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kiota and the black dog

Sometimes livejournal brings unusual sets of friends to table. Many of us take LJ for granted but I'm too new here for that, I still think it's borderline miraculous.

Kiota, of course, is the reason I'm here and why most of you will be reading this. She's not here anymore, nor is Rod Steiger, an American actor who died in 2002. *Marjorie is very much here and will be listening and reading, and probably responding, and that's not her real name since Marjorie and I, along with many of you, talk in locked journals...for a variety of reasons. Then there's me. Four for chai tea.

Rod earned the highest accolade in motion picture acting, the Oscar, for "In The Heat Of The Night". I think his best work was in "The Pawnbroker" and in "On The Waterfront" and you should certainly go rent each of them. He also went through eight years of depression, many times suicidal, and said 'there's no such thing as success unless you have physical and mental health'. He referred to his illness as "this black dog of depression" and sometimes could not rise from his bed for days. He wrote: "When you're depressed, there's no calendar. There are no dates -- there is no day, there is no night, there are no seconds, there are no minutes, there is nothing. You're just existing in this cold, murky, ever-heavy atmsophere, like they put you inside a vial of mercury." Mercury, of course, is very toxic to the body.

Rod determined that the only way to fight depression is to talk about it and get it out into the open. One reason why I think LJ is miraculous. That might happen only in a locked community of friends, or in one or another of the LJ Communities set up for that --- but it's happening. It's why I'm writing this for my friends. And myself, too, I guess.

Marjorie writes that "Depression is such a tricky creature...because it basically knocks you off your feet to the point that you need help to get back up, but leaves you completely unable to seek help, ask for help, and sometimes even to accept help. You just want to stay on the ground because getting up hardly seems worth it." ... as far as help goes: "I don't really want to go through my life {story} from the beginning with a new psychiatrist / theapist just to end up getting rejected again."

Kiota will safehug Marjorie because Ki totally relates to this: "I can't keep doing this, I can't keep trying, it's just not working." "It's hopeless." "PTSD for ten years, suicidal for the last six....when can I stop?" "I've been through therapy, I have to find another one, I just don't want to talk about it, I can't, it hurts too much: just thinking about it makes me cry." "Sometimes I sleep nineteen hours a day." She knows all about pdocs who reject her. Some of her earliest "just gave up on me."

I think I am fortunate to have a theatre career. Everything is all about building, tearing down, building again. New sets, scripts, lights, new experiences, getting it all out there, telling it. Depression and lots of other topics. The very core nature of theatre life is that you don't get stuck, you move on in your own way and time ... within a tolerant, loving, supportive, sometimes fractious community. Mine was eager to welcome Kiota when she came to visit. Next July. They commemorated her life. I guess we instinctively just know who needs a hug and when; who just needs to hang out and needs a soft shoulder to laugh on; and cry on; who needs a open ear and a closed mouth. Kiota mourned that she did not have any of that. She would have.

I always had that, I'm getting it now more than ever, especially here in LJ-space from you, when most of you will remain strangers irl, and that does not matter in the river of your love. Or of mine for you.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 14th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
Having gone through clinical depression, I agree with the black dog image. Though I'd like to modify it and if we're on canine imagery, I'd say depression is The Sun Dog. You should read the Stephen King novella by that name - you'd understand right away.
May. 14th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
Actually, can't take credit for that, it was Steiger's phrasing .... also, thanks, putting King on my list right now!

If you'd like to share here, since you talk about going "through" it, was there anything that particularly helped you to come out the other side?
May. 14th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
The Sun Dog
I had a bit of time so I sped through the first four chapters of this. And I don't know yet where you are directing me to go with it all, but ... so many resonances!

The description of Kevin's sister Megan: "she had a daffy streak a mile wide, but she wasn't stupid" ... and Megan's description of the cam as a "Supernatural Manifestation" because it's taking the same picture, 14 times, of something in the past... I gave Kiota a surplus videocam, a slightly older model, as an early birthday present, a possession from our house when we sold it: nobody else wanted the cam and I thought she'd like it: BIG understatement :) she was excited and enthralled and memorized the instruction book and started shooting the same day it had arrived on campus in the mail ... and then, with King in front of me, I just naturally mind-tripped over to her DeviantArt galleries, her own work and her favorites.

These are all digital images and ... you certainly can see how they foreshadow the future, now I'm rethinking them as shots with past connections too....since she's now gone --- and with her, her eye and heart and hand to press the shutter and to choose work of others as favorites --, what she left us is all of that, not physically there any more but invisible behind the images .... which remain. So she is there within and behind every photo and in every choice.

So far, that idea is not depressing me one little bit, dog or no dog. But I'm only through the fourth chapter ....
May. 15th, 2008 04:34 am (UTC)
i've always thought that the most tragic thing about depression (and mental illness in general) is its unseen nature. a doctor can see cancer, kidney disease, heart disease. but with depression all you can see are the effects. it allows people to move it to the realm of imagination, of "just get yourself together." unless you've experienced it yourself, most people can have no clue that it truly feels like you're dying. that there is no escape and you can't just pull yourself out.
i have suffered (and continue too periodically) with crippling depression. it can hit you like a massive brick wall and suffocate you.
the only thing that has ever truly pulled me out is learning to meditate. no amount of love, fun, security or medication has ever touch my black dog. everything always just covered it up enough for everyone to think i was fine until i spiraled down again. and again and again.
do we give up on someone who's cancer slips out of remission? no, of course not. so why do we give up on people who slip back into depression? i really want an answer to this.
May. 15th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
What you write, empress, is exactly why Steiger devoted much of the rest of his life to raising awareness of how crippling depression is. And how resistant to treatment. Pdocs who push pills at you really just can't know what is going to work to put a band-aid over your canyon and what is not going to work. Also, no health care provider likes to, well, fuck up and lose a patient. So they don't like to lose control over one, and if they do, if the pt. can't be "cured", the pdoc tends just to say "Well, I did what I could", and pass the pt. on to the next one.

It sounds at though when you did your "learning to meditate" process, it really helped you. And it's helping you right now. It came from the INSIDE. Exactly how another friend assessed the failure in Kiota's treatment: all the outside stuff worked briefly if at all. Kiota needed to be "saved" from that inner direction. It also occurs to me, as I type this, that there is now a very strong religious track in your life, and on some level it has a connection to the help you're getting; in that regard, Ki was agnostic: Jewish in culture but not in theology; she was playing with the Wiccan teachings but hadn't really adopted that as a tradition yet. I'm sure that her agnosticism could not provide much succor. Agrument, sure!

Also, a broken mind has traditionally carried a lot more social stigma than a broken arm does. The arm can be fixed with lots more certainty of recovery and with sureness of technique. From that, we assume all illness is temporary and can be fixed and everything will be fine. You can get snowed with an avalanche of psychotropic drugs and look fine, on to the next one. And you are not deeply healed at all.

It's so sad that Kiota's friends generally did not "give up" on her at all as she "spiraled down" ... sad since we friends had the least power to help her medically. We could call the cops, sure------ but their prevention powers are very very lacking, so they can do things only afterward. We made those calls more than once, even the final time. She was scared, even terrified of those who had that power to help. That was the first barrier to be overcome and none of them did it at all, or for very long....

Maybe some rambly directions to think about here.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


kiota too late for the stars
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