August 21, 2006

Waiting for the Third Act

For most of my life, I've been waiting for a magical moment -- a moment of absolute lucidity in which I would suddenly know who I am, why I am here and what I'm meant to do in this life. I have never stopped believing in the eventual arrival of this elusive epiphany, although the cynic that live within me tells me that this hoped-for moment is precisely that: a hopeful delusion, a childhood fantasy born of a life spent reading fairy tales, studying religion and watching far too many Hollywood movies.

Hope, in itself, is not so bad. In the middle of a particularly bad depression, it is pretty much essential. Like Pandora's box, depression contains all the evils of the world and stuck in a corner, almost out of sight, always last to be seen, there is hope. Hope is important.

Nevertheless, there is something ridiculous and somewhat pathetic about hoping for a deus ex machina to come lift me out of my hum drum existence, dust me off and present me with a new and improved version of myself.

But most of the stories I have read and loved, many of the films I watch again and again, tell me that this moment will arrive. Any street could be a Damascan Road, any forest could contain my Bodhi Tree. And then I will see the world for what it is and will truly know myself...

You see? It is so easy to get carried away. It is so easy to sit and wait for the universe to resolve my life in a mythical third act. As if my life -- and here is the problem -- were a story, a book or a film. Something that I can experience, but can't actively participate in. Something I can interpret, but haven't created myself.

And there's this: Though waiting for a potentially non-existent enlightenment is by its very nature a hopeful act, it is also an act of despair. We all hope for a better world (well, many of us do). There are those that are trying to create that world. There are also those who are waiting -- and for the most part angry -- for someone else to create that world for them. I'm afraid that much of the time, I fall into the latter category: waiting for a better world and despairing that no one is doing anything to create it, waiting to for answers instead of seeking them out. Angry, desperate and powerless.

I don't want to spend my life as a lone Vladimir or Estragon, waiting for certainty and understanding to drop into my lap. I will not be a tragicomic figure looking forever into the middle distance, hopeful yet distraught.

January 28, 2006

Tiresias in Hades

I am, in all likelihood, clinically depressed.

I have been affected by this, at various times and in varying degrees, throughout my adult life.

I have been acutely aware of my depression. In many ways, this awarenes seemed to allow me to control the depression. In my arrogance, I believed that I was like Tiresias in Hades: able to maintain my reason where others have lost theirs. As long as I do not descend too far, I am Tiresius. Once I pass a certain point, however, I am a lost soul just like any other.

At least twice in my life, I have passed that point: the depression has become too much to bear, has been beyond my control. During these times I cut myself off from the world, from my family and closest friends. The first time was probably the worst, and I think it taught me a lot about how to deal with the depression. The second episode was terrible, I was able to recognise what was happening, but could not stop it from taking over my life. Towards the end, I managed to speak with a close friend. That alone seemed to help. Nevertheless, it was one of the darkest moments of my life.

The rest of my life has been a series of smaller episodes. The depression arrives and I do my best to fight it. It is exhausting. I am fighting it right now, and I fear that I might be losing the fight. I am exhausted.

I went to the doctor last week for a complaint unrelated to my depression. I brought up the depression, the anxiety and the anger that I have been experiencing over the last month or so. I think this made him nervous. At least he appeared to be nervous when he said that we were in an area that was outside his expertise (or does everyone appear to be nervous when you are depressed?). He said we should see how I got on over the next couple of weeks. I've decided to do this. We'll see how it goes.

This is a final note to anyone who happens upon this blog and reads it: I freely admit that this blog is likely to be everything that I have despised about other blogs. It will be self-pitying. It will be self-centered. It will like be unoriginal and boring. I apologize in advance, and humbly ask that you stop reading if this blog offends you. I need to do this, both to try to make sense of what is happening to me and to start writing again.