money I gave my daughter was to help with the custody battle for our grandson, Jacob, with whom I feel a special bond. But when depressed it is rare that I feel I am doing the right thing; in this I felt I was, which was a miracle, as with regard to everything else, while melancholic, I feel that I might as well throw darts. “Do I dare to eat a peach?” How about watermelon? Sit or stand? Drink or not drink? Walk or sit? All such considerations are only pointless exercises in the indecision of existential despair.

When depressed everything looks strange to me. Every place I go it seems I’ve never been there before. My own body becomes alien; my spirit has abandoned it. I seek distraction as I am incapable of pleasure. In the worst depressions I cannot eat or sleep. This one has not gotten that bad yet, and won’t, as I have quickly attacked with medications from long experience.

It is not surprising that I have finally sunk into a depression after the last year-and-a-half. I am not Superman, after all, and life takes its toll. And the increased medications, though they keep the abyss from completely swallowing me, only do so by clouding my vision and slowing my synapses. This is, of course, better than the hypervigilant deer-in-the-headlights anxiety that would otherwise attend me. What’s terrible about melancholia is the need to act, to do something, anything, while you cannot bring yourself to act. It’s like trying to run in place in cement. There’s a desperation that requires you do something but there’s nothing to do, only the sense that something must be done and done quickly, else you are damned.

I am not alone in this mood, however. Ever since he was separated from Kathleen, Kenyon has been moping. He doesn't want to go on walks, eats little, and when I leave him alone he just stares into the distance, sitting, waiting for Kathleen to come. It' unnerving. Today I let him out and positioned himself on the grass near my daughter's door, always looking in the distance as if Kathleen might arrive at any second.

The best thing in all this has been playing with my grandson, Jacob. But I'll save that for another post. He is so rambunctious there is not time for me to stew in my own juices for long. He left for his father's today and I miss him terribly already.

Thine in Truth and Art,

C. E. Chaffin


  1. You know... I never knew depression until that year that I was on high dosages of pred. and cytoxan. I wanted everyday to be over... I could not even enjoy food. What helped was this little dog (belonged to my brother), a Jack Russell terrier. He would cuddle up around my legs and guard me in my sleep. He would bring me his leash for a walk. Yes... I think it was my husband and this dog.. that kept me from dying from depression.

    My world was gray. It was one-dimensional. I never understood. I do not want to go through that again. It was horrible.

  2. Dear Cynthia,

    I agree. It's the worse disease I know, with the possible exception of ALS. It's soul-killing.

    Our family is rife with mood disorders; my Aunt Jean called it "The Chaffin Curse."

    Luckily, with modern pharmacotherapy, even manic-depressives of the worst variety can lead fairly normal lives, though mine, if only confined to this blog, does not qualify as such. .

    Thanks for reading,


  3. CE,

    in the past year I have emailed you at the email address you post in your profile here, and twice I have posted to your blog asking you to check your enail, all of which have gone w/o reply from you.

    Being unaware of an inadvertent action from which you could have derived an animus of such
    magnitude as to induce
    a permanent silence between us, I plod along
    here, under what may be a misguided notion that this
    lack of response is somehow
    related to a malfunction in one or the other of our email systems.

    If this has been the case,
    and you will drop me a line with a working email address, I'll resend you my last note.

    If this has not been the case, please forgive the ramblings of one too dumb to readily grasp that being ignored is itself the message.

    In either case,
    wishing you the best,


  4. Dear HA,

    I wrote you back, dude. Don't know why you didn't get it. Please try again at

    Mark it "urgent" so there's no question. Sorry about the difficulty, as I think I know who you be.


  5. Anonymous7:56 AM PDT


    If it's any consolation, your spirit is still recognizable beneath the fog of depression. Of course I suppose this will not come as even a small consolation, given the nature of the disease.

    take care


  6. Dear Norm,

    It is a consolation, just as my faith, although while depressed both are distant constructs.

    In my senior year at UCLA, for instance, I won the top award for an undergraduate in English. At the time I was convinced they had made a grievous mistake, as all my upper division papers, so I thought, were pure gibberish--I couldn't understand them on a seconc read. So objectively, it appears my performance, even when psychotically depressed, appears normal to others. If they only knew!



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