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Saturday, November 19, 2005


[I had planned a much deeper post on this topic, but I'm just letting it fly off the top of my head tonight before it gets away from me again.]

I've been thinking a lot about depression lately. I've noticed many other of the bloggers I read have dealt with serious, clinical depression, not the blues, but the black hole. I've thought they were very brave to out themselves in such a way.

Do artistic people think and feel more deeply? Does expressing themselves help alleviate the pain? Are they creative because they're depressed, or depressed because they're creative?

I've been dealing with the dark side since I was around seven or eight years old when I believe I lived through a parent's nervous breakdown. That was the first time I considered suicide a realistic option. I prayed for God to let me die in my sleep.

For years my cousins and I blamed the faulty genes on one particular branch of our family. Damned moody Irish. Now we recognize mental illness is rife through all the various bloodlines.

Is it escapable? Is it nature or nurture or a little of both?

From my own personal experience, sometimes God does give you more than you can handle. Only someone who's been there knows. My poor brother-in-law was haunted by voices in his head for years before he finally made them stop. I for one am glad he finally found peace. My own tortured artist brother has suffered his wife's affair, a hellish divorce, surprise bankruptcy after discovering his former spouse stole and squandered their lives' savings, continuing cruel treatment from the ex and her new husband, a heartbreaking year-long separation from his daughters, and when he started taking his troubles to work, the loss of his job before he took matters into his own hands. He survived.

But for how long?

A friend whose father killed himself after an attempt many years earlier said it was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. We both agreed it was difficult to discuss these situations with anybody who hasn't personally experienced them, not because they were too painful, but because of the inevitable walking-on-eggshells treatment you were sure to receive from your audience. We can handle it, people. We live with a different reality. We walk with the Shadow of Death and fear no evil. We have hearts of glass.

This afternoon God or Fate or whatever you want to call it took a hammer to the fragile remains of my brother's heart. His home, his sanctuary, one of seven condos created from an historic hilltop mansion, purchased by my parents for him to live in as he tried to put his life back together, was destroyed when the entire building burned to the ground. All his pictures of his girls, their childhood toys and treasures he saved from happier days, all his lifetime's artwork, his manuscript about the annus horribilis, all gone. Neither he nor my parents had insurance on contents.

Yeah, he was the one who first discovered the fire in the unit above his and he did break the door down and save the owner's badly burned dogs and then ran up through the rest of the building alerting all the neighbors and everyone made it out alive, but that's not going to make him feel any better.

We started today out with Jorge taking all the leftover food from the Give Thanks Feast to a homeless shelter. I never imagined that by the end of the day one of us would be homeless.

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