Ignoring my depression doesn't seem to be working, so I'll indulge in writing as therapy, believing it helps objectify my suffering. Suffering can never be compared; each of us has suffered to a degree we would be afraid to exceed, as one can only know greater suffering when the soul is stretched beyond its former capacity for suffering. With enough suffering comes a numbness, as in Holocaust survivors, the mind's defense mechanism against overwhelming grief and terror. Depression differs from grief and trauma in that it comes from the inside out instead of from the outside in. It is self-generating.
As a form of suffering I find depression to be one of the worst varieties, because it darkens everything, it makes one unable to experience pleasure, it robs you of yourself--with all the history and attachments that implies. The past seems meaningless and the future seems a terror, while you spend every spare minute accusing yourself of one failure or another. Today my mind chose to accuse myself of not doing enough to end my depression--this despite exercise, ECT, compliance with psychiatric meds, attempts at gardening and cooking, continuing occasional publication of my poetry, hiking, and yes, a lot of basketball watching.
Last night I watched my beloved Lakers beat the Warriors in overtime, and it was a sad victory because a referee handed the game to the Lakers in the last eight seconds with a charging call on Monta Ellis, when it was clear that Derek Fisher, who was guarding him, pulled him down after the initial contact. I don't like referees to decide a game, and I wasn't happy that the Lakers won that way.
My college team is my alma mater, UCLA, and they have just made the sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Overall I don't think we have what it takes to win the tournament; our perimeter shooting is suspect and other teams have superior athleticism. In our favor is a relentless defense that can shut nearly anybody down. But if we run into a high-flying team like North Carolina or Memphis, I expect we'll lose.
How do I enjoy basketball while being depressed? First, it generally comes on in the evening, when depression itself improves, as depression is usually worst in the morning and better at night. Second, it is essentially trivial. The fate of the chinook salmon or the arctic ice pack does not hang from a basketball rim. It's just a simple game with one ball and two hoops. When I was younger I could play it, which adds to my appreciation. Still the main reason I can "enjoy" (better "be distracted by") basketball is that it demands nothing of me except that I be a mindless fan, an illogical and irrational position and thus a relief from significance.
I will admit that I don't have enough to do. When my depression was less severe I spent a lot of time writing, but now that I've decided I'll never make it as an author I hardly have the heart to keep generating books that won't be published. My novel, "The Abomination," is so boring I can't finish it (Amazon.com published one copy of it for my perusal when I entered their first novel contest; I think I mentioned that out of 5,000 entrants, I didn't even make the cut for the top 1000. But I do have the souvenir book!) I had high hopes for the novel to be a thriller, a page-turner, but I realize in reading it that the characters do not demand the kind of interest that makes for an interesting novel. I don't really care about the characters when I read it.
As for my poetry and literary criticism, I still have faith that some of it has merit beyond my lifetime, but I don't expect to be discovered any time soon.
I recently picked up a new collection of Charles Simic, our present poet laureate, and found no brilliance to envy. Why he is lauded above others I can only attribute to the usual East Coast Old Boys' network. His poems are workmanlike but underwhelming.
To be fair, my sense of failure as an author has not been properly earned because I haven't pulled out every stop and made every sacrifice to succeed. But I have become disheartened, and I don't know how to return to writing without confidence--a writer must have the conceit that he has something worth saying--lacking that at present, I don't write about anything, excepting the therapy of this blog.
So, how did I do today? I hit upon one thing that distracts me from depression: Basketball! I passed a small opinion on our poet laureate. And I confessed that my inner critic thinks I haven't done enough to come out of my depression; but what is enough? It doesn't get more serious than ECT, from which I'm still recovering in terms of memory and cognitive functioning. But what if ECT was a way of avoiding some other aspect of depression? The mind won't let up, the hook is set and the brain reels it in over and over again. That's a good metaphor for depression: having set the hook deep in your soul and afterwards trying to reel it in--you are the fish and the fisherman and therefore can never succeed. And the more you yank on the line the worse it gets. One of the best lines I ever heard about depression was, "If your car is stuck in the mud, don't spin your wheels, just wait for the sun to come out and dry the road and you'll be able to drive away." It's the waiting that kills us. I spin my wheels too much.