[cancer|personal] The black dog barks

As I have mentioned before, I have a history of chronic depression in my childhood and young adult years. This includes pretty much all the classic manifestations including social withdrawal, self-destructive behavior, and even a suicide gesture that put me in the hospital at 16 then under supervision for a considerable time thereafter. This was years before Prozac and much of the rest of the modern psychopharmakon. I recovered with considerable therapy and, frankly, time.

This past week has seen the return of that depression as deeply as I’ve felt it since the days of my youth. Hence my withdrawal from blogging, from writing, from exercise, from pretty much anything except the immediate needs of the moment. This has been very frustrating for calendula_witch, as well as my other friends and family, most especially including markferrari. I’ve managed to make it through Thanksgiving with calendula_witch’s family as well as the_child and tillyjane without any deeply disastrous behavior, but I haven’t exactly been a barrel of laughs to be around.

I say all this now not by way of seeking an Internet group hug (though I will leave comments open on this post), but to talk again about how cancer and chemotherapy continues to affect my life. This depression is absolutely driven by the events of the past year. Having largely dealt with the physical symptoms and side effects, we now slog through the emotional effects. On me, on calendula_witch, on everybody.

It’s not easy being blue. But one still wakes up on the morning.

26 thoughts on “[cancer|personal] The black dog barks

  1. Karen says:

    You’ve been through hell. You’re smart, emotionally strong and articulate, and I doubt there’s anything I could say that you don’t already know.
    So a hug to you, and yours.

  2. Jim Crider says:

    Hang in there, friend.

  3. Here’s a group of one hug anyway, Jay!


  4. Fran says:

    …don’t discount the physical effects that may leave you feeling depressed Sweets. Get your vitamin B levels checked. Not joking. It’s amazing how a seemingly small vitamin deficiency can throw you completely off.

  5. Torrey Podmajersky says:

    So thankful for friends who love us despite and because of ourselves. Internet hugs, and welcome back online.

  6. To echo the above commenter’s thought, also consider if you are getting good quality sleep. People who suffer from sleep apnea suffer disproportionately from depression. If you’ve never been tested for sleep apnea, it might be worth checking it out.

  7. Hang in there, buddy. We’ve been there.

    If you haven’t got them already, three things really help me with my black dogs:

    1) vitamin D
    2) SAD lamp
    3) The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nicht Hahn.

  8. Just sending deep adoration your way. No suggestions, no inspiring words, just big huge swells of overwhelming love.

  9. Kathy says:

    Thinking about you, hoping the darkness retreats quickly.

  10. Matte Lozenge says:

    Dealing with severe depression is a full time job, and the only payment is the recovery of your life spirit. You have my best wishes for whatever they are worth.

  11. ces says:

    The holiday season is always hard for many people, even those running 100% healthwise.

    Do not ever apologize for being in a funk, holiday-time or otherwise. You’ve been through a lot, and getting a good report probably brought it all home. Your family, friends, neighbours, fans, work associates, and pets all understand. It may take time, but you’ve succeeded before, you know what it takes, and you’ll succeed again!

    Here’s a Belated Happy Thanksgiving, and a Joyful Love-Filled Holiday!

  12. Mike Mullin says:

    Hang in there, Jay. I’ve spent a chunk of my life under the paws of that dog, too. I can’t manage an internet group hug, but if you’ll accept one from someone who knows you only through your writing, well, here it is. Mike

  13. joe says:

    i am a lifelong (born 1952)Isaac Asimov fan.
    I have just found you, and thank god you never killed yourself, because you have a gift.
    please stay healthy, i recommend taking minerals as they help me (joel wallach/longevity), and as a chef i recommend eating healthy (throw out white suger/flour, eat spelt) and drink german beeer and wine. may you live 100 years.ciao

  14. Cora says:

    Hang in there and have a virtual hug!

  15. Jed says:

    Virtual group hug!

  16. HollyAnn says:

    I’m sending good thoughts your way, along with a hug.

  17. pelican says:

    “and the only payment is the recovery of your life spirit”

    Matte’s right, but what I wonderful payment that recovery is. Thanks for the internet know what’s up. Good thoughts your way.

  18. pelican says:

    “what I wonderful payment”

    Freudian slip – what “a” wonderful payment for YOU … and for “I”

    Hard to feel the hope when you’re in it, but hopefully you remember how it does get better.

  19. Jan says:

    (((((((HUGS)))))) Jay

  20. Hey, Jay.

    I’m sending lots of good thoughts and vibes your way. You’re an incredible writer whose work I love reading and whose unbelievable process never fails to blow me away. (I’ll never forget watching you crank out a story in the middle of a super-noisy kitchen at Dean’s old workshop house!) You’re also unfailingly generous and supportive and a natural-born laugh riot comedian. I admire your personal strength as well as your work, and I want you to hang in there. Lots of stories and novels are waiting to be written, and I can’t wait to read them! Plus which, I need your inspiration to help me continue to reach higher. Stay frosty!

    Your pal,
    Bob J.

    1. Jay says:

      Thank you, sir.

      And BTW, you have appeared in my third GREEN book, still not been killed off…

      1. Thanks for not killing me…yet! When the time comes, just please be gentle.

  21. Rhonda says:

    Jay, I don’t know you but I know depression, just saw your post on fbook. No sugar is best advice, also go for a walk and/or listlessly start cleaning the bathroom, fridge, your closet, drawers, etc. Sometimes mindless chores can be comforting and/or rejuvenating, at least for me. Hang in there.

  22. Ben says:

    Jay, just dropping by to say hi. The depression thing is part of the package. Kay Redfield Jameson did a study that found 80 percent of writers will be treated or diagnosed with depression. Jameson, who herself has to struggle with it, says this about that:

    “I long ago abandoned the notion of a life without storms, or a world without dry and killing seasons. Life is too complicated, too constantly changing, to be anything but what it is. And I am, by nature, too mercurial to be anything but deeply wary of the grave unnaturalness involved in any attempt to exert too much control over essentially uncontrollable forces. There will always be propelling, disturbing elements, and they will be there until, as Lowell put it, the watch is taken from the wrist. It is, at the end of the day, the individual moments of restlessness, of bleakness, of strong persuasions and maddened enthusiasms, that inform one’s life, change the nature and direction of one’s work, and give final meaning and color to one’s loves and friendships.”

    Writing…is apparently part of the answer, whether it’s part of the problem or not.

    1. Jay says:

      Thanks, Ben.

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