Art and lies

Depression is a sneaky, two faced son of a bitch. I have always preferred foes who make themselves known, rather than those who stealthily undermine one with smiles on their faces. Anger and grief are painful, but at least they are straightforward. They knock at the door and come on in for a while, but they usually leave at some point. They’ve been around a lot lately, and I can usually handle them, when I don’t have to entertain depression at the same time. The three of them at once is exhausting, and I haven’t been able to pay attention to anything or anyone else for a while.

Depression is always in the house, but most of the time, it stays out of sight, and when I’m lucky, I forget it is around at all. The problem is, depression fights like a girl. It will bide its time and wait til I am my weakest moment. And then, it attacks from the side, or from the back, so that I’m down before I know what hit me.

When I had cats, I kept their litter boxes in the basement. I would empty them, and forget about them. Then every so often, I would catch a whiff of….something. And then there was more than a whiff. Eventually, the cats would weave themselves in and out of my legs, meowing at me reproachfully and trying to nudge me towards the basement. I would give in and descend the stairs, where the smell would slap me in the face and I would feel like a horrible cat mama and human being and rush to do their bidding. And then, it would start over again, but most of the time, I would deal with the boxes before they got to the eye watering stage.

Depression is a lot like a litter box, only you can’t empty out your head and fill it up with fresh brain. With the right treatment, I forget all about it sometimes. I keep an eye out over my shoulder, yes, and I avoid things that encourage it, like watching terribly sad movies, thinking about Republicans, or taking stock of my life. If I feel myself starting to slide, there are things I know to do that help, like immersing myself in old, familiar books, or running my hands through beads, or taking a walk in the woods. I might knit while watching horrible TV, and dogs help more than almost anything.  That’s because they keep me in the moment, which is one of the hardest things for me to do.

Lately, though, none of my tricks are working. Depression has been following me around, tapping me on the shoulder, invading my dreams, and whispering endless lies to me. I think they’re lies, anyway. After a few days, depression is the only voice I can hear anymore, and my own voice gets tired of trying to overpower it.
That’s why my posts have been nonexistent lately; because I haven’t had the strength to try to write through the lies, and I’m afraid of accidentally writing lies that I might believe.

Until I have my own voice back, I have to rely on the words of others. For the past two months, some of the words uppermost in my mind have been these :

One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

–Elizabeth Bishop
VC ’34

1 Comment

Filed under depression, mental health, Uncategorized

One response to “Art and lies

  1. A. Elizabeth Mikesell

    I’m right there with you on depression, Wendy, and am sorry to hear you’re afflicted.

    Spring and its endless perkiness sometimes brings it out, for me. All those cliches of rebirth are just too much to handle.

    Take care. xoxo Elizabeth

    Like

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