Posted by: scintillatingspeck | September 20, 2015

Swimming, blind.

I don’t know what I’m trying to write. I’m at Cup and Top Café, alone, on a Sunday. I came here just to walk somewhere, be elsewhere, and still, here I am, following myself around.

I think I had an idea about writing about all the obstacles in my life, all the seemingly intractable dilemmas I find myself in. Maybe I persist in thinking that if I just think hard enough or focus then I will find a way to untangle some part of the colossal knot.

It’s not what I want to tell the world—I struggle with who I’m writing for, here, thinking I should write a blog post, thinking I should be addressing someone. But who am I supposed to address besides me? Am I listening? Hello? Jen? Are you the insufficient audience, the one falling asleep, distracted, too self-absorbed to have any perspective?

Would it help if I state things baldly? Jen: you are depressed. Don’t argue with me. It doesn’t matter if that’s the slipperiest term you can imagine, and you hate that it’s laden with crazy notions of what constitutes illness or healing. It doesn’t matter who thinks what about its origins, its definition, its treatment, its solidity, its transparency, its mutability. It doesn’t matter. It’s a phenomenon. You experience it. You’re experiencing it right now.

So, I have this problem, and it pulls me under, and the conventional prescriptions are anathema to me. That’s a dilemma.

I have my ways of re-extruding myself into semblances of normal life. I wait it out, for starters. That might be the most important one. I try to take care of myself in a variety of ways: food, sleep, walks. I push myself to write to a few people. I read things that I hope will provide solace or inspiration. I tell myself it’s a million times better for Lily to have a depressed mom than no mom.

Is it sufficient? No. What counts as sufficient? The fact that I’m still alive? It’s one measure of “success,” but I need to find more ways to stanch the suffering.

One issue that gnaws at me daily is the fact that I feel isolated so frequently. I have attempted to change that for years and years. It often feels like the root of most of my suffering. I don’t mean that I just need people physically present (although that’s a piece of it)—it’s about how I perceive and experience intimacy of all types. I feel impaired. I don’t think I am unique in having this problem. I push myself to be more vulnerable than I think I can stand. I don’t know if I lack discernment in what I choose to write and share, when I’m feeling up to it. I don’t know to what degree people are willing to open their hearts to me. Even those I deeply love and to whom I feel closest, I feel the barricades of fear and hobbled communication, inside myself and in them. I find myself fleeing into a withdrawn state, overwhelmed, raw, afraid of pushing people away, afraid that the withdrawing IS pushing them away.

I want to do more to take care of myself and receive help. I want to give help, too—I don’t think it helps to be a passive recipient of “help”—I want to be part of a Mutual Aid/Healing Society. I feel like almost every aspect of modern life works against this. I need to keep swimming upstream anyway.

This otter is tired but still swimming, blind.




  1. the otter is swimming beautifully.

    • Mar, my mother saw the image above and said that we need to get the otter’s head much higher above the water. I said, at least the otter is swimming. And maybe that’s just how otters swim. She said, “Maybe you could swim more like a beaver?!” I said, “Maybe we should let the metaphor be, for now?” She loves me so much. And I love her.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days and wanting to respond, but I haven’t been sure what to say. I spent years in that dark place that you describe so well. I fell into silence because (I think) most people are in so much pain, themselves, that they have to block out the consciousness of others’ pain so they won’t be overwhelmed. They end up sharing platitudes and hollow encouragements. My mother used to say, “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone.” I would ask, “What if you’re crying because the world is such a needlessly sad and hopeless place for so many people?” I think, like most people, she didn’t understand the question. I have to remind myself of Jiddu Krishnamurti’s comforting (to me) words from time to time: “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” To keep from falling back into depression I’ve had to reject all the expectations that others lay on me (and probably on themselves) and that I have of myself, and to be grateful that I’m not well-adjusted. At the same time, I’ve come to accept that I cannot change the world, no matter how much I wish I could. I don’t have any advice to give. Our struggles toward self-actualisation, like our depressions, are unique to each of us. I can only encourage you to keep writing. I am so thankful to those who encourage me. Finding my voice and allowing it to speak through writing (still an ongoing process) has been the vehicle of my liberation. I wish you peace.

  3. Thank you for hitting send. I think there is some magic to the choice of the otter and what otter medicine can offer your life and your experience of depression. I was hearing statistics that one in three women are depressed or anxious and I yelled at the teevee that the statistic should be higher because the state of the world demands depression and anxiety as rational responses. So there’s that. Don’t discount it too much.

    The thing that I count as my luckiest star is having HoneyButt 1m away from me, furiously sciencing over his solution to his ‘Partition Problem.’ Although we both have unconventional views on relationship and sexuality, being and living together has served us well, and made our depressed phases much lighter to bear and endure. May whatever configuration of partnership that serves you, show up in your life in the perfect moment. Like now. Or any time, really. I am pretty confident that your need for withdrawing time and for being served and serving can all fit with what other humans are looking for here on planet earth. All this seems a million miles away from possible when one is depressed, however, and I want to acknowledge that here to try to keep this comment honest.

    Sending a very sweet loving note from my heart to yours via this cyberthread. I know you are attuned to it at times, and I hope you feel it now. I feel you in your scintillation, dear speck. Love, Kim

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