Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Beat Goes On

That is, beating up myself when my mind has nothing to occupy it, which is frequently.

I have seemingly exhausted what western medicine has to offer--45 days at a university hospital with maximum meds, group therapy and 12 treatments of bilateral ECT with the current turned up to the max my brain could tolerate.

Early on in this disease, as a Christian fanatic, I was sure that my overwhelming depressions were due to God' desertion, to a failure of faith.  That model failed miserably.

Next I embraced the medical model.  That seems to have worked for near 25 years but it has failed to work now.

Thus I have entered therapy again, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but after two sessions see no light at the tunnel's end.

Sometimes I think if I could just forget about myself and stick my nose in as many mundane tasks as feasible, from cleaning my desk to weed-whacking, that I might improve.  In the past, however, frantic work did not improve my overall mood.  I'm open to anything now, eastern or western, however irrational it appears on the surface.

The old word for depression was "sloth" or "accidie," a certain torpor of spirit and withdrawal from the world.  Of this I am guilty.  But to treat this behavior as a moral failure seems cruel.  Nevertheless Christian theology holds, for the most part, that despair is a form of pride, as it usurps the hope of God and the faith that our experience will somehow redound to his glory.

I am so far removed from such an attitude it's not funny.  And I haven't written poetry in six months.  Furthermore, I must warn folks about my blog from 8/3/2010 until the end of December, when I became fully manic and entered a fantasy detour where I thought I could save the world.  I leave it as evidence of the flip side of my disease, and as a record of a creative psychosis it may entertain some.

In my depression I cannot even save myself.

Thank God for my wife, Kathleen, who helps keep me on the planet.  I am so grateful for her and for my family and friends.  They believe in me when I cannot.  Oh to believe in myself again!  Oh to have an innate  sense of self again!

I have felt the need to apologize for my mania, recorded here as mentioned above, but such an impulse is ridiculous since I had no control over it to begin with, just as I am now snake bit by a serious depression (again).  Perhaps the psychological model will help me; it never has before but I'm desperate.

I'll close with one of the 28 dark sonnets I wrote during the first half of 2010, when I was also suffering a serious depression--though not as serious as this one, I fear, where I feel global paralysis and abject but unfocused fear.  What do I fear?  Depression.  How shall I overcome it?  I have no clue, but just blogging today is one tiny step forward. 

Dark Sonnet XXVII

I fear disintegration into glass,
Into a million cubes orbiting free,
Reflecting only scenery as they pass,
Without a central hub, without a me.
The ego is a very slippery boss.
Few know the limits of his sour purview.
I know the limits; he is what I’ve lost;
All whirls in a pestilential stew.
A piece of me there, another here.
Who will collect the fragments in a pot?
Another year, another half a year
Where what I thought I was is what I’m not.
Dear brother, if your self escapes your skull,
Pray you do not spiral down to null.


7 kilorats,



  1. Anonymous11:07 AM PDT


    Do you know Ian Hamilton's biography of Robert Lowell? Regardless of what you think of Lowell's poetry (I'm not a fan), it's an insightful account of a creative life lived in the constant shadow of bipolar disorder. You may or may not find it of interest, but I thought of it when reading your post.

    Wishing you well,

    Steve Bunch

  2. Haven't read the bio but am familiar with his story. There was a friendly manic-depressive trio in the 60s, apart from Plath and others, composed of Roethke, Jarrell and Lowell. Lowell and Roethke were shocked when Jarrell commited suicide, as all bets were on the other two first. Thanks for commenting and for the reference. I do like some of Lowell's verse. I think he was very knowledgeable in his approach to poetry, though not commonly inspirational at the feeling level, which is not odd in view of a disease that makes feelings unreliable and horrifying.

  3. Craig it's wonderful just to read your thoughts today, though there are no answers to the questions. Your influence on readers continues to enlighten as you tell the truth as you experience life, which is extremely valuable. Take care of yourself, kiss Kathleen for us and God bless you.

  4. Thanks, Cheri. Good to know someone thinks sharing my experience can be therapeutic for others. Thanks for stopping by!


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