The Reeling Me

The recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain got me thinking about my attempt fifteen years ago and the struggles I still face.

People who don’t know me well don’t see the real me—the reeling me. Although I’m not actively suicidal, I must fight every day passive thoughts about wishing to die. Some days I’m so depressed I have to force myself to take a shower. Being with people hurts. I tell myself that life is meaningless and I’ll always be miserable, unable to work full-time.

Someone I hadn’t seen in years asked me recently if I ever thought about becoming a teacher. I’m well-spoken, she said, and full of interesting ideas. I told her she caught me on a good day.

“Check with me tomorrow morning,” I said. “You’ll see I’m a different person.”

Of course I’ve thought about becoming a teacher, but becoming a teacher feels impossible. I’m not confident enough to stand in front of a classroom. I’m not brave enough to make mistakes—mistakes I might learn from. I don’t believe in myself.

People of faith often talk about doing God’s work. They’re called to fulfill a higher purpose beyond themselves. I worry that my calling never came and never will. All I hear is my own voice, putting me down, on an endless loop.

There is a counter-argument. My writing—regardless of my mood—is a spiritual endeavor and writing about depression and suicide might save lives, including my own.

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In A Bad Brood

Writing about my depression briefly relieves my pain. The moment I describe what I’m feeling, I no longer feel (as) depressed.

As we say, write or read a word—the second we “have it”—the word slips away along with its meaning. I write down “depression”; depression and its meaning(lessness) slip my mind, only to return.

A pessimist might argue that writing about depression is a symptom of my depression. I say that as long as I’m writing about something I’m not lying in bed all day in a bad brood.

Sad To The Bone

Soren Kierkegaard: “In my great melancholy, I loved life, for I love my melancholy.”

Albert Camus: “There is no love of life without despair about life.”

Kurt Cobain: “I miss the comfort in being sad.”

Kierkegaard believed in God. Camus believed in Absurdism. Cobain believed in Nirvana.

All three, I believe, are no longer with us.

Food Allergy For Thought

There’s a rare condition called lexical-gustatory synesthesia in which people involuntarily experience food tastes when they hear, read or say a word.

I’m allergic to milk. A severe reaction can lead to anaphylactic shock, which isn’t fun.

If I were also allergic to words, would uttering “milk” make me swell-spoken?

In college I wrote a story about the time milk almost killed me in the fifth grade. People thought I was exaggerating my symptoms. I wasn’t.

If you must write, risk your life to write. Every sentence, in the end, is a death sentence.

If writing doesn’t make you sick to your stomach, you’re not doing it right.

Memoir Seminar

Jean Baudrillard: “Cipher, don’t decipher.”

Translation: Keep to yourself. Keep something of yourself for yourself. Keep something of yourself from yourself. Commit silence.

***

How shall we write silence? How shall we write in silence? In what tone does silence not-write?

Knot-writing. Bound books. Unsafe words. Writing is seen as emotional release. It’s first and foremost a building of tension. Writing complicates. Writing frustrates.

***

If you must write a memoir, don’t spill your guts. Deflect reflection. Let sleeping Freudians lie.

Engage like a mistress in tease and denial. Put a hand over your mouth. Hand over your mouth. Muffle your dreams.