Friday, September 5, 2003

The Valley of the Shadow of Dreck

Astute observers have probably noted that I am somewhat depressed this week, rather more than I have been all month. I am working on the assumption that this is the darkness-before-the-dawn of my depressive cycle... it might not be, it might just be a cold or allergies or fiscal-worry or Ninth-Step-Letter-Avoidance-Guilt, but it seems best to assume that this feeling I'm feeling will be over soon.

Of course, all feelings are ephemeral things. It is a personality feature of mine, though, to always think that the feeling I'm feeling right now will last forever. My sister has the same problem, so maybe it's genetic. But the idea that any emotion or mental state can be prolonged eternally, or even semipermanently installed, is very teenager-y. The "I'll love you forever," "Without you my life has no meaning," "I actually believe that a person can die of embarrassment" sort of mentality belongs in the same epoch as pimples and growth spurts... I think most people grow out of that sort of thing in their twenties. But then, I always was a late bloomer.

From the perspective of thirty-five, it's easy to see that there's no such thing as a completely ruined life, something that we often believe can happen in our youth... with experience we learn that along with the fragility of that Divine Spark of life itself, all conditions and circumstances of one's life are liable to change at any moment. But when a person is contemplating suicide, it is (I think) in the belief that the despair or grief or pain or loneliness one feels at the moment will be a condition of life from here on out.

But no feeling is ever a condition of life, not happiness, not despair. No matter what, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. But the light I see at the end of the tunnel isn't Hope, as I once thought... it's simply the knowledge that This Too Shall Pass. The light isn't some sunlit meadow of euphoria in my future, it's merely the lights coming up on a change of scene. And we don't have access to the script, so who knows what the next scene will be like? And being an insatiably curious person, I want to know what's next.

How did I get on this topic? Oh, yes, because I'm depressed and I know I won't be depressed for very much longer. It's amazing how much easier it is to manage depression when you can understand it as a physical sensation rather than an emotional state. I feel like shit, is all. If I take care of myself, get plenty of sleep, eat properly, and don't act on things too rashly, I can weather through.

Also, if I keep others informed of my physical state, their expectations remain realistic: "How are you?" asks my boss on his way in; "I feel like shit," I reply, "not as shitty as yesterday, but still pretty shitty. Yesterday I felt like a puddle of diarrhea, today I feel more like a solid turd." He absorbed the info and went about his merry way with the knowledge that today isn't a SuperSecretary day, and treated my work accordingly.

The follow-up question, though, when I apprise people of my physical state, is "And what are you taking for that?" To which I reply, "I'm taking it easy, and one day at a time." I have a dislike of drugs, and feel that, if it's possible to do something without pills, I should do it without pills. I mean, I won't even take an Advil until I can't bear the pain.

I think what I distrust here is the Fix-It mentality. It falls into the same behavior pattern of trying to change circumstances that one doesn't like... while I vastly prefer to change my attitude towards the circumstance (it's more effective and much easier to do). The concept of taking a pill or having a procedure to correct something that you could easily learn to live with strikes me as silly. It's like trying to prevent or assuage colds... sucking zinc lozenges, anti-bacterializing one's hands obsessively throughout the day, drinking echinacea (nasty!) instead of tea, and getting immunizing shots that only work about a third of the time. It's easier, cheaper, and in the long run more effective, to simply get a lot of sleep and eat properly and let the cold run through your system. If the discomfort prevents sleep, take something that assuages the symptoms long enough, but other than that there's nothing you can do about colds and flus except accept them on their own terms.

The same goes for depression... if the depression is preventing your functionality, then by all means get a prescription or something. But if you can weather through with only a general diminution of functionality, why bother with all the rest of it? I mean, for myself, I work a little slower and come in later in the mornings (one feature of this state is that I can't stay off my natural sleep cycle of 2 am to 10 am), and am sometimes a little more surly than usual; socially I tend to operate just fine, though I purposely avoid spending too much time with my more wearying people, like my mother or small children or large groups of strangers.

Is this all an elaborate justification for my not seeking assistance for a physical condition, a serpentine piece of self-sabotage, an apologia for medical recidivism? Perhaps, perhaps. But it's what's on my mind today.

Also on my mind is the arrival of my tiaras and foxes, which were supposed to be in today's mail. Well, the regular mail came already, I'm hoping there will be a parcel-delivery afterward, but I wish it would hurry up and happen. I don't want to have to come into the office tomorrow (when I have planned to work on my letter and my living-room Venetian blinds), and I have to have the things before Sunday and even paid extra shipping to ensure their early arrival. It's making me very anxious.

But they will arrive eventually, or my need of them will pass, one or the other. The world just keeps on spinning, time keeps ticking by, and nothing lasts forever... even the Universe is expanding towards its own dissolution (according to those know-it-all astronomers and physicists) and eventual reconsolidation into a nothingness that may or may not repeat itself into the next Big Bang.

Oh, yay! The mailman came with two big boxes... my furs, which are a pair of red fox pelts with the heads and hands and all (all of my furs have their extremities), are unspeakably gorgeous and a lot larger than I expected; also in today's post is a new green velvet and taffeta dinner-dress that is a little too tight in the waist but might respond to corsetry. But now I have to come back on Saturday for the damned tiaras (unless they're coming via UPS, which gives me some hope).

I'm going to type up my meeting notes now, then go buy a new wig, then get my nails done. Have a nice piece of art (Pelt Merchant of Cairo by , Jean-Léon Gerôme, 1824-1904):

No comments:

Post a Comment