the eclipse: a memoir of suicide

By Antonella Gambotto-Burke

Michelangelo believed that beauty is the purgation of superfluities. Depression is superfluous. Modern depressives fantasize - in the manner of small children - of subjugation to a greater force. Responsibility for anger is avoided by citing helplessness. They whimper of being wronged by genetics or roped to the tracks of a disease. Only science (anthropomorphized) can save them. Such an externalization of mood-determination is nicely termed pharmacothymia. (Anne Sexton wrote of becoming something of a chemical mixture.)

Suicide rates have not slumped under the onslaught of antidepressants, mood-stabilizers, anxiolytic, and anti-psychotic drugs; increases suggest the opposite is true. In some cases, suicide risk skyrockets once treatment begins (the patient may feel not only penalized for a justifiable reaction, but permanently stigmatized as malfunctioning). Studies show that self-loathing sharply decreases in the course of cognitive-behavioral treatment.

But simplicity is unattractive to those who fear - or exploit - suffering.

Accounts of depression by otherwise intelligent people frequently degenerate into analyses of psychotropic drugs. Pills are the great infantilizers of our time. Adulthood can be wearying, and so some grow nostalgic about childhood dependencies. Reality is fed to infants in exquisite bites. (Frustrated, this need for mothering can rent a life.) Because it's no joke, this medication issue, Lauren Slater wrote. Elizabeth Wurtzel enjoys a similar obsession with confirmation of her status as wrong (Here is how I feel not on drugs: I hate me.) Beth Myler was thrilled when her pregnancy was over as she could again score a fix: exactly one week after her daughter's birth, she drove off to meet her shrink, who could once again prescribe for her the drugs forbidden during her child's gestation. Oh, I was so happy pulling out of the driveway. Antidepressant-dependent Lesley Dormen is exasperated by those who insist on addressing her as a human being, and liked the fact that the psychopharmacologist was less interested in the curve of her particular story than he was in the straightforward narrative of her body's response to events.

Addicts of all stripes are much the same. Who isn't doing [Vicodin]? Courtney Love, the widow of suicide Kurt Cobain, asked US Weekly in 2001. I did it. I loved it. I also ended up in rehab. Some four million Americans currently abuse narcotic painkillers. (Restrictions of analgesics availability in Britain resulted in reduced incidences of suicide involving such drugs.) The artists I have known best never give up anything, Larry McMurtry observed.

Depersonalization is as addictive as opium. Addicts can kill to avoid the experience of pain.

Anger is ostracized.

In its place, depression (that strike on behalf of the ignored id).

Yogini Shiva Rea wrote: I ... recognize tension as a signal; holding and gripping are signs that my connection with Source is lessening. As I offer my tension back to the Source, emptying and surrendering again, I very often experience a boost of strength ... more importantly, I experience a shift from my small, crowded inner world to a big picture of being alive.

I once suffered from a despair so violent that each day at five, I stared out at the night's encroachment fearing it would overwhelm all that I understood. Powerful feelings rupture composure. A world of night: these were dark years. This darkness dissipated when I honored my anger. Others prefer to die. Extinction can be less confronting than self-sufficiency.

Copyright 2003 Antonella Gambotto-Burke

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WARNING The creators of this site do not believe depression to be an "illness" but a critical message that you must change your way of living, thinking or behaving.

Depression is an important opportunity to reevaluate your priorities, and not a "disease" to be smothered or feared; depression is inverted anger, nothing more, so take the time to discover that with which you are angry.

Guilt or embarrassment may be blocking an honest expression of your feelings, so unblock the guilt. You'll get there. Inch by inch, and everything's a cinch.

The following message boards and chatroom are extremely useful for immediate help but not recommended for long-term use as some of the users do not seem to be interested in working through depression - rather, they hold onto it as if it were a prized possession.


Even so, the boards are an important and immediate link to the outside world, which you may well need until you find a strong, stable and positive influence in your life, such as a local spiritual/religious/therapeutic group or a non-directive therapist or counsellor (preferably familiar with the works of Alice Miller) who believes in listening and not merely in prescribing.

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