Friday, November 8, 2013

Is Straight Talk on Depression Too Much for The Mainstream?

I like blogging on The Huffington Post, though as a satirist I'm really kind of a fish out of water there, and I don't know of any other "open" sites. I also don't get the four digit page views, nor have I built a considerable following, and the people that comment generally don't understand satire, but I post there anyway, when they'll have me, on the off chance that I'll get hired by somebody to write more of the same or that I'll sell a few books.

The post below, like "The Kick", is somewhat stark and some people might think it makes light of depression (which I address in the post). Suffering from chronic depression myself, I think I'm qualified to write about the approach I use to avoid acting on the uglier thoughts that bubble up from the cauldron of bad chemicals. Huff Post would probably agree, but something is causing them to shy away.

So I lob the question out to the three or four people that might read this: why don't they publish this post?

The Cure for Depression. Really?

The other day I read a blog by Les, a “youthful” UK self-help blogger - it was his personal epiphany, really - where he claimed to have discovered the secret to eternal happiness. The secret? Live in the moment. The past and the future do not exist. Sound familiar?

He didn’t really elaborate on the nature of that happiness if you might be getting whomped upside the head with a baseball bat in the current moment, but the instant any given whomp is over, it is in the past. It doesn’t exist anymore and all is well so long as you’re not too anxious about the whomp you know is right around the corner.

I know somebody that would say “no wonder you’re so miserable all the time, Mr. Limboman. You’re so negative. Somebody says they’re happy living in the moment and you immediately go to gettin’ whomped upside the head with a baseball bat. What’s wrong with you?”

What’s “wrong”, I guess, is that my experience has been that not all moments are created equal (eg: “whomped upside head with baseball bat”). However if you surf around a bit you’re likely to find that high percentage of very popular blogs (Les has several thousand followers, Marc & Angel are in the millions, I have about 60) are geared toward learning how to string together as many blissful moments as possible and thus lead a life of 24 x7 happiness. You might also characterize these words of wisdom as “baseball bat avoidance tactics”.

I read this stuff myself pretty regularly because when it comes to black dog* attacks I need all the help I can get. I can also attest that when the black dog has you in his slobbery jaws no amount of living in the moment is going to call that puppy off. Why? Because you have a vicious dog’s teeth in your neck and it hurts, that’s why.

In my famously irrelevant opinion, we more mature folk that are stricken with bad chemicals, misfiring synapses and rotten neurons (chronic pain is optional) have had to learn to ride the black pup (or we’re not around by now to talk about it.) It isn’t about this moment, or the moment a moment ago, or the next moment; it’s about sheer tenacity, perseverance, and an ability to get as far away from the current painful moment as possible by going to the past, or the future, or someplace else that has a no dog policy.

Dog management also entails a certain amount of self control. Probably the most important piece of advice I’ve ever read in any self help book anywhere was in Richard Carlson’s “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (And It’s All Small Stuff)”. His advice had to do with recognizing “low moods” and being extra vigilant, extra careful not to act on the impulse of a low mood.

For those of us that periodically wrestle with very large, stinky, and dirty black dogs with very sharp teeth, this advice is directed at the impulse to aerate our heads with a bullet hole. Big dog wrestlers know that when we’re pinned to the ground by those big paws and  getting blasted in the face with fetid dog breath, it’s not the best time to decide whether to get a divorce, or a vasectomy, or to submit our resignation (I offered to “step aside” in a misunderstanding recently - I was depressed - and dismissed…) or get a tattoo.

Another thing I like to keep in mind when scavenging for dog repellent: none of us are writing blog posts or books or Hallmark cards when Blackie is in the house. Or, we may be writing all sorts of odes to our four-legged tormentor, but it’s not stuff we’re likely to share. Misery may love company in the analog world, but a blog post entitled “10 Most Popular Suicide Techniques” isn’t not likely to stimulate a lively online discussion (though it is certain to spark some morbid curiosity.)

I like Les. It sounds like his heart is in the right place. And he’s absolutely right when he claims that a surefire cure for depression is to live in the moment. After all, nobody knows better than a boomer that mindfulness is the almighty elixir for the tired and wayward soul, and that fighting bad chemicals with more bad chemicals is just one more way to distract us from the proverbial now.

But when that hundred pound black cur is sitting on your head it’s just not the kind of moment you really want to be living in for too long. Best perhaps to substitute a moment from our imaginations, leave the current unpleasantness in the past, and pray that the dogcatcher shows up in the near future.   

*a metaphor for depression

Now, if you have time go read "The Kick" to see what similarities there are, if any. Is the subject matter just too morbid?