Monday, October 23, 2006

Depressive Recidivism; Sonnet, "Mastering Melancholy"

Depression is a terrible thing, but a sputtering depression is new to me. Usually I rise out of the Slough of Despond all at once, spread my wings beneath the sun to dry, and take off. But this depression, which I date back to April Fool’s Day (how appropriate), has been sputtering. I get out of it, my record being ten days, even have a day or two of kilobunnies. But I descend again.

Manic-depressions are the hardest of all depressions to treat. I’m on six medications. If I were still living in Long Beach I would have opted for outpatient electroconvulsive therapy by now. But without medical insurance, and here in the boonies, it is not a possibility.

Many mystics talk about “The Dark Night of the Soul.” No doubt those more spiritual than I have come through darkness to a new understanding of light, but my experience with depression since the age of 13 has taught me that it is a serious illness which must be treated aggressively, and that each time I suffer a depression it seems another part of my soul has been taken. The great insights I get from depression sound like this:

You’re worthless how could you be on disability you should be practicing medicine you’re a leech on society your poetry is of no account you will never be recognized your life is a total waste why are you even alive you stink up reality with your narcissistic pre-occupation how can anyone say they love you it is all a lie you are a living lie you call yourself a Christian but you don’t go to church and you drank too much last nigh besides you waste time watching TV you have no plan for retirement you live hand-to-mouth you’re pitiful why does God even allow you to stain the earth?

Except it’s much worse than that. That’s what antipsychotics are all meant to treat, the psychotic inner babble of the depressive, a faucet that cannot be turned off without help.

I’m not saying I haven’t had to have treatment for acute manias in the past; I have. Yet for most manic-depressives the ratio of depression to mania is at least three to one. And manias are almost always followed by severe depressions if left untreated.

My crying jags began while visiting my daughter and grandson over the weekend, and per usual they came in the late morning and late afternoon. Weeping while depressed does calm the system temporarily, but I find it actually increases depression since there is nothing real to cry about, thus crying reinforces the black mood instead of ventilating it.

Having said all this, territory most of you have traveled with me if you have followed my blog, I refuse to give in to depression in any ultimate sense, the subject of today’s sonnet.

Mastering Melancholy

You are the demon that I know so well,
So intimately even my wife can’t know.
I’d tell her if she could. She knows your spell
And how you turn a living man to wood.
Mere wood is better than your torturings,
The way you saw me always against the grain
For the most friction in your butcherings
Leaving a raw vacuum of pain.
There’s no negotiation, nothing to mend.
My resin bleeds for no one; I am lost,
Lost in the darkness of your great pretend.
A terrible joke it is, and at such cost.
But you won’t master me; I master you
By doing nothing more than getting through.

At 3.5 Kilorats,



  1. Dear Craig Erick,

    Be strong. Have faith.

    I just sent an email. I hope you don't mind.

    OMG - Just look at that !!! The word verification says: daftu.
    And I have to type that? Maybe that description of yourself is daft?

    What's the boonies?


  2. My experience with bi-polar disorder is limited to having grown up in a home with a brother who had it from a very young age. He struggles to this day and is disabled. His disease frightens me. Myself, I’ve struggled with addiction and depression for as long as I can remember. I know the pain of a relentless mind – particularly one that would like to see you dead. I’m forty and have been in therapy longer than I haven’t. If I could kill my ego I would – dead a thousand ways.

    Over the last few years I’ve stumbled onto something. Suddenly, I’m growing wings. I’m in a process of transformation and I’m healing. And it all started the minute I got out of my own head. Sometimes we’re too smart for our own good – literally. Out of my head and into my heart.

    I see consciousness like a three-legged stool. The first leg is being in “the adult” the second leg is being in the stream of love and the third is being gentle with yourself. Anytime my world seems off, I can trace it back to a missing or wobbly leg.

    I don’t care how dark the night may seem I am absolutely certain that you are loved, in spite of anything you can imagine. I know this because there is no doubt in my mind any longer that I am loved, and I can think of no greater wretch than myself. When I was at my worst, no one was more lost and alone and unplugged from Source as me.

    Along with all else that you are trying to accomplish, try love.

    I wrote a poem on Saturday that you might find comforting. Its called Just You

    Dennis --

  3. You, too, Coral with your terrible global pain.

    Dennis, so kind for a stranger to share so many encouraging words with me. I have been a high-functioning bipolar I for my entire life. And this dip I've fallen into, I'm sure I'll come out of it. I had ten pretty good years prior to my recent recurrence, but that recurrence is understandable in view of the stress I had gone through. Your poem was simple and bright. I, too, believe in love, but I am constitutionally incapable of feeling it when I am in a depression. Then life becomes an act of faith. I continue to act as I continue to write. Good to hear you've passed through to a better existence, and I will remember your three-legged stool.

  4. I would say something...
    but alas, haven't defeated my own yet, so doubt I can offer anything to others.

    I just keep writing, it seems to take the edge off...

    though, it occassionally gets me down that i can't write very well... :\


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