Here is how I think art works: If you’re depressed, draw a picture of Batman depressed. You’re still depressed, but now you have a picture of Batman.
I have a very simple rule that serves me well: Don’t think too much about your life after dinnertime. Thinking too much at the end of the day is a recipe for despair. Everything looks better in the light of the morning. Cliché, maybe, but it works.
Most parents know about the “witching hour” (I like that some parents in this article call it “the arsenic hour”): that weird block from 4-6PM when your kids are more prone to meltdowns. When my oldest was young, we white-knuckled through those hours with beer and Seinfeld reruns.
There’s also a weird thing called “sundowning” that happens with to people with dementia. As the sun goes down and the shadows fall, patients tend to get more confused and anxious.
I, too, tend to suffer during these hours, which is why I have my rule. I shared it on Twitter, and a follower replied:
Great rule. I met a veteran who lost both legs in Iraq, struggled with depression, and instituted the same rule. Deal with problems in daylight. I apply that lesson at least once a month, for years now. P.S. The guy ended up getting a dual degree from Harvard, is married now
“Deal with problems in daylight.” That’s perfect.
Part of the problem with depression is that it’s somewhat beyond description, and almost impossible to fathom for those of us who haven’t experienced it. I’ve been bummed, sad, melancholy, etc., but never actually depressed or suicidal, and I never really began to understand depression until I read William Styron’s 80-page memoir, Darkness Visible:
Depression is a disorder of mood, so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self—to the mediating intellect—as to verge close to being beyond description… it has to be emphasized that if the pain were readily describable most of the countless sufferers from this ancient affliction would have been able to confidently depict for their friends and loved ones (even their physicians) some of the actual dimensions of their torment, and perhaps elicit a comprehension that has been generally lacking; such incomprehension has usually been due not to a failure of sympathy but to the basic inability of healthy people to imagine a form of torment so alien to everyday experience.
The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come — not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. If there is mild relief, one knows that it is only temporary; more pain will follow. It is hopelessness even more than pain that crushes the soul. So the decision-making of daily life involves not, as in normal affairs, shifting from one annoying situation to another less annoying- or from discomfort to relative comfort, or from boredom to activity- but moving from pain to pain. One does not abandon, even briefly, one’s bed of nails, but is attached to it wherever one goes.
Some people have a legitimate reason to feel depressed, but not me. I just woke up one day feeling sad and helpless for absolutely no reason.
I wish y’all well. Hang in there.
“I don’t want to throw out any sacred things. What…is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance. And all music is.”
– Vonnegut, BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
I’ve found music is one of the only really great cures for depression. Yesterday I listened to Carl Perkins’ “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby” probably half a dozen times:
well they took some honey from a tree / dressed it up and called it me
everybody’s tryin’ to be my baby
i went out last night ’bout half past four / fifty women knocking on my door
everybody’s tryin’ to be my baby
Now, there’s some debate as to whether Perkins wrote the song or not (there was a swing band in the 30s who did a song by the same name), but regardless: what possesses somebody to write such a ridiculous song? Do you think Carl Perkins’ life was really like that?
I prefer to think that whoever wrote the song was just using their imaginations. What if, instead of being lonely, a million women were chasing you around? What if, instead of being a nobody, everybody in the world wanted a piece of you?
There could even be a little trace of menace in the song. I mean, does this guy ever get any alone time? If you swapped “to be my baby” with “to get my money,” you’d have a paranoid celebrity song, wouldn’t you?
Either way, I like the song, and it makes me feel happy.
There ought to be a man with a hammer behind the door of every happy man, to remind him by his constant knocks that there are unhappy people, and that happy as he himself may be, life will sooner or later show him its claws.
— Anton Chekhov
Yesterday was one of those days that make you want to hang up your hat. Throw in the towel. Etc.
Chalk it up to reverse seasonal affective disorder. Or maybe it was all the meat last weekend.
Anyways, the man with the hammer was knocking, and if you know me, you know I don’t have much of a poker face. I’m a pretty good liar, but my face tends to read like an open book. Good thing my great ambition is to be an open book. Ho ho. Thank God for Castrato Rock.