Sloe Gin Vritti • 6 December 2009

Separation from god, separation from Los Angeles. Same difference.

I’ve been looking at the pithy definitions of depression. Spinoza called it a recognition of the ego’s loss of power. Most of the mystics after him called it alienation from the divine. Your shrink calls it a treatable chemical malfunction. Your teacher says it's an opportunity for personal damn development. For me it’s so mechanical and such a mind-altering substance that, after two weeks, I’m done denying it.

I suspect the low-grade migraine is some kind of reaction to the way I’ve been deleting lesser indicators from my organism. Humid sinuses, heavy chest, repeating thoughts of very bad things, desire to eat carbs, sleepiness: scram. We don’t serve your type around here. But then, I actually had to throw up yesterday, in the middle of the primary series. Apparently sadness wants suffrage: it will rise up to make my manic operating system recognize it.

Why can’t I just deconstruct this inefficient emotion? Isn’t emotion fleeting – gone the moment you try to pin it down? I don’t know. This is different. It keeps hanging around, and is all mixed up with despairing stories and ways of thinking.

I wonder if I may as well capitulate to a full experience of sadness. The spring of my senior year in high school, right before I left rural Montana never to be the same again, I started going down to the basement every day at 3:30 and sleeping until 7:00 the next morning. I said I felt fine, but a prescription (which I never took) was written. Maybe the impending separation from home really did bother me.

So, I’m sad. The giveaway is that my sinuses are all—how to put it—humid. Weeks of a kind of high pressure storm system in the head and chest. Threatening rain, never delivering. I don’t really want to stand up straight. At home, the little kittens won’t leave me alone. One is purring vigorously in to my chest right now, and the other is actually curled up on the pile of exams at my feet. They probably know things science does not, about distress phermones and cuddle interventions.

So that’s the most obvious physical stuff. I’m also bizarrely attuned to the lachrymose. I catch myself zoning out in search mode, scanning experience for reasons to feel sad.

The first place I rest is on is the person in my life who has died, the fact that everyone I love will die, and the relationships with the living that I’ve fucked up. Separation! This is sadness. What about those four avatars—the stalker, the shit-stirrer, the bully and the universal hater—I’ve blocked from this space in the last three years? What usually seems good damn sense resurfaces as tragedy and personal failing.

So I keep all that separation in the back of my awareness, perhaps because it makes sense of the sadness and gives it a place to rest and reproduce itself. These sad thoughts are very difficult to disentangle from the heaviness in the body; and I don't know which comes first.

More consciously, I get in to this loop of punch-drunk despair about the nature of humanity. Damn if we’re not all selfish jerks. Ninety five per cent of the people I know are uncommonly compassionate, in to service and good books and being kind to their parents. But there are a very few among those I care for very much, and give to however I can, who at the same time genuinely don’t give a shit about me. Naturally, I only give a shit about their not giving a shit when I’m sad. I start suspecting that all humans are just free agents, sucking each other’s energy, empty of care, driving madly forward on the twin engines of superiority and neediness. I think about mean girls, and the venom that comes up there; and compassionless boys who view everyone as a tool. How can the people who keep me close because they need me not be here now? Are they all Dick Cheney? Why do I love Dick Cheney? I should just hide with the kittens.

It’s actually funny. Sadness is a whole channel of thought and feeling, memories, fantasies: the separation channel. Now that I’m finally willing to admit I’m sad, and that this isn’t just some fast little vritti that’s gone the second I touch it, I can sort of reason myself out of the more self-indulgent aspects of despair—the pathos I’ve been circulating around the back of my mind.

Quieting down that frequency does take the edge off the sadness, but… it’s still sad now. Separation is really painful. Loss of relationship, loss of intimacy with an environment and rhythms and wonderful people that are my home. Writing that, a tremor starts at the tip of my nose and rushes right up in to the tear ducts, down over the cheeks and in to the shoulders and chest. You know? The whole face wants to fall. And the kitten just stirred, turned the bubbles back on, and pressed her little heart in to my belly. We’ll see how long it feels this way. And if leaving my second home will be anything like leaving the first, which turned in to something unimaginably good.