At nights, partly with the help of a non-prescription elixir, I feel better. This is a standard pattern for clinical depression, mornings being worst, evenings better.
I'm a cliche'. There's nothing original about my disease. Like Robert Burton, who published his Anatomy of Melancholy in 1621, I cope in part by writing. The full title of Burton's book is typical of the obsessive depressive: The Anatomy of Melancholy, What it is: With all the Kinds, Causes, Symptomes, Prognostickes, and Several Cures of it. In Three Maine Partitions with their several Sections, Members, and Subsections. Philosophically, Historically, Opened and Cut up.
I haven't read the thing, but I know it outsold Shakespeare, being one of the original self-help books (if one ignores Origen). ;-)
One thing you have to ask about self-help books: If the author's so frigging happy, why did he feel the need to write the book?
I find self-help books toxic when I'm depressed. I feel guilty for not being happier. But melancholy isn't my fault, just my responsibility, like having diabetes. Thus I saw my shrink today and he doubled the "happy pill" (so my friend Eric calls it) which I can't afford, making Christmas a little thin. It's worth it if it works, because who wants a depressed Craig around Christmas? It's hard enough putting up with him when he's well.
Some of my friend's wives have commented, in the past, that they actually liked me better depressed than euthymic. Not so my friends. They expect hypomanic entertainment and adventurous shenanigans from me. Who I've been in this blog is not how I will be remembered by those close to me.
I'm also going to withdraw from a narcotic pain management regimen to see if that may be contributing to my inability to put this depression to bed. It will be hard, my pain will increase, yada--but I'd rather be in physical than emotional pain. With modern pharmacopia we sometimes have a choice.
I cut a small redwood today for a Christmas tree. It looks like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree on steroids, gangly, a bit barren--but it's six feet tall and perfectly green, not drooping like Charlie's. Sure, I could go to the store and buy one of those perfectly trimmed Douglas Firs if I so chose, but they are artificially manicured into a cone shape. Trees don't grow like that in the wild. And here in the redwoods you're lucky to find a sapling with branches on all sides, given the fierce competition for the sun.
When Kathleen came down from a nap (she's been sick with a middle ear infection) she laughed and laughed at the tree. But being a good sport, she began to decorate it in earnest. As the foliage is not lush, the tree forces you to choose your favorite ornaments.
All I want for Christmas is a stable, euthymic mood.
New word: When paralyzed by the overwhelming chaos of a room in your efforts to clean it, a state of affairs we refer to as "schmegged," you are in "schmeggalysis."
I really want to end this entry with something positive, so from my poetic archives (when I used to write poetry), here's today's salutation:
If you haven't filed your taxes in years
and with a dry throat call the 800 number
to be put on hold forever while dying to hang up,
tempted to one more dereliction in a life of derelictions,
or if your teenagers grieve you by apathy
and drug abuse, reminding you of your own
adolescence so you can't draw the line
without feeling hypocritical,
or if you cultivate a false smile over coffee
because you went to bed angry at your mate,
pretending to polite conversation
while entertaining fantasies of divorce,
or if you write a hopeful piece
instead of your usual blue ramblings
and fear others will find it facile, your art
of no account, just therapy for the overeducated,
then reach out through the stillness
for a thimbleful of light poured
into your words without measure.
Look! It is already in your palm.
(published in Kimera)
I had a bad dream last night about running green lights. Everyone was doing it but I knew it was dangerously wrong.