Friday, April 26, 2013

instruments only

For about three or four hours this afternoon I was quite sure that my wife didn't love me anymore.  She didn't say anything explicit, she didn't even suggest it.  I knew, though.  Or rather felt it in a deeply visceral way.  Anybody who knows her or us will tell you that said conviction is in no way rooted in reality.  For most of this week I have been textbook insane, although I hope (and I have good reason to hope) only temporarily so.  The fact is I have struggled with Depression (note the capital D) for the better part of my life. If you ask my mother, she can tell you about the pediatrician who told my her and my father not to leave me alone for fear of a suicide attempt.  I was in third grade, if memory serves.  It's been coming and going, always.  Simply put,  my hardware, i.e. the neurotransmitters in my brain, is essentially and categorically deficient.  Sufficient wattage, but some crossed and burnt out wires, you could say.  I don't have it as bad as some, thank God, and in the past seven years or so, I've been able to construct a life for myself in which I can deal without the help of pharmaceuticals, most of which I've tried and earnestly hope never to do again.  The tri-cyclics, SSRI's, MAOI's, etc. all come with a price, and unfortunately there are many fellow sufferers who cannot live without them.

Still sometimes, every so often, I slip off a cliff.   When this happens it is a shit sandwich on rye with caramelized onions and russian dressing.  Physically, it feels like opiate withdrawal: I can't get comfortable in my skin and I just want to jump through a plate glass window.  Mentally, I feel like Tantalus in the river: almost every time I try to formulate a thought I can sense it receding away into ephemeral nothingness.  I'm always left grasping.  Such thoughts as do come through are prone to be absurdly self-flagellating with no basis in reality.

Now for the hopeful part.  I have been cultivating a means of protection from episodes such as this, and mercifully it came through for me.  For some time now I've been immersed in a way of life which teaches that all of the  material world is impermanent, and therefore illusory.  I chant "from the unreal, lead me to the real" almost every day.  I take it as an article of faith that despite the illusory nature of our physical world, we are all endowed with a transcendent eternal soul.  The trick is being able to tell the real from the unreal.  This is known as viveka, or discrimination.  Another way to put it is to say that today I decided to fly instruments only.  Experienced airplane pilots, ones with advanced certifications, are able to fly by looking only at the instruments on the dashboard.  Certain weather phenomena can render what the eye sees out of the window completely false.  It is presumed this is why John F. Kennedy, Jr. crashed his plane and died tragically.  He couldn't see the horizon properly and thought he was higher above the water than he actually was.  For me this meant ignoring the input from my heart and gut, however real it seemed, and going by what I knew to be true.  I'm not out of the woods yet by any stretch, but yoga has come through for me today, big time.  I have a plan to keep these episodes at bay, but I want to implement it first to see if it works.  You'll have to tune in next time.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry you're having a rough time. I have suffered from depression too, and although thankfully i have found ways to keep it under control, I feel like i will always have occasional episodes such as the one you describe here. Those times when you dont know how you're going to get through the next 3 mins let alone the next hour or day. Thankfully Ashtanga has always been the key for me, so far. i would love to hear what else you come up with. The more tools we have to tackle these things the better. Take care. x