#3maple lake

I have detonated two careers now. My first, an academic career (in the PhD program in English at the University of Chicago) went well through the social phases— the course work, the general exams, and the teaching assistantships. But then they left me alone, told me to write a dissertation and come back in a few years when it was finished, and I began to fall apart.

Mornings were usually good, with a home-brewed noisette and a calm plan for the day. After lunch—starchy, salty— I would nap with Virgil on the couch. Then I would take him out 95th St to Maple Lake for a long walk. I would try to stay out of my apartment until at least 5pm. Then I would sit on the couch with him and a few academic books, or articles, and my laptop, and I would watch movies until midnight.

There were worse days than that, too. Days when I couldn’t even do the walk in the woods.

Depression is a blanket, yes: it keeps you in bed, supine and unproductive. But it is not comfort, or ease; it is an electric blanket, and your every thought is a bucketsplash of water on its exposed copper warming wires. To stir is to be jolted into incapacitation.

Maybe you know this from your own experience, or that of someone close to you. Maybe you know it from Darkness Visible, or another first hand account of depression. I haven’t read that book, although I have been told to read it. I apologize— I haven’t done the reading. I’ll get caught up by next week.