Driving home from work tonight, I heard a piece on NPR's All Things Considered by a cancer care nurse, Jeff Curl. One of Curl's patients, named John, had both depression and cancer, and John's comments about the two illneses resonate with my post Walking the Dog. He talks about how when he just had depression, his family thought he was lazy and didn't want to get up and work; but when he got cancer, previously judgmental relatives suddenly started being kind to him, and strangers bought Christmas presents for his kids.
It's a moving audio essay, and you can listen to it here. Or you can read a slightly longer, fuller print version here:
I think a part of him was relieved to be dying. He had endured a tremendous amount of physical discomfort battling his lymphoma —- pain caused by tumors growing throughout his body, all of the lab tests and intravenous lines, the excruciating fatigue and dangerously low blood counts that come with a transplant.In personal depression news, today the friend who gave me my lightbox stopped by my office to chat, and asked how the lightbox was working. I told him that I think it is working, but that I'm still having a tough time at the moment (as almost always happens at the end of the semester). It made me sad to have to say that; I wanted to be able to tell him, "Yes! The lightbox has fixed everything! I feel 100% better!" On the other hand, it was really nice that he asked.
Yet despite all he had suffered through the course of his cancer, it was easier than the burden he had carried all those years from his other disease.
Tomorrow I see both my therapist and my primary-care doc (for my quarterly meds-management appointment), so we'll see if they think I need to have the meds situation evaluated by an actual shrink. I hope not. I'll try to convince them that this is just the time of year, tra-la-la. I truly do always feel immensely better on January 1, so with any luck, that pattern will hold this year.
Part of my melancholy at the moment is that my last classes were today, which is a happy moment but also, always, a weirdly anticlimactic one. Now it's all over but the grading. And the shopping. And the planning courses for next semester.
But tonight, we watch DVD TV: namely Rome, which we just started and are warming to after the first four episodes. The first two were pretty lurid, even for HBO (and even for Gary, who has a far stronger stomach for this stuff than I do). It's a gorgeous and fascinating show, but if you're squeamish about blood, guts, and full frontal nudity -- of both genders -- you may want to avoid it.