Prudence in Hell 040
Difference and Repetition
When I was younger, my first depression wanted attention called to itself. It went through the most astonishing contortions to be centerstage and make everything about it. It was, veritably, a vedette: “I will be short-lived,” it would say, “but so will you,” and it felt as if we could at least get even. Mutually assured destruction seemed like a potential aesthetic win-win: if I went up in flames, it would go up with me; and it was very comfortable with fireworks.
There was an urgency to this younger depression that kept a foot firmly planted on my own well into adulthood. It was its wish that I should die promptly and violently and beautifully. We engaged in serious experimentation for some years, through which I was able to live, with and despite it. In time, I was able to overcome it, and I spent a few years without anything resembling it near me.
My new depression is different, by which I mean to say that it is of the same ilk but of different character. It began reconnoitering me in 2020 and formally introduced itself with Alonso’s cancer —the black wolf to his pale rider. And I was watchful of it, but not wary enough, as this depression, being different, had no interest in being seen and would go on long walks by itself; “don’t mind me”. In agreement with my own personality, it would, in fact, prefer that I be utterly discreet, as we are up to no good anyway, and we both know it. I have spoken directly about it to no more than four people, and this, on very rare occasions. I more often than not do not acknowledge its existence, its increasingly pervasive presence; though it more frequently engulfs me altogether.
It doesn’t need me gone immediately or spectacularly. It has no care for pyrotechnics. It just needs things to take care of themselves in due course. It has, after all, all the time in the world. I do not.
The unhurried spirit has really tightened its hold on me since Alonso’s remission. A non-trivial series of shots across the bow, starting in January of 2022, helped carve out a sort of nest for it, caked with the spit of deserters and false friends, and this thing filled it like like a tar-bodied bird. I have tried to budge it through known means —some of them aggressive and extreme— but I am dealing with a creature made to measure. I will continue to try against it. I may continue to lose.
I have no idea how I keep on writing, other than to say that the effort expended is fueled by love and by the very real fear that I may be dying in some form. My hope is that this phase change will somehow cease at transformation —that this will be death enough— but should it go beyond that —if something came to pass— I would entreat you to consider it not suicide, but murder.
Like I said, this depression's different.
PS1: There was a sunlit moment, an epiphany of recovery, that I had at a felicitously-named bar in San Francisco days before traveling to Lima, when I felt what life might be like without the depression. I have not been able to hit this state since, but I am aware that it is possible to imagine myself happy, even if I cannot do so yet.
PS2: I just texted a friend, a few hours since not being able to press publish on this: “The depression will not let me talk about it. It’s suggesting other topics; great ones too. It truly is a separate intelligence. In awe of it.
And hunkering down to do what I said I would do. May it scream.”
This post is accompanied by all five versions of Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead.
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