Mulling It Over

Depression has stalked me intermittently over the years, although I usually tend to deny I am depressed. I remember a time, about fourteen years ago, when a friend suggested to me that I was in the midst of what she called a “dark night of the soul.” Though her religious beliefs molded her belief about my state of mind, I think the concept she attempted to explain to me mirrored what was really going on in my mind—a dull tangle of depression whose causes were impossible for me to understand. At the time, I felt dissatisfied and valueless; wishing I could pin down what was on my mind that was making me feel morose and disconnected and sensing acutely that nothing mattered. That sense of hollowness never completely disappeared, though it has ebbed and flowed over the years. I have never been completely able to pin down what triggers the wash of grey that sometimes overtakes me, nor what causes it to fade away. At the moment, I suspect the cycles of illness—cancer, pneumonia, COPD, pneumonia, cancer, etc., etc.—are the obvious contributors. But it is not simply sickness. It’s the absence of control over sickness or, perhaps, the apparent absence of control. Even though cancer and pneumonia seem to be in retreat, there is no assurance they will continue to respond to treatment. Apprehension gnaws at me, even though there is absolutely no point in worrying about something over which I have no control. Invariably, the depression (or whatever it is) subsides. Knowing that, I should just let it slide away according to its own random schedule. That is harder than it should be, though, because my treatments seem to be commanding even more of my time lately than they did in the beginning. Sleep. That’s the key. I need dreamless, uninterrupted sleep. Not today, though. A hospital follow-up visit with my doctor, another infusion at the oncologist’s office, and more of the same for the remainder of the week. Such is life, for now.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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