Hi Denny. Firstly, I want to thank you for taking the time out of your life to read these words. It is a great honor and privilege that you would do so, and that you would take the time to leave me a note as well (and my apologies for the delayed reply). On your question about how I am now: It has been interesting to read back over this at various times, and realize that I have had similar episodes since. It is something I have learned to live with, whilst simultaneously trying different things that could help. When I stumble across something that helps, I add it to my quiver, and try and keep slinging that particular arrow, though this takes vigilance, and can be enervating at times (things that I found help: getting up and going straight to the gym, putting on a podcast, and walking on the treadmill. My favorite podcast is Dharmapunx NYC & Brooklyn; living with a good, kind, and sensitive friend; cultivating relationships with similar friends; having a sense of purpose, goals, and rewarding oneself. Being kind to oneself, practicing compassion, generosity, trying to remove negative judgements and negative self-talk).
It is a fine line to walk, between fighting, and acceptance, and I think it is something you have to figure out for yourself. It is also a line that changes, some days I don’t have the energy to do what I know works.
Having said that, I am in a place now where the lows are not as low, and frequent me less often, which has been nice to say the least.
I don’t think I am different for having shared this — I think I found an outlet that worked for me (writing), and sharing it was not so much an act of courage, more a hope that what I have learned might help others who have similar experiences. I also shared out of a bit of frustration, because I had not really read anything that adequately captured the experience of Depression, with the notable exception of David Foster Wallace. I’m not saying that I have fully captured what it is like, I don’t think someone not ever having experienced Depression will be able to feel what it is like by reading this, but they may be better able to sympathize/empathize. And having others understand, even a little, has been rare for me, but when it has happened, it has been a great salve.
On feeling selfish as an observer: I think I understand what you are getting at. That it is slightly voyeuristic to read a piece like this, but then again I could say it is slightly exhibitionist-like of me to publish it. But you could say that about a lot of writing. I would reiterate my earlier point — that if it provides some comfort to someone who has a similar experience, then it was worthwhile, and if it helps the support-people in that person’s life better understand what that person is battling with, and because of that they are able to provide better support, then, again, a worthwhile experience. Discussing the experience of mental illness is a small step on the road toward stripping the stigma, and therefore, some of the guilt and shame, out of mental illness.
Lastly, it is of course true that other people have similar experiences, though no single person’s experience will be replicated, but it doesn’t make me less sad that this is so for you. I hope that you are able to find what works for you so that you may find respite, and be re-aquainted with joy, hope, and peace.
Denny, I’ll sign off in the way that my favorite writer finished what I think is one of the best pieces of writing and advice I have ever had the pleasure and privilege of hearing and reading*:
I wish you way more than luck.
*David Foster Wallace, This Is Water, 2005 Kenyon College Commencement Address.