Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reframing the Sadness Problem

I’m reading a nice article from the N.Y. Review, free from the internet, “Redefining Depression as Mere Sadness.” It’s making sense, but as I once heard and still believe you cannot transform a camel into a racehorse by committee, redefining a thing does not change the thing.

I also heard once that depression was just the not doing of something that you knew in your heart needed to be done. When I heard that one it made great sense to me. I was in my early thirties, incomplete education, doing dead end jobs for like no money, boy was I sure that something needed to be done. And it wasn’t, and that was depressing. Not much of a surprise there.

Certain things freeze the mind, and it all starts to look like depression. Another such situation would be when something has happened and you really, really wish that it hadn’t. In a limited sense this would be like the time I cut the tip off of my left middle finger. I wish I had a picture of my face, standing there looking at the bloody, flat new tip, nail hanging grotesquely out into space, frantically trying to unwind the last ten seconds and have the precious thing back. Impossible, of course, time is like that, once past, it’s gone like a piece of trash that floated by in the river five minutes ago.

This phenomenon, in a broader sense, could be the maudlin preoccupation with lost youth. That’s just as gone. Like the beautiful girl in the Irish folk tale, “aye, yee had me once, but yee’ll not have me again.” Some people are overcome with grief over the accelerating pace of their own decrepitude. This kind of thing is worse: if something needs to be done, you can go and do it; something that is lost is gone forever.

Lots of people struggle against reality, resist the dictates of fate, refuse to dance with the one they brung. But sorry Charlie, in this game we all get dealt some cards and that’s all she wrote, no redeals, no do-overs. If you don’t like your cards, all you can do is try to bluff.

Anger at things that cannot be changed is another emotion that brings on so called depression. Things like Republicans. Or things that would be hard to change, like Rush Limbo. Release, as somebody tells me on a regular basis.

All of this intelligence is available to the conscious mind quite easily; the real trick is internalizing the firm belief. That interface is where the real problem lies. Our egos are quite rational, but our ids make non-negotiable demands, reasonable or otherwise, and refuse to accept bad news.


Rory Cripps said...

Fred: Sup with all that touchy-feely/sadness/depression stuff? Back in my tough-as-nails (rah! rah! rah!) hometown, I had a friend by the name of J (J is what I'll call him here). He was about your age and he attended the same grammar school that you attented. In the late sixties and early seventies some dumb shrinks (probably "pinko/Commie-Libs) said that J was manic-depressant (I, myself, know a thing or two about manic depression from listening to Jimi Hendrix) and the shrinks stuck him in the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center. On occasion, a few of us hometown boys would visit J at Creedmoor. I don't know why J was in Creedmoor . . . for J was perfectly fine and ready to receive his guests after a dose of thorazine and a few electrical shocks. Indeed, after a dose and a shock or two, J was more lucid, approachable, and civilized than a number of residents that I bumped into while meandering the streets and back-alleys of my hometown.

I'm a proud republican, Fred, and I tow the republican line (and I mean it sincerely); so please don't get angry or depressed as a result of what I say in the following: it's just too darn bad that Rush Limbaugh (Limbo, HA!) was not broadcasting over the radio airwaves at the time J was at Creedmoor. For if Rush Limbaugh's broadcast was piped into J's room, twenty-four/seven, and J was forced to listen to Limbo, I have no doubt that J would have been compelled to exercise "free will" and force upon himself a miraculous and speedy recovery in order to get the hell out of there, never to return.

I confess to having a "maudlin preoccupation with lost youth". For in my encroaching decrepitude, it's alot harder for me to reach up and pluck the beautiful girls in the Irish folk-tales out of the trees. Nowadays, I often satisfy the desire of my id by simply listening to Gaelic radio broadcasts and marvelling at whatever happens to pop up on the screen.

fred c said...

I think Rush is a great talent, no lie, that stuff is not easy, but I do think he is a little how-low-can-you-go, Limbo rockin' the airwaves.

Thank god, and I do, that I was never "helped" with the electricity routine. I spoke with a couple of guys who weren't so lucky. No, I was depressed but I got up everyday, got dressed and went to school and kept my mouth shut. I may be a little bi- myself, but I swing in a very narrow range, nothing you'd notice. Sadness? I don't know. Maybe just a little "hello darkness my old friend . . ."

Rory Cripps said...

Fred: Yes, Limbaugh does have talent. I started listening to him twenty years ago when he first came on the radio. Nowadays I rarely listen to him, although I do hold a number of his core political beliefs. However Limbaugh is often an embarrassment to people like me when he espouses his "black and white" simplfications of issues. And he does that more often than not. My friend "J" utterly despised Limbaugh . . . HA!

Anonymous said...

See Fred, Dr Cripps says it's all in your mind! Buck up, you snivelling wimp, and snap out of it! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps (and other cliches).... You "manic depressant" (sic). What do shrinks know? Dr. Cripps has spoken--idiotically as usual, but he has spoken! All better now?

fred c said...

Yeah, the old get over it. For a long time I tried to "John Wayne" it, just try to muscle through it. After a phone call with my mother about ten years ago I said to Ann, can you imagine, she's been so crazy for so many years and never agreed to get some help. Ann, ever the aware one, said, well, isn't that what you're doing? I went to Kaiser within days and the help helped. But we're just us, all of us, and change works well with living room decor but not so well with the subconscious.

And Rory, if J knows me, tell him I wish him well.

Rory Cripps said...

Fred: I haven't seen "J" since '97.
His picture (along with some other musicians playing in a band) is on the "CP Memories" site. His picture is also in one of the St. Fidelis year-books posted on that happy memory site. Those pictures were taken during the inchoate (that one's for you, Mr. Ed . . . I saw the word in Moby Dick) stage of his depression. I and J were very good friends for many years in spite of our bipolar political and social views. At one point, I actually got J to go to the gun-range with me, and shoot about sixty rounds of "Russian Shorts" out of an AK47. I also got him involved in Shotokan Karate until he hurt his ankle, while running for the 25/34 bus. He had a fun time doing both. J and his wife (she's a Phd. psychologist and I hope that they're still together) danced at my wedding in '89. Years ago, J's wife gave me, as a gift (for my birthday), "A Confederacy Of Dunces". The book was one of the best "presents" that I've ever received. No, Mr. Ed . . . J's wife wasn't hinting at anything that I didn't already know about and acknowledge. Indeed, years prior to receiving "the gift", I, myself, had exercised "free will" and consequently submitted myself to lying prostrate upon "the Couch", as it were, twice a week for at least two years, HA! Great tits too!

To set the record straight and just to be sure that y'all (especially you Fred)know where I'm coming from: Please . . . prolonged sadness is bad enough, but depression is hell. In my life, I've experienced prolonged sadness and at one point, I experienced "mild" depression, however it didn't seem to me "mild" at all. My friend J was one of the people that helped me out of my "mild depression". My "mild depression" bordered on a living hell. With that said, I can't even imagine the hell that J walked through. J indeed made a miraculous recovery. I need to get back in touch with him and see how he's doing. Thank you, Fred, for "Reframing The Sadness Problem".

fred c said...

I have enjoyed shooting guns, but I wouldn't trust myself with one in the house, no sir-ee, Bob. But shooting is fun.

I see it as one of those things that forces us up to the White-Line-Of-Reality, like motorcycling, with which I am much more familiar. When you put bullets in the gun, or throw the thing in gear and set off for the mountains, the mind, in my experience, involuntarily focuses completely on the matter at hand and stops all random, bullshit worrying. It must, the penalty for lack of focus on the immediate task is too harsh. So it's like a vacation from worrying.

I'm glad, Rory, that your experience of depression was short of being land-damned. Did you know WLaB? Boy, he was depressed, stayed in his PJ's for a year or more. For me the worst came around my Fiftieth B'Day, I cried for six months straight and longed for death like hungry people long for food, I thought only of the relief of wrapping a plastic dry-cleaning bag around my head. I guess I'm over it.

I'm trying again to give up the SSRI's, so far so good, but I'll never say a bad thing about them. They allowed me to go on, and gave me the space to arrive at some understanding that may have allowed me to become productive.

And don't worry, Rory, or Ed for that matter, I get it, we're all ok up in here.

Anonymous said...

The bugger uses so many words and yet says so little...
So real men get only "mildly depressed," right Doctor Cripp? Got that, Fred?
You keep on spouting those Repug talking points, Dr. Cripp--you sound more like the drug-addled gasbag every day!
But keep it up. You do more to make me smile than an ativan! :)

Rory Cripps said...

Fred: due to my ignorance, I had to look up the definition of SSRI's. I also had to look up the definition of Ativan . . . and I'm not kidding! I always owe up to my ignorance(and that's what I'm doing here) and I always make an earnest effort to confront my ignorance; for "a mind is a terrible thing to waste"(and a "terrible thing to lose", too). Both of the above "mind" quotes, in my opinion, belong to the top-ten most idiotic statements of the twentieth century: for contained in both of the quotes is the explicit statement that a mind is a "terrible thing". The former quote is accepted, to this day, as gospel/Amen/right-on/tell-it-like-it-is-brother . . . and the latter quote was made fun of and dismissed as an idiotic statement from a vice-presidential candidate that didn't know how to spell potato. But upon close (and intellectually honest) inspection of the two idiotic statements, one cannot help but realize that the only difference between the the two "idiotic" statements is the word "lose" and the word "waste".

Rory Cripps said...

Dear E.S. (HA)! I am not now nor have I ever been a "bugger", as it were. Nor have I ever been a buggee. Would you like to check? As far as the "Repug talking points" go, I thought that I made it clear that I'm a republican and not necessarily a Republican. In other words, I voted for Ron Paul in the "Repug" primaries as opposed to El Presidente Jorge Bush. Moreover, I don't understand what appears to be your animosity towards Jorge Bush and the "Repugs". . . seems to me they're more akin to your political views than to my political views. Your use of words such as asshole, bugger, and gasbag betray your anal fixation. I hope you get better soon . . . I really do.

"Dr." Cripps, proud republican.

Anonymous said...

Ah, more big smiles!!...Thanks to Doctor Feel Good--Some of My Best Friends Are Manic-Depressants (sic)--Rawry Cripp!! :)

(Notice he didn't have to look up the definition of "bugger" HA!)

Have a great weekend, Fred.

Rory Cripps said...

Dear anonymous of Sept. 26, 2008: What does :) mean?