We are, perhaps uniquely among the earth’s creatures, the worrying animal. We worry away our lives, fearing the future, discontent with the present, unable to take in the idea of dying, unable to sit still.
Gertrude’s remedy for her mood swings was to print up hundreds of black-bordered calling cards embossed with the single word “Woe,” which she handed out, gaily declaring, “Woe is me.”
Usually she ordered a cup of coffee and a cup of tea, as well as a brownie, propping up her sadness with chocolate and caffeine so that it became an anxiety.
Anxiety is inevitable in an age of crisis like ours. . . . God does not ask you not to feel anxious but to trust in him no matter how you feel.
Loneliness, insomnia, and change: the fear of these is even worse than the reality.
I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
I will lift mine eyes unto the pills. Almost everyone takes them, from the humble aspirin to the multicolored, king-size three-deckers, which put you to sleep, wake you up, stimulate and soothe you all in one. It is an age of pills.
Sylvie wishes the antidepressants had been around when she was in her early twenties, not only to rescue her from the dark tunnels that came when her brother first got sick, but also to keep her from fucking all those assholes.
On Prozac, Sisyphus might well push the boulder back up the mountain with more enthusiasm and more creativity. I do not want to deny the benefits of psychoactive medication. I just want to point out that Sisyphus is not a patient with a mental-health problem. To see him as a patient with a mental-health problem is to ignore certain larger aspects of his predicament connected to boulders, mountains, and eternity.
Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?
And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again. . . . Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.
Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. One who knows crying knows spiritual practice. If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer. Crying includes all the principles of yoga.
I take a low dose of lithium nightly. I take an antidepressant for my darkness because prayer isn’t enough. . . . I know plenty of potheads who sermonize against the pharmaceutical companies; I know plenty of born-again yoga instructors, plenty of missionaries who tell me I’m wrong. . . . They don’t have a clue.
Oh the nerves, the nerves; the mysteries of this machine called “Man”! Oh the little that unhinges it: poor creatures that we are!
Might we not say to the confused voices which sometimes arise from the depths of our being: “Ladies, be so kind as to speak only four at a time”?
Imagine if for the next twenty-four hours you had to wear a cap that amplified your thoughts so that everyone within a hundred yards of you could hear every thought that passed through your head. . . . How embarrassed or fearful would you be to go outside? . . . Imagine how freeing it would be at last to have nothing to hide. And how miraculous it would be to see that all others’ minds too were filled with the same confusion and fantasies, the same insecurity and doubt.
I am not strictly speaking mad, for my mind is absolutely normal in the intervals, and even more so than before. But during the attacks it is terrible — and then I lose consciousness of everything. But that spurs me on to work and to seriousness, like a miner who is always in danger makes haste in what he does.
Bless your uneasiness as a sign that there is still life in you.