24 January 2017

Staving off the Darkness [from 1983]

[Passage from a letter written 24 January 1983]
till depressed I guess; still down anyway. Better than last November, sure, but then I’d have to be just to stay alive. I’m sorry but I only remember Thanksgiving and all that vaguely, like the events of some evil dream. I don’t know why it is, but I lose the specifics of times of depression; brief individual scenes stand out, but without connections or context. I can recall distinctly writing down stuff on a 3x5 pad that I wanted to recall later, I think right after I talked with you on the phone but maybe that was later on—anyway, I lost the pad somewhere. The only journal entries for the period are a status entry on November 10 (which tells me only that I was depressed and probably drunk when I wrote it) and some fragmentary sentences written the night of November 25 (mostly about bus routes and a friend’s plans for her birthday). Not much to go on. Sorry.
I’ve found that depression doesn’t bother me as much if I just stay busy as hell, but the trouble with that approach is it doesn’t do any good when I run out of things to do for the moment. Collapse. Busyness only staves off the darkness; it doesn’t create light. But shit—what else is there? I’ve tried to arrange things so that I have as little unprogrammed time as possible, little time to think, you know, because all my thoughts are bad. Even my dreams have been shitty; last night I had the “lost tooth” dream again, complete with real pain. A few nights ago I was snubbed by my old friend Sigmund Freud (we’d grown up together as youths in Vienna) who instead made passes at this girl I was with (we’d met on the train coming in from Paris(?)) and babbling about this extraordinary young man he’d met who had a plan for creating a Third Reich. When I finally got his attention he insisted that he’d known all along who I was (which was more than I did) but that he hadn’t greeted me because we were such old friends that he didn’t think it was necessary. I was thinking that I was wasting my time here and that I ought to get back on the train for St. Petersburg before I missed the revolution. It was raining in Vienna anyway.
I have to admit that in cold print the dream looks bizarre rather than depressing, but it was depressing while I had it. I mean, we’d all expected such great things of Simund, and all that talent had just gone to waste.
Being depressed is a drag, though, and I’d rather be doing something else. Anything else. Everything feels so different to me when I’m down I’m always amazed that nobody else can tell that I’m depressed. Unless I tell it myself. Part of it is that I can get by on automatic pilot for so many functions, I suppose; I can get a hell of a lot done without using my mind at all. I’ve been told (I don’t know that it’s true) that when I fall asleep while talking I go on talking in complete sentences; they just stop making sense after a while I suspect that functioning while depressed is sort of like that. I don’t know.

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