My husband calls it “chasing the black dog.” I have, in the past, called it “battling the Buffoon” (or in my preferred terms, die Shmegege). I’ve also heard it called “that certain shade of blue.” At one point in history, the wealthy claimed it as “melancholy” while the working stiff or poor person were told it was “weakness” or even “sin.” Today, the so-called “enlightened” experts label it “bio-chemical imbalance,” “anxiety” and “depression.” Name it what one will, it’s real. It is a part of my everyday life. Some days, I get past it and know happiness. In days like the world has seen these past two weeks, I cannot. The chase, the battle, the melancholy takes hold and squeezes.
I will never say I know what exactly depression is; but I know what it is not It’s certainly not sin, whatever any belief systems declares “sin” to be. It’s not some weakness that one must simply “get over” or pull one’s self together. It knows no socio-economic boundaries, settles under no one name, cause or cure. I also know it is not something that can be “cured” by medication, mental adjustment or other outside forms of mental lobotomy.
What I do know is how it feels: helplessness and a varying measure of hopelessness in the face of a world that would deny all I hold dear. More than once, it has left me immobile, inarticulate, unthinking as if I had been struck over the head. There have been tears and some screaming, but not much. The grip is too tight. And I have learned through nearly 60 years’ experience that I do not have the hubris to point to that gland or that organ or some anatomical system to say “That’s the cause! Fix that and all will be rainbows and flowers and Hallelujahs!”
Delusional, that approach is at best.
The world, as is all too plain in places like Louisiana, Minnesota, Texas, France, Turkey, almost all of the Middle East, and as we will see in Cleveland, is not perfect place. In times like we’ve seen recently, sometimes most of us don’t even try to help it come close to perfect. Those of us who try know too well the feeling of being allowed a step or two forward, then a resounding gut punch that drives us to the ground. And it hurts. Depression hurts. Physically, psychologically, spiritually, it hurts.
So why do we allow it to hurt? US society and institutions seem based on not hurting, but feeling good; then making such bliss impossible since we aren’t trying hard enough, believe strongly enough or we didn’t inherit enough money. It’s a lose-lose game and yet I, among many, keep trying.
Why? The closest I can come to understanding or describing this aspect of my life is that I care too much to do otherwise.
I care that some use the major belief systems in our country and world, which were originally designed to bring peace, self-worth and concern for each other, have each one morphed into a legalistic system of hatred and exclusion, controlled by a few.
I care that, with all we claim to know and believe, race divides people who otherwise might build something wonderful together.
I care that education today pretends to promote critical thinking, when those in charge offer neither the material nor time for critical thinking. With standards tied to the politics in power, the only educational rigor worthy of what we submit our children to is mental rigor mortis.
I care that leadership is valued by who hates and with how much hatred and violence the so-called “leader” would remove the hated from existence. Cue the rainbows, flowers and Hallelujah.
I care that pocketbooks and power determine the justice a person can expect; especially from those who bear the title, “Justice.” Further, I care that profit (pardon the expression) trumps clean air, clean water, and the clean soil that I need to plant carob or any other tree I might want to, for my children and their children.
I care that man-made communication, be it written or spoken in any form, is allowed to tell us how to live, what to desire, who to love or hate, and how much we should worship and blindly follow.
Finally, I care that the “solution” to this caring and the imbalance it sometimes causes is always a pill; another deposit in the pocket of people who care nothing for curing, but for masking (or as I call it, excuse the expression, a goddamned chemical).
Personally, I will take the imbalance, the temporary immobilization. I know I will move again. I will fight again. And I would rather care.