Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Mental Day

A handful of days a year, the depression just gets me, and there is nothing I can do except ride it out and wait for it to get better. I took a mental health day yesterday, and fortunately, working in mental health, my boss and co-workers totally understood.

My dad said, "So you took a mental day?"
Me (laughing): "No, mental health day."

Dad: "Isn't that the same thing?

It's hard for me to write when I am down, but conversely (and this really irritates me) when I get the blues my mind won't stop running around in circles...and writing is a good antidote for this, normally. Go figure the catch-22.

So a few hours away from me is Kurt Cobain's hometown of Aberdeen, Washington. The 17th anniversary of his death was in the news largely because of a guitar statue that was put up in his memory this week.

I did a lot of involuntary thinking about him, and not because I am the biggest Nirvana fan (although I do like some of their music.) But I remember tiny details about where I was (Santa Barbara), who I was with (a bunch of people I'd mostly never see again), and what I was doing (hanging out at a party my boyfriend's friends had) when I found out that Cobain died.

This wasn't a seminal generational thing - but it strikes me because it's one of only a handful of moments (9/11 is another) that is permanently etched into my memory.

A guy whose last name was Hendrix (hard to forget) told us the news right after he told me about a girlfriend he had who had died. Our first thought: drugs. When we found out it was suicide, some part of me thought: He found a way out.

I also finished reading a book on illness by Mark Vonnegut, a pediatrician who lives with bipolar disorder who is also the son of the late author Kurt Vonnegut - another Kurt who suffered from major depression, except he never owned up to it publicly. "I have so many original thoughts," Mark Vonnegut wrote, "that I take medication for it."

There's no humor like black humor to get through the day.

At that point I was 17 and I was not sure if I would, or if I wanted to, get to 27, Cobain's age when he died. To say that I am glad I did is a big understatement. Depression has claimed far too many and I am blessed to have found treatment that works most of the time, and friends and family who are supportive most of the time.

Some people speculate that artists and writers suffer from mental illness disproportionately from the rest of the population; I think we are just better at writing it down.

RIP Kurt(s).


LL Cool Joe said...

I'm still battling the blues myself. :( I'm really sorry you are suffering too. Look after yourself, and I hope you feel better again real soon mate. xx

G said...

Nice post.

Not to be a conspiracy monger nor to be a contributor to someone else's black day nor to ruin a memory of someone you like, but in a book that I read called "Final Exits", there is a section about well known musicians passing away, of which Kurt Cobain is mentioned.

I will only say that the writer presented some solid evidence that argues against it being a suicide and towards the other

Claire said...

Such a great post, sweetie. Whatever you write on, I'm always thrilled to hear you.


Aliceson said...

It's very important to take a break from work (or whatever) when you need it, when life becomes too much, and it's awesome that you can recognize it. Hang in there! :)

Cake Betch said...

I think that the depression is what causes a lot of people to BECOME writers and artists - it's a medication, a way to unburden, to share, to reach out for others who have the same problems or thoughts.

Hope you're feeling better RK.

ileana said...

Once upon a time I sat and stared at my living room floor for what seemed like months, but somehow little by little I began to feel more positive...with a little help from friends, meds and a new way of thinking. So far so good.

I'm here for you, Chica...if you want to e-mail me or talk.

Hugs, Ily xo

Riot Kitty said...

Hey thanks everybody! I'm actually feeling much better now.

Senorita said...

Beautiful post. In December I was hit real hard by depression, and only a couple of weeks ago have things seemed better.

I also think about Kurt Cobain for the same reasons you do too.

Anil P said...

To live is to overcome. To have a choice is to exercise it, to not have one, is to live within a lack of one - constrained yet free from from the blue self.

Either way, belief will triumph, in time, for time.

Logical Libby said...

I am glad you are doing better. I am just getting around to blogs due to my "mental" week.

I love the Mark Vonnegut quote. I never knew his Dad was one of us. No wonder I like his writing so much.

Riot Kitty said...

S: Thanks! I am glad you're doing better. Please always feel free to drop me a line if you need an ear to bend.
Anil: Good point...thanks as always for the wise words.
L: Hope you are OK too. His dad was definitely one of us - and I love his books, too.

Darth Weasel said...

the last two sentences of the next to last paragraph are what should make it all worthwhile.

Feeling for you at those times it is not enough

Granny Annie said...

I am extremely sorry you have to deal with this.

Riot Kitty said...

Darth and Annie: Thank you. It just happens sometimes, for short periods of time, which is so much better than it was before I knew what it was, in my teens.

Lynn said...

I love that last line - I believe that to be true. A mental health day is so important at times.

I went to the Million Mom March (designed to promote tighter restrictions to keep guns out of the hands of kids and criminals) in Washington in 2000 and stood a few feet from Courtney Love as she described the pain of her husband's suicide. Having been through the aftermath of a close friend's suicide, I can totally understand.