Thursday, January 25, 2007

Black Dog (der Schwarzehunde)

Winston Churchill had it.

Ernest Hemingway had it.

To some extent, the late and great American columnist, H.L. Mencken had it.

Black dog.


Black dog

.Melanie Long, of Newmarket, Ontario understands why some of the most noted leaders and writers of the world had this pet name for this particular illness.

Like Mr. Churchill and other notables, Ms. Long has lived with her own Black Dog for years. She is the mother of five children of various ages. Her depression began at age 21 when her father died of cancer.

"I didn't know how to deal with my dad's death," Ms. Long said. I just didn't have the coping skills". This is where the depression set in.

And like the British prime minister, she too, finds is difficult to explain how bleak, painful and disabling a chronic depression and anxiety disorder is.

Some people refer it as disappearing into a dark hole.

"It's an accurate description," Ms. Long says in an interview with the Era-Banner newspaper, who had sought her out as a depression survivor..

"There are days when I can't get out of bed."

Lately, however, life has taken a positive turn for the atractive 47-year-old mother. So much so that Ms. Long works with the Canadian Mental Health Association to put a voice and face on depression and to educate others about the often-misuderstood condition. She is also working with the Salvation Army, helping others while herself getting help.
She has also found a creative outlet.
"I felt as if I had no hope, that last time, she said.

"I felt I was without value. But there was a little spark. I love to paint."

There is a corner of her warm and pretty living room that is her place, a place to dream and plan.

The story was written by Joan Ransberry, and I'm just alluding to it obliquely, but haven't we all known "that place where the faces turn so cold", as Richie Sambora had put it in "Dead or Alive"?

I had the double whammy recently. An Either/Or situation (We could all benefit by reading that other manic-depressive, Soren Kierkegaard).

Myself, I am at different times greatly elated, other times depressed.

But there are people with few periods of elation, of real mental clarity and those are the ones I feel sorry for.

What, no corresponding high from the low?...Like everything is black, black, black, all the time?

This, I couldn't handle.

My depressions usually tell me something I am like a hen over a nest. Something is boding, that's why the depression.

But this depression, this one before me, is a doozer.

My "Fire in Bradford" seemed to be accepted locally by theatre folk as a play, but when I went to an important publisher in hopes of putting it out hardcover, I got a flat rejection.

What, no foreplay?

Apparently no foreplay.

"We hope you approach other publishers with your work."


This after forty years of writing, after hailed by some teachers at York University as the best post-modern novelist in Canada? My :"Black Icon"l novella has been used as lecture material by the University of Ottawa, and probably, on the sly, by York University.

Is this what is bothering you, Bunky?

All right, all right. Rudyard Kipling says you should never breathe a word about your loss, but what the hell, it hurts like the Dickens, and when it comes to Kipling, WTF, hardly anybody reads Kipling anymore; nobody "Kipples" in the twenty-first century.

Black dog.

Ah, but we "rounders" find a way around it.

Some do it legally, some illegally; others find that the grape is infinitely better and less damaging in side-effects than the pill.

Drugs, legall or illegal, make short work of depression.

Drink a whole pot of Tim Horton's coffee. Swig it down with a cigarette or two. Hang the smoke and nicotine nazis!

Still depressed?

Lady, you got it bad.

I am starting to enjoy my depressison. I got a whole whack of Tim Horton's coupons; won something for a change. Suddenly, almost inexplicably, the room brightens.

I am anticipating the sunrise around the corner.

'Cause I hate to see that evenin' sun go down."



Josie said...

Ivan, I went through a horrible depression, so I understand how you feel. After my husband died, my father died, my mother died, my fiance died, my daughter grew up and left home, I felt like I was stuck in the mud at the bottom of a deep ocean, and there was no light. I didn't work, I didn't talk to anyone. It lasted for several months. It will pass. But if it doesn't maybe you should talk to someone about it.

You forgot to mention Mike Wallace. He wrote a book about it.


ivan said...

Mike Wallace had it?
Well, I am at least in good company, including yours.

With me depression seems the result of some real event. I don't think it is a condition.

Like having your unemployment insurace cut off just when your Significant Other leaves you, and the landlord on your back.
I like to think I've just got Seasonally Adjusted Disorder,
It is especially pressing when the OAS cheque is late and one is out of smokes and the "artificial life" of Johnny Walker--the artificial life that had been byoing your optimism--is suddenly gone.
This will pass.
But what a story yours is!

All I've got is "mental illnesss"; it's all in my head: you've had some really terrible things happen to you.
BTW: I am still open to print that "Guest Blog" you were going to send. We'll put it up as one of the entries in "Revenge of the Three Quarks.
I maintain that writing well is the best revenge, and you do.
I am positive readers will like that particular personal memoir.



Josie said...

Ivan, I'll send it to you from home.

You'll feel better. Spring will be here soon.


islandgrovepress said...



Anonymous said...

Howdy Ivan

I've been trying for the past half hour to get your blog response 'service' to send you an e-mail.

Apparently, I just cannot 'reply' in less than '300 characters max' ... despite repeated attempts ... and a much diminished 'quality' of writing within the response ...

Thus, I am replying to your long weekend Blog entry via my own damn e-mail where I can write as I please, without the unnecessary constraints of arbitrary software.

Hooray for 'cut' and 'paste' ...

Really Ivan, you've got to start taking some credit for all those decades of debauchery, deceit, duplicity, despair, delusion, depression and ...

(let us never forget) delights, depravities, indescretions and ...

(let's face it) having a helluva good time.

"suddenly" just doesn't cut it;
you built your house brick by brick, row by row,
every window an opening into a roomfull of memories (and/or nightmares),
every doorway an entrance or an exit from some place or other, some one or other ...

Face it (and yourself) ... It's been a good life.
It IS a good life ... life is good.

"poor relation" ... only if you're tallying up bank account balances rather than life experiences ...

Peace and Love
Perseverance Furthers

PS: sorry I haven't written (or called) ... my breathing damn near completely failed me this summer; I'm just starting to be able to inhale again ... and I mean inhale AIR ...

Damn tourists descend on this town like a plague ... a plague of tour buses, idling bumper to bumper along EVERY major downtown street ... they completely fill the curb lane in front of the parliament buildings which would be a No Parking ticket for the likes of you or I, but somehow, parking and idling those filthy diesel smog makers all day is completely legal, acceptable and 'good for tourism' ...
unfortunately, for many residents of this capital city, tour bus tourism is not good for breathing; I'm obviously one of them ...
Moving? As soon as I can.

ivan said...

Dear Anonymous (Richard, for sure):

There is the outside chance that you may be right.

But why do I get the sneaky intimation that you may now be in jail?
So far, knock on arborite, they haven't caught up with me.

But those men in white coats!


H.E.Eigler said...

Ivan - I've been touched by SAD a little through the years and as Josie says it will pass with the first few sunny days. Besides, I read an article long ago about how intelligent people are more apt to become depressed. You should feel deserving of your affliction!

ivan said...

Again, a balm.

Thanks, Heather.


ivan said...

so gaseous ...
truly and udderly gacious
gratiously grate us

Good to see and read your words again Ivan.
There was a whole lot more written in that response;
stuff about poor and who cares
sure we got fuck all to show
but who the hell gives a damn about show and tell anymore
kids and their toys
bigger kids play with bigger toys

There is No Way that 'shopping' provides your fat ass sisters
(don't ask me how I know 'that', I just 'know')
even a smidgen of anything remotely akin to the sort of enlightenment
irregularly but frequently punctuating the eventfull realities of lives truly lived.

... say, for instance, like when you were huddled up in the back seat of that derelict hatchback, barely warm under a pile of old blankets, coats and clothes, listening to CBC rebroadcast the short wave news of the world from all over the world ... little gems of extraneous awareness illuminating otherwise incomprehensible synergies extending from the frost encircled bastion back seat of a vehicle that could no longer perform vehicular function out to the furthest reaches of the planet and all its magnificent intellectual resources in full functionality ... and back again ... to inspiration, conversation and ... eventually ... another book.

Glad you enjoyed the scraps of text that are all that remains after hacking away at the original text to try to 'fit' into 300 characters ...

The stuff about the tenure and the 'academic' gamesmanship is probably right on ... I bailed out of that circus when I watched the hoops and knives game being set up.

Hoop #1 ... jump through or get a knife in the back
Jump through and get a knife in the back anyway
Or maybe no knife (yet), just Hoop #2 ... jump through or get a knife in the back
Jump through and get a knife in the back anyway
or maybe no knife (yet), just Hoop #3 ... jump through or get a knife in the back
Jump through and get a knife in the back anyway
or maybe no knife (yet), just Hoop # ......

I hit 'Escape' and I'm still on the run (and I have the knives in my back to prove it too ... some of them were even damn near fatal ... but I'm still alive ... and, thankfully, so are you.

Keep on writing; I'll check in when I can.
The medical situation just got 'worse' ... looks like this may be some kind of 'allergic reaction' ...
but Lyme Disease is the current query being tested (just 'tested' ... we'll know in a couple of weeks.
Living situation blew up SHOUTING tonight ... calm now, but that kind of stuff is never 'good' ...
No viable alternative yet ... and winter coming fast, eh.

Peace and Love
Perseverance Furthers

ivan said...


That last comment should have been signed "Anonymous",though I know it's Richard.

Those down-and-out days don't seem so bad now do they, Rick.

ivan said...

P.s. to Richard,

Hey, "'Fo", you can really write when you get the wind up!

EA Monroe said...

Hi, Ivan. I've been there. Clawing the way out of the crater is hell. When I receive a rejection, I need three months of psycho-therapy! I read somewhere that if your work is rejected send out your work right then to another place. Do not hesitate! Do not dwell on it.

You need serious Sunshine Therapy. How about a ticket to San Miguel Allende?

ivan said...

Ah San Miguel de Allende!

Where no one is rejected.
I get off the plane, and they ask me to teach.
Those were the days.
This is certainly the time of year I get homseick for San Miguel, Liz.
...Especially afte seeing a DVD of "Once Upon a Time in Mexixo".
The music!

ivan said...

On the subject of resubmitting:

My first reaction to my rejection letter was to kick ass.
Any ass anywhere, and in print. Captain Queeg gone mad!

So, tired of being shat-upon and asked three times to examine my tattered transfers by female bus drivers in substandard buses, I picked on poor old VIVA, our transportation system here; Said in the local paper that nobody liked VIVA.

Well, back comes the answer in Today's Era-Banner:

Re: Nobody likes VIVA, letter to the editor, by Ivan Prokopchuk, Jan 14.
I'm certain that Mr. Prokopchuk didn't ask my opinion or that of many of the thousands of other people who use Viva on a regular basis about whether or not they like Viva.
There are many families who depend on Viva for work or school and consider the system reliable and comfortable.
It is considerably less expenseve and more extensive than the old Go bus system.
This community is growing quickly and needs a good transis sytem to go along ith it.
There are flaws, no doubt, and constructive criticism is needed. However, to deem an entire system substandard because Mr. Prokopchuk believes it was designed by educated people seems rather counterproductive.
Cold in winter?
Hot in summer?
They are buses, not limousines.
Bad brakes?
Buses are checked regularly by licenced mechanics and vehicles with bad brakes are pulled from the road. It's in everyone's interest to have a good working system. Let's come up with some ideas to make it so.

To which I reply (fully coming out of my depression and wanting to fight):

re Viva reliable, comfortable transit system.

Mr. Clifford Smith provides a well reasoned answer to my assertion that "nobody likes Viva."
The throroughnes suggest Mr. Smith is totally familiar with the operation of Viva and its ways.

Of course we must defend him/her whose bread we eat.

This leads me to conclude he is either directly connected with Viva administration, the TTC or, at the very least, government...And don't get me started on the TTC: It's a money pit and it will remain a money pit until the chairman is laterally- arabesqued once again. Untendered contracts are just plain bad news. And the sale of TTC property? Flipper the Dolphin? Red herring, she is flippin' huge! Where is Mayor David Miller?

If Mr. Smith is indeed connected to any aspect of York Region transit, then I'd give him the old Internet caper:


Ivan Prokopchuk, M.A.

Petty, no?

Ah well, as they say in bridge,
"If in doubt, clout!

Raise tufts of earth, like a chimpanzee.
Kick ass!

Suddenly, strangely, I feel better.

Even if the poor transportation head caught a chip or two in the eye.
De Debbil made me do it!


JR's Thumbprints said...

Keep that -30- at bay. Kick the black dog, even if it only brings temporary relief. Wait it out. There'll be more smokes, more grape, just give it time.

ivan said...

thanks JR.
Really heartening.
I am taking a cane to the black dog, but doesn't it move fast when you swing?
I let some of the tension out by writing angry letters to the editor.
At least those weren't rejected, though the howl and outcries over what I have written are to my perverted ears, somehow comforting.
Transporation fatcats can clear $200,000 a year with perks.
Raise the sh*t, I say.

Anonymous said...

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