Sunday, July 23, 2006


A friend wrote tonight that she was down. I wouldn't dream of telling her 'chin up' or sending her a chirpy e-card with dancing bunnies. I always wanted to punch out someone trying to force cheer on me. Pisses me off for ruining a perfectly good funk. It trivializes feelings to tell someone to snap out of it, for one thing.

I am also of my mother's school of thought about doldrums. She said that I never played guitar, wrote songs, or sang better than when I was hurting emotionally. And my sister used to say before she was killed, "What's life without a little heartbreak every once in a while?"

So. Maybe we creative folk must pay for our gifts with a bit of the blues. You would think so from the amount of money made off of music with a blue note. Maybe it's part of the Persephone Journey into the Underworld of our consciousness. We have to trek down there in order to slog back with new ideas and a fresh eye starved for sunshine.

Instead of trying to direct attention away from a down time, why don't we explore it? There seems to be a general fear of someone who's dead serious. You know where you stand with a person who's depressed. Anything coming out of their mouths should be carefully weighed. I would trust being in the room with someone in a funk before I would one who had a false cheeriness. At least you know where a seriously down person is coming from. But a chipper one who hides murder in their heart behind smiles? Now. That's frightening. Think Freddie Krueger. Mussolini. Baron Von Harkonnen of Dune. Or someone who laughs uncontrollably at a funeral.

I had a roommate in Atlanta back in the early 1970s who rose up out of bed very early every morning singing and chipper. She chortled endlessly while I covered my head with pillows and tried to sleep sensibly late. The happy-happy her hid bulimia, bingeing and purging, misuse of laxatives and diet pills and a shitty relationship with an abusive boyfriend and non-caring parents as she slowly made herself disappear. It was the one thing that she could control. Everyone looking at Anita thought that she was Broadway Barbie. Always up. Always cheerful. Scared her to look depressed. She could be self-destructive so much more efficiently if she put a smiley face on it. It finally worked, that disappearing act of hers behind a smile.

I think fear of depression has to do a bit because we are out of control in a way that doesn't jibe with the idea of ordered society when we're 'there'. I think women who are depressed are much more scary to men than depressed men are to us. We understand down. Women travel the highways of shattered dreams, unnatural expectations, and unreached potential more frequently than men. We're disappointed more regularly than the guys. We have our frequent flier miles. A woman who has a 'mood' is a dangerous number. There's lots of comedy material on this. "Take my wife. Please."

What I am not saying is that serious depression be taken lightly. That's an oxymoron like 'Army Intelligence'. Profound, extensive depression with thoughts of suicide is a signal for intervention. I've been there and done that. I not only have the genetic markers for a good ole case of Industrial Strength Depression, a long family history of it, but Grave's thyroid disease virtually guarantees that I will have to pay attention to it since that little pip in our throats regulates things like hormones and seratonin uptake. I get uppity occasionally and vow to go without any medication. When I start seeing trees as props for checking out of the hotel, I go back on them. Hubris on my part.

And a word to all you idiots out there that say that people who think suicide are selfish. You're damn right it is. The one that contemplates it is driven to an edge that cannot possibly hold more than one person. The pain is phenomenal and you're only looking for blessed relief of any kind. Can you fathom a pain that deep, understand a depression so profound that you feel there is only one solution? Apparently, most can not or there would be none of this. Get this. There literally is not one dendrite left over to think of any thing or any body else when you are there. In fact, you're incapable of rational thought at all. It's not about you for us! YOU aren't even in the photo here.

We need to quit trying to make suicidal depression something about everyone else instead of the person going through it. Want to help? Then get informed and learn the symptoms. Put their asses in an intervention facility. They can't do this for themselves and the thought doesn't cross your mind when you're there. You've probably tried to talk about it with friends and family who were clueless, didn't understand, or told you to quit whining and to cheer up.

Would you try to cheer and coddle someone out of a heart attack? Depression is just as serious at times. It can be just as fatal.

But a good old funk is a different story. I believe we get down there as part of our life cycles. Colors look better, sounds clearer after I've slogged through a downer. It must be a natural part of humanness since humans have so much of it. Why don't we examine and embrace it when it comes. If we stay down there too long, hopefully a friend will come by and tell us to get up off of the floor before we trip somebody. Then they'll listen and let us talk it out, let us wrap ourselves around whatever has handed us the roadmap that took us there.

Wind is never sharper than after doldrums at sea. Water needs to pool and eddy and gather itself along rapids before it joins the ferocity again. I think we do, too.

So. My friend, have a good down.

Dina Kerik


Martha Marshall said...

I have a grandson who needs to read this. Thanks darlin'.

queenlint1 said...

By all means share! You know my history because you were there for me and you don't need any of your loved ones to repeat it.

teachersteve said...

Gustav Mahler was his most creative when he underwent very difficult times.
Beethoven, they claim, would never have created his best work if he had not undergone the hardship of deafness and other losses.rlcqxnmr

queenlint1 said...

Teacher Steve,

And some would say that Van Gogh's depression and madness leant brilliance to his art. I think there just may be something to that.

Thanks for your insightful comment.