Like many people, I suffer from depression and anxiety, but I tend to feel I’m the only one. In my right mind I know that’s just another lie depression tells me, but I’m not in my right mind when I’m depressed. I’m in my mind that says this is the worst thing in the world and I don’t know how much more of it I can stand.
I’ve been in that mind a lot lately, which makes writing hard because it makes living hard. It makes everything hard. Figuring out which shoe to put on first is a major ordeal, as someone I know once put it.
I don’t have any dead people or things to write about this week. No objects are striking me with their history, and the dead aren’t telling any tales. There’s just me and my wretched brain that wants none of this.
I first became seriously depressed the fall of my junior year of college. There were contributing factors — I was romantically disappointed, my friends were all abroad or had moved off campus or had become biochemistry majors, which was in its effect much like leaving the country. I was completely lost in most of my classes. Greek history and calculus were like swamps I was trying to move through when I tried to pay attention to them, so mostly I stopped paying attention or attending to the swamp at all. If it hadn’t been for Homer and a colonial American history class, I might not have made it through the semester at all.
I feel I’ve told this story before on this blog, but it bears repeating. At the end of that semester I had to pack and store all my belongings because I, too, was moving off campus at the beginning of the next semester. I had to do all this during finals week, and the girl who was moving into my dorm room kept wanting to know when I would be out. “I have a 9 am final on Friday,” I kept telling her, “so not till after that.”
I packed and packed and moved all my crap to my friend’s basement, leaving out only a few things: the books I needed for my finals and my anthology of Romantic poetry and prose edited by Harold Bloom and Lionel Trilling. I don’t know why I kept it out, but one night that week late I got it out and sat on my bed and opened it up and read “Frost at Midnight.” I wouldn’t read Dante till the next semester, and it didn’t solve all my problems, but reading that poem was, for a moment, like emerging and seeing the stars again.
My house is still chaos, but that book is one of the few I can locate. Perhaps my next treatment for my current slump will be to pull it out and read Coleridge again. It’s spring, not winter, but I can only hope that it will help.