Before the first time I fell in love with my surfie rugby player, I can't remember being depressed. I was often afraid (because of the daily bullying at school) and I was sometimes sad, because I was so lonely. But I made my own life. I drew maps of imaginary places, I made up imaginary languages, I composed stories in my head, I read. In fact much of the world that underlies The Tapestry of Life novels and short stories has been part of my mental lumber room for decades.
After my guy dumped me, I went into my first deep and long depression. I consulted psychiatrists, but of the seven I spoke to only the last helped. They were all (except for the last) judgmental, in two ways, first of my gayness (they were of the generation that still regarded it as a disease) and secondly, when the sessions didn't help, they judged me, because somehow it was my fault that I didn't get better and immediately turn into a screaming heterosexual. I've noticed that a lot with counsellors and psychiatrists. An ability to blame the patient when their analyses fail. I came out of my depression one day quite simply. I was travelling home from varsity on the train and it seemed to me that a black void or tunnel opened up in front of me, and I had the choice of continuing down the tunnel, or turning back. I decided to turn back.
|Fractal Black Tunnel|
But from time to time afterwards I would have a relapse, as if I'd caught malaria and I needed periodic doses of quinine. In the last three or four years so many horrible things happened to me that the recurrence of the illness was severe. I needed a lot of quinine.
Gradually I've come out of the slough of despond, and recently I've been fine. Tonight, though, I'm having a mild relapse. I expect I'll be right soon. So far, no matter how close I've come to the black tunnel, I've managed to pull back into the sunlight. I don't know why I'm down now. Well, no, I do have one or two reasons, but none is substantial enough to make me feel as I do. Sometimes it just happens, like a recurrence of malaria.
It's odd, is it not, that something which happened so long ago should still affect my life; that something should have changed me so drastically, from the child (I was no more, mentally) who could rebound from sorrows by making his own entertainment, to the adult who finds that impossible? I wonder sometimes whether every one of us does not in the end suffer from these traumas (or should that be traumata? -- that would be the plural in Greek of this nice Greek word meaning 'wound') that psychic wounds are inevitable. Maybe every person I see on the train or walking down the street is invisibly wounded. And maybe we all have activities to make us ignore the pain and the gaping holes in our psyches (another Greek word): compulsive shopping or sex; obsessive religion; constant chatter (in the office or on Facebook); endless reading of favourite thrillers (my 'cure'); eating; drink (another 'cure'); drugs; anything which allows you to pretend for a while that it's all fine.
Tonight, Friday night I am abstaining from champagne (for health reasons.) So all I'm left with is a thriller. Last night I read Mary Stewart's Touch Not the Cat, tonight it's John Morgan Wilson's Blindeye. I can hear somebody playing a Charlie Parker CD, genius borne hither on the cool clear summer evening, while the light drains peacefully and patiently from the western sky, the evening star pricks the turquoise, and I try to mend my broken bits.
Never fear: I've survived much. I shall outlast evening melancholy (another fucking Greek word.)
[Pic from here]