Thursday, July 13, 2006
Coleridge, Kenyon and Depression
Today's bipolar poet is Samuel Taylor Coleridge. That's his death mask in the photo. Like many poets, he is right hemisphere dominant, which you can see by the increased expression grooves worn into the left side of his face, along with the lips downturned to the left.
In conversation, at least, he was regarded as the greatest genius of his era. Unfortunately, depression undid him, which doctors treated with opium, to which he became addicted, and he was dependent on others for much of his life after age 30. His literary production did not reflect the genius of his creative mind, which he described as "a great Surinam toad sprouting other, smaller toads as it moved forward." (loose quote) I recommend his "Dejection: An Ode" as a great description of clinical depression, interspersed with memories of past highs, and a courageous attempt to overcome his mood, though many take this poem to be about his opium addiction. Guess what: 60% of bipolars are also substance abusers.
As for myself, I continue in the same state. I did go to the gym today and took a "body sculpting class for elder boomers," where I was the only man and also the youngest in the room. It was nevertheless a good workout for my out-of-shape frame. I discovered, as a depressed person, that it's much less pressure to simply attend an exercise class than to try to work out on your own. I hope to return tomorrow.
Kenyon's arthritis is getting worse. Not only his left forelimb but his left hind leg is now showing stiffness. Yesterday we took him for a hike and had to stop short because he looked exhausted. Afterwards, swimming, he lacked his usual stamina. I hope it was only the hike that reduced his swimming stamina; otherwise this represents a significant change. I dread the day we shall have to put him to sleep. He is Kathleen's familiar; they are joined at the hip. When I came home today after dropping Kathleen at work, he greeted me at the door but continued to sit and wait for Kathleen, emitting a low whine when she didn't appear. I really worry about Kathleen when the dreaded day comes. I fear she will be inconsolable. But isn't this scenario exactly the kind of thing a depressed person dwells on? Enough!
Holding at 3 Kilorats,