Like many people, I suffer from depression and anxiety, but I tend to feel Iâ€™m the only one. In my right mind I know thatâ€™s just another lie depression tells me, but Iâ€™m not in my right mind when Iâ€™m depressed. Iâ€™m in my mind that says this is the worst thing in the world and I donâ€™t know how much more of it I can stand.
Iâ€™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 donâ€™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. Thereâ€™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 hadnâ€™t been for Homer and a colonial American history class, I might not have made it through the semester at all.
I feel Iâ€™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. â€œI have a 9 am final on Friday,â€ I kept telling her, â€œso not till after that.â€
I packed and packed and moved all my crap to my friendâ€™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 â€œFrost at Midnight.â€ I wouldnâ€™t read Dante till the next semester, and it didnâ€™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.