Saturday, April 08, 2006

And so here I am

I'm back, for the most part.
I knew I would be. And I knew the respite would be brief.
Suffice it to say that I go through cyclical periods of what some people call "the blahs," what Winston Churchill called his "black dog" and what I know is depression. I see no reason to dance around it or euphemize it.
The important thing is that, like everything else, it passes -- at least for me, and in this I consider myself lucky.
The lows can get pretty low, but they give way to highs of equal intensity. But neither lasts, and I haven't needed medication to help the circle along. Truth to tell, I wouldn't even consider that approach. The roller coaster ride can actually be fun in a weird way, now that I've been on it so many times.
And so here I am.

It's a rainy day here. I'll go to karate class, and I'll read and nap upon my return home.
This day was made to order.
I'm in the middle of a great novel by Herman Melville, one of my favorite authors. No, it's not "Moby-Dick," the novel that sank his career like the white whale sank the Pequod. This one's titled "White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War." It's based on Melville's real-life experiences in the U.S. Navy, and was the last book he published before "Moby-Dick." After the whaling novel, the poor man couldn't give his books away.
When he died in 1891, The New York Times spelled his name wrong ("Henry Melville") in its obituary. The obituary writer for another New York newspaper wrote that he thought Melville had died many years earlier.

Coincidentally, it was depression, a "damp, drizzly November in my soul," that drove Ishmael, the narrator of "Moby-Dick," to the sea. And when today's damp, drizzly April day gives way to what is supposed to be a fine day tomorrow, I'm heading to Manhattan for one of my long, long walks.
It's about time to set sail.


jo(e) said...

Welcome back.

It's so important to remember, during those low times, that they don't last forever.

anu said...

HI M :) I am glad to see that you'r back. Welcome back.

I found an aikido class in bombay.
Kim had directed me towards aikido.
The sensei is an american and his name is Brian Reverand. He is so loving and kind. And the fees are really affordable. Today i had my first session and sensei was teaching me summersalts.

My back is sore now but i am so excited. I have a three-day week class. Tues-Sat-Sun and it does not clash with my dialysis schedules (which are on Mon-Thus nights)

I remember the best wishes you sent me long back when another karate class acted funny with me becoz i have a kidney problem. They wanted so many signoffs certificates saying i take responsibility for any death or injury that i was feeling sick in my stomach after that episode.

I am delighted that i am manifesting something more lovelier this time. I thank you for the good wishes you sent me :)

MaxWedge426 said...

Dude, you know it's bipolar disorder, right? And you've tried lithium? I know a few people with that, and it's very wearing. I have PTSD myself, but it's dissipating gradually. Good luck.

crosshatched said...

hi m.!
I covet your long walks through NYC --- & really enjoy your narrative photo-blog reflections post-walk.

Michael said...

Hi jo(e),
Yes, I've known this for 10,000 years. It keeps me going.

Hi Anu,
I'm glad you discovered aikido! The thing with most martial arts is that they allow for participation at whatever level you feel comfortable. The main thing is to enjoy yourself, and the sense of accomplishment is nice, too.
I hope you have a long and rewarding journey with aikido!

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I'm glad you've had success with medication.
But as for the advice you give, thanks, but no thanks.
I'm not so quick to self-diagnose what I or anyone else may or may not have. I think that kind of nonsense is one of the great failings of Western health care. First, you give a name to a problem. Then, when you come to realize that you can't do much about it, you medicate it away, or at least try to.
Usually (but not always), I don't put much stock in that sort of psychobabble nonsense.
And no, I don't know that it's bipolar disorder. And if it is, I accept it. It's part of my life, and I deal with it. I think there are varying degrees of severity. I'd rather explore what may trigger certain states of mind. If the stimulus is biochemical, then fine, medication may be in order. But I'm not an expert. I can tell you, though, that I've met plenty of self-described "experts" who are full of shit.
I think psyciatry and psychotherapy can do wonderful things, but I also know there's a lot of quackery going on.

Hi crosshatched,
Thanks for the kind words! Hopefully, I'll have some adventures to relate tomorrow!

Kitty said...

Michael, I agree with you 100% about modern medicine and mental/emotional health (and physical health, for that matter.) I've experienced depression, with the "up and down" business, for most of my life, plus now dealing with the hurricane after-effects. I have been determined not to use drugs to repress the depression (an interesting concept) but rather allow it to show me what its purpose is in my life and find alternate means of handling it. That can tough sometimes, but I've had the feeling that by medicating it away, I'd be short-circuiting some kind of process in my life that needs to be there.

In particular, psychotropic drugs have a profound effect on all physiological systems of the human body. You change one small element in the neuro-endocrine system, and it's like a box of dominos. I haven't wanted to start doing that to myself.

I'm not saying that no one should ever use medication for depression, just that it hasn't been right for me, and IMO it's not something to be done lightly.

Brotha Buck said...

It's not depression. It's man-ism.

Michael said...

Hi Kitty,
Yes, we're on the same page. I agree with you 100 percent.

My Dear BB,
Thank you! It's all part of life, isn't it?

Pierre Turlur said...


I don't know much and when it is really hard I have a good old friendly mantra... It is okay not to be okay.

It is good medecine because it doesn't deny the pain and brings me back to this...

Thank you for sharing your ups and downs, your coming and going.



Michael said...

And with love and respect to you, Pierre. Thanks!

Lone Wolf said...

Lately, I've had a bit of the blues myself. My old way of dealing with deppression was to try and fight or ignore it, which only made matters worse. Sometimes I catch myself yerning for some fantasy other then what is present. Now, I just do my best to accept my mood and contiune to do what needs done. When accepting deppression in this way, I notice a hint of joy mixed with my melancholy.

Beth said...

michael: i'm glad you are back. i really admire the way you are able to view your depression with a sense of perspective. i kind of go through the same thing, but while i am in the midst of it i don't have nearly the sense of perspective you do. i tend to think it will last forever, despite all evidence to the contrary.
i look forward to reading about your walks too. you've really created an eager audience on monday mornings. no pressure, though :)

Oxeye said...

nothing like planning a long walk for a beautiful day to cure a case of the blues. :)

good to have you back michael..

Michael said...

Hi Lone Wolf,
I know what you mean.

Hi Kim,
I'm not sure that it's only good perspective that sees me through. I think there's also a fair degree of self-preservation mixed in, tempered by experience.

Hi Oxeye,
Thanks for the encouragement!