Coming Clean September 25, 2017

I’ve been very depressed since November 8th of last year. It’s unusual to be able to pinpoint an actual beginning date to depression, but this time the cause was having my worldview, or at least my view of the country I live in, completely pummeled.dep

The explosion of racism and bigotry shocked me. It shouldn’t have. People of color have been getting beaten and murdered by the authorities for years. And there has been no justice. No universal outcry from those who live inside acceptably-toned skin.

But somehow, I didn’t think my friends and neighbors and relatives fell into the vile category of bigots and racists, or supporters of bigots and racists. After the election, I leaned so many do. I’m still not sure how to cope with that knowledge.

Racism and bigotry have been something I’ve had to deal with on a personal level my whole life. I’ve been called the n-word and the s-word, followed around by store detectives in department stores, and profiled in airports, being pulled out of line, wanded, and having my bags searched every time I flew anywhere (up until I hit about 47—guess I’ve gotten too old to be that dangerous?).

My entire life, people have asked, “What are you?”  It’s a question with an agenda.

I’ve suffered bouts of depression throughout my life—some strictly biological, some related to what’s going on in my life, some related to the state of the world. And when the depression hits hard, it’s almost impossible for me to verbalize why I stop feeling able to go on and why even the most minute tasks—like brushing my teeth—require monumental psychic effort.

With the depression, comes marginal functionality, at best, and a complete inability to function creatively. I have been a nonwriting writer for many months. And you know what Kafka had to say about that: A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.

A lot of people who know me, would never know I am depressed. That’s because I hide it well. I don’t want to burden others with my depression. I don’t want to pass on negative energy. Being an introvert, I shun as much social interaction as I can get away with. But with depression, it’s that much harder.

Things came to a head at the end of this summer, as close to the edge of the abyss as I’ve come in a long time. I thought about ways to end it all, but thankfully, did not get beyond the thoughts.

I have inverse SAD, where exposure to sunshine incites my depression. This was my first summer in Oregon and it was unbearably sunny for weeks on end. People think it’s weird all I want to do all summer is hide inside. But I do it for survival. Part of the problem is, I guess, is I didn’t hide quite enough.

Now, major populations around the world and in our own country are being devastatingly impacted by fires, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. And the truth is, I feel guilty about wanting to feel better. I feel it’s wrong for me to start feeling better when the suffering for others is only getting worse.

But I do want to feel better. And I am finally taking active steps to do so. I appreciate all those in my life who continue to be supportive and empathetic. Thank you for your understanding and patience.

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Beyond the Eclipse

It was foggy where I was. Such a disappointment, to be in the path of totality and miss the coolest show on earth. And who knows if I’ll still be kicking around on earth when the next total solar eclipse rolls by. My next big wish is to see the Northern Lights.

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America, January 27, 2017 or We Are the Germans

© Lana Hechtman Ayers

 

Terror, anger, shame.

 

I wonder If this is how
the German people felt—
the ones who cobbled shoes,
the ones who rose early
to bake bread,
the ones who rocked
babies in their arms
and sang guten Morgen—

 

I wonder if this is how
the German people felt
when they saw
what they had done,
chosen a monster
to lead their country.

 

Instead of yards full of chickens,
and pockets full of deutsche marks,
the German people were treated to
streets swept clean of their unclean
neighbors, and courtyards
full of dust and darkness,
uniformed men with brutal
hands to patrol the land with pride.

 

I wonder if those Germans
who tended their gardens,
or who kept books
for the mom and pop markets,
or who constructed those fine
Mercedes Benz limousines
piece by elegant piece—

 

I wonder if this is how
those Germans felt,
the way Americans do now,
only a few days after our
new leader has assumed office
and signed the proclamation
stating Muslims aren’t welcome
on our American soil.

 

Terror, anger, shame.

 

I wonder if those Germans
bit their tongues to blood,
or worried their knuckles raw.
Did they feel any sorrow at all,
or did they simply lay
their heads on pillows
and wind the alarm clocks
for another day?

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