Saturday, July 30, 2016

A MAD POET'S LOVE LETTER TO AMERICA



America, none of the little tricks I use to give
depression the finger would work for me today
(just do one small thing, damn it, and don't
worry about the rest). So I just stayed in bed all
day, and tried to read somebody else's famous
poems - till the hot sun was finally gone, and I
could find no bright moon or burning stars
anywhere in the dark sky, when I was able
to drag my tired body out of bed at last, pull
back the curtains, open the blinds, and stand
by the high window looking down on the
deserted Park Blocks: No people, no pigeons, no
buses, no cars - only good old Abe Lincoln
meekly staring at his feet. And another block
down, cocky Teddy Roosevelt topping some
great dark horse - bear hunting, I believe.
(Could I interest you folks in a Teddy Bear,
circa 1923?) It was midnight in The City Of
Roses, you see (aka Portland, Oregon), and I
needed a shave and a shower very badly, but
didn't have the energy for both. So I only
managed to scrape the eight day beard off
of my face, and put on some smelly clothes
and my only pair of shoes.

And everything seemed much too heavy
for me to lift, much too heavy, even the pure
cotton cap I pulled down low on my
head to cover up my immense guilt and shame.
But I managed to bend over and tie both of my
shoes twice, like a good crazy person should.
And I was so happy, so incredibly happy to find
the elevator empty at last when the doors
squeaked open, and I rode it nine floors down,
all the way down to the basement. And opened
my mailbox to find the forty dollar check I'd
earned by taking the #8 bus to the big hospital
on The Hill last month, and answering a lot of
degrading questions about what it's like to be
insane in America.  And the smug blue-eyed
doctor made me feel ugly and ashamed, so very
ugly and ashamed, but I needed the money. So
I smiled and told him all my deep dark secrets
about madness - how it hurts, and how it helps -
and now three weeks later I'm being paid for
my services, I'm finally being paid: like some
kind of cheap, half-cracked whore the good
doctor really didn't want to pay.

Copyright © 2009 by Dylan Mitchell

11 comments:

  1. Hey Dylan,

    Depression and anxiety are very difficult cycles to conquer. It really takes uncommon strength to live with either. Is there anything I can do to help ? I'm just an email away if you need someone to talk with.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thank you much for your kind and very generous offer, Whisper Mist - and I'll most certainly let you know if I need someone to talk with :-)

    I am doing much better than I was in 2009 (when I first published this poem), but I still have a long way to go. I've been living with chronic depression and a major anxiety disorder since the age of fourteen.

    I'm now seeing a therapist and taking meds, so I haven't reached the point where it feels like all is lost. I just have to keep reminding myself that life is a struggle for most people, yet happy endings do happen for many - this gives me hope.

    It's really good to know there are wonderful people like you in the world...

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a superb poem, Dylan. The more I read it the more I liked it - and the more I understood. Writing is indeed a powerful and beneficial emotional outlet. We kindred spirits couldn't exist without it.

    Whenever you're away from the Blogging world I think about you and get concerned....but then I realize that you are taking a break to concentrate on more important things. It's always good when your comments appear on my blog again, or when you have a new post on yours.

    I can identify with depression and anxiety because I've had it all of my adult life. I've never been diagnosed by an "expert" and I don't take meds, but I can truly understand.
    I don't want this comment to turn into a ramble, but I'll just say that I'm here...and I care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jon, I appreciate your friendship and concern.
      It really does mean a lot to me :-)

      Plus I very much admire you for surviving such
      a brutal past: You've somehow managed to take
      all that pain, and transform it into art.

      It's so true that some of our most gifted writers and artists have survived a past that can only be described as a living nightmare.

      I'm glad you are still here.

      Delete
  4. Dylan, there is hope. I understand generalized anxiety disorder more than you know. I'm glad to hear that you don't think all is lost ... it's not.

    I don't know if you've ever heard of Dr.Claire Weekes or not. She was an Australian doctor best known for her pioneering work in the study of anxiety and nervous illness. Her books were best sellers ... sold around the world which are still being reprinted today.

    Her first book was published in the late 60's ... and her methods for " curing " anxiety are still used today by most therapists and anyone in a related field.

    Her little books ( because they are little ) are filled with the best information ever written to help anyone suffering from anxiety and depression. I've read a ton of books on anxiety and depression ... and nothing else compares.

    The book I recommend is titled : Hope and Help for Your Nerves ... by Dr. Claire Weekes. Have a peak on Amazon ... and you might wish to google her on Wikipedia which explains everything far better than I can.

    Sorry about this long comment, but I wanted to share this with you since her book became a private therapist to so many. A Bible if you will, which is used in our hospital today. Nursing is my background.

    Take care ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whisper Mist, thank you for telling me about this wonderful book! I read Dr. Claire Weekes Wiki page and I agree that cognitive therapy is the best remedy for anxiety and depression.

      I've just placed a hold on the book (at my favorite public library), and should be getting it in a week or two.

      Again, I cannot thank you enough for your friendship and concern :-)

      Delete
  5. Dylan, I skimmed your poem, then read it, then studied it. I'm not bragging (it's not in my DNA to do so) but we depressed people with free floating anxiety and free floating fear happen to have, bottled up in us, amazing talents. I think we run on emotional overload.

    We're always reaching out for a "cure", and it's very depressing to find out a "CURE" hasn't been found yet. None of us can improve with a 'one size fits all' treatment. But using our talents DOES get our brain into another part of our brain that is productive instead of static. WRITE ME. P.S. Whisper Mist is a friend of mine, and Jon has turned into one recently, as have you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dana, I have reached out to doctors, priests, monks, family (plus taken every antidepressant ever to be prescribed), yet this wretched "illness" remains the most unwanted constant companion I've ever had to endure.

      Writing helps me for an hour or two, plus long walks in the park. And a TON of vitamins and minerals.

      Yet my unwanted companion (depression) is always waiting for me, and it's a constant struggle doing my best to be truly alive and free.

      I think it's time for a change big time. I'm taking small steps to be more productive:longer walks, reading the right books, exploring my favorite hobby (collecting silver coins). I'm aiming for progress - that by itself would be a great way to give depression and anxiety the finger.

      P.S. Thank you for giving my poem so much serious study and attention! I will be sending you an email soon (before the week is done).

      I remain grateful for your friendship :-)

      Delete
  6. Hey Dana, Whisper Mist, Jon: It ALWAYS makes my day to find your comments on my blog :-)

    I'm on my way to Safeway (I need food!) which always reduces me to a nervous wreck. But I promise to respond to each of you as soon as my sanity (what's left of it) returns...

    Dylan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dylan , I can always identify with so much of what you say. I need to go into town this week - and I've been procrastinating for over two weeks! I crave being alone and despise emerging into the harsh reality of the world.

      As I previously said, I've never been on prescribed meds for depression or anxiety - but I have been very dependent on alcohol and other things.

      I can't speak from experience, but I'm wondering if prescribed medications do more harm than good. It's just a thought. When I was younger, and going through all the shit with my father, my anxiety attacks were so severe that sometimes I couldn't even walk. I FORCED myself to overcome them...although it was agony.

      Lately, I'm beginning to have occasional panic attacks again. Living here alone in the wilderness has inspired them.

      Vitamins and exercise are extremely important. I have many more problems when I'm inactive. And writing certainly helps.

      Delete
    2. Jon, I know what you mean about "avoiding" the public, yet we need to purchase food and supplies and such. It's always an ordeal.

      I am now in the habit of pretending I am deaf. If someone says something meaningless to me (sign language is a plus), I am able to escape all the crazy nonsense we must endure when daring to leave the safety of our homes.

      The silence is golden. Yes, some people might consider me a freak (or worse). But I do what I have to do in a world that is too often brutal and insane.

      Panic attacks are a normal response to a world that has become increasingly nuts.

      You are human. I'm not so sure about most people in the world.

      Keep writing, playing the piano, and being brave when you encounter the idiots in town:

      You owe it to yourself and your faithful readers. Big time *hugs*

      Delete

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