My Melancholy Interlude

“Martha has a poetic temperament,” said my AP English teacher. “She’s melancholy.”

Possibly I could have felt special, but I only felt bewildered. “Melancholy” is a strange word describing something that’s a little difficult to pin down. At this point I think I was more likely to have been sad than melancholy. My dad was in very bad shape from MS. My brother had run away from home and was dropping copious amounts of acid and my mom was a hysterical bitch. I needed a lot of things at seventeen and those needs were (truly) not all that important in the family ambiance.

Now I know that people look at each other through the lens of their own lives and beliefs and certain pragmatic ideas of “normal” or “expected.” I guess if I wandered into AP English with my droopy left eye, tired and disengaged, it would look like melancholy when it was just my face, my part-time job and my family. I did like hearing that I had a poetic temperament, though. At the time, I wanted to be a poet.

I’m looking at my coffee and trying to decide if I want to go further a few decades and write about the REAL deal, a major depressive crisis, melancholy taken to the highest (ha ha) point. When that hit me in 1994, I thought of Mrs. Zinn, again. Had she been right?

A lot of good stuff has been written about what is now termed a “mood disorder.” I even wrote some stuff about it on this blog over the 8 years I’ve been doing this. This is my best post on the subject, “There but for the Grace of God…” Like a lot of other things in life, it’s an experience from which a person can learn a lot if they survive it, sort of like a shipwreck, you know, something you can tell your grandkids about, only people are a lot more public about their shipwrecks than about their mental “breakdowns.”

“Grandma! Did you REALLY survive the Titanic?”

“Yes, Jared, I did.”

“Tell me about it!”

Never, “Gradma, did you REALLY survive your major depressive crisis?”

“Yes, Jared, I did.”


See what I mean?

19 thoughts on “My Melancholy Interlude

  1. Hmm…I still want to be a poet. Apparently, when I’m deep in thought, my face takes on a very sad cast. I remember at my community college someone coming up to me and reassuring me that things will get better. Internally, I was “Huh? I was just really enjoying myself.” But I just nodded and said “Thank you.” But it got me to thinking and I still remember it after many decades.

    • Me too, both for the line and the year. I’m grateful for that year, though, and what I learned. Next time it stretched its nasty little tentacles toward my brain I knew what to do and I did it immediately — and from that learned so much more. Thank God for wide open spaces, animals, the ability to write, and to paint and for friends. ❤

    • I know what you mean! There’s NOTHING like MDD to help a person cultivate the darkest and most hilarious sense of humor on the planet! I wanted to write a book about my 1994 experience. It was going to be titled, “Double Prozac Cap” because I spent a lot of that summer at a coffee house in San Diego.

      • We were not to far from the year I was institutionalized, 1996 I think. There were so many funny stuff that stayed in my memories even I was sick. I wrote many post on CBT.

        • I did a lot of strange and scary things once the Prozac started to kick in, but, strangely, they ended up funny. I don’t open up about them because they give MDD a bad name… :p

  2. I’m sure my parents were a little concerned when I was an angsty teen writing poems about death… but I was just a typical teen becoming aware of my own mortality! I’m sorry you experienced a MDD but so thankful you found treatment and came through it.

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