“I am two people. One goes through the motions, rolling from one thing to the next; the other is withdrawn, watching a complete stranger.” Doug Cooper
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.” Aldous Huxley
“I put my heart and soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process.” Vincent van Gogh
A couple of weeks ago my friend Alena pointed out that what I thought were Alpacas were really Llamas and vice versa. I’m sure she meant well, but I was worried that if I was wrong about this maybe I was wrong about everything.
I forgot about it for a while until this afternoon when I stopped to visit some old friends. There he was, Big Al, staring me down with bright red eyes and a look that told me I was going insane.
Something snapped inside what was left of my mind and I began to lose touch with reality. I started to wonder if I was a man dreaming that I was an Alpaca or an Alpaca dreaming that I was a man.
When I got home and looked in the mirror I saw that my ears looked different and there was hair growing out of them. I was also noticeably uncomfortable wearing sneakers and had a strange craving for a bowl of grass.
The way I see it I have several choices, one is to go back to the funny farm but last time I gained ten pounds and they have limited smoke breaks. Another is shock treatment, which I think I can do at home with a car battery.
The third is to resume therapy, but my therapist is a goat and I think he may be biased. Or I can simply stop photographing animals and shoot trains, which are relatively safe unless they run you over which rarely happens.
I’ve never read The Metamorphosis by Kafka but found this quote which says it all: “I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.” Thanks Alena.
“It’s remarkable how we go on year after year, doing the same old things. We get tired and bored, and ask when they’ll come for us.” Yasunari Kawabata
“Normal people have no idea how beautiful the darkness is.” Unknown
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.”
“I ask myself: Would I have been any worse off if I had stayed home or lived on a farm instead of shock treatments and medication?” Gene Tierney