Thursday, September 29, 2011

reason knows of its difficulties when irony fails

If my reason remained untouched in the times of acute despair, it would be no small comfort. Unfortunately, it is not so. In my post of May 27th, I alluded to how cognition can be compromised. That irony had no place in the events of this spring was particularly painful. Irony depends on making a thought, a feeling, a remark, or something else in an object considered from another perspective. It is the mark of a healthy intellect that it can consider its remarks and events from multiple perspectives each with its own tendencies and preferences.

In my case, dysfunction in my cognitive abilities shows itself in a propensity to compulsive, monomaniacal obsession with a point of view. I can't get outside of myself.

When I am in one of these moments of despair, I am not cognizant of any other possible way of regarding my present situation, except as what most forcibly presents itself. In the case, of the despair, it won't go away and I can't shift my point of view to subject the despair to analysis to gain a different and possibly deeper understanding. The psychic pain is acute and no more amenable to analysis than a broken leg.

It sometimes happens that I am aware that my thought processes are aberrant, but more often than not, I am not. With awareness of compromised mental faculties, there is at least the possibility of going for a walk, or calling a friend, or something else that will get me out of myself.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

It's been a while and lots has happened

As the tag line says, it's been a while and a lot has happened since I updated my blog. Some five months ago my mother passed away after a year-long struggle with ovarian cancer and in the same week, while she was on her deathbed, my wife informed me that she was now a lesbian. She told me that she had been chasing this woman at her job for the previous five months. My wife's announcement was completely unexpected. We'd had an active sex life up to the day before her announcement. We had not argued or fought. This came completely out of the blue.

It has been and remains overwhelming to say the least. I have always been prone to depression, but the changes wrought in the last five months make past bouts of depression trivial in comparison. It struck me yesterday that no one has asked me what this has been like for me. Most of the time my moods are placid and even stable, only occasionally punctuated by episodes of despair.

In times of acute psychic anguish, any possibility of escape can sometimes be an overwhelming temptation. The despair suffocates with its oppressiveness and inevitability. It can last a few moments, or it can last hours. Describing this despair as a rampaging monster misleads. The metaphor of a monster implies that the despair has reason and purpose. Monsters are sometimes angry: anger, while not pleasant, can be understood. Or if the monster is the devouring kind, it is hungry. Again, hunger is something that can be understood and even placated sometimes. If something can be understood, its limits and goals can be found. With knowledge of the monster's limits and goals its comings and goings can be predicted, and if predictable, then can be planned for.

The despair comes when it comes. It can be brought on by seemingly trivial events. There are only bad accidents, never good ones.

The despair is a result of an imbalance in my brain. There is certainly reason enough in my life to despair. These moods when they happen seem to be more akin to a sudden shift in chemical states. They have all the "reason" of a physical event, something indifferent and unrespecting of the psychic niceties of self-respect.

I chose the word "despair" because it captures the specific loss of looking toward the future. Hope in its most abstract and general sense implies that there is a place for one's desires and plans in the way of the world. Friends assure me that "it won't always be this way." Eventually, they tell me, I'll have something once more to look forward to.

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