Monday, December 05, 2005

Killer 'D'

Besotted (yet itinerant) sports watcher that I am, I have two obsessions of the pitch: the Chicago Cubs and University of Michigan football. The rest, as it is said, are commentary.

One of the rest is the Chicago Bears, a team that I have followed with various degrees of fervor since the mid-1970s, when my family moved to the Chicago suburbs. The late, great Walter Payton is my favorite athlete (along with Muhammad Ali), I've watched them through highs and lows, and I went to the 1984 NFC Championship Game. That was the year of the Bears Super Bowl win and the Super Bowl Shuffle. (It was, all in all, so 1980s.)

Though my passion for the Bears has dimmed over the years, this year's squad has rekindled my interest. The Monsters o' Midway have nine wins against a mere three losses, and, after a long stretch of futility, yesterday they vanquished the hated Green Bay Packers in typical Bears fashion.

By typical, I mean through a strong defense. You know, a good "D," as beleaguered headline writers have noted through the decades.

In my lexicon, however, "D" has another meaning, one that has abetted my lack of productivity the past two months. Astute readers know that I mean "depression," a state of being that occasionally pays a visit and has the unpleasant effect of making me an uncaring, unintellible slug.

I am not the type of blogger who revels in detailing the personal aspects of my life. Simply putting admission this on the record gives me a queasy feeling in the gut. I enjoy writing about how Wife is a Good Egg and my novel isn't getting picked up, but you won't get entries on my sex life, diet, or the size and shape of my turds.

Brett feels my pain

Let's just say that all the romantic notions about depression are about as true as a Dick Cheney press conference. Art does not come pouring out of the big black hole -- no, your work sucks, your outlook sucks, and your life generally just sucks.

How is this different than how I usually am?, you ask. Actually, I have a hard time answering that question. The year of 2005 has not been pleasant for me, filled with medical problems, stress at work, and the death of my father. The past couple of months have been particularly difficult, and -- again, without going into detail -- the last thing on this dude's mind has been writing.

Which is a bad thing. Depression has different effects on people (you sleep all the time, you don't sleep at all), but in my case, it saps all desire to, to…well it just saps all desire, period. Don't wanna write. Don't wanna read. Don't wanna do anything but channel surf and do puzzles and fuck around doing nothing.

Some people find solace from the ills of the mind in writing in journals or blogs, pouring out their souls on paper; I find this about as helpful as hemorrhoids. Because when I'm depressed, everything I write feels inadequate and amateurish, no matter how good it might be. Which has the wonderful outcome of making me more depressed

This goes double with writing fiction, a personal endeavor if there ever was one. I don’t know if visual artists' self-esteem comes crashing down when they produce something less-than-perfect, but writers of fiction seem to descend into the depths when their work isn't flowing. (This isn't true with poets. In my experience, they'll go out and smoke weed and drink bourbon instead).

If this sounds like a complicated mea culpa for abandoning my faithful readership of about six people, it is. I have ridden the excuse-making gravy train throughout my writing career, blaming this problem or that for my failures. Not a pretty picture, but it does have the salubrious effect of keeping my ego from resembling an exploded light bulb.

Depression is far different than simply feeling blue, and as excuses go, it's a pretty damn good one. But I feel the weight of cement clouds lifting from my shoulders, and the mere fact that I'm writing this is a big improvement over my previous escapades, which is following football, sudoku, and obsessing about what's going to happen when every man, woman, and child in India and China owns an SUV. The Bears beat the Pack, I still gotta job, and Wife is still a Good Egg. Now I type.