Inspiration and depression

Published 7:35 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010

“He has periods when he can write terrific speeches that resemble philosophical essays. On the other hand, sometimes he gets into a state of mind he calls ‘my depressions.’ But he is capable of drawing inspiration and new strength from those depressions. I would call him a human intellectual: he doubts himself all the time, and thanks to those doubts he can empathize with others.” —Zdenek Urbenek on Vaclav Havel

To say that Vaclav Havel is capable of drawing inspiration and new strength from ‘those depressions’ is good news for folks having had a history of depression perhaps. It’s nice to hear of depression being “capable of drawing inspiration.”

Unfortunately too often ‘those depressions’ are well guarded and hushed by one’s self with families. I think I’ve mentioned the time I spent with my sister and her family in Indiana when we were both depressed. We sat at the kitchen table in silence drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. Our only amusement was the list of “things to do” posted on the cupboard.

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We both recovered from it in time and there were relapses. Carol, my sister, used to think that depression was a product of repressed anger. Perhaps she was on to something.

Dr. Maxfield, the psychiatrist I saw in Riverside, put me on lithium carbonate when I first sought help. This eventually lifted my depression. Doctors, or my sister’s doctor, wouldn’t prescribe lithium in Indiana where they lived so I had her come to Riverside where she met with Dr. Maxfield. He prescribed lithium and she was able to return to Indiana and get on with her life. Unfortunately, she died early from a heart attack.

I hope the day will come when depression will be no more. I also suspect depression may have a hand in aging, yet I don’t believe it’s a given.

The other day I read that seniors will out number the youth before long. And speaking of aging, our 50th reunion will be waiting for us next summer somewhere in this vicinity. The class of ‘60 occupied the country club, I am told, this past weekend a few visitors from our class of ‘61 apparently dropped by there on opening night.

I remember my mother going to her 50th reunion that assembled then at the Blooming Prairie golf course building. I couldn’t get over that — to think of anyone going to a 50th class reunion. She and my father went.

Fortunately, medical care has advanced in that area. As for aging, I’m afraid it will always be there. I’m past the retirement age, but still working part-time and enjoying it most of the time.

I’m still trying to slip downtown in the morning when Mello is kenneled or Casey is here to keep an eye on her. Casey is back from college and helping prepare the back yard for the fence we hope to put up before long. Then Mello will have some barking space to hang out in.

I’m still reading Last Night I Dreamed of Peace by Dang Thuy Tram, the doctor who slipped into South Vietnam to care for the soldiers coming down from the north.

On June 4, 1968 she writes: “The more I face reality, the more complexity I discover. Why do humans have so many demands? Never satisfied. The more one wants perfection, the more one has demands; and, down that path, one encounters ever more thorny obstacles—and yet if one does not persevere, one will surely fail.”

That was about the time I was leaving Vietnam, leaving with an early out with part of me feeling guilty that I was leaving ahead of those who had served longer but didn’t have an early out. You never hear people say, “We lost that war.”

The more I read about Afghanistan and Pakistan, I think this war will go on until we leave, regardless of who is in charge. They will be remembered. I think it was unfortunate that the draft ended. As a draftee, there was something there I will never forget and still cling to it.

It’s time to let go of war and get ready for the annual welcome back Marv Dauer gathering that actually occurred last night in the “scenic, relaxing & historic atmosphere” of The Old Mill.

Did I tell you there were no robins in California? I was bummed. Of course there were no mosquitoes in California, at least that I saw anyway. I’ll ask Marv when I see him (yesterday).