A prose-poem memorandum on depression

Among the lingering emotions, there are three that for me are almost certain to induce depression: anger, fear, and longing.

Grief is different, grief is an agony, it pulses like a wet wound. I’ve only experienced it once, a long delayed kind of omni-grief, a hospital gown that I wore after the towers fell, and every loss and every long-endured trauma of my life gathered to have its due; it took me years to recover. Years.

But depression I know; I know it like pajamas, like socks, and it is death, nothing about it alive except a knowledge of truth that grows in the hidden stone of the mind. It is a cocoon of selfhood, in which one can read, sleep, listen to the radio, sleep, and refuse to answer calls. And sleep. One enjoys the freedom of the prisoner. A silence one drinks. As in church.

(It is important, I feel compelled to mention, to have a negligent landlord, as the rent is beyond one’s agency.)

Never, fortunately, have I been attracted to suicide, an unimaginable effort — I can’t even take a shower. I concluded, regarding this paradox, that I too much enjoy my own thoughts, my language, even what comes on dirty sheets, to want to leave them. My shrink confirmed (this years ago now) that there are many kinds of depression but he noted that they all have in common one thing, just one, at least so far as he had up to then been able to detect.

What’s that, I said.

He said, refusal to deal with the mail.

I haven’t opened the mail in years, I said.





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