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June 28, 2007

You're so alone. Do you deserve it? I know you think so.

Have been reading Peter D. Kramer's brilliant Against Depression; I read an essay excerpted from it a couple of years ago that stuck with me, and then I found it this past weekend remaindered at a Barnes and Noble. I'm really pleased to be reading it now. The gist of it (so far) is that although we *say* we believe in a medical model of depression, we act as if we do not, as if depression confers depth and grace and virtue. It's all very thought-provoking and so far I'm agreeing with him all the way down the line. Here's a passage I loved:

There is dignity in a prolonged recovery--but always, I would trade a bushel of sad grace for a peck of resilience. Despair and estrangement are understandable responses to loss. But if mourning lingers, it seems to me that we honor it in part because we must, because our ability to moderate hopelessness is limited. Often, what psychiatrists combat is not difficult emotion but an inability to emerge from it--not emptiness, but endless emptiness. An interval of grief followed by an increasing and finally a full turning toward the world--doesn't this sequence contain nobility enough?

I do feel that my own mood problems have been a catalyst for change and a crucible in which that change has taken place; I've gotten further along my path than I might have expected to at 35. On the other hand, I was an ebullient, confident 20-year-old, as I've recently been reminded--so was a detour through a Swamp of Horror really necessary? As Kramer suggests, perhaps I honor my depression because I have no other choice.

Posted by Rose at June 28, 2007 12:00 AM


I got some pretty good songs out of my relatively brief stretch of depression, but a silver lining doesn't mean there wasn't a dark cloud. And being depressed may have forced me into self-reflection, but as for grace and virtue, I don't think so. To me, virtue has to do with how you interact with the world, and depression closed me off and made me irrational. I'll find something else to write songs about, thanks. (For example, I'm not sure anyone has covered the subject of cloning imaginary friends.)

Posted by: Francis at June 28, 2007 08:37 AM

i may need to check this book out... thanks for the info.

Posted by: mamagotcha at June 29, 2007 12:18 AM

Depression to me is like a faithful lover I return to.

Posted by: Wenchy at July 2, 2007 02:59 PM

"the bright ones are always more sensitive."

Posted by: Dianna at July 5, 2007 03:48 PM

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