• Welcome To My Depression

Welcome To My Depression

Barry Rosenberg

I’m writing this in the midst of a deep, horrific depressive episode. This doesn’t happen all that much anymore. Though I’ve been a depressive all my life, 95 percent of the time I’m now able to manage it. Meditation, aerobic exercise, gardening, reading, writing. Oh, and living on a seven-mile ocean beach is a pretty sweet factor as well. But when it hits, when the black, rock-hard comet comes out of nowhere and clobbers the hell out of me, no guided missile is gonna knock this alien celestial intruder off its path.

It blind-sides me, whacks me off my pins. Upon recognition, I quickly climb off my knees and scurry into hibernation, stuffing my normal cheery attitude and silly-arse quips in a drawer until the all-clear signal says it’s safe to crawl out. Except when it digs in this deep when even my dreams are as ghastly as my wakened state thoughts, I become convinced this is the big one, and coming out, ever, will not be an option.

My friends, many of whom pop an assortment of prettily-hued quack pills to keep their balancing acts afloat, see Barry as a positive, self-assured fella. Which I suppose I am, most of the time. But when the shit hits my fan like now, I’m convinced I’m a wholly useless sham, a complete discredit to the species I’ve been granted membership.

Being a purist, I do no drugs to combat the intruder, nor drink or weed to stave off its repugnant countenance. Meaning my rampant-running thoughts comprise a series of gifs from the past. Things I said, things I did, things I didn’t say or do but should have. ‘Remember the time –!’ my mind screams at me. Truly, I’m an awful sort, totally unworthy of all the wonderful things I’ve been given in life. Guilt wraps its long mottled liver-spotted fingers around my throat, threatening the final squeeze.

I’m a total mess. I drop things, spill things, bump into things, and knock them over. Yesterday I placed a bookmark in my present read and carried it into the kitchen while I grabbed a nosh. And the book disappeared. Just... vanished. I combed every room, twice, three times. I finally found it late last night. In the fridge.

This morning I decided to trust myself and drive into town. Having driven in this country since 1980, I now open the left side front door of the ancient Ford Laser, the American side, and am about to slide in, momentarily panicking that the steering wheel has been pinched.

I try meditation. Well of course I do. I’ve done a daily practice for 50 years and taught this simple, effective technique for relaxing and focusing the mind to thousands across the world. But when I try it during a crash, it’s like innocently strolling down the street and suddenly a gang of snarling toughs appear and begin coming for me. Barrynoia.
To add to my gun-metal mood, it’s been raining the past few days. The rain will stop and I walk out to the beach or climb on the old 12-speed to go for a pedal, and immediately it begins to piss down again like I’m living in an old Abbott & Costello vaudeville routine.

Despite the rain, I step out into the garden with a hand saw to cut away branches that long ago quit leafing. I call it ‘passatempo’, passing time doing a physical activity where I’m forced to focus my scarily confused mind. As I saw away – and no matter where I stand, which direction I’m facing, sawdust blows in my eyes – I can’t help but reflect how the act mirrors my entire existence: dead wood cutting away dead wood. Except tools for excising my useless emotional bits are no longer stocked at the local hardware.

As I saw and stacked the branches, I felt a lightening of spirit beginning to wash away my days-long pathetic self-pity. Can it be? Can my unwanted visitor be growing bored with my company and is making ready to head off down the road, and like past such encounters with my devils this current tumult will end, and in a day or two I won’t even recall the purgatory I’m presently going through?
Back inside, I put on a fire. I do this daily the two or three times a year my ugly nemesis shows up, and though the days are presently warmish this is a high-alert emergency, and the fire serves to somewhat soothe the savage beast.

So if on the hottest day of the year, you pass my place and notice smoke coming out the chimney, either I’m on another spectacular downer or I’ve finally amassed enough votes to become New Zealand’s first Jewish pope.


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