In the last three months, I’ve been worse than I’ve ever been in my entire life. It would be a laughably bad cliché to tell you anxiety, depression, you know – the whole mix, follows me like a shadow. It would also be untrue, because it would assume I am relieved of them when it is dark. It would also be a bad metaphor to say they’re in my blood, or in our post-Watson & Crick world, in my DNA, because no one related to me is anything like me. They’re capable of keeping appointments, they don’t go into panic just to meet somebody. Nope, I think there might have been a genetic mutation in this case, or an environmental manipulation. Or both. Or neither. I have no means of knowing, and I am confident I’ll never know in this lifetime. Not when there is so much stigma, misinformation and an outrageously blooming industry built around man’s inability to be understood and to connect. No, I’ll give my money to art and let it help me stay afloat.
And that is what writing, and art in general is to me. A lifeboat. I’ll continue with my bad metaphors here and say, life otherwise is nothing but a large, overwhelming sea for me where, even if I knew how to swim, I would eventually drown. I don’t have enough stamina, and I can neither see land at a distance. Wow, I hope that is the last of the metaphors today!
So, here’s what “art” has been for me for the last week – struggling to write, and listening to a lot of Duran Duran. “Look now, look all around, there’s no sign of life…” goes their first single called “Planet Earth”. If it wasn’t such a danceable track, I might have become even more morose. But, they’ve helped me write whatever I did manage to write. I had in mind to update you on my progress with ‘Of Opinions – the book’ in my Real Time Rambles, but I don’t have much to report. Apart from some stray paragraphs and sections, selection of 7-8 topics that might serve as good, representative subjects from the blog and a couple of book title considerations (since I doubt Of Opinions would make anybody want to read it, let alone buy it), I haven’t made much progress. My goal is to get the 80,000 words in by the end of this month, which isn’t that difficult for me to do in terms of work habits, but has been an immense challenge. And taking a break doesn’t help. If by taking a break, I could have taken a month-long vacation by the seaside, with no electronic screens about me and plenty of warm, temperate sun, and pen and paper, it would have been just the thing. But, everything that is viable is just a distraction, even anxiety-inducing, as I am frequently reminded of what I have to get back to.
I’ve reflected a lot on the nature of writing and depression in the last couple of weeks. I had been thinking longer about the relationship between the production of art and safety that a fellow blogger talked about a while back, which introduced me to it. My suspicions about writing and depression that I had discussed months ago here, are just as same now. Depression doesn’t help a dime with making anything. It is the unmaking of me. Even if I write about it, it doesn’t help me write about it. It doesn’t help in anything, at all. It makes me seem like an undependable, irresponsible human being, and nothing is a greater affront to my own expectations of myself. I don’t mind being a failed “artist”. It is failing on my personal principles of being a human being that I can’t stand.
Producing and imbibing art is all I can do to remind me of myself. I cannot let depression define me, though it has done a very good job of running for president in the last 27 years. It’s so boring. It’s like you are stuck with one note on the keyboard, unable to play the rest of the keys. It’s no life, and it certainly isn’t creative fodder.
How do you cope with depression?