This moving comic essay covers why it’s entirely OK to take medication for depression.
Not reading books has changed me. Once a championship speller, my speling is now terribole. My grammar has deteriorated. Sometimes I’ll mumble a word if I’m not sure about it, or recast a sentence in a different tense. That used to be one of my favorite things to do with words, only now, well, I’m not so sure my new sentence would be correct.
But grammar and spelling are mechanics. Not reading books has cut me off from Book people. I miss talking about books. I miss browsing in bookstores. Hanging out in libraries. Meeting the author. The world of books was always my home. I feel diminished. I feel cast out.
What I’ve learned from all of this is that reading has profound, positive effects on us. This isn’t news, of course, but it’s been a strangely reaffirming experience, seeing the truths about reading proven true firsthand. When you stop for a while, things start to fade away and the world seems a lot more ordinary, the mind, less sharp. Perhaps more than anything, I miss my escape.
Some of you have suggested I try Books on Tape. It’s a good idea. It feels a little too passive for me, but I’m giving it a try with Go Set A Watchman.
Next time I’ll talk about what I do read.
As a result of medication, depression, ennui, or all-of-the-above, I haven’t read a book in about eight years. I read the Harry Potter books, Twilight, ten pages of Fifty Shades of Grey, and The Road. Other than that, I have not read a fucking thing.
I didn’t decide to stop reading books. I loved reading. Even when I work full-time, I read at least two or three books a week. Since I was small, books have been my refuge and my delight. etc. You know the drill. In the my more recent years of what I call “bad reality,” I think books did save my life. A lot.
I stopped reading because I had a Seizure. Medication-related, I’m convinced. I was in my backyard. I was on the ground. I was in the ER. No diagnosis. After that I took to my bed for six weeks and watched every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on videotape. My personal collection. When I finally emerged, the printed word no longer interested me.
Not just books. Newspapers, magazines, The New Yorker, Yes. The New Yorker..
Not-reading taught me a lot.
I’ll get to that.
My wonderful, funny, and brilliant doctor, Susan Lu, is leaving her practice for the lure of Kaiser. I was her patient for at least fifteen years. In that time she saved my life many times, mostly figuratively. In the mail today, came the results of my most recent labs with her. On the bottom of the page, she wrote “don’t stop trying.” I will miss her.
On Thursday, I was Rolfed.
I’d always wanted to be Rolfed. It was almost a bucket list item for me. When I found a Groupon that offered Rolfing in Oakland for 70% off regularly priced Rolfs, I jumped on it.
I’ve had back & shoulder issues for decades. Years ago, shiatsu was my de stressor of choice Over time, I realized I needed something more intense, more physically manipulative. Rolfing, with its extreme pressure on muscles & tissue, sounded just right. You know what? It was.
Jed Bentley’s studio shares space with Oakland Floats, a flotation tank facility. It was eerily quiet in the reception area. All I could think of was William Hurt in “Altered States.” I hoped no one was de-evolving in their tank. While I wondered what I would do if a proto-human burst out of a tank, my Rolfer, Jed Bentley, arrived.
Jed explained that what he does is release energy. Each light or intensely hard push against a muscle or connective tissue releases energy. That allows the shoulders, for example, to return to their original form. Rolfing was easy to understand but hard to explain.
Jed worked on me for an hour. He has great body intuition and strong hands. Some of my pressure points hurt like hell when he pushed on them. It felt so good when he stopped.
Afterwards, I felt surprisingly energetic. Jed explained that was the energy being released. If Jed didn’t charge 150, per session, I’d go once a week.
I received my first Purim basket as a “single” person this week. Rather than fall into “woe-is-me” mode, I focused on the fact that for the first time in 16 years, I didn’t have to share the bag of goodies. I could have the tangerine and the Clif Bar. This year there was a package of Red Vines and you know what? I could keep that, too. I felt a little selfish, thinking along those lines. The initial shock of receiving the basket in the first place could have plunged me into a depression, but I didn’t let it. I forced myself to feel better by focusing on the basket. So I think sometimes it’s okay to be a little selfish.
Blowhard, Esq. writes:
Lloyd Fonvielle — writer, artist, friend to many of us here, our 5th Beatle — died earlier this week at his home in Las Vegas. His creativity, humor, intelligence, and generosity will be missed.
I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, From henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord: Even so, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours.
Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us.
— The Book of Common Prayer