The Great Depression Train

Train (obviously)
Train (obviously)

One night when we were teenagers my friend Jeff jumped in front of a train because he thought it was the best way to handle things at the time. A group of us had gone to the movies and as usual Jeff was out of control drunk. After another argument with his mother, a recovering alcoholic, he made his way to the tracks and waited.

Somehow he didn’t die but only broke his pelvis, and he continued to drink as heavily as before. He had his problems: two alcoholic parents, one who shot himself playing Russian roulette and a couple of missing fingers from a homemade bomb explosion, but which one caused such deep depression? Maybe all of them or maybe something else.

I lost touch with Jeff in my late twenties and watched other friends attempt to handle their depression in various ways. Most drank and did drugs as I did, and as time went by several ended up dead. After a breakup with his girlfriend my friend Cary tied a bayonet to his steering wheel and drove into a bridge. Others overdosed or shot themselves, and a former boss chose hanging.

Forty years later I still continue to struggle with depression and see many in the same boat. A photographer I used to follow, Don Graham, often wrote about his battle with Bipolar disorder and several months ago took his own life. He was in therapy and on several medications.

Depression is a fight we have with ourselves, completely created by our thoughts and we get stuck there. Antidepressants will only take you so far and often the side effects are unbearable. Therapy may help, but unless they’ve been there themselves it can seem like just words they learned from a course in college.

I think of depression like a train: Sometimes you can see it objectively, and despite all the smoke and noise you can distance yourself from it and get through the day. Other times its headed right for you, and like my friend Jeff, you stand there as it runs you over.

My favorite author, Charles Bukowski wrote: “Nobody can save you but yourself and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning then this is it. Think about it. Think about saving your self.”

10 thoughts on “The Great Depression Train

  1. This is a great piece! Thank you for sharing! —— And so very true. You commented on my last article with a quote, and I by accident deleted it when I checked WordPress on my phone. That’s why I couldn’t reply. I apologize! ( Tried to retrieve but could not figure it out ) I love the photo as well by the way!!!


  2. This article is very powerful… heavy….. it weighs on the screen with so much reality and pain. Depression – I could write a lot of meandering thoughts that fold back on themselves. I won’t. But I have lost people to depression/ suicide. I lost my daughter. Depression so often is my companion. We have to count every victory. Today is a victory. peace to you always


  3. I think a person always has a choice, no matter how ill he/she is. I communicated with a lot of people who was suicidal and noone did it. It’s my luck or they really didn’t do it because they hadsomeone to talk with. At least, as I know myself the best way to prevent suicide is to talk about it. And take medical aid.

    I’m sorry you lost so many people, Mike.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Albert Camus said “there is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” This is a different question than am I happy or not but its a good one. I hung around with boozers and junkies so I was bound to lose a few friends. Thanks Alena.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read many literature about suicide so I know this quote. Though I don’t know where he wrote this. I read just The stranger by him. I think all these existential things come from depression. When a person is happy there’s no such questions. I think depression doesn’t worth being depressed and even doesn’t worth thinking about “fundamental question of philosophy”.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The quote is from The Myth Of Sisyphus, the guy who was condemned to roll a rock up a hill for eternity, and it came back down every time. A very good read, maybe you can find it in your library.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ok, I’ll try. I didn’t like much Invisible monsters though I didn’t finish it. If I read this at the age of 17-19 maybe I would like it more, at that time I tried to find a sense everywhere because I hadn’t a meaning of life. I’m not sure if I have it now but now I don’t care. I don’t have to justify my life to live. I think it’s good to be just happy then I can share it with others and make them a bit more happier.

            Liked by 1 person

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