I’ll take this as seriously as it’s intended.
now, I don’t know if everything that I’ve been through in the last 20 years is because of the psychological traumas that I suffered in my girlhood or because of some underlying chemical discontinuity that would’ve made me fall into the abyss regardless. I doubt that it matters.
(re: the question of nature vs. nurture. my mother and both sisters have suffered depressive episodes for many years. one sister was diagnosed as “borderline manic-depressive.” I’ve gotten glimmers that other family members have suffered from depression as well, and alcoholism is quite notable in one branch of the family. then again, there’s been enough traumas and dramas to make even a fully stable person a little wiggy.)
I seem to recall writing in my timeline (on a disk I don’t care to take the time to look for) that at age eight, my family vanished into a black hole…or something to that effect. when I was eight – 20 years ago next February 8 – my father died of a heart attack. some of my earliest journal entries (age 10) were deeply lonely and unhappy. there was a lot of family therapy, of which I was never the focus. (I didn’t exhibit quite as colorful a set of disturbances as my sisters, at least not most of the time.)
I’ll second Dorothea’s description of high school, and append junior high onto that. (actually, I’ll just second Dorothea’s whole entry; it very much speaks to me.) as for me, I had an extremely bad spell my senior year, mostly set off by some bad interpersonal ju-ju among friends. (the constant squabbling & stress at home didn’t help much.) I finally went in for counseling, by myself, at the constant urging of my then-sweetheart. (I’ve been lucky in my life to have been involved with two people who were (and are) real troopers through my ups & downs.) it was okay, mostly I got by through skipping school, writing, and daydreaming about going away.
and while my first year had its share of intense loneliness, and some serious mom-trouble (related to aforementioned sweeheart), the darkness was abated.
but sophomore year was, in some ways, an endless nightmare that sent me skittering into one of the deepest depressions it’s been my misfortune to experience. I slept, cried, fought with sweetheart, other lovers, roommates, bounced between not eating at all and overeating sugars. I barely made it to class, and in fact flunked american politics outright. (I’ve always been regretful of that one…it was a pretty good class, but I just couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings.) I had thoughts…well, thoughts that I don’t want to think again. (I’ve been known to joke that the only reason I lived through it is that I’m too squeamish to have done anything.)
I managed to pull out of it. I had excellent counselors…thankfully it was a free service of the college, and they had some great folks.
bad spells here and there; a hard time shortly after the big breakup with Raul…although that had as much to do with the anxiety about leaving school & trying to figure out what came next as it did with him & our relationship. Kat talked me through that period, god love her…a few days when I had trouble leaving my apartment, she got me to at least walk the 3 blocks over to campus to sit & talk in the cafeteria. little bursts of blackness, but nothing that didn’t pass.
until a very bad spring a couple of years back…when I was totally and entirely unhappy at work…and the blackness just kept coming. it’s hard to describe, when I’m not there…just the feeling that everything is terrible & useless. I tried therapy, and this time didn’t click at all with the counselor. thought about trying antidepressants, ended up not going there; quit therapy because I couldn’t afford physical therapy (oh my aching hands) and mental therapy at the same time. (was broke enough for a while that I just quit both & haven’t gone back to either, more’s the pity.) gradually, it got better, even before I got my current job.
I still have black moments, and reading The Noonday Demon (warning, gratuitious flash) was a difficult but illuminating experience for me. I suppose depression (which I sometimes see in my mind as an abyss that I walk beside and occassionally into) is something that I’ll be watching for forever.
sometimes, in a really good space, like I’m in tonight with the music rattling away in the background and the words scrolling effortlessly down the page, it takes a genuine effort to bring that other state to mind, to acknowledge it, and to acknowledge that it’s damn good to be alive.
yes, it’s good to be alive. there are lots of blessings to count, not the least of which is finding this medium, and all the blessings that have come from that.