Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cockroaches and Depression: Sine Wave #25

Kitchen Talk

The world's expert on melancholy
cringes in the corner.
"It's just my mood," he says
then scurries under the refrigerator,
safe in the compressor's hum.

Herky-jerky he scales the wall.

"Where are you going?" I ask.

"While that sweet motor still sings in my head
like the blessed cicadas, I must seize
this absence of self-absorption to scavenge."

"When will you return to human form?"

"When my shell chafes and I crave light
and faces don't look alien anymore."

"What about my face?"

"Don't make me look."



Strangely, this is one of the favorite poems of a former student of mine, Teresa White, whose website link appears on this blog (In What Furnace?).

You may not know her but if you google her you can sample her work.

Right now she is facing a serious health issue. My prayers are with her, but just as the speaker above cannot impose his view upon the cockroach, I will not try to impose compassion for a unknown friend upon readers.

Her husband is terrified.

Then the patient, after diagnosis, is often strangely protected by the dissociation between mind and body, the same dissociation doctors suffer from when discussing cases.

In any case I can give you the link to her being featured poet in The Melic Review: "Melic in Heat" --sexy stuff!

I have of late been receiving less comments about my blog, which may be due to the onset of summer or just the random concatenation of forces unknown. But do keep those cards and letters coming; though they won't reverse depression, they do help sustain me while I endure it.

I'm sending my finished manuscript on T. S. Eliot (T. S. Eliot: Dissociation and Incarnation) to a professor at a small Midwestern college tomorrow. I hope it doesn't seem too sophomoric to him, as he is someone I admire. He was also a great friend when I was a psychiatric resident in Michigan. We'd read our newly composed poems to each other over omelets on Saturday mornings. I can't even remember how I met him.

I often regret how geographical distance inhibits ongoing friendships. I imagine a village where all the people who've been close to me over the years live within walking distance. In modern life such an ambition is absurd, I suppose, despite Carole King's protestations. But isn't it interesting in this modern high-tech world that despite all our means of communication, there is no substitute for incarnation, for physical presence? When friends move away or I move away from them, a gradual loss ensues. Most of us are too busy to connect unless we remain in actual propinquity. This gives the lie to the phone, the Internet, and television evangelism.

Anyway, there's only two more days before Sine Wave Part I ("From the Nadir") will be entirely posted here. As I'm still suffering from depression, I'm not going to post the second half of the book until I have some confidence that my mood has improved and is likewise sustained for at least two weeks. I suppose most readers will be relieved by the break, and I don't blame them. Two weeks may not sound like much, but in severe depression it is an eternity. I am not severely depressed at present, but I'm definitely more submerged than above water, for reasons I explained in yesterday's post.

I must say, for those uninformed, that I found the saga of Laura VanRyn quite entertaining today. You can google the name if you wonder what all the fuss is about, but ironically, she is from the same area where I trained in psychiatry and met the aforementioned professor, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

May your optimism exceed your realism,




  1. Ahhh, now being a comment whore isn't all bad - a little ego stroking is good for anyone.

    Perhaps if the email updates I receive only had teasers I'd be quicker to visit and comment...

    Of course, if you have the added bonus of comments being mildly theraputic, then let the games begin. I shall return!

  2. Anonymous8:44 AM PDT

    Sorry to hear about Teresa. Please tell her I remember her and her work very well and send good thoughts for her recovery.


  3. Please give best wishes to Theresa and family from me when you next speak to her. I remember her poetry - her writing always a pleasure to workshop.

    Regarding comments: It's tough to comment on the blog of your affliction, because I don't share it. My 13-yr-old daughter suffers from the same illness. She's brilliant, gifted above others in music and poetry, and still she finds no joy around her. Her life is a constant struggle for balance between coping strategies and medication.

    It's a tragic mystery, and one I'll never truly understand.

  4. Good suggestion, Rea.

    KB, good of you to remember Teresa.

    Carl, I have two daughters diagnosed as bipolar, one a bipolar 'I' like myself. Childhood and adolescence are extremely difficult times to treat mood disorders, as the brain is immature and standard "miracle" medications like Lamictal just don't work as well, not to mention the fact that the personality is not fully formed and thus the patient can mistake the outlook of their mood for their actual person.

    The good news is that both of my daughters, now in their late twenties, are doing very well, have achieved independence and employment, and take their meds religiously, as the illness has taught them to do.

    So don't give up hope. And try to help your daughter remember that she has feelings--she is not her feelings--a distinction most thirteen-year-olds, sadly, can't make yet.


  5. I am sorry to hear about your poet friend. :-) And yes, I understand the disassociation between mind and body. BUT, some of that could probably be caused by the medication. As you know, I have found that certain types of medication like cytoxan causes an inability to think. Scary and horrible.

    Another thing I have learned is that she will never be the same after this experience and her writing will change. Maturity would cause the same phenomenon, but .... illness is more drastic.

    Hope you are feeling better.


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