It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
Chris Hedges

Monday, February 19, 2007

still crazy after all these years

There is nothing good about depression. It's like stepping barefoot into dogshit and hopping to the toilet to scrub between your toes with a toilet brush. The truth is, once the black dog is upon you and one or two triggers are pulled it makes you think about finding a double-barreled shotgun and blowing the back of your head off. People do not handle the insane very well. Support workers in doctor's offices don't look you in the eye when they talk to you. Pharmacy staff lecture you publicly about taking the cocktail of medications that keep you going. Family members resent the constant attention you require and begin to compete for attention with their own drama. Work associates avoid you, or bother you with questions like, "how are you today?" Of course you lie and say, "Capital. Any better and I couldn't stand it!"

In fact people begin to bother you. I recently hung a sign that read 'No Entry' on my gate in bold red letters but this just seems to encourage them to test it to see if it means them. There is very little to look forward to. Nothing is good. Life itself is exhausting.

Those who have been there know what it is like; the way ex smokers understand how hard it is to quit. The insane have become the pariah's of our culture. We have closed down mental institutions to save money, medicate the shit out of nuts and hope for the best. But for the truly suffering, hope is the one thing they need to be scripted for.

1 comment:

Anahera said...

Here’s some hard-won knowledge I’ve learned from loving someone who lives with the black dog:

1. Don’t take their depression personally, ESPECIALLY when they attack you. Truth is you’re probably the only one they can really trust to accept them – insanity and all. So when you get shit chucked at you which is not of your making, treat it for what it is – excreta that needs to come out and be cleaned up. Think about this – if your mate became paralysed and incontinent would you think you had to personally lie in their mess? No. You’d wipe their bum, change the linen, spray some nice smellies and wash your hands, all the while getting on with the minutiae of daily life. Well, in a way depression is like that. Only, instead of faeces, you’re dealing with emotional paralysis and incontinence.
2. You can have a perfectly good and happy relationship with someone who is insane. It’s a myth that a depressive cannot sustain a marriage and a family. Sadly it’s a myth that many insane people buy into themselves, thus sabotaging their main sources of hope, love, faith, healing and support. But take it from me, once you’ve both figured out that the bad times will pass and that at core you do “love each other like a cancer,” then you’ve got past one of the biggest obstacles to happiness – the myth that depression = divorce.
3. When you have a bad day yourself, and you will, make sure to own your own shitty emotions but don’t hide the fact that you’re having a hard time. The more you do this the more you will both come to trust each other’s ability to cope with the truth that you too are, in fact, human. You’ll have some hairy patches on this one and may even get attacked for it. But stick with being upfront and forthright, and you’ll feel a lot less stress in the long run.
4. Work together to figure out the things that might trigger a depression, then work out ways to eliminate, minimise or neutralize the causes or the symptoms – whichever works. Personally I think causes are best left to the professionals, but I’ll tackle any symptom any time with my mate’s consent and help. We’ve found that the same thing won’t necessarily work every time, and new foibles might arise from time to time, but it’s good for our relationship to carry on trying.
5. Chuck away the textbook on sleeping, eating, libido and other life patterns. Sleep when you can, eat when you’re hungry, accept the pleasure of every interaction and don’t worry about the what, when, how long or where of these things. Truly you’ll be a lot happier if you get up with your mate when they’re wakeful instead of lying there trying to force sleep to come to you. So, unless they make it clear they need some alone time or there’s some other compelling reason stopping you from joining them, get up and make a cuppa, pop open a beer, or whatever brings you mutual peace. Some of our best times have started out on our step sometime between midnight and dawn, and some of our worst times have been resolved there too.

You know, although I hurt when he hurts and wish for a miracle to make that black bastard dog go away, I love living with this man. As God is my witness, I’d rather have my worst times with him then my best times with anyone else.