Tales of Despair: Your Words Are Heard

A slight change this week; I feel a need to acknowledge a few things, and a few people, and I wish, if possible, to give some hope, both to them and to myself.

Hello, all of you who have tagged a post with the word Depression. I’m glad to have met you.

I started my WordPress blog primarily as a literary endeavor, and when I realized I could browse posts by tag, I started out with stuff like Books, Writing and Fantasy. I’ve met some incredible people, and some incredible writers, and I couldn’t be happier for it. Many of them are listed in the links at the bottom of each of my pages.

A little while ago, however, I wrote a post that I considered tagging with the word Suicide (an incidental tag – it wasn’t my suicide). I was worried that WordPress might have some red flags up for that sort of thing, and so I refrained – but I was curious, and began searching for posts tagged Suicide and Depression. I was scared; this wasn’t a world I wanted to go back to. I continue to have mental health problems, but I can’t realistically call myself depressed, and I haven’t had a suicidal thought for almost five years.

What I discovered is a world of scarred, lonely and deeply traumatized people, each desperately clawing against their despair, unsure day by day if you will win the fight. You are not bad people; you are capable of kindness, generosity, compassion and selflessness – I have seen it through your tales. Many of you have admitted to some of your deepest faults; some of you have discovered the blessed anonymity of the internet and revealed things about yourselves you wouldn’t dare speak of to your closest friends. You have made me wish I had such a community of messed up minds at the lowest point of my own life, over ten years ago now.

I have found myself compelled to communicate with you, through far too many comments and replies, to the point that you probably feel like blocking me from your site, I’m sure. I am connected to you, and I would like you to know that you are connected to each other, whether you know it – whether you admit it – or not. I will never try to help you; I will (try to) never offer advice. At the deepest depths of black, when I could (quite literally) see nothing around me for the haze of darkness that clouded my vision, I swore that if I survived, and was ever in a position to talk to someone else about their own depression, I would not help them.

Some of you may understand this sentiment; help is not always what you need. Support may not be what you need. I remember; all I wanted was kinship. I was convinced, certain, that no one, ever, suffered as I suffered. No one was as depressed as me. I was proud of this fact; my cuts were deeper, my desire for death greater. I was the one that the teachers were scared of; I was the one that dropped out of school. I drew a bitter comfort from this – being depressed was the only thing I was better at than anyone else. I did not – ever – want to get better. I was offended by the very thought that there was a ‘better’ to get; this was me. To an extent, I still hold true to this; I am no longer depressed, but I am not better. I am still on medication, and my mental troubles have shifted to new, and more disturbing, patterns.

If you are seeking help; if you are seeking support, and therapy – I love you for this. If you are not – I love you no less. It is your choice. I have been touched, and disturbed, and horrified at the stories you have shared. I have no excuse for my depression; I had a happy childhood, was a good student, and loved life. When I was fifteen it all fell apart, and has never been put back together again. Some of you have suffered far, far worse – suicide, trauma, sexual abuse – and I would have you know you are stronger than you think, for you have made it this far. You have passed through terrors that would have left me screaming and insane. You are human, all of you, and you have survived. It’s what we’re best at.

Most of all, I want you to know that you have touched me, and reminded me of the desolation I used to call home. I cannot in faith wish you happiness, for you may not be seeking it. I would rather, if you would accept it, wish you balance, consolation and acceptance, both by yourselves and by others. I do not want any of you to die, though it is your choice, should you make that decision. I would have you know that I care for you, as a dispassionate, third party. I’m not going to intervene; I’m not going to interfere. I will continue to listen, though, for as long as you keep writing.

As a final word, something you will probably as one reject: you are all wonderful.

Thank you.

 

Satis

 

Alexandra (alexandra writes; aftermath)

bipolarmuse (bipolarmuse)

Carl (stillfugue)

lifeonaxis1 (Mood Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified)

Mandi (Mandi A. Stores)

Nell (letters to dom; pensées sans frontières)

SainT (Dead Negatives)

Sean (alltheavenueslookugly)

Stella (My Body the City: The Secret Life of a Manhattan Call Girl)

Thought of the Week: An Open Letter to Descartes

Dear Monsieur Descartes,

I wish to bring to your attention a matter of accountability regarding your well-known writings on philosophy and rationalism. It is my belief that you are responsible for a great deal of emotional distress and suffering, and I am seeking reparations for both myself and my fellow sufferers in the form of an acknowledgement of the negative influence of your treatises, and a public apology. For the moment I am willing to forego monetary compensation for the therapy and medication we have collectively paid for, as I am aware three-hundred and fifty years’ compound interest might be beyond your financial means.

Allow to explain. I in no way wish to dismiss your excellent contributions to the fields of philosophy and mathematics. Your system of plotting equations on a graph, though it troubled me greatly in high school, has undoubtedly revolutionized geometry and mathematics as we know it today. Equally, I appreciate the effort you displayed in separating man from god, and your debate on free will is second to none.

However, in your pursuit of truth and certainty, you devised a particular phrase that, despite its simplicity, has had quite a devastating impact on the sanity of myself and many others. I speak, naturally, of this simple sentence:

I think, therefore I am.

You see, whether you intended it or not, this has led to the rise of the philosophy of existentialism, and the potential denial of the reality of anything that is not directly tied to the self. If my existence is proven by my ability to think about it, what of the existence of everything and everyone around me? According to you, their existence is also proven by my ability to think about them; however, the necessary implication of this is that anything I think of is therefore also real.

This leads to what I consider to be the existential dilemma: if an object’s reality is determined solely by the fact that I am thinking of it, how can I then be certain of the reality of anything at all? There is a modern legend that describes this quandary very succinctly. A popular story in our times describes a world in which humans are plugged into machines from birth. These machines provide all the sensory input necessary, directly to the brain, to convince a person (in this case a very wooden Keanu Reeves) that they are, in fact, experiencing reality.

The essence of the problem you have created for us is that we cannot be certain of the existence of anything other than ourselves – by which I mean the collection of our thoughts and minds. According to your philosophy, I cannot even be certain of my flesh and blood, or even if I am actually writing this letter or just imagining the whole thing.

You have failed to follow through with your philosophy, and for this I hold you accountable. In questioning the nature of existence itself, you have failed to provide us with an answer to that question, and show absolute proof that everyone else does, in fact, exist. I hope you understand that such matters are generally beyond the reasoning of most folk (including myself), and so I bow to your superior intellect in providing for us the answer to the dilemma you have left us with for so long.

In conclusion, I request that you submit an acknowledgement of your failure to provide a suitable answer to this problem, and an apology for the loss of sanity you have caused me and many others (if they exist). I have spent a large amount of time and money (if money is real) on therapy and medication (I’m not sure my therapist was real), directly as a result of my inability to resolve your issues. If I do not receive a response from you within fourteen days, I will be forced to seek legal representation (lawyers most certainly exist) and pursue damages as compensation.

I will await your reply (if you exist), and hope we can arrive at a mutual understanding.

Most sincerely,

Satis (if I exist)

Tales of Despair: The Music that Ended his Life

All great composers have died in despair, whether they saw fame in their lives or not. They have died deaf, they have died blind, they have died young and old, rich and poor. In times past their music lay forgotten, and they themselves were left behind, pop artists of the past, ever replaceable.

This man died some long time ago, and his was a tragedy beyond most. He passed, throughout his life, from jubilant exaltedness to raging despair, writing a phenomenal number of works, doubting himself at every one. As he grew older he grew beyond his time and his world, and the music that he wrote for himself – for he rarely had the grace to write other than at others’ commissions – was unpleasing to his listeners. His most successful works during his life were stupefying inanity, poor jokes written for great men of little intellect.

Paraded as a child, he spent little time at any one home, and the racing of his travels fostered a miserable wanderlust in him, an inability to settle for the rest of his life. Drawn away from his mother for great periods, he became hypochondriacal, eventually taking to self-medicating with antimony. He was only twenty-two when his mother died, and was thrown into grief from which he never recovered; he was by now so poor that they didn’t even have the money to call a doctor, something that would haunt him for the rest of his short life.

For nearly a decade, he moved from job to job, never able to settle or to find an income that would support he and his family, which now included his wife and their children. Even in his familial life he was not free from grief and despair; the couple watched in hopeless horror as their first child lived for only two months. They produced a healthy boy not long after, but his future siblings lived, all but one, not more than six months. While it is one type of horror for a child to die after birth, as did their daughter, Anna, it is of a deeper grief entirely to raise a child for six months, watch them grow, sit, smile and laugh – and then have that child taken from you just as you thought the worst was past. Their final child together, Franz, lived to adulthood, but he would never know – he would only know this boy for four months.

His father died when he was thirty-one, and he was suddenly the head of his family and of his home, and was without a job, without money and without hope. Sometimes he would produce a work that was taken with success; this would be followed by great periods of utter poverty. Near the end of his life he grew increasingly ill, suffering from malnutrition, poisonous medication and anxiety, and he grew paranoid of all those around him. When he was asked to write a piece commemorating the death of a wife of a person he had never met, he labored over the score in his illness and grew ever worse.

His wife, seeing his despair, begged him to cease writing such dreadful music, and for a time he ceased, and as his despair lifted, so did his health. It was not to last, however – whether from over-enthusiasm at the prospect of regaining a little of his health, or a fractured mind bent on his destruction, we shall never know, but in his final months he turned back to the writing of this requiem – and died before he could complete it.

It was eventually completed by one of his students, and performed at a benefit concert for his widow. He would never know, buried in a common grave, but he was to rise in renown within a very short period, and even those works of his that were spurned became famous. His wife would remarry, though he heart remained always with him; she and her second husband, whom she would also outlive, worked together to write his biography. It would have been of comfort to him, certainly, to know that his wife and children were not to die in the terrible circumstances he had left them in, and that both of his sons would receive one of the best musical educations of the time.

He would have been equally proud, no doubt, could he have known that the unthanked labour of his short life would one day rank among the most celebrated music in the world, performed, heard and loved to this day. It is unquestioned, still, that his Requiem remained his crowning achievement.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)