Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving, and I was thinking how I’m thankful for so many things, but I’m not feeling gratitude for the headache I woke up with, or for the trouble with my eyes.  It reminds me of a letter to Mimi written on Thanksgiving when I wasn’t thankful.  I was seventeen, and my first journal was a series of letters to an imaginary Mimi.

Thursday, 26 November

Dear Mimi,

Today is Thanksgiving Day, but I can’t think of anything to be thankful for.  It’s awful to be so unhappy all the time.  I feel constricted and grey in my chest and I feel as though I’ll never be happy again.  I can’t even be thankful for a cherry colored sunset because even that thought does not open up my heart.  I want to write poetry but I’m too discouraged, dried up inside, to do anything.  Daddy says I’m unhappy because I want to be but I hate being miserable.  I can’t figure out whether it’s because of Don or because I am utterly incapable of being normal and healthy and happy.  Someday — I guess — but someday seems so far off.  Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day unto the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays light fools the way to dusty death.  Out, out, brief candle!  Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  We are all lost here on this rock, that goes around the sun without meaning.  O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.  I shall always be a borrower and that hurts too.  Why can I not create in any medium?  Why, why, why?  Why am I so discouraged that I can’t work and don’t care about college or the future or anything?  It all seems so hopeless.  I wish I could go crazy or get sick or something.  For a girl who wants to do everything all the way or not at all, it’s awfully frustrating to be continually forced into the middle.

Yours in misery,

Jenny

This letter is a good example of what it’s like to live with severe depression.  It also records my father saying something really damaging.  If I’m miserable “because I want to be,” then how can I change it?  When all my efforts don’t work, I conclude that I must want it, which is a pernicious lie.  It just leaves me feeling angry at myself and helpless, both of which contribute to keeping me depressed.

There are three quotes.  The long one, beginning “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…” is from MacBeth.  “We are all lost here in this rock…” is from Lost in the Stars.  “O lost and by the wind grieved ghost…” is Thomas Wolfe.

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