This is something I’ve been planning for a few months. The basic problem with blogs is the more you write, the more gets left behind in the archives. So a few times a month I’m going to leave excerpts from my original posts which I think can really help people who are just starting out on their recovery, then link them to the original so maybe someone can also find something useful in the original discussions.
For this inaugural Old Post Day I’ve chosen one of the very first pieces I ever wrote about manic depression, it was originally posted on November 18, 2006. The title is a line from “Lovers In A Dangerous Time”, a song by Bruce Cockburn…
“kicking at the darkness until it bleeds daylight”
Recovery is about epiphanies — little truths made into strong emotions by the very fact we missed out on the frigging thing in the first place, which means we’ve been living in one direction when a simple truth would have had us going in the right direction.
Manic depression makes you confused, it feels like depth but manic depression is a very shallow disease, it’s ‘horizontal’ not ‘vertical’ like a cancer. When you get cancer you know where it is and roughly whether or not you’re going to survive it. Someone with our disease could, quite literally, be dead ten minutes from now (don’t do it) or we could survive wrapped up in a ball in a corner until we’re ninety-nine.
Depression is a thin coating, it’s a thin sheet of reflective ice concealing an ocean. It corrupts our ability to Reason, and without that ability we can’t defend ourselves against the thoughts inside our heads, so we find excuses we can live with. People with our disease are excellent at rationalizing unreasonable behaviour to fit situations we can’t understand.
The disease makes you believe, unconditionally, that you are in charge. So when you’re staring into that reflective ice covering thinking it’s you making the decisions based on reason and deliberation in fact — unmedicated or newly medicated — every decision you make is corrupted by the disease.
The posts I wrote during my first year on Salted were very aggressive… I was coming to terms with the disease, and the effect it had on my life during all of the years I was untreated.
I firmly and absolutely believe we have to get angry at the disease… in the end the anger we throw at ourselves and the people around us in the belief either we or they are at fault only holds our recovery back.
Which is why I love that line from Bruce’s song… you kick that darkness until it bleeds daylight.
There wasn’t much of a conversation with this one… there was actually only one response. But there is a lot more to this post, if you’d like to read it just click on the link. And maybe let me know if this “Old Post Day” thing makes sense.
i think if you’re interesting in guiding people toward recovery (which you loyally have been), it’s pretty fantastic that you can let people observe where you were (not to mention allowing yourself to observe) in reference to how far you’ve come — or perhaps more importantly, how hard you’ve worked to come to where you are. Your semi-thankless service to people is pretty incredible, Gabriel. You don’t owe this to people. You provide it out of your fundamental goodness, and hope.
And that’s amazing considering you’re as fragile a human being as anyone.
There’s an old tune i chime into now and again (yeah yeah, i know, more fkn dame and her tunes, oy) but i’m bringing it up cuz’ most people heard it as a ‘romantic’ type tragic break up shit ditty or whatever. I heard it in a different context, then and even now.
Negotiating a relationship with a depressed self is just that, negotiation. And it’s never constantly and consistently forward, despite the pills, the therapy or the education. It’s an onward struggle. Often one step up and two steps back.
Thanks for being the most humane of educators, mister. Really.
I like the 1996 comment. What IS wrong in the comment is Medication-chemicals-drugs will influence the takees mind to be different. This can be in a good way, this can also be in a bad way. Psychiatrists are not all knowing Gods, whos words must be unquestionably followed.
I am so glad that I found your blog. I suffer from depression, and I find your blog so soothing. Educational. I`m on medication currently, but not in therapy, although I know I should be seeing someone. Thing is, there is just not any therapist in my hometown that I trust enough.
The past couple of months were difficult. Despite the meds I am still feeling so dark, anxious, scared and just plain shit. I cannot remember when last I felt slightly normal. I am so tired and depleted of energy. To read posts on your blog makes me feel as if I have come home, it feels so safe here. I`ve been reading many of the comments to your posts too, and I have a feeling here I will find the education to help understand my illness better. I admire you for being able to put your thoughts into posts like these. It must be a wonderful release. I wish I knew myself well enough to be able to do that. I am too disconnected to my views on things to be able to do so. I think I don`t have enough courage to put my thoughts into writing anyways.
Anyhow, thank you for your wonderful blog.
I can`t wait to read more of the archives, and your posts to come.
Thanks dw… really. But I’ve learned as much from the people in my blogroll as much as anyone may have learned from my experiences. I definitely don’t owe anyone anything in terms of who I share my own experiences with, but — maybe it’s the socialist Canadian in me — there is a certain responsibility to a shared knowledge that I feel is crucial to our recoveries.
When we’re apart, when we’re alone and facing a blitz from people who think we’re frauds or delusional or unwilling to just “cheer the fuck up” we inevitably get just a little more crushed. We begin to believe it’s I, Me, Myself who are unable to fight. But there is a certain amount of comfort to be found when we find people who share the same experiences, who may be a few miles further into their recovery than we are, who may be willing to help us avoid some of the pitfalls they fell into.
If you ever get a chance you have to find Bruce’s “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions”. I could listen to “O Mary Don’t You Weep” for a week.
Hello Mark… sorry, I’m not sure what you meant by “the 1996 comment”. No doctor, researcher or scientist anywhere is infallible and a diagnosis of any disease should always be questioned, as should the treatment. Anyone who says different is uninformed and should be avoided and/or slapped.
Hello and welcome Cruella… there are dozens of blogs in my blogroll which could help you with your personal recovery. The thing about people who are recovering from clinical depressions or manic depression is the stages are remarkably similar. So if you’re just starting out there are some, like Experimental Chimp, who have been writing for years about their recovery — Chimp has actually resumed a somewhat normal life again. There are others like Seaneen who have found solid ground but are still working hard to find more stability.
I’ve also found, through the experiences of friends recovering from addictions, the recovery process in itself has similarities across diseases and across addictions. People struggle, and when we write about it we can all learn from the struggle… just like we can find hope from their success.
Thanks again Cruella, and you’re very welcome to read and comment anywhere… and if you ever want to start a blog of your own I’d be happy to help out.
“the 1996 comment”.LOL I was still half asleep. It was an accident . 2006 I meant. It’s great (for me) to learn you support the idea that diagnosis and treatment can be wrong.
Thank you for making me feel welcome.
Mark… I’m not sure which blog you think you’re on, but I’ve never led anyone to believe a doctor of any kind is infallible, and I’ve definitely never suggested anyone remain on a medication or other type of treatment if they don’t feel comfortable or they aren’t seeing results.
And I’m going to repeat, because I don’t think you’ve “heard” this the other dozen times I’ve repeated it to you, if anyone is getting their medical advice from a single person or blogger — or YouTube channel — they’re not doing themselves any favours.
Hi again Cruella… another blog I’d recommend is called Swirly Aura, she’s just starting out with her blog but has been dealing with depression for many years.
Thank you, I have checked out all the blogs you recommended. And bookmarked them. I particularly like Seaneen`s blog.
“Kick the darkness until it bleeds daylight”… that has been my mantra since reading your post. It surely helps to kick start some kind of a fighting spirit again.