Just an Exercise


Today’s post is more of a writing exercise than a typical blog post. I have been mulling over some of these quotes for a couple of weeks, and did some free-writing throughout the morning as I experienced various moods. All quotes are from a favorite book of mine: Henderson the Rain King (1959) by Saul Bellow. This exercise is quite confessional and if it helps anyone I only imagine it will be through solidarity. I had a tough morning. It shows. I’m struggling these days. The winters are hard on me. The cold. The dark. But I persevere. Anyway, here’s an inside look at the type of (even more confessional) writing I do to brainstorm for the blog.

“But every man feels from his soul that he has got to carry his life to a certain depth. Well, I have to go on because I haven’t reached that depth yet.”

Everything is getting harder. I feel so dead. So numb. So sad. Sad is about the only thing I can feel deeply for more than a moment. Even hugging my daughter seems too fleeting. The warmth comes and goes and I am left feeling sad that she feels empty in my arms. I have love, but I can’t feel happy. I don’t feel like I have it in me to give much love, but I am receiving it. I just don’t feel it deeply. I feel out of place and time. Something isn’t right at the root. I’ve done something to cause this. That must be it. Of course it isn’t. It’s just depression eating me away again. I’m eating less, sleeping more, isolating myself more. It’s just sadness and discontent.

“‘Why,’ he said, ‘everything about you, Henderson-Sungo, cries out, “Salvation, salvation! What shall I do? What must I do? At once! What will become of me?” And so on. That is bad.'”

When I ignore it it is better. But I still feel numb mostly, and everything else is, like I said, fleeting. I’ve been listening to a lot of The Cure lately. It reminds me of feeling deeply, which makes me feel numb. Bleh. I don’t really want to talk about it. I need to do more stuff. I just don’t want to do anything. I just want to feel happiness. I know life isn’t all happiness, but it’s the one thing that is so elusive. I laugh because it’s me and I know it’s bad, but it just feels instinctive to search for more, to feel compelled to change, to forever existentially fear life. I worry. I ruminate, I indulge dissatisfaction. I know it. It’s how I feed my creativity. It’s how I work. But it’s also how I get stuck. 

“…Some people found satisfaction in being (Walt Whitman: ‘Enough to merely be! Enough to breathe! Joy! Joy! All over joy!’). Being. Others were taken up with becoming. Being people have all the breaks. Becoming people are ver unlucky, always in a tizzy.”

I’m a become-er trying to be a be-er. I think it’s a fine thing to be. Depression makes me want to constantly become more because I constantly feel like less. I think change will fix things that aren’t broken. I think action is required when time is what is needed. I think I’m a problem. I think I need to do, be, or find more. I feel like I’m in pieces but I’m whole. I feel like I’m empty but I can’t possibly be. It feels like a curse and a gift. It makes me happy and yet it torments me. I know being is better–I preach being–but I know I’m a becomer. Trying to be something else.

“Somehow I am a sucker for beauty and can trust only it, but I keep passing through and out of it again.”

This is my favorite quote because it is basically my life. I love beauty. When I’m sick things can be so tragically beautiful. When I’m well things can be lovely everyday, but when I’m ill beauty is more awesome because of how rare it seems. How rare it is for me to feel. A beautiful sunset that actually resonates when I’m ill will always be more beautiful than a hundred sunsets when I can daily appreciate them. On the other hand though, everything can seem beautiful when I am well but I can’t seem to hold on tightly enough to that peak wellness. It’s a balancing act everyday either trying to find the beauty in the darkness or the beauty in the light but barely staying long enough to grasp it fully. 

“‘Why,’ I said, ‘what do I fight for? Hell, for the truth. Yes, that’s it, the truth. Against falsehood. But most of the fighting is against myself.'”

If this doesn’t sum up my life as a chronic depressive, I don’t know what does. I’m a fighter. I fight daily. The strengthening desire I feel to stop taking my medication is proof that it’s a daily fight. And I think I need truth. I think truth will make me happy. The ultimate truth is an unmedicated me. I feel fake on drugs. But that ISN’T the truth. The truth is that the drugs make me feel closer to healthy. And healthy me is the truth, right? Maybe the truth is sick me on drugs. That’s the true me. And the fact that I don’t like taking the meds is why I’m constantly fighting myself. I feel false no matter how I feel. Either depression is in control or the drugs are. I never get a chance. Well, I get windows, but they’re dangerous and risky to take. It’s an awful battle to believe in the healthy truth when it feels so false.

“But maybe time was invented so that misery might have an end.”

This is the silver lining. Time continues to pass and the misery will end. And probably sooner rather than later. It’s not misery until death. It’s just struggle. And that doesn’t have to be miserable. It’s a challenge. It’s a race. It’s a mission. Beauty exists, I am loved, time is mercifully constant. 

“My soul is like a pawn shop. I mean it’s filled with unredeemed pleasures.”

The reason to keep going. I have felt. I do feel. It’s not all numbness or sadness. It’s not all falsehoods. I am a sucker for beauty meaning I want more (I want! I want!). I’ve got more to feel. More to love. More depth. More beauty. Too many unredeemed pleasures for me to close up shop. Too many experiences unexperienced. Too many necks unhugged. Too many laughs unlaughed. Too many smiles unsmiled. Too many beautiful truths to discover.

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3 thoughts on “Just an Exercise

  1. Many years ago, I worked through something similar (but not the same) to yourself. It’s a hard journey which, for me at least, was worthwhile. Although, I still do question the whole process occasionally.

    One thing you should be aware of, is that what you are doing is incredibly courageous.

    I invite you to read the memoir on my Blog. It does have a warning on it though, that it may be triggering for some individuals. So don’t feel you have to read it to be polite…:0)

    Liked by 1 person

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