A Perfect Day For Bananafish
Friends, I am in a bit of a funk.
What constitutes a “funk” for somebody who is already medicated for major clinical depression?
Before medication, a funk as such did not happen. It couldn’t — I was already too far down all of the time. Before you are medicated, you are better at coping because you don’t really know what it is to feel good. You don’t really even know what normal is. Your coping mechanisms are constantly exercised and they are strong, and even if you feel like dying there is something that is defiant about depression in that state — like you are somehow heroic for persisting in spite of it all. The peculiar egotism of depression in its full blown, unaltered state can insulate you for years at a time, even if those years are gloomy and unremarkable; even if you have to wade through those years with your head down and your shoulders unconsciously hunched over most of the time.
The few times I have had to feel the full force of my depression since I first started a successful medication routine might be compared to what I imagine is the difference between being born blind versus having sight and then losing it. It is crippling. All that time you spent living your life and feeling good, your depression was hiding out, doing pushups and staying in shape, waiting for you to forget to take your drugs. And after being off them for a week or so, you’re plunged back in, but this time your coping mechanisms are down, and what’s worse: you know the difference between this and how you can feel.
But that is not the same thing as a funk.
There’s no connection in my life between problems and depression. I have problems, I don’t have them — whatever, I still have depression. If I stay on my medicine, then I am like somebody living with any chronic illness — possibly even less so, since my condition only requires that I take a pill and visit my therapist regularly. I do not have to inject insulin, change my diet, or worry about horrific side effects from experimental drug cocktails. It’s easy, sometimes, to think of it as not a big deal. You start to navigate the world almost like a normal person, and you have the ability to feel what a funk is. That alone is a luxury — that I don’t have real problems, that I only have the frustrations that are a side effect of living one’s life.
Lately, I have the feeling that I’ve not accomplished enough, that my failure is inevitable and I should just cut my losses. I have the anxiety that something will go wrong, and the stress from being pulled in opposite directions by people with opposing agendas. I have the nagging feeling that I’ve always had: that what I think or feel, or my perspective on things, does not matter to most of the significant figures in my life. I have petty jealousies and annoyances. I am furious, for example, that a couple I know was on Flipping Out the other night and I am unable to reconcile how they can have enough money, given their respective jobs and ostensible salaries, to live the way they do, where they do, and to have Jeff Lewis redo their house. And then, worse: I have the fury with myself that comes from not wanting to be the kind of person who keeps tabs on people like this.
But I am — I am that kind of person. I want Jeff Lewis to redo my house, and I want success yesterday. As much as I want to pretend like I can just improve myself to the point that these things don’t bother me, I can’t. Sometimes I think that it must have been during those unmedicated years, back when I was just trying to survive, that I missed something essential to growing up. And now, I’m here, medicated, but unable to accept or work through the fact that I cannot wish away my imperfections and my defects of character.
When I get like this I look at Mini and the perfectness of his eyes and his skin, and his joy with the newness of everything in the world, and I use him as an escape. Mini can represent the only purely good thing in the world, the only thing that is always good and beautiful. At night, I will stare at his eyes in the dim glow of his nightlight, and sing him to sleep, and I take solace in the idea that if I do nothing else, at least I had Mini. And even as I allow myself this selfish luxury, I remind myself of the time that is coming, when he will have to move away from me, when I will have to let him go. And I hope, I really hope, that I will be strong enough to do it.