These two pictures are of the same man. I love him more than I loved my father.
“Happiness is only for a short time then comes sadness which proceeds on overtime” [i] I put those two pictures up as an example of what depression does to a person. The picture on the right was taken last night at his house. My buddy doesn’t know when the picture above on the left was taken. However, if you know him, you would know that the picture on the right is more what he looks like on a daily basis than the picture on the left does. He looks tired in the picture on the right above and happy in the picture on the left.
I write this piece because as I was at his house last night, I observed and noted to my friend Kim the way his depression was manifesting. The obsession he experienced while trying to find a document, which I thought was insignificant, dominated him for minutes. While he was looking for this document, the look on his face was one of utter determination to find something that he didn’t need to be able to explain what his idea was to us. That was proven out when he sat down, after not finding the document which he determinedly looked for at least 5 minutes, and explained his idea in less time than that he spent trying to find the document.
“Depression is not sobbing and crying and giving vent, it is plain and simple reduction of feeling.” [ii] I felt angry most of my adult life because I got to feel something when I was angry. Period.
“The covertly depressed person cannot merely vault over the avoided pain directly into wholeness, as hard as he may try.” [iii] My buddy isn’t willing to do something that many of us with long term sobriety have found to be necessary. What it is isn’t important to this writing because if you are reading this and have long term sobriety, you most undoubtedly have done it.
But not doing that step of the process which those of with long term sobriety know we must do, which is necessary to reduce if not remove the feelings that have haunted us for our whole lives, my friend is not going to get relief which keeps him from the wholeness as quoted above.
It is important here to note that the healing that Terrence Real talks about in I Don’t Want to Talk About It, does not come from only doing the step alone that I talked about above. Thats because I suffer the consequences of:
Very deep, sometimes quite forgotten, damaging emotional conflicts [which] persist below the level of consciousness. At the time of these occurrences, they may have actually given our emotions violent twists which have since discolored our personalities and altered our lives for the worse.[iv]
That kind of emotional pain trapped in my body needs to come out in a number of ways. I have done many, many kinds of therapy to help me recover from this. The therapy I speak of is not cognitive, “talk” therapy.
An aside. I have felt tired my whole life! The depression takes the energy out of me and I am tired almost all the time. If I have energy, I fear that I am manic depressive, because I am so used to not having any energy.
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”[vi] I put this in here because I am striving to become the real me, who I am. I love my buddy above because he is an 88 year old man, who is still striving to become the real man he truly is. I have witnessed so much of his healing process to say that he suffers like I do with depression. He has his “Ggod damn demon,” also. But, even though he doesn’t have to change, he is. What a gift to be around a man who seeks to become more vulnerable at the age he is. Wow!
[i] A. N. Knight [ii] Judith Guest [iii] Terrence Real I Dont Want To Talk About It. p.63 [iv] Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Step 8, pgs 79-80. [v] If you are interested in my therapy process, please write me privately and I will gladly explain it. I try to make it a practice not to tell people what they “should” do. [vi] Joseph Campbell
*My friend Kim described my share at a local “meeting” this way.