Depression & Other Magic Tricks could have been written by me. Kinda. But also not, since it wasn’t. It was written by Sabrina Benaim. She’s way younger than I am, though you’d never be able to tell from her writing, which I adore. Lots of small letters, as in, no capitals to begin a sentence. In that way, she and I are nothing alike. Except we totally are.
Let’s see if this helps…
Her description of the first depressive episode she ever experienced, in tenth grade:
“it looks a lot like not wanting to go to school. eating my feelings. have a lot of stomach aches. fights with my mom. reading books to avoid having to socialize. saying “i’m fine” in an annoyed tone…”
Oh, Lord. Sounds like a LOT of us in tenth grade. Doesn’t it? Although, in my case, I liked school. Just not for scholastics. I was there for the social interaction. I was an angst-ridden, artistic, soul with a dark sense of humor. I made myself laugh more than anyone else. But as usual, I digress.
This book is part memoir, part poetry… and reminds me of the book my son has been writing for years. My precious son. I so want to help him publish it! So convoluted, especially during Covid. But I – once again, I can’t help myself – digress.
Around this time, Benaim begins a love affair with poetry, both writing and taking herself to the bookstore to sit cross-legged in the poetry aisle to read. This debut book is a collection of some of her best work.
One poem has become rather famous, after she performed it at a Poetry Slam. It’s called, “explaining my depression to my mother a conversation“. I’ve seen it before and maybe, so have you. I bought this book without realizing it’s the same person.
If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to take a moment and watch – and most of all, listen. This is stunning and heartbreaking.
Her poetry is all like this…
And reminds me so much of what I have in journals…
And again, of my son.
Both of us poets. Both of us with depression.
A gift that keeps on giving, evidently.
I wish depression just went away. I really do!
You may wonder why I would write about this today? Or maybe not.
To answer you: Yes, I’m (once again) depressed.
I’ve been taking my meds. Walking daily. Trying to sleep… but… two nights out of the last week, I’ve been awake for hours after we turn out the lights.
Insomnia? This is new. Well, I had it during menopause but usually, my problem is I sleep too much.
I love doing new things. Haha. My attempt at humor. Ugh.
Last night, I turned up one of those “Fall asleep to the sounds of rain falling” until it sounded like a cyclone because my husband’s C-PAP machine was being a butthole and he sounded like Darth Vader again. Including snores, gulps, burps and other gases. And!! No kidding, if you click the link of Darth’s name, you’ll get 10 hours of him breathing. I guess *some people* find it comforting. Go figure.
Anyway, if I’m tired enough and sleeping deeply, I don’t notice the goings-on on the other side of the bed. But if I’m having difficulty… OMG… I’m lucky to get 3 hours of sleep.
I just know we’re gonna end up being one of those couples with separate bedrooms, which neither of us wants. But dang. I need to sleep!
So, that might be part of it… “it” being depression… and the lack of sleep. Probably is.
I don’t feel like I’m crashing but I’m definitely headed downward, emotionally-speaking.
Knowing and acknowledging that, I went to my fave woods today, walked a bit and then stood in the middle of a clearing. I wanted to cry. I didn’t. But I wanted to.
I walked over to an elderly statesman – a tree – and asked if he had anything to teach me. The tree invited me to put my hand on it, which I did.
I felt temporary comfort… but wished I had a chair to sit down. I was about 2,500 steps in and just wanted to STOP. I literally had no energy to keep going… but managed to get back to my car.
Many people feel you can rise above depression. Make a decision to NOT be depressed.
I think you can DO things that help, like listening to music, or walking in the woods or by the water. You can make art – in whatever modality you like. Watch a movie. Or read a book like this one to feel less alone.
In my (very-not-humble) opinion, depression doesn’t just disappear, never to return again. If it did, I would question whether it’s actual depression.
Of course, I’m not talking about sadness or the kind of depression that comes with grieving losses (from job loss to divorce to death and everything in-between). Although, those things can certainly trigger a serious depression episode.
I’m talking clinical depression.
I’m doing everything I can to thwart this before it overtakes me. I’m really trying!
I’m reminded of the poem “what i told the doctor, the second time” on page 63, that begins:
“everything is in slow motion again.
breath the pace of an afternoon walk against the wind.
heart pulses like dormant volcano.
(Note: Spacing purposeful and taken exactly as written in the book.)
Yep. Exactly how I feel today. *sigh*
So, this book is good… very good… and yet, probably not the best thing to have re-read today. Too much ouchiness when I’m feeling down. You might want to take that advice, yourself. Read it when you’re feeling good! Or not. Your choice.