Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Storied Mind: Dropping Depression

John D writes in The Storied Mind:

As she often does, Stephany put a thought in my mind that I haven’t been able to shake. It was a three-word comment: “You have recovered.” Nice wish, I thought, if only – ! I’ve been working on recovery so long – it just isn’t happening consistently. But the problem with interpreting this as a wish was her strange use of past rather than future tense (You have recovered). So the words kept coming back to me, and I didn’t know what to do with them. Finally, I started thinking: Well, what if we suppose for a minute or an hour that the statement – all three words of it – were true, not so much for me, but for someone? After all, decades ago I did some acting. Couldn’t I just play this part for a while? And if I did, how exactly would I, as this someone, feel? And what would I say? This could take a lot of research, I thought, but I needed to start somewhere. And the first thing would be – kicking that idiot Depression out of my life – I mean his life – the life of the guy I would pretend to be.

After jotting down a few words for this character to say, I kind of caught the spirit of this recovered thing and started to feel something unusual stirring. I heard odd bursts of laughter and then realized with a shock – hey, that’s me – I mean, of course, he, the guy I was portraying. I – he – felt really good, giggly, smiley – bizarrely out of character – my character, that is. This character, however, was recovered and so could be expected to be happy, giddy even, at having pushed depression out of his life after decades of doom and gloom. Here’s the sort of thing he (well, I, acting in the role of recovered person) might well be saying:

You’re about to be history, you busted old fool, unholy one, always stealing me. You trespass, you offend, you have nothing good to say, and surely nothing new. You bore me over and over again with the same stripped life, torn to its emptiness. I don’t want your lightless streak in my soul any more. I’m sick of your dismal dispatches, your chemistry of night, your endless calls to inaction, your fog of unthinking, your poisoning of love, your invitations to deadly impulse. I see shining faces around me again. How could I remain so stuck in this sickening web, waiting to be a spider’s meal. It’s over, I’m out of here. I’m taking the power of my mind and soul with me into broad daylight!

NO! Scratch that. You’re out of here!

And I won’t take this anymore: awake at 4, deep in obsessive shame, feeling the despair of it again, the incredible inability to act, the sluggishness, the incomplete projects, the excess of a grim self in everything – all of it so deadly – so implausible. So long as you were living with me, I could barely be there for anyone else. How did it happen that I could stay so long in that stupefying place with you, shattering everything I so carefully assembled.

After these decades, It’s divorce time, thief. And breaking this unholy union is sanctified by the highest power there ever was or will be!

And as I shove you out at last, I know it hurts to tear away the hold you have in me, deep in some psychic core. But that’s a pain I know, like ripping out a hook buried in my arm so fast the pain is over before I can begin to feel it.

So strange – I kick you out, heavy being who covered my mind in darkness, turned me to lead, sat like a mountain squeezing all breath out of me. Yet when you’re gone, I see there’s nothing to you, no trace of mass, no shadow on the land, no shape of any living thing, or any dead thing either. What were you, then, that felt so massive, so impenetrable, so opaque? Now you’re invisible. And how does that feel – as if you had any feeling in you.

My mind has light again, I can see through the dark. I can do this living biz – I can feel. Out of cramped hallways and small rooms at last, where nothing ever seemed to fit, I can open wide an unfillable space to everything that is. I hardly knew before how big was the world I could walk into, how much love there could be to take in and give back. I never thought there was enough of that to go around.

Of course, you aren’t done yet, and I see your silent violence torturing so many. But if I look more closely, I can see in them angels falling and struggling to come back.
It does feel great to act this part, even if the lines need work! This guy is so new to recovery that he’s still a bit hung up on the dark stuff – it’s not that far behind him yet. I’ll have to imagine him farther advanced in the feel-good side of things. I admit that’s a stretch for me, but I’ll keep practicing – back to the research. That’s Part 2.

Thanks for the challenge, Stephany.

By the way, can anyone help me with this research? What do you think it’s like, feeling great, fully alive and alert, excited by the possibilities all around you? I don’t mean a flash here or there, I mean day after day after day, as if that were the norm. Can you imagine it, can you feel what that must be like? Anyone? What song would you sing?

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