Mental Health Monday: The Hours (revisited)

imagesI’ve been in a bit of a funk for about a week May and June were filled with stimulating activities—traveling, family beach vacation, house guests, parties, weddings. Once those activities slowed down, I ramped up the work on novel revisions, and then I got “stuck.” Two good friends have agreed to read the latest version of the novel and help me see what’s missing. And while I’m waiting to hear back from them, I’m also waiting for the go-ahead on inviting authors to submit essays for the anthology I hope to publish with a university press. Waiting.

5aec71242a28aeb5af507d0b9ad2464fI’m sure the heat wave (and high humidity) are also playing with my mental and physical health as well—I’ve had headaches and joint aches and a feeling of exhaustion for the past week or so. Sleeping a lot.

I’ve read a bit about writers (and other creatives) and depression, but this article was especially helpful: “Why Writers are Prone to Depression.” The American author, William Styron, was prone to depression, but only when he was NOT writing, according to his daughter, Alexandra Styron, in her memoir Reading My Father. That makes sense to me. When I’m working on a project—writing or otherwise—I get an endorphin kick similar to what some people experience with exercise. It’s the in-between-times that I struggle with. Michael Cunningham said it brilliantly in The Hours:

We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It’s as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we’re very fortunate, by time itself. There’s just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult.

I’m off to Jackson (Mississippi) to visit my mother in the nursing home today. Visiting someone you love with advanced Alzheimer’s might not seem like a good idea for someone who is depressed, but it always helps me to get outside of myself when I’m in a funk. Maybe I can bring a little sunshine into her life. Sometimes when I’m in this dark place it helps to listen to Iris Dement singing “My Life.”

My life, it don’t count for nothing.
When I look at this world, I feel so small.
My life, it’s only a season:
A passing September that no one will recall.

But I gave joy to my mother.
And I made my lover smile.
And I can give comfort to my friends when they’re hurting.
And I can make it seem better for a while.

My life, it’s half the way travelled,
And still I have not found my way out of this night.
An’ my life, it’s tangled in wishes,
And so many things that just never turned out right.

But I gave joy to my mother.
And I made my lover smile.
And I can give comfort to my friends when they’re hurting.
And I can make it seem better,
I can make it seem better,
I can make it seem better for a while.

Come back on Wednesday for news about a new chapbook (not mine) and a chance to win a booklover’s gift package. See, things are already looking up….

2 thoughts on “Mental Health Monday: The Hours (revisited)”

  1. The waiting period is heavily freighted. ! never fully understood that; until, that is, I entered that uneasy place where time stands still, but your mind is forever whirring.

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful song lyrics. It’s a good reminder of the important things we CAN do, when key decisions seem beyond our control.

    1. Yes, Melodye. And thanks for reading and commenting! I’m actually not WAITING any more… one of my friends sent me back the manuscript with lots of great suggestions, so I’m back at work and out of my funk!

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