Cold Fire 

The other night I had a dream of sorts that was really quite amazing. It wasn't about images, except maybe geometric shapes forming a circle. The the inside of a temple dome perhaps. In any event, the real substance of the dream was an emotion of an intense happiness that radiated to the core of my being. It was just a little unreal, and felt almost too happy, at least more than what should seem normal in real life. I tried to hold on to the feeling in the dream but, just like that, it slipped away.

Tonight, that dream seems ironic because I am fairly certain I am really depressed at the moment. I am worried about my long term ability to support myself and pay my already accumulated debts, which are substantial (at least to me.) The anxiety I feel about the future is the spark that ignites a cold fire that burns through my confidence, my hope for myself, and my sense of security. Medication helps, but my supply was interrupted for a bit because the doctor's office ran out of free samples. The various people I talk to during a day would say my depression is a natural result of not having medication for a few days, but I can't help but think the medication is actually masking my problems, which are real and "out there," not just internal. My problems have a substance that is unaffected by whatever attitude or emotion I happen to feeling at that moment.

If I had the opportunity to make other choices over again, I would. Graduate school would be one of those things I wouldn't do. Too much money and not enough return. I think my hopes were exploited for money by colleges that were willing to promise brighter tomorrows. Maybe if I were from the middle classes I aspired to, I would have been able to navigate grad. school better, been able to reap the rewards of familiarity from professional colleagues that so often helps people get ahead.

Right now, it is the middle of the night (4:00am.) I have class in 12 hours, and at two over-due projects still to do. I should have spent the last four days working on them but, except for a marathon homework session on Wednesday, I spent most of the time in bed doing not much of anything in particular.

I would try talking to other people about it more--people who have special meaning in my life--but to them, it just seems like I am complaining about things I can't really change. In that regard, they are right, except I would say lamenting or grieving instead of complaining. The responses from others that I seem to get are either along the lines of "me too," or "fake it until you make it." "Somehow things always work out for the best," they say.

But, I feel that I am too educated to believe that is always the case. Yes, maybe things aren't as dire as they seem, but then again the world can be very cruel and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change difficult circumstances. I've always disliked those philosophies that say that internal positive thinking creates an outward positive reality, an emotional telekinesis that says you can manipulate your mind to attract (when they often mean force) good, and typically material, benefits. The universe is turned into your personal butler, and all you have to do is to learn the trick to get it to do your bidding. Want 500 dollars? Send positive energy into the Universe to get it. Seems highly dishonest to me, even offensive.

I think that the honest acknowledgment of the seriousness and reality of my problems would help reassure me that my perceptions are real and not irretrievably distorted by depression. And, that, for some reason I don't clearly understand, would make me feel better.

Perhaps, a big part of why I would feel better might be that I'd feel reassured that my grip on reality has not slipped, that my judgment is still intact. And then, if that were the case, I would have the firm hope that since I knew the problem as objectively as I possibly could know it, I might be able to find a way to adapt, or even (dare to hope) find a solution.

I've lost at least 10 pounds in the last couple of weeks. I hardly eat breakfast anymore. I am behind in my work. My car is getting more unreliable. I have no money. I am not where I want to be with my art. I feel like a fraud much of the time. I haven't been able to take a shower since Friday. I still cough up phlegm more than a week later, even though the main symptoms of the virus I had have gone away. At times, I really don't like myself very much and can't see why anyone else would either.

Still, for all of that, I will go to school in the morning (six hours from now maybe), and I will try to work on my projects as best as I am able. Sometimes, after the last class is over for that given day, the anxiety surfaces and I feel it best to flee for home and get in bed again.

Yeah, I do try to fight it. The thing about it now, as opposed to three or four years ago, is that, even though I am more aware about the depression I have and its physical causes, I am less able to force myself through it as I was when I was a young man. Ignorance about my depression gave me the strength of will to blunder through daily activities with a tenacity that usually carried me pretty far. Nowadays, I feel like the fighting I did back then to push through did more harm than good. It was futile. So often, during my weaker moments, I find myself back in bed, doing my best to forget about my problems. And trying to forget takes up a lot of energy, almost to the point where I can't really do much else.

30 November 2009
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