Thursday, January 04, 2007

Poem: "Everyone;" Depression Update


Everyone fears their own death
But everyone has a vague faith in an afterlife.
Everyone goes to the parade
But everyone forgets their umbrellas.
Everyone goes to see strippers
But everyone knows it was only for a bachelor party.
Everyone has had diarrhea
But everyone denies soiling their pants.
Everyone has bad credit
But everyone can buy a car.
Everyone means to exercise more
But everyone is the victim of television.
Everyone has a pet of some kind
But everyone has to clean up after them.
Everyone loves the rain
But everyone hates getting wet.
Everyone loves to party
But everyone knows “party” is a code word for drinking and drugs.
Everyone says they like poetry
But everyone says they don’t understand it.
Everyone is opposed to war
But everyone watches it happen.
Everyone went to college
But everyone didn’t graduate.
Everyone’s future is rosy
But everyone’s past is an ankle weight.
Everyone lives selflessly for others
But everyone hoards chocolates and dope.
Everyone’s had homosexual contact
But everyone denies it.
Everyone has prejudices
But everyone loves blacks and Jews.
Everyone is afraid to speak up in class
But everyone knows the answers.
Everyone was properly breastfed
But everyone sucked on a bottle, too.
Everyone loves nature
But everyone prefers an RV.
Everyone has written a book
But everyone is unpublished.
Everyone follows celebrities
But everyone says they don’t care.
Everyone believes in God
But everyone evades church.
Everyone has been told they’re dying
But everyone has outsmarted their doctor.
Everyone is sensitive to a fault
But everyone is a hard ass about money.
Everyone loves to dance
But everywhere the dance floors are empty.
Everyone could have been a rock star
But everyone didn’t have time to practice.
Everyone could have been Gandhi
But everyone didn’t want to wear diapers.
Everyone could have been Lincoln
But everyone didn’t want to be that ugly.
Everyone could have been Dr. King
But everyone was too white.
Everyone could have been a god
But everyone had other things to do.

Though formulaic and over-generalized, I nevertheless find this poem entertaining in its depiction of human foibles. I seem to be running ahead of my blog, as I now have two new poems I haven’t posted yet.

My crying jags come twice a day now, sometimes three times, in general at 11 AM and 4 PM, with other occasions dependent on circumstances, as when I saw my psychiatrist yesterday or when Kathleen foolishly asks me, “How are you doing?” Or worse, “How are you feeling?” It’s that personal connection to others who care that really slays me. I suppose I feel unworthy, or perhaps it’s that I feel safe revealing my inner sadness to someone I trust. But my sadness is generic, there is no object to it, it just is. Naturally the frontal cortex always seeks a reason out: I don’t like where I’m living, I miss my children, I’m a failure as a poet, what’s the point, I’m bad with money, I should do better by Kathleen, yada yada. All these points are irrelevant, I assure you. When the primitive part of the brain is askew, when the amygdalas and limbic system malfunction, the neocortex (what distinguishes us as humans, what allows us self-consciousness, reason and language) seeks a reason—feelings should have antecedents, the brain knows that much. But the brain knows too little; in severe depression the sadness and anxiety are self-generating; the brain is stuck like a scratched record; and the goal of treatment is to free the brain from the reptile feedback loop that constantly renders your feelings inappropriate to your situation.

To use a simple test, I have been blissful under the worst of circumstances and suicidal under the best. So one question I have asked my patients is: “If you won the lottery tomorrow would you be any happier?” The truly depressed answer “No.”

On the positive side, look how many words I’ve spilled on the nuances of depression. It seems an endless subject and I suppose it is. But it must be kind of depressing reading about it. I hope today’s poem brings a chuckle.

3.5 Kilorats,



  1. Anonymous2:00 PM PST

    Loved the poem, they really hit home !!!

    I did have a "homosexual contact" experience, but really.....nothing happened....really really !! ha ha ha ahaahahaaaaaa.

  2. See the Kinsey Report. ;-)

  3. This is an interesting approach CE. "Everyone could have been a god / But everyone had other things to do." That is an amazing thought. Thanks for the post.

  4. Hi CE --

    it's funny when I read about your self description -- could be me -- money, poetic failure, messy etc. -- I assume the difference is that I have filters that allow me to ignore my downfalls for stretches. And when the filters fail, I drink. Or hide. Or something.

    Enjoyed your poem. Hope 2007 is a better year for you.

  5. Funny, Jim, that's exactly what I told my shrink yesterday: "I've lost all filters."

  6. Anonymous4:38 PM PST

    Hi CE:

    I've said before your medical training, crystalline prose and long personal struggle with this disease are a powerful combination that could help thousands. You should be required reading for those wanting to now the day-to-day peaks and valleys of this affliction. Knowledge by itself I believe would offer some comfort to many folks.

    Let me ask you, how far away do you believe medical science is from a comprehensive understanding of the brain and its many workings? The current drug cocktails seem to be blunt force instruments of limited duration. When will it be said manic depressio is 'cured'?

    take care

  7. Norm, your question hangs very much on "comprehensive." That could mean a thousand years or a hundred. I think it will take us another 200 years to begin to understand the brain in relation to treatments and its own normative functions. The brain is the last frontier (thank you, Captain Kirk).

    You spurred something else in me. All my life people have been saying to me, "Sell these songs," or "Pubish a self-help book," or "You should be on tour," or "Write your autobiography." And when I am sane, I say to these generous people, "What's wrong with what I'm doing now?"

    Public ambition is not proper for the gentleman scholar, for whom all subjects are essentially hobbies (as in Sherlock Holmes' tome on bees upon retirement).

    Thanks for what you said about my prose!


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