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melancholia.

July 7, 2008

Successful author and surgeon Sherwin Nuland, has a presentation on ted.com about his own battle with depression and his rehabilitation via electroshock therapy.  I’m not so interested in electroshock therapy, but there are moments in which his testimony about his experience broke through to me, and spoke for me, so clearly that I wept.  He’s telling his story to a broad audience after almost thirty years, and that takes particular courage.

 

Though I’ve turned a corner, I still have days, hours, of slippage, of backsliding into the tunnel.  I feel that way now, and I rarely write from this place unmediated, but I want to if only for a few paragraphs.  What I experience now, in my present life, is more of a kind of transient melancholy than the true grips of depression that snatch up whole weeks, months, years, in their entirety.  What I feel now is a sort of rawness, an edginess, which actually makes my skin prickle and hurt to the touch.  (Much like accounts I have read of Autism-spectrum persons who experience oversensitivity to noise, lights, textures, etc.)  I have a feeling of total isolation, of detachment, and yet of a singular kind of burden.  My heart, and whole body, ache for the world at large, for the way the wet leaves look on the tree outside, for every story I’ve heard recently, for every person who is moving or changing or ending or starting.  I am at once a concentrate of my being, and a vacancy of it.

 

It resembles extreme fatigue, and drunkenness in some ways, and probably mirrors some feelings of small children in that I am frustrated; I feel things so profoundly and deeply and cannot articulate them.  I have no wish to speak out loud right now, but I can write, because writing doesn’t require the movement of my mouth.  The cleanest exit from this state of being, I have found, is actually to consciously live it.  Be quiet in your quietness, feel the sensations of your body, but don’t worry about them, don’t fight it.  It will pass, but not of your own volition.  Don’t cry or rage or try to tell someone and vent your frustration on their lack of understanding.  Just be.  Just be until you return to yourself, until the world is not so heavy and hard to understand.  Slowly, bubbles of you rise and break against the surface again, and your body unthaws, and your posture straightens and you can smile and read and talk and sing.  

 

I have never felt like these episodes were entirely unique to me.  Of course not.  Nor are they purely burdensome.  They are insights, trips down the mine-shaft to stir up what might be better understood in daylight.  They are wells into, and the welling of, being.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. allisonwin permalink
    July 12, 2008 3:45 am

    I really enjoy your writing, and it’s comforting, in a way, to read that someone else feels the same at times. It’s terrifying and while the feelings are happening, I want them to be OVER OVER OVER… but later… I realize that I am who I am partially because of the insight I get from those times.

    🙂

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