1980s

Depression 101

What it’s like:

I’m a card-carrying, lifelong member of the club, so here’s a few highlights:

–  Can you guess how I am feeling today?

–  I can’t focus on anything; all I can do is continually talk myself into keeping a calm, clear mind today.  It’s on-going.

– I tell myself, ‘Tomorrow will be better. It just doesn’t feel like it.’

– It’s like walking around with a wet blanket wrapped around your head.

– I feel everything and nothing.

– I don’t want to feel this way.  I can’t get anything accomplished.

I don’t feel it at all today, but I know factually that tomorrow may be better.  When depression is very severe, I am not

capable of even thinking of tomorrow. Fortunately for me, today isn’t so bad.

– Everything requires so much energy.

– I have to MAKE myself do basic cares.  Time can pass by without the thought of it.

– The thought of stepping inside a shower wears me out mentally. I talk myself through it.

– I try not to think of the past, the future, or anything really, but its all demanding my attention.

– If several people circled around you, all demanding your attention, all yelling in

gibberish….that is what depression is like.

Book: Thing of Beauty

I read Thing of Beauty by Stephen Fried several years ago, and still have it in my library.  Its a biography of late supermodel Gia Carangi, who died virtually alone of AIDS in the 1980s.   In the following video she discussed the pressures of modeling and drug addiction.

Of herself she said:

“There’s a lot more to being goodlooking than make-up and prettiness…there’s a lot more to being a woman than that. When I look in the mirror, I just want to like myself…And if I like myself, then I look good.”

(This quote can be found in Stephen Friend’s book among photo index).

We are surprised to learn many beautiful people have difficulties or are unhappy in life, as if the exterior, while it may have social benefits, is a means to an end.  But there’s a lot more to being human than that.  Our “look” is just one facet of who we are.

Jo Evelyn

 

PHOTOGRAPH: Silent Film Starlet Lillian Gish.

For weeks, I heard her voice through paper- thin walls.  I could imagine her and her caretaker Riley sitting across the room from each other, both too smashed to carry out any threat.  Later I learned they sat framed in by towering boxes, oblivious to years of decay grafted into floorboards.  In the mornings their voices were determined whispers, but as the day passed they become loud, slurred, and at times incoherent, but always lucid enough to emphasize cursing:

“youu -GOD DAMN SHIT…i maa sithere ssic… and you allyoudo is drenk your F@#%*&% BEEEER.

y’ don-t d SHIT, y’BASTARD!”

Like frenzied boxers after the clanging of a bell,  they slumped in their respective corners with a single breath between them, both determined to use it for one final zing.

Several days later, I heard a timid peck on my door.

Before me stood a tall, slinky woman hidden underneath an oversized, throwback sweater and tight, black leather pants.  Her honey-red hair was thick, wavy, and youthful.  Her complexion was creamy and over- all creased, though the lines were drawn very lightly.  She was the silent film starlet Lillian Gish in biker- chick Garb, Her 70 years veiled beneath favorable genes.

She was born here, she said, but spent most of her adult life in California hitching rides on the back of motorcycles.  Between road trips she managed to have a daughter, now estranged but due for a phone call- The reason for her visit.  This was before cell phones, and if you didn’t have a land line, you went to a neighbor’s, or down to the 7-11 phonebooth with a pocket full of dimes and quarters.  She accepted a chair at my table where we would later meet for brief periods of time; There she offered me tiny slithers of her life.  Once she told me she and her father had an understanding regarding one other’s usefulness.  There was a moment of desperation when she sought his help, to which he responded by tossing coins across the living room floor, and watched silently as she scrambled to gather them up. She never asked him for another penny.

Another day passed, and another light peck at the door…

“I need to use your phone again, I need to go to town and….”

Jo- so careful about looking just so, with her carefully applied makeup and colored hair, also had poor vision.

“Jo, are you out of your brown eyeliner?”

“What?  No, I have eyeliner…”

“Your eyebrows are blue, Jo. Let’s somehow mark your pencils so you know which is which.”

 My mom gave me a tube of mood Chapstick.  You remember mood rings?  Mood lipstick?  Same thing.

 I tossed it in my purse- forgot all about it.  Weeks passed, and I was at the mall thinking I needed a little something on my lips.  and you know how we sometimes get with it- you just slather it on, carelessly,  the more the better- not thinking of coloring inside the lines.  So anyway, I am walking through the mall, and I notice people are looking at me kind of funny.  And I think to myself:

 so- am I just looking good, or what? 

Then  a guy walking toward me gave me a puzzled look,  and right about this time I am parallel to a mirror and I kid you not, my lips are the brightest, hottest pink you can imagine.

A couple of weeks later, she called to say Riley was on a drunk and she needed a ride home from the hospital.  What the doctor said was no matter since she was too old to quit her habits and quittin’ wouldn’t make much difference at this point anyway.  We made small talk while she poured over her face and made it up for the trip home.  She then retrieved  crackers and days-old bread from her night stand, and wrapped them in facial tissues and placed them inside an oversized purse.