Posts Tagged ‘apathy’

Comfortably Numb by Barber“[Major depression is] immediately detectable to people who know what they are doing. It is an advanced psychological state of despair that one can see in the patient’s eyes, in their slow movements, in the sense that they are in physical pain…” “There is no covering up; they exude naked and pure pain, like a wounded animal. There is absolutely no pretending that everything is okay. All pretense of normalcy goes out the window.” “Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation,” by Charles Barber

The title is not exactly true.  I’m not really apathetic.  I’m hopeless.

Anyone who’s ever studied depression has come across the maxim: depression is anger turned inwards.  I beg to differ.  I believe that the major cause of depression is the loss of hope.

Anger is a feeling.  Depression is about the loss of feeling.  I know.  I’m in it right now.

I can’t write to save my life.  Nothing matters.  And if there is anger, perhaps it’s caused by the hopelessness.  A dozen topics swirl through my head but I can’t choose one to write about.  None of them matter.  Nothing I have to say on the subject will make any difference to me or to anyone else.  I don’t matter.  And that makes me feel hopeless, which, yes, makes me feel angry (but not the other way round.)

If given a choice between angry and hopeless, I’ll take angry.  Part of that is not a choice but a symptom of being bipolar, irritability, which can easily escalate into anger.

I watched it happen this past weekend over something stupid: a walk with the dog.  My ADD was acting up and while I was doing my best to get ready and out of the house, my partner got impatient.  He made a couple of comments (and a few exasperated facial expressions) and a switch was flipped in my head.  Literally an on/off switch.  I got as angry as a person can get and I refused to go.  And there was no turning back, nothing he could say or do that would change my mind, that could fix it, that could flip the switch the other way.  I became “invested” in my anger.

I have seen that over the years, that willingness to “cut off my nose to spite my face.”  Why?  Because the anger feels good.  It feels great.  It’s HELL, but it’s better than apathy.  If you’ve been walking around like a zombie for weeks or months, the opportunity to feel anything is a welcome respite.  And anger can be delicious.  Intoxicating.

I spent the rest of that day by myself nursing that anger.  Not because I wanted to, but because I couldn’t control it.

I think suicidal thoughts are like that too, when you suffer from chronic depression.  For me, suicidal thoughts were never so much thoughts of suicide, but the idea that, if it ever “really got bad,” there was an option.  Just knowing that I could end it if I needed to was like having Xanax in my side pocket (knowing it’s there can reduce the anxiety and thus the need to take it.)

I always looked at suicide as a free-floating life raft, never seriously contemplating it because it was always there in my side pocket.  But ever since taking Lamictal*, another switch has been flipped, one that put suicide on the table as a real option.  It’s like those images—vase/face or young woman/old woman.

Rubin vase:face

Old woman:young woman

Once you’ve seen both you can never go back to seeing only one.  And once you’ve seen suicide as a real-life (pun not intended) tangible option, a way out of the hell that you are in, you can’t go back to pretending it isn’t.  You can’t go back to the day when taking your own life was like a pill in your pocket because you’ve tasted the sense of relief lingering in those thoughts.

Today I am stuck in a state of mind(s) I’ve been in for a couple of weeks now, somewhere between hopeless, depressed, angry and suicidal.  And occasionally manic.  Thank God (I can’t believe I’m saying this) for mania, otherwise it might have been several more weeks before I was able to make another post.  So please pardon my brain-dump, but I felt that after a two-week hiatus, a rambling, nonsensical post was better than none.  And I wanted to make sure that those kind people who worry about me when I disappear for a period of time know that I’m still kicking.  Thank you for your support.  You are the reason I got out of bed today.

*Note: From the Lamictal website: “Like other antiepileptic drugs, LAMICTAL may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in a very small number of people, about 1 in 500.”

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The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

In depression, the meaninglessness of every enterprise and every emotion, the meaninglessness of life itself, becomes self-evident.  The only feeling left in this loveless state is insignificance.”  “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression,” by Andrew Solomon 


It’s hard enough to make changes in your life when you’re motivated.  But what if you’re not?  What if life has lost all of its color and the future all of its promise?  

This mania thing is VERY confusing.  First of all, my mind is flooded with ideas.  They come faster than I can write them down.  Each one a gem.  Each one a brilliant, fascinating project sure to enlighten and engage. 

And then reality (or rather depression) sets in, and my furious notes for novels, short stories, classes, websites……all of these notes (dreams) seem like a waste of time and ink.  Just so much hubris.  

But the question remains, which one is the reality?  Which state, mania or depression, is the least delusional?  And is there a middle ground where most individuals live their lives, where both states are tempered with rational thought? 

It is the most disturbing thing of all to feel so passionately about something one minute only to feel ambivalent about it the next.  Or worse, feel that it was ludicrous, foolish, infantile. 

The problem is, when I am not manic or depressed (and I am usually some degree of either, or at the very least, attempting to resist the pull of one of those extremes,) I am acutely aware of what a waste of time anything is.  The very office in which I sit typing these words is a shrine to failed projects.  My own personal Lucille Ball Hall of Shame. 

And yet it’s hard to give anything up.  It’s hard to admit that “X” was a waste of time, that “Y” was a pipe dream, that “Z” is better left up to someone with the capacity to see something to fruition. 

Depression is passion’s absence.” “Against Depression,” by Peter D. Kramer 

When you are bipolar you have no perspective.  You are usually “functioning” (and I use the term loosely) in an altered state, so that it is difficult to judge the merit of anything.  Difficult to choose from one of a thousand ideas.  Difficult in general, to commit.


Company, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Blow out the candles…and make a wish.  Want something!  Want something!”  “Company,” music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim 


But that’s just how I’m feeling today.  Check back next week and I just might have a different story to tell. 


A question for all of you rapid cyclers out there:  How do you deal with the cornucopia of ideas rushing at you?  And how do you get yourself to commit to finishing those that you do? 

As for myself, I know, in theory, that I can go the distance (having recently completed a MFA (master of fine art) program.)  But sitting here right now, it’s agony writing this post.   It seems so futile.  I am not passionate about it.  No, I am depressed.  So nothing has any meaning.  I feel like Dickens, scratching away, spewing out words merely to keep myself out of debtor’s prison.  

But perhaps that’s the beauty, the symmetry of it.  A post on apathy written apathetically.

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