Do I, then, belong to the heavens?Why, if not so, should the heavensFix me thus with their ceaseless blue stare,Luring me on and my mind, higherEver higher, up into the sky,Drawing me ceaselessly upTo heights far, far above the human?Why, when balance has been strictly studiedAnd flight calculated with the best of reasonTill no aberrant element should, by rights, remain-Why, still, should the lust for ascensionSeem, in itself, so close to madness?Nothing is that can satify me;Earthly novelty is too soon dulled;I am drawn higher and higher, more unstable,Closer and closer to the sun's effulgence.Why do these rays of reason destroy me?Villages below and meandering streamsGrow tolerable as our distance grows.Why do they plead, approve, lure meWith promise that I may love the humanIf only it is seen, thus, from afar-Although the goal could never have been love, Nor, had it been, could I ever haveBelonged to the heavens?I have not envied the bird its freedomNor have I longed for the ease of Nature,Driven by naught save this strange yearningFor the higher and the closer, to plunge myselfInto the deep sky's blue, so contraryTo all organic joys, so farFrom pleasures of superiority But higher and higher,Dazzled, perhaps, by the dizzy incandescenceOf waxen wings.Or do I then Belong, after all, to the earth?Why, if not so, should the earthShow such swiftness to encompass my fall?Granting no space to think or feel,Why did the soft, indolent earth thusGreet me with the shock of steel plate?Did the soft earth thus turn to steelOnly to show me my own softness?That Nature might bring home to meThat to fall, not to fly, is in the order of things,More natural by far than that improbable passion?Is the blue of the sky then a dream?Was it devised by the earth, to which I belonged,On account of the fleeting, white-hot intoxicationAchieved for a moment by waxen wings?And did the heavens abet the plan to punish me?To punish me for not believing in myself Or for believing too much;Too earger to know where lay my allegianceOr vainly assuming that already I knew all;For wanting to fly offTo the unknownOr the known:Both of them a single, blue speck of an idea?
Yukio Mishima
The last time I’d been unwell, suicidally depressed, whatever you want to call it, the reactions of my friends and family had fallen into several different camps:The Let’s Laugh It Off merchants: Claire was the leading light. They hoped that joking about my state of mind would reduce it to a manageable size. Most likely to say, ‘Feeling any mad urges to fling yourself into the sea?’The Depression Deniers: they were the ones who took the position that since there was no such thing as depression, nothing could be wrong with me. Once upon a time I’d have belonged in that category myself. A subset of the Deniers was The Tough Love people. Most likely to say, ‘What have you got to be depressed about?’The It’s All About Me bunch: they were the ones who wailed that I couldn’t kill myself because they’d miss me so much. More often than not, I’d end up comforting them. My sister Anna and her boyfriend, Angelo, flew three thousand miles from New York just so I could dry their tears. Most likely to say, ‘Have you any idea how many people love you?’The Runaways: lots and lots of people just stopped ringing me. Most of them I didn’t care about, but one or two were important to me. Their absence was down to fear; they were terrified that whatever I had, it was catching. Most likely to say, ‘I feel so helpless … God, is that the time?’ Bronagh – though it hurt me too much at the time to really acknowledge it – was the number one offender.The Woo-Woo crew: i.e. those purveying alternative cures. And actually there were hundreds of them – urging me to do reiki, yoga, homeopathy, bible study, sufi dance, cold showers, meditation, EFT, hypnotherapy, hydrotherapy, silent retreats, sweat lodges, felting, fasting, angel channelling or eating only blue food. Everyone had a story about something that had cured their auntie/boss/boyfriend/next-door neighbour. But my sister Rachel was the worst – she had me plagued. Not a day passed that she didn’t send me a link to some swizzer. Followed by a phone call ten minutes later to make sure I’d made an appointment. (And I was so desperate that I even gave plenty of them a go.) Most likely to say, ‘This man’s a miracle worker.’ Followed by: ‘That’s why he’s so expensive. Miracles don’t come cheap.’There was often cross-pollination between the different groupings. Sometimes the Let’s Laugh It Off merchants teamed up with the Tough Love people to tell me that recovering from depression is ‘simply mind over matter’. You just decide you’re better. (The way you would if you had emphysema.)Or an All About Me would ring a member of the Woo-Woo crew and sob and sob about how selfish I was being and the Woo-Woo crew person would agree because I had refused to cough up two grand for a sweat lodge in Wicklow.Or one of the Runaways would tiptoe back for a sneaky look at me, then commandeer a Denier into launching a two-pronged attack, telling me how well I seemed. And actually that was the worst thing anyone could have done to me, because you can only sound like a self-pitying malingerer if you protest, ‘But I don’t feel well. I feel wretched beyond description.’Not one person who loved me understood how I’d felt. They hadn’t a clue and I didn’t blame them, because, until it had happened to me, I hadn’t a clue either.
Marian Keyes