Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Why? Why, Why, Why, Why, WHY WHY WHY?!?!?

You know you've reached the point of black comedy when the sudden--and rather shocking--return of depression is a bore even to you. But it's happened again, dammit. Small tremors over the past week--little panicky "I've got to get out of here" moments which cause you to reflect, a few minutes later, "What the hell was that?" Or, for those of us with more experience in such matters, "Oh, for God's sake, please don't let that be what I think it was."

It was. And it hit me full-bore, both barrels last night. (Low, growling sound of deep, deep impatience and impotent frustration.)

Haven't had the panicky kind of depression for awhile--the kind that feels like you're being pushed from behind rather than crushed from above--and while, God knows, I hate the latter, at least there one has the remedy (well, the palliative) of sleep, lots and lots and lots of sleep. But panic? There's no real solace, apart from whacking yourself out on the prescribed dosage of certain prescription meds, which, yes, I suppose I plan to do, though they lead to a state that could best be described as "a shoo-in to get a call-back when they start casting the next sequel to Night of the Living Dead." Beats the hell out of staying in this state, though.

As to what caused it? Mmm, I've got some theories. The miserable chaos of my personal life is, as always, a good place to start. Plus the uncertainties of the job market. Plus now that the grading crunch is done and I don't have anything that I really have to do, my tendency towards torpor has removed all distraction from the fact that my personal life is in chaos and I'm facing the uncertainties of the job market. Plus, you know, I'm just predisposed. And there was another trigger.

In what turned out to be an unexpectedly bad move, I went to a play (the RSC production of Measure for Measure) last night, that was being performed at the main stage of the Department of Theater at UCLA, my Alma Mater and the place where I spent the better part of four years. It was a place that I inevitably associate with my youth--with the ambitions and hopes of youth, and the feeling that all that lay ahead of me was this great potential to do great things. Such things...have not been done. And so I went back and, watching great actors act on the stage where I'd had a bit part or two--watching people doing what I always thought and hope that I'd be doing--or at least living lives where they've achieved what their youthful hopes pormpted them to do--I faced the gap between what I'd hoped to be and what I am. (Kind of milder version of Wild Strawberries, for you Bergman fans out there.)

And it just struck me with ugly force how far I haven't come. I've just gotten slower and dimmer and somehow less of what I was back then. (The depression was probably doing a lot of the talking during this inner monologue--I'm pretty maudlin, but I'm not quite that bad usually.) And so there was this sense of being pushed forward--of having my younger self telling me that I had to be more, to do more, that I was losing my life--and confronted with this...I had no idea what to do? What? Write another article? Plug away at the novel? These seem so...empty, somehow. (Again, depression doing the talking.)

I found myself staring at my life and realizing that quite a lot of it has already passed, and I've not much to show for it. I don't have a "place"--a job, a home, a family of my own. I think of how much my parents had accomplished by my age, and their parents, and so on--and here I am, mid-30s, and alone, and living year-to-year on an as-needed lecturer's pittance, and just...lost, a bit. And I know that this is the depression talking, of course. But it all seems a bit too real to be just the depression. (Though, that's the nature of depression, so who knows?)

Sigh. Well, at the very least, I really should start exercising again.

So, that's how I'm doing. You?


Blogger phd me said...

I'm okay. Hate to hear you're not. I won't try to come up with any platitudes to make you feel better - just get better, by any means possible.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Yr. Hmbl. & Obdt. said...

To "abd me": You're kindness itself, and I appreciate the support. I understand from your own blog that your interview went well, and as a fellow traveller on the job search, I have my proverbial fingers crossed for you. Nice people having good things happen to them is one of the experiences that tend to lift one out of bleakness. So here's hoping, for both our sakes.

5:01 PM  

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