Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Letter From New York 03 05 2016 From Churchill to Yemen…

March 6, 2016

Winston Churchill used to say he was chased by the “black dog,” depression.  It chased him his whole life and he ran, mostly successfully, from it his whole life. Sometimes, when the “black dog” felt particularly close, Winston would sometimes go off to Morocco and paint, drink and think and probably write.  He wrote more than Dickens and Shakespeare combined.

He may well have been a manic-depressive.  During the war he was followed around by his personal physician, Lord Moran, who prescribed upper and downers to manage the moods of the great man.

He was black dogged by depression and I was thinking about that last night as I rode home on the train, black dogged myself.  I had gone down to the city yesterday, had a full day of appointments and when I stepped on the train last night I was exhausted and felt the old black dog nipping at my heels.

When I got home, I went to bed almost immediately and fell asleep early watching an episode of “Doc Martin,” about an English doctor only marginally more cranky than I was last night.

When the morning broke, I was my usual sunny self and, while sipping tea, worked on next week’s lectures.  The day was spent on that and the Saturday chores.  Young Nick was here and we did things that needed to be done, mounting a light fixture, cleaning, sorting, rearranging, bringing in wood and dealing with the trash.  The things we do on Saturday.

Going down to the Dot, I welcomed Alana back from three weeks in Costa Rica and then, after an omelet and a Bloody Mary, came home to write my letter, which often is one of the most pleasurable times in the day. 

Turning on the floodlights so the creek is illuminated, I sorted through the last couple of days.

The rise of Trump has been a constant cause for conversation though as I returned home, I discovered Ted Cruz had won the Kansas caucuses and he is at least as frightening to me as Trump.  Both of them seem to me to be wack-a-doodles from some other dimension.  This earns me no points with my conservative friends but it’s true; it’s how I feel.

Caitlin Jenner wants to be Ted Cruz’s “trans ambassador.”  I am not sure he’s interested in having one.

Popular comedian Louis CK has implored his fans not to vote for Trump, likening him to Hitler.  Trump, not necessarily looking to support Louis CK’s view of him, announced he would increase the use of torture if he were President.

“Downtown Abbey” ends tomorrow night.  I have already seen the last episode as I subscribed to the feed through iTunes.  Let’s tip a hat to Alistair Bruce, who was in charge of making sure it was historically accurate.  He did a magnificent job.

A fire is burning in the stove; I’ve rearranged some lights in the house.  I like the effect as I sit here at the dining room table, the creek lit in front of me, jazz playing and my thoughts running.

Four nuns and twelve others were killed in Yemen during an attack.  Gunmen entered the building, handcuffed the victims and then shot them.  It’s not yet clear who carried out the attack.  The Pope has decried it; the nuns were members of the order founded by Mother Theresa.

Boko Haram, the scourge of Nigeria, is suffering from a food crisis.  With all the people who have fled them, no is left to grow crops or herd animals and they are beginning to starve.  Hungry and desperate, they are ruthlessly raiding which, I suspect, will only increase the cycle they have created.

And in my cycle, I am going to sign off for tonight.  I need to be up in the morning, work on my lectures and then to church.  I signed up to do coffee hour on Easter Sunday, not quite realizing that it was a major, major thing and I am now expected to come up with something quite spectacular.  Cookbooks are out.  Recipes are being reconnoitered. 

I have a meeting about this tomorrow at 12:30.  I think I may have over stretched and I will rise to the challenge.

Letter From New York, August 21, 2011

August 21, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…
I am back from the Vineyard and ensconced this morning at the cottage, curled on the couch, as the early morning sun becomes hidden behind incoming rain clouds, rain that has been predicted all weekend but which has held off now until today, Sunday.

I realized that the cottage is my land of “off.” I arrive and feel a weight lift from me, for a moment I am away, mostly, from the deluge of email, some of which feel like they “e-maul” me.

And the lovely sight of Claverack Creek lazily flowing is more than soothing and over each day I am here, I want, as much as possible, to let the soul rest as well as the body, to enjoy quiet and to recoup from the wear and tear of life. Even though I know my life is magic compared with so many in the world – almost all our lives are – I also know we are not immune from the vagaries of life.

Earlier this week, I read that western nations are more deeply plagued by depression than underdeveloped nations. Is it, I wonder, the result of complex lives, the juggling of so much beyond the basics that our brains malfunction from the strain of processing? Is depression a by-product of technological development? At least on the scale from which we seem to suffer from it?

I don’t know the answer to that but the question has scratched around my brain since I read that factoid in an online article earlier this week while researching something completely different. So I went online and googled “depression and technology” and found out I am not the only man on a laptop who has questioned that this might be the case. “Depression and technology” brought up 131,000,000 items in 0.17 seconds [oh, how we love you Google]. There are also indications that technology can help with depression, particularly among seniors who are beginning to feel isolated and feel they have lost their autonomy.

It is complex and fascinating and a subject I am going to delve into more as time goes on. One writer ruminated on what he felt was the impossibility of the human mind at this time successfully processing all the information we are presented with [I’m saying ‘at this time’ because gosh knows we evolve; perhaps we are at a stage similar to the first creatures that crawled out of the sea to conquer land living?]. But certainly the human brain has had to cope with a dazzling degree of technological evolution in the last hundred or so years.

My Google search revealed people were beginning to wonder about it in the 1920’s and if they were wondering about it then…

Just think about how many of us get anxious if we haven’t checked our email on our smartphones in the last twenty minutes? How many people do I know, myself included, who roll over in the morning and check their smartphone to see what has occurred during the night? Many. Almost all of the people I know are information obsessive and feel anxious if they are cut off.

And this probably is not a good thing. Perhaps a very bad thing? Perhaps a road toward depression?

So I am going to do my best the next few days and pay attention to information overload, be sensitive to it and hold it a bit at bay while still accomplishing my duties and yet thinking about the role technology may play on us, individually and nationally, in encountering psychological distress as the price of technological innovation.