Tag Archives: depression

Core Beliefs

Core Beliefs

my therapist says overthinking
can be a defense mechanism

overthinking can be
a defense mechanism

overthinking can be
an unfenced metaphorical prison

it’s not my fault
my therapist says

confessional poems
can be used against me

my therapist runs a mom & pop
Oedipal arrangements shop

with thirty-one flavors
of oral fixation lollipops

overthinking can be
a dense intellectual prism

a defense mechanism
defense mechanism

anxiety is a preexisting
human condition

paid for by a
state institution

my therapist ties
Freudian slip knots

to agoraphobics flying
kites in parking lots

it’s not my fault
it’s not my fault

I don’t believe
it’s not my fault

my therapist is the reason
I’m in touch with my feelings

c b snoad
2-13-17

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Recovering Melancholic

Recovery Mode

I once performed mental
gymnastics upside
down on a tightrope over
the Grand Canyon

I once unzipped my flesh
and stepped out naked
in spirit astonished at
the jumble of my bones

I once rode a roller coaster
at a joyless amusement park
with my old friend vertigo
and a bottle of brine

yet here I am with my wits
about me and a new lease
on life ready to reboot
my drive in recovery mode

here I am with my wits
about me and a new lease
on life writing poetry
in recovery mode

c b snoad
draft 10-24-04
edit 1-28-17

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LOL

Laugh Out Loud

1

digitized and downsized
we are the binary selves
some switches on
some switches off

we’re smart shoppers
cyber bullies
all God’s children
of divorce

the cement truck
of concrete reality
Amazon primed
to bury us in debt

2

“depressive syndrome characterized by
pervasive loss of interest
in almost all activities
or appetite disturbance with change in weight
or decreased energy
or feelings of guilt or worthlessness”

today’s prophet is a madman
howling against our plight
from the depths of the spirit asylum

the overactive mind
the sprawling mind
that yearns for solutions

teeming with thoughts
infected with intellect
deprives the body of feeling

3

now I lay me down to sleep
God is great
pledge allegiance to the flag
God is good

4

lingering between two worlds
neither here nor there
some switches on
some switches off

we twitter while driving
under the influence of text

5

“manic syndrome characterized by
hyperactivity or pressure of speech
or flight of ideas or inflated self-esteem
or decreased need for sleep
or easy distractibility or delusions
or paranoid thinking”

I tell myself
not to panic
in front of
the children

6

the lord is my shepherd
beautiful for spacious skies

the lord is my shepherd
the bombs bursting in air

if I die before I wake
post a notice
on my blog
in your own words

7

trolls are laughing
laugh out loud

the sky is crawling
on the ground

laugh out loud
laugh out loud

drones falling
in a forest
make no sound

laugh out loud
laugh out loud

dance like nobody’s
watching
in the clouds

laugh out
loud laugh
out loud

c b snoad
draft 10-13-09
edit 1-27-17

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The Weight Of A Thousand Ghosts

When I became the lead opinion writer for my college newspaper, my father suggested I call my column “The Road Not Taken” after one of his favorite Robert Frost poems. I thought about it but went in a different direction, choosing instead a title of my own: “Free Association.”

Five years later I instructed the cemetery director to add these lines to my father’s headstone:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by”.

I read recently that Frost wrote “The Road Not Taken” with his friend Edward Thomas in mind. After an initial reading, Thomas thought that Frost, through the speaker in the poem, was lamenting the uncertain nature of making choices, suggesting his life would have played out differently if he had traveled a different road. Actually, Frost was poking fun at Thomas, who frequently complained about the routes they took on walks through the woods. Unaware of this backstory, many readers believe Frost is arguing in favor of the road not taken, praising independent spirits for forging their own paths.

We can’t imagine a life we didn’t lead—we only know the road we’ve taken, the one we’re on right now.

Wherever he went, my father didn’t travel lightly. He carried in his chest the weight of a thousand ghosts.

Naturally I inherited his nerves. I was hurting so bad after college I decided one day to disappear. Medicine works best in small doses. But it’s easy, when you think about it, to fit a bottle in your mouth.

There is no magic pill, I’ve learned, no invisible ink for writing goodbye. Once you’re born, you’re in the thick of things. Even suicide, Sartre reminds us, is an act of being in the world.

There were signs we missed, being caught up in our moods. I shared a poem with him once about my life being an arduous climb up a mountain that extends higher and higher with each step, death a slip within reach.

Our only hope is to keep climbing, he said, without looking down. “This is how you’re feeling now. The pain won’t last forever.”

These are the pictures I paint of him in poems, stories and songs. There’s an art to reproducing one’s father, recasting his shadows, repeating his sins.

Fate is genetic; it comes before and after us. Faith requires both a leap and a precipice.

It’s easy to get lost in the woods.

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Down In The Trumps

Writing in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, Franco “Bifo” Berardi tells us in The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy that “there will be no full employment in the future.” The global workforce over the last twenty years has been forced to work more and more but with less and less guarantee of job security or economic stability. Working from home sounds convenient, but what happens when jobs become increasingly “temporary” and flexible workers drift from low wage job to low wage job without health care or the promise of retirement benefits? The precarious nature of work is indeed a dire situation, but it might be a blessing in disguise. Against centuries of capitalist logic, Berardi states his case for a dramatic reversal of values:

Society does not need more work, more jobs, more competition. On the contrary: we need a massive reduction in work-time, a prodigious liberation of life from the social factory, in order to reweave the fabric of social relation. Ending the connection between work and revenue will enable a huge release of energy for social tasks that can no longer be conceived as a part of the economy and should once again become forms of life. (213)

Berardi is dead serious: too much work is killing the Soul. There’s no use producing goods and services for bodies too exhausted to enjoy them. The Soul, which Berardi says includes language, creativity and affects, has fallen into a deep depression. People suffer individually. Society suffers as a “hole.”

It’s time to utilize our creative powers to rebuild a more just society in which everyone is entitled to food, clothing and shelter.

“Every person has the right to receive the amount of money that is needed for survival. And work has nothing to do with this. [. . .] Until the majority of mankind is free from the connection between income and work, misery and war will be the norm of the social relationship” (214).

Depression is a natural response to perpetual misery and war. But a way out emerges in the midst of tragedy, a revolution via the Soul. The pain of depression is infused with the potential to develop a new existential template, an enlightened approach to life accessible to us only through our unique brand of suffering under capitalism. To overcome depression—both on a personal and social level—we need a special type of therapy, one that helps each patient “singularize” and “become conscious of his or her differences, to give him/her the ability to be in good stead with his being different and his actual possibilities” (216).

The goal of therapy is to find and embrace my “self” in order to appreciate the Otherness of others.

After the Great Recession, de-growth is here to stay. Today the notion of wealth should not be based on possession but enjoyment, on having enough time to spend with each other in communities rooted in trust and understanding. Politics and therapy should be one and the same.

A therapeutic politics. A political therapy. Berardi is the ultimate idealist; for his passion and vision I applaud him. But he wrote The Soul at Work at the beginning of Obama’s first term as president. Hope and change were promised but rarely delivered. Congressional Republicans had made a pact, we later learned, to thwart the first black president’s efforts at the same time he was dancing with his wife at the inaugural ball.

Berardi puts too much faith in rationality and the triumph of compassion over fear and bigotry. Some people hate for no reason. Some people vote for “security”—from minorities, immigrants and refugees—over their own economic interests. Economic competition is no longer just a race; it’s about “opposing” races competing for American jobs that end up being outsourced or go to robots that don’t complain or call in sick. Inequality is a social, not a natural, division between individuals who all live and suffer and die together. We are more alike than different, and we’re all afraid of poverty, disease and isolation. Yet our misery under capitalism grows.

Prior to 2015, few could imagine a Donald Trump presidency. Berardi has redefined some of his thought in light of Trump’s rise to (white) power, but the core ideas he laid out eight years ago appear naïve today. Rather than less work, there will be more work. Plenty of work after Trump unravels “the fabric of social relation.”

We live in a post-truth world. Can the Soul survive post-hope?

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The Spirit Of Melancholy

I took away three main ideas from Alina N. Feld’s brilliant analysis of depression in Melancholy and the Otherness of God.

First, philosophers from Ancient Greece to modern times have seen the Melancholic as a visionary soul vital to humanity’s recognition of its own simultaneous vulnerability and power. The Melancholic thinks and feels at a higher frequency than “normal” people. This leads to greater distress and untold suffering for the afflicted, but this pain is survivable. Those who attend to the vibrations of what today we call depression become wiser human beings.

Second, living with depression requires courage. The Depressed must feel the fear and proceed anyway. At the heart of Being lies the specter of Nothingness; the Depressed encounters Nothingness but doesn’t back away from it. There is value in appreciating the vertigo of contemplation before the abyss.

Third, in order to reach heaven one must go through hell. Depression feels like hell on earth, but its torment is far from eternal. The life of the Depressed is a spiritual journey, a path to freedom in the face of terror. There is no Resurrection without Crucifixion.

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The Intimacy Of Communication

My book, The Intimacy of Communication: A Spiritual Encounter, is now available for purchase via Amazon and the CreateSpace store. I may add a Kindle version too, but that’s still a work in progress. Direct links to purchase my book:

amazon.com

createspace.com

I’m sure many of my readers are familiar with ordering books on Amazon. Besides clicking the first link above, you can go to amazon.com and type “charles b snoad” in the search box and up pops my book.

Besides clicking the second link above, to order via createspace.com switch from “site” to “store” and type “charles b snoad” in the search box and up pops my book.

This has been an amazing process. CreateSpace, an Amazon company, makes self-publishing easy. You don’t have to spend a fortune to set up your book, unless you opt for their “professional services,” which I didn’t need. I highly recommend CreateSpace.

Below is the full book description, followed by my author bio. Thanks for your support. If you like the book, please consider writing a review on Amazon. Hope you enjoy it!

Is there space for intimacy in a hyper-connected world? Charles B. Snoad employs the wisdom of French philosopher/provocateur Jean Baudrillard in a spiritual quest for meaning in the Digital Age. Fighting against rampant consumerism and a cultural imperative that everyone must text, Tweet and overshare on social media, Snoad argues for authentic communication, or fully present, device-free conversation. In the process, he also seeks to understand his twenty-year battle with depression. If depressed people pose a threat to corporate values like rationalization, organization and flexibility, does depression carry with its suffering a temporary path to freedom? By sharing his story, Snoad hopes to break the stigma surrounding mental illness. Personal essays in this collection cover wide-ranging topics in philosophy, psychology, politics, religion, media studies, sociology and critical theory. The book concludes with thoughts on the power of forgiveness to transform our souls in the wake of social, political and personal traumas. This is a text with depth no instant message can convey. To follow along, the author recommends we silence our phones.

***

Charles B. Snoad is a summa cum laude graduate of Elmhurst College with a BA in English. At Elmhurst he won multiple poetry and short story awards, and served as opinion columnist for the school newspaper, The Leader. He discovered French philosophy shortly after college and quickly fell in love with the works of Jean Baudrillard, his intellectual hero. Snoad lives in Wheeling, IL, and works as a writing tutor and copy editor. He’s maintained his blog Sharp Left Turns since 2008.

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