Dropping Depression

As she often does, Stephany put a thought in my mind that I haven’t been able to shake. It was a three-word comment: “You have recovered.” Nice wish, I thought, if only – ! I’ve been working on recovery so long – it just isn’t happening consistently. But the problem with interpreting this as a wish was her strange use of past rather than future tense (You have recovered). So the words kept coming back to me, and I didn’t know what to do with them. Finally, I started thinking: Well, what if we suppose for a minute or an hour that the statement – all three words of it – were true, not so much for me, but for someone? After all, decades ago I did some acting. Couldn’t I just play this part for a while? And if I did, how exactly would I, as this someone, feel? And what would I say? This could take a lot of research, I thought, but I needed to start somewhere. And the first thing would be – kicking that idiot Depression out of my life – I mean his life – the life of the guy I would pretend to be.

After jotting down a few words for this character to say, I kind of caught the spirit of this recovered thing and started to feel something unusual stirring. I heard odd bursts of laughter and then realized with a shock – hey, that’s me – I mean, of course, he, the guy I was portraying. I – he – felt really good, giggly, smiley – bizarrely out of character – my character, that is. This character, however, was recovered and so could be expected to be happy, giddy even, at having pushed depression out of his life after decades of doom and gloom. Here’s the sort of thing he (well, I, acting in the role of recovered person) might well be saying:

You’re about to be history, you busted old fool, unholy one, always stealing me. You trespass, you offend, you have nothing good to say, and surely nothing new. You bore me over and over again with the same stripped life, torn to its emptiness. I don’t want your lightless streak in my soul any more. I’m sick of your dismal dispatches, your chemistry of night, your endless calls to inaction, your fog of unthinking, your poisoning of love, your invitations to deadly impulse. I see shining faces around me again. How could I remain so stuck in this sickening web, waiting to be a spider’s meal. It’s over, I’m out of here. I’m taking the power of my mind and soul with me into broad daylight!

NO! Scratch that. You’re out of here!

Photo Credit: JesterArts at Stockxpert

And I won’t take this anymore: awake at 4, deep in obsessive shame, feeling the despair of it again, the incredible inability to act, the sluggishness, the incomplete projects, the excess of a grim self in everything – all of it so deadly – so implausible. So long as you were living with me, I could barely be there for anyone else. How did it happen that I could stay so long in that stupefying place with you, shattering everything I so carefully assembled.

After these decades, It’s divorce time, thief. And breaking this unholy union is sanctified by the highest power there ever was or will be!

And as I shove you out at last, I know it hurts to tear away the hold you have in me, deep in some psychic core. But that’s a pain I know, like ripping out a hook buried in my arm so fast the pain is over before I can begin to feel it.

So strange – I kick you out, heavy being who covered my mind in darkness, turned me to lead, sat like a mountain squeezing all breath out of me. Yet when you’re gone, I see there’s nothing to you, no trace of mass, no shadow on the land, no shape of any living thing, or any dead thing either. What were you, then, that felt so massive, so impenetrable, so opaque? Now you’re invisible. And how does that feel – as if you had any feeling in you.

My mind has light again, I can see through the dark. I can do this living biz – I can feel. Out of cramped hallways and small rooms at last, where nothing ever seemed to fit, I can open wide an unfillable space to everything that is. I hardly knew before how big was the world I could walk into, how much love there could be to take in and give back. I never thought there was enough of that to go around.

Of course, you aren’t done yet, and I see your silent violence torturing so many. But if I look more closely, I can see in them angels falling and struggling to come back.


It does feel great to act this part, even if the lines need work! This guy is so new to recovery that he’s still a bit hung up on the dark stuff – it’s not that far behind him yet. I’ll have to imagine him farther advanced in the feel-good side of things. I admit that’s a stretch for me, but I’ll keep practicing – back to the research. That’s Part 2.

Thanks for the challenge, Stephany.

By the way, can anyone help me with this research? What do you think it’s like, feeling great, fully alive and alert, excited by the possibilities all around you? I don’t mean a flash here or there, I mean day after day after day, as if that were the norm. Can you imagine it, can you feel what that must be like? Anyone? What song would you sing?

13 Responses to “Dropping Depression”

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  1. http://www.mser4.blogspot.com says:

    i found your site through brenda and i am so glad i did. i suffer from depression too…have my whole life and…i can’t wait to dive into your writings. thank you for sharing your experiences.

  2. stephany says:

    Thank you John, and thank you for what you’ve written here.

    My song?

    Bells ringing from a cathedral! Step outside, look up at the sky and hear them ring.

  3. Anon for now says:

    Stephany, that’s so wonderful! Thank you for sharing it.

    John D, I was singing “It’s a Wonderful World” just this morning, outside, hanging the laundry in the sun. I also sang this chant:

    I will be gentle with myself,
    I will love myself,
    I am a child of the Universe
    being born each moment.

    by (or, at least, sung by) Libana


    …which isn’t really connected with this blog entry, but the synchronicity of you mentioning WaWW urges me to post this.

  4. Anon for now says:

    Stephany, that’s so wonderful! Thank you for sharing it.

    John D, I was singing “It’s a Wonderful World” just this morning, outside, hanging the laundry in the sun. I also sang this chant:

    I will be gentle with myself,
    I will love myself,
    I am a child of the Universe
    being born each moment.

    by (or, at least, sung by) Libana


    …which isn’t really connected with this blog entry, but the synchronicity of you mentioning WaWW urges me to post this.

  5. John D says:

    Stephany – You have this way of bringing out ideas and stories that start me re-imagining what’s really going on in this life. You make me think of the poet who wrote that the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. Or as you put it, greet yourself on your arrival, see your own smiling face and feel the love and acceptance of who you are. Amazing.


  6. John D says:

    Alexander – It’s encouraging to hear about an approach to recovery without medication. I’m still searching for the right combination of things to do, but the approaches I’ve been learning in the past year, partly through getting to know the blogging community, have been incredibly helpful. And thanks for the reference to the seng site. I’m looking into learning and teaching strategies for various reasons, and this is a helpful reference.

    Catatonic Kid – Thank you – your praise means a lot to me. Your writing is some of the most imaginative and engaging I’ve found in this blogging world!

    Denise – That’s a great image of getting the right glasses to see clearly. There are so many times when I can’t see anything around me because I’m bound up in what I see inside my mind. Thanks for that and for your kind words.


  7. stephany says:

    Have you ever traveled a long distance via plane, train, car, etc. to a friend, or lover, family member?

    During the trip, there is eager anticipation of seeing the person’s smiling face waiting for us. The trip, the journey may be long, and difficult, but the end is worth the time and effort.

    Step off of the plane, or train and see the person who accepts you unconditionally, with all flaws we might see in ourselves; but they don’t–they only see us and love us.

    It’s that sense of freedom to risk, to truly live, knowing something is waiting for us with such acceptance.

    We smile the closer we get,our heart may race–we find ourselves smiling alone, standing taller, anxious to see the one we are visiting.

    Imagine you as the person getting off of the plane and imagine you being the one who is waiting for you.

    It’s a provocative thought isn’t it? self-love? a way to transform the journey we are on? what a freeing experience imagining ourselves being the smiling face at the end of the trip.

    It’s freedom!

  8. Denise says:

    What a beautiful piece of writing!!

    How would I describe a life free of constant depression? A little like I felt when I was eight and by putting on my first pair of glasses I could see from our car,the writing on the billboards, as we went by. I have only achieved that kind of inner clarity for small durations of time. I am always needing a new prescription on my lenses. I don’t know a song to represent it but the words peace and well-being is what I live to feel.

  9. Absolutely amazing post. No doubt.

    There’s so much strength behind your words. Strength and a keen sense of awareness. You seem so sure, and I very much admire that.

  10. John D says:

    Thank you, Brenda – That’s very moving to hear and wonderfully encouraging. I’m honored for the mention on your blog – also grateful for you’re pointing me to the others you single out. They’re all new to me, and I look forward to getting to know them.

    Evan – I’m able to see the ordinary on good days – and I’m happy to be alive in a beautiful world, even if it’s a crowded city. Thank you for mentioning the songs. The one playing in my head when I was writing this post was Louis Armstrong’s version of What a Wonderful World.


  11. I’ve had “depression” most of my life.

    The quotes around that word are my way of indicating that doctors don’t know enough to tell me what’s wrong or right with me.

    Recently weened myself off anti-depressants because of the research I did.

    Replaced the pills with top-grade nutrition and exercise.

    Noticed you’re creative…

    Check this out:

  12. Brenda says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve commented here, but I wanted to let you know that I continue to be inspired by your blog! You were the blogger that I first identified as a “brave blogger” for your utter honesty and positive approach in dealing with your challenges! That category of writer has since become a favorite of mine! I don’t face one huge mountain like you (although I can understand Stephany’s take that you’ve overcome this mountain!), I face an often daunting range of steep hills … and your words here have always provided me with inspiration and new ideas in tackling them! But enough about me! I really dropped by this morning to let you know that as one of my heroic “brave bloggers” I’ve given you a mention on my site. I know my readers will truly appreciate your perspective!

  13. Evan says:

    Live is ordinary. And the ordinary is deeply nourishing – fabulous in fact!

    My favourite songs are from early Talking Heads.

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