Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best of: Down to Five Kilorats

First, I got the proof copy of the hardback and softcover versions of my book. It's so exciting to hold them in my nicotine-stained hands! But for now, back to the best of, or worst of, if you consider depression. Some of these entries make my skin crawl, and my disgust for dogs was likely a mild manifestation of my depression at the time it was written.

From 7/7/07:

The sun is just lighting the east side of the redwood trees on this overcast morning. I prefer overcast when depressed; the sun seems an oxymoron.
I wonder if I can write anything more about clinical depression. It's been a rough ride. My shrink added antipsychotics last Wednesday, so I'm half-stoned most of the time, though I care less about my deeds and misdeeds than otherwise. Still my crying spells and interior self-denigrating thoughts persist.

I know this is depressive thinking, but it is not without merit to believe I have wasted my life. That thought brings tears to my eyes, bringing up the chicken and egg conundrum where the sad thought induces the sad affect; we've been over that already and you know that I believe it is the sad affect which generates the sad thoughts.

I've had all these years on disability with dreams of being a writer but no practical plan for marketing and making money from it. I would like to make money, a lot of money, and I can say that for the first time in my life, an ambition that most us come to in our twenties. I'm only thirty years late for that train, although a bad long-term marriage with a non-working wife and three children took their toll in alimony and custody. Nevertheless I always took money for granted and lived hand-to-mouth, save a few years I had some equity in my home. My interests were always "beyond" money. But nothing's really "beyond" money unless you're a monk. And by not paying enough attention, I'm now in a position where money controls me, not the other way around; if the flow stopped tomorrow Kathleen and I would have to move into a tent. Since my disability was yanked in the fall of 2005 (subsequently restored in December, although in the interim all my savings were taken by my first ex-wife), I have been understandably paranoid about having no income tomorrow, which doesn't help.

Premature old age is another symptom of depression. You start dwelling on penury and poor health and how will you get your medications and where will you live and such things. You wonder how you will die. Cancer runs in my family and my cardiac risk is now low without the smoking. But instead of making plans for today and "smelling the flowers," you can only see the brown blooms of winter on the denuded rose bush.

Here's a poem from my first and only book (I have stopped writing poetry):

A Time to Uproot

It shot forth one thin stem
from the waxed, purple stalks.
Suddenly they yellowed, wilted,
a sickness had taken hold.
I waited but no new shoot
grew fine and green between the thorns.

While weeding one day
I placed my hand around the branches,
testing them a little,
when the whole thing sprang into my clutch.
I inspected the roots:
an army of translucent termites
was feasting on the soft wood,
each a hideous jewel of pale yellow.

The bush left a wound in the ground,
dark and pleading, a crumbling mouth.
I salved it as best I could
with powdery white pesticide.


I was going to write about dogs and how I didn't like them today: How they haul in every burr and frond into the house, how a house is impossible to keep clean with a big, hairy dog, how I hate the consistency and smell as I mix the wet food in with the dry food in the morning before I have my coffee, how I wonder when a long hair squats how fecal matter can possibly be spared from hanging from its fur (which helps me understand why they cut off some dogs' tails for cleanliness, among other reasons). I hate picking up their poop in public places, I hate waiting around while they sniff in circles making up their minds where to poop. I don't like sticking my fingers down my dog's throat to make sure he swallows his medicine.

Dogs are gross: messy, stupid, smelly, and they demand a lot of care. I love Kenyon but I don't like him as a dog; I wish he had scales instead, that he were as clean as a lizard. There, I've said it. I'm more of a cat person at heart. They're cleaner and smarter. But you can't have nice furniture around them, and if they get mad and start pissing on things you're in big trouble, as the scent is impossible to remove.

One last thing: I don't know if I shall continue this blog after its two-year anniversary on July 27th. I don't know how much good it does me or anyone else. It helps most when I'm very depressed and the act of writing takes my mind off myself for a while. But today it's just making me cry.

4 Kilorats,


From 7/10/07 (sadly, as most of you know, upon finally obtaining ECT in February of '08 I worsened):

Despair is giving in absolutely to catatonia, immobility, infantilism, hopelessness, bowing down to the darkness, agreeing with the Devil.

In depression you experience the temptation to all these things but persevere in the face of them, acting as if, pretending to hope, believing one day you will be better.

My weeping spells generally occur around 11AM or 4PM or both. Today I was hit early, in the shower, around 10 AM. What triggered it? I was remembering my last hospitalization in January of 1996, when it took all the strength I had to get out of bed and get into the shower. I mean all my strength. Every last jot and tittle of my conscious will.

Afterwards I tried to tie my shoes. I couldn't remember how to tie my shoes. It was as if I had to re-think every step of the process, to learn all over again as if I had never done it before. It was extremely puzzling but I finally mastered it.

Likewise as I was showering today I was forgetting how to shower; in what order did I apply shampoo? Had I shampooed already? When to scrub my back? I burst into tears because I was reminded of trying to tie my shoes in '96.

When severely depressed you can't take any automatic behavior for granted, and it's a terrible thing to have to start every task from point zero, to have to look up your own phone number, to try to remember anything you've read. Depression is much harder on the memory than ECT; how I wish I had insurance and could afford ECT! So on with the drug trials.

You see, my present antidepressant is Cymbalta, which has a short half-life, which means the blood levels rise and fall quickly, much more quickly than Prozac, for instance. Therefore missing a day or taking a half dose for two days can completely undermine any progress. Thus I wonder if part of this roller coaster is because mornings my blood level is lower, and perhaps I have another drop in the late afternoon--then this is my usual pattern in depression of sadness seizures, so who knows?

I think it may be time to change my antidepressant. This one has me sputtering; it drops me like an eagle drops a fish back in a lake, where I wait for another eagle.

"Tears on my keyboard..."

Finished 26,000 words of novel revision. My how it sucks! Of course I think all my work sucks in this condition. I've been going through my unpublished poems and deleting liberally, poems that failed, poems I never want to see again.

I do feel better after I cry; numb, perhaps, but the tension is somewhat relieved. In my grief my infant self cries out for Daddy/Mommy/God. Pitiful, huh? But human, so human..

I don't know God. He may know me. Let him worry about me; I'm too sick to worry about him.

5 Kilorats,


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