Tuesday, March 24, 2009

If

I've been thinking about depression lately--maybe because Sylvia Plath's son committed suicide Monday. He was a marine biologist. Not a poet. Somehow suicide and art are so commonly linked, I wonder if he was artistic as well. So many of my artistic friends talk openly of their depressions. My less arty friends do not.

Some of my "not-arty" friends see depression as a weakness. Not a medical condition but rather a form of self-indulgence. Something you could cure by will alone.

My mom never really understood sadness. She thought it was something that should be easily fixed, and sad people angered her. She had a whole list of ifs she would say,

and each if was supposed to make you feel better when/if you were sad:

If you were in prison, you would envy everyone outside, everyone free, and so imagine you are in prison and then imagine what you would wish you were doing if . . .

If you were unable to see, you would want so much to see . . . Look at the world with the eyes of one who has never seen it . . .

If you were unable to hear, . . .

if you were unable to walk or run, you would be wishing you could race across the green grass or walk out into the sun . . .

If you were unable to eat, you would imagine all the cakes and cookies, all the potatoes and peas and meats, all the flavors you might wish to eat . . .

If you were told you only had 3 days to live, you would wish you had lived when you lived . . .


I liked all these games. I especially liked living my last three days.

4 comments:

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

I found Nicholas's suicide such a sad legacy for a family. Some of my poems were from anger/depression though. I read on one site that he had quit his research to be a potter. !

amberbromer said...

i always tend to take stuff like this too hard and a little too personally. when the news of someone committing suicide finds me i can't stop thinking about it. it scares me and makes me feel guilty at the same time. i've had/have all those thoughts. the idea can be at times almost alluring and unexplainable. when i started getting into poetry the first poet i really immersed myself in was plath because i had finally found something i could relate to and that was terrifying. i obsessed about her death along with sexton's and a friend of mine after he followed in their footsteps (also a poet).
there is definitely something self-indulgent about it and mysterious and humiliating and lonely and haunting. with so many sad ghosts floating around, how do we go on about our everyday lives?

Nin Andrews said...

I tend to believe strongly that depression that endures is a medical condition. I think it's really dangerous, and when I go there, I do get help. Asap. I don't trust the mind. I don't think logic and emotions are always in the same boat. Maybe this is where my mom and I differ. Her games were fun, but they missed the essential point. An emotional imbalance is not something you can nec. reason your way out of. And whatever you can reason your way out of, sadly, you can probably do the reverse.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

I think of suicide as self-administered euthanasia, when pain-management has failed. People who are contemptuous of suicides or angry at them -- these people puzzle me.

There's an element of the monstrous, though, too. There's the anger that turns inward and wants to destroy the self that has proven so dysfunctional.

Even in my deepest sloughs my reasoning faculties have remained intact, I've even had a sense of humor, yet suicide has seemed a perfectly reasonable (if premature) solution.