Tag Archives: depression

I feel old and tired of all this shit.

11 Mar

I keep getting this horrible feeling. The window’s shut. It’s impossible to make real friends anymore. There’s just this barrier that I’ve put up that I can’t take down for anybody anymore. Anyone that “friends” me is really just attaching themselves to this shell. Ironically, I’m usually busy attaching myself to their shell. And slowly it settles in that most of the relationship has nothing to do with either of us, and I just get more and more uncomfortable having to keep up the shell until I retreat back into my own world.

I keep thinking of when we were kids. How, even when it sucked, there was always this sense of brotherhood. I didn’t have such a strong shell then. Real things still came out.

Now, I think of all the old places, the shabboses, the lag baomer trips, the punchball games in the park, the drug needles we used to find, the staying out till the last second of recess to run and play and hide and pretend. I think of it fondly at first, and then the memory turns so real I need to stop it before I break down and cry in the car.

It’s weird. I see a body mangled in an accident on the highway, and I don’t give the person a thought. But I think of playing on the statues in the park and I lose it.

I try to connect with old friends, but they’ve scattered all over with new responsibilities, new friends, new lives. I don’t mind. I just want to sit with them and talk about anything, or be silent, or just smile. But it never works out like that anymore…

I try to reach the old you past the superficial, big-man talk you always put up, and then someone else breaks in, and we compare dick sizes until we all have to leave and I end up with my real self trying to scream, “Wait! Wait! We haven’t even said one word to each other and I’d rather stay than do anything else in the whole world.” But I just can’t get that out. And the best I can come up with is, “We should do this again.” And, “Find me on facebook”. But I don’t want to find you on facebook with your wife and kids and your co-workers making burgers at your accounting firm barbecue. I want to see YOU again. And I want you to be there for me like you said you would when we played in the van on the way home. And no, I haven’t forgotten any of that. And I don’t forgive you. And I want you to come here, because when I call you out of the blue and say “Hey, what’s going on?”, you should know that means I need you.

If we could just be ourselves again, then maybe everything would go back to the way it was, and I wouldn’t feel so fucking old and tired of this place.

It’s A Hell Of A Town

19 Jan

This is going to be the exact opposite of yesterday’s post, and it’s going to be depressing and probably offensive, but it will be real, which, of course, will make it more entertaining for you. (Smiley face goes here to pretend this is a joke.)

For the past few years, I’ve been living a lie. Most times, other people have believed it. For a long time, I tried to believe it too. But I can’t fight it anymore. You’ve probably guessed it by now, and you’re right. I’ve been living out of New York.

It’s odd, but it’s probably my darkest secret, other than raping old people at the JCC, and I don’t tell anyone. Except all of you, but you’re not really people. No offense.

I moved out of New York to go to Yeshiva and see if I could learn better there. I did for a little, but eventually I realized the problem wasn’t in which Yeshiva I went to and gave up. I should have gone back to New York then, but I didn’t, and even though it’s clear to me why, it’s not easy to explain. I guess I felt like I’d escaped. I’d escaped my father being in control of me, I’d escaped the competitive New York lifestyle. I’d just escaped everything that bothered me and now I was going to be able to be myself for the first time.

My true self. The one that wanted to study psychology in college, and make scientific breakthroughs that would fix the world, and lecture in Washington, and appreciate art, and have a funny yet informative radio show, and live in a coastal town in Maine with a beautiful wife who had a PhD in something cultured and my three blond children and a pet monkey who wore a tuxedo and helped me solve crimes.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned. I hated college, just like I’d hated Yeshiva. My grades dropped from awesome in Intro to Psych to just barely passing in Psych 301- “Motivation” (Yes, God’s truly hilarious). I was once again resentful and depressed, this time at college, but I still didn’t go back to NY.

I’d get a job without college and make enough money to live in this nice, friendly town, with a decent Jewish population, and best of all, no pressure to be something I’m not.

Well, if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s willfully ignoring the elephant in the room. The elephant that just got bigger and bigger every time I failed. The elephant I kept quiet with statements like, “I don’t care about these things. I’m meant to be a salesman, writer, repairman. I’m happy living in this small town with people who have small town dreams. I’m one of them too. Who needs to live in Manhattan like all my friends from elementary school and go to fancy restaurants and parties and museums, and spend summers in Antwerp, and go skiing in Swiss towns I’ve never heard of, and collect old seforim and have my children play violin? That’s empty and doesn’t bring you happiness. Happiness is a state of mind. I’m healthy, I’ll have enough money to get married, I have things I enjoy.”

That kind of talk works during the day. At night though, your mind fucks with you by telling you the truth. I dream I’m a shining dragon that everyone fears. I’m a slick Wall Street broker with a chauffeured black BMW. And I don’t wear polo shirts and jeans from Land’s End, I wear black Armani suits with wool so fine it shines. I’m in my old school, only now it’s a giant mansion in Manhattan attached to the never-ending fantastically huge park I played in as a kid, and I own it all. That’s when I wake up in the middle of the night and the despair really hits home. And there’s nothing I ever want to do again. And I pick up my phone and lie there searching randomly around the internet hoping I’ll find some connection to my dream, real life somewhere out there. And then I get up and go drink some coffee and write this on my blog and have a cigarette and try to make it through another day with my fucked up, make believe universe gradually moving into it’s position on the sidelines of my mind to bark and snarl and laugh at me until  tonight when it gets to run wild and rip up the delicately constructed, normal-styled life I’ve tried to erect, yet again, in the 16 hours of daylight it was gone.

Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game.

13 Dec

First off, for full disclosure, I love video games. Violent, non-violent, doesn’t make a difference. So I may be biased here. But seriously, why are people so stupid when it comes to video games? Whenever a kid shoots someone (why does that sound so disturbing?), and it’s found out he plays video games, automatically non-video game playing (it’s always a school marm or someone) adults are blaming the games.

I don’t understand. If I said most kids who shoot someone also take Algebra, or eat Froot Loops, or do a million other things normal kids do, that’s coincidental. But when one kid out of millions who plays violent video games shoots someone, there’s this synaptic response of blaming the game.

There’s this normal, smart woman I know who just said this same stupid thing. A 20-something year old guy in her community shot himself. When the woman told me this, she also made sure to tell me that he played “shooting games”. I asked her if he was depressed. She said yes. But that obviously wasn’t what she thought was an important detail.

You know, maybe there is a correlation between violent games and teen shooting. I don’t know. Even if this were the case, “correlation doesn’t prove causation”. Is it more likely that a 20-something year old man would play video games so often he decides to pop himself off, or is it possible that there’s a separate factor, like depression, that makes him both 1) play a lot of video games, and 2) shoot himself in the head?

But many smart people on the news, and in everyday life, keep making this same jump. Why?

Deja Vu 2: Religion: What Is It Good For?

7 Dec

Note: I put this piece up as one of 8 start-up posts for this blog, on May 8th of last year. I’m a bit more jaded on the issue now, but I still like the piece.

The Kotzker Rebbe’s yahrtzeit is today. The Heilige Kotzker, as he’s known, was a man who devoted his entire life to the pursuit of truth, and to a relationship with God. Yet he, like many other Tzaddikim was extremely depressed. How does this reflect on Judaism?

When I was a kid, I was told -and firmly believed- that following the Torah leads to the only truly happy life. The proof was brought from our best examples, R’ Moshe, the Steipler, et al. Even as I grew a little older, and realized that my family kept the Torah and was still, to put it nicely, hell on earth, I still held on to the dream that, if done properly, Torah was the road to El Dorado.

Years passed, and I found myself turned into a jaded, depressed adolescent. Experience, colored by my own preconceptions, had destroyed any idea that the ‘masses’ could do Judaism properly. We weren’t a light unto the nations, and frankly, we weren’t even very well adjusted to regular life. Yet I knew, and hoped, it still existed.

Well I’ve grown a lot since then, and today I am a jaded, depressed adult. The honest truth is I don’t know anymore. Is a belief in a set of instructions that will fix all my problems if followed, a childish notion? Yes, undoubtedly. But my personal attachment to the religion really has nothing to do with the idea itself. So if you’ll indulge me to go on for longer than a normal blog post , I’d like to share my current ideas on the topic.

Humanity can be seen as a continuum, one long body constantly changing. Generations are shed like dead skin cells, and new ones grow in their place. There is a single soul that all of us share. (This is referred to in Kabbalah as Adam Kadmon.) The point of humanity is to get in touch with the spiritual, true, essence, and win the body over to it’s ‘service’. This winning over will bring about the Messianic era. In this sense, Mashiach is not a savior, but a necessary outcome of our own choices. We will have brought about an awareness of spirituality.

And what is this idea of spirituality? Hillel says, “What you hate, do not do unto your friend.” In the words of Isaiah: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Our ‘universal brotherhood’ will be the knowledge that covers the earth.

Now, based on what we know in modern psychology, our free will operates on a very small level. Almost all of our actions are ‘predetermined’. What sense, then, is there of giving a Torah that prohibits certain actions? Why not give a manual for good psychological functioning? I think the answer is that a manual like that would inhibit free choice. It is, once again, a childish view of our role in the universe. The Torah outlines proper behavior. We need to study it and figure out what the underlying precepts are, and act on it. Using the body analogy again, there are brain cells, and body cells. The brain cells choose to figure out what to do; the body cells, however, choose to follow or not. We slowly change our own natures and pass on the changes in our parenting to our children. They do the same. With continual change, we can reach our goal.

There are certain preconditions, though. In order to be able to follow the Torah, God had to free us first. A slave cannot participate in the game of history because it lacks the time to think clearly about life, and the ability to act on it. So too in our own times. A Church forcing everyone to follow certain ‘slave values’, as Friedrich Nietzsche calls them, accomplishes nothing. What we need is emancipation.

Western democracy and the technology that followed gave us that freedom by improving our and the entire world’s living status. (Once again, people did that. The argument that Western values, shaped by Judeo-Christian values, caused it, is noteworthy, but conjectural. After all, they were also used to enforce an ancient feudal system.) With modern technology, we live securely enough to be able to safely connect with each other and thereby erase hatred. Why don’t we? Why do we follow a jealous, competitive lifestyle when it’s no longer necessary for survival?

This is where God comes into the picture. If we see ourselves as the purpose of everything, then it doesn’t matter secure we are. We will naturally devote ourselves to our most important value. However, if there is something greater, like a cause, then we will devote ourselves to that. So Communism, Nationalism, the progress of Science, The Tower of Babel, all cause a sense of brotherhood. But it’s merely a utilitarian alliance. It isn’t transforming the body into an aid to the soul.

Acceptance of God as our father: the only source, the only truth, total giving; and of our fellow humans as part of ourselves causes us to seek constant connection with each other and with God. Sex is referred to as “knowing” in the Torah. That is the true purpose of bonding, knowing and connecting with the true nature of others and with the greater reality of existence. And true bonding seems to me to be the only true happiness possible.

Religion: What is it good for?

8 May

(Originally posted on Dovbear)

The Kotzker Rebbe’s yahrtzeit is today. The Heilige Kotzker, as he’s known, was a man who devoted his entire life to the pursuit of truth, and to a relationship with God. Yet he, like many other Tzaddikim was extremely depressed. How does this reflect on Judaism?

When I was a kid, I was told -and firmly believed- that following the Torah leads to the only truly happy life. The proof was brought from our best examples, R’ Moshe, the Steipler, et al. Even as I grew a little older, and realized that my family kept the Torah and was still, to put it nicely, hell on earth, I still held on to the dream that, if done properly, Torah was the road to El Dorado.

Years passed, and I found myself turned into a jaded, depressed adolescent. Experience, colored by my own preconceptions, had destroyed any idea that the ‘masses’ could do Judaism properly. We weren’t a light unto the nations, and frankly, we weren’t even very well adjusted to regular life. Yet I knew, and hoped, it still existed.

Well I’ve grown a lot since then, and today I am a jaded, depressed adult. The honest truth is I don’t know anymore. Is a belief in a set of instructions that will fix all my problems if followed, a childish notion? Yes, undoubtedly. But my personal attachment to the religion really has nothing to do with the idea itself. So if you’ll indulge me to go on for longer than a normal blog post , I’d like to share my current ideas on the topic.

Humanity can be seen as a continuum, one long body constantly changing. Generations are shed like dead skin cells, and new ones grow in their place. There is a single soul that all of us share. (This is referred to in Kabbalah as Adam Kadmon.) The point of humanity is to get in touch with the spiritual, true, essence, and win the body over to it’s ‘service’. This winning over will bring about the Messianic era. In this sense, Mashiach is not a savior, but a necessary outcome of our own choices. We will have brought about an awareness of spirituality.

And what is this idea of spirituality? Hillel says, “What you hate, do not do unto your friend.” In the words of Isaiah: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Our ‘universal brotherhood’ will be the knowledge that covers the earth.

Now, based on what we know in modern psychology, our free will operates on a very small level. Almost all of our actions are ‘predetermined’. What sense, then, is there of giving a Torah that prohibits certain actions? Why not give a manual for good psychological functioning? I think the answer is that a manual like that would inhibit free choice. It is, once again, a childish view of our role in the universe. The Torah outlines proper behavior. We need to study it and figure out what the underlying precepts are, and act on it. Using the body analogy again, there are brain cells, and body cells. The brain cells choose to figure out what to do; the body cells, however, choose to follow or not. We slowly change our own natures and pass on the changes in our parenting to our children. They do the same. With continual change, we can reach our goal.

There are certain preconditions, though. In order to be able to follow the Torah, God had to free us first. A slave cannot participate in the game of history because it lacks the time to think clearly about life, and the ability to act on it. So too in our own times. A Church forcing everyone to follow certain ‘slave values’, as Friedrich Nietzsche calls them, accomplishes nothing. What we need is emancipation.

Western democracy and the technology that followed gave us that freedom by improving our and the entire world’s living status. (Once again, people did that. The argument that Western values, shaped by Judeo-Christian values, caused it, is noteworthy, but conjectural. After all, they were also used to enforce an ancient feudal system.) With modern technology, we live securely enough to be able to safely connect with each other and thereby erase hatred. Why don’t we? Why do we follow a jealous, competitive lifestyle when it’s no longer necessary for survival?

This is where God comes into the picture. If we see ourselves as the purpose of everything, then it doesn’t matter secure we are. We will naturally devote ourselves to our most important value. However, if there is something greater, like a cause, then we will devote ourselves to that. So Communism, Nationalism, the progress of Science, The Tower of Babel, all cause a sense of brotherhood. But it’s merely a utilitarian alliance. It isn’t transforming the body into an aid to the soul.

Acceptance of God as our father: the only source, the only truth, total giving; and of our fellow humans as part of ourselves causes us to seek constant connection with each other and with God. Sex is referred to as “knowing” in the Torah. That is the true purpose of bonding, knowing and connecting with the true nature of others and with the greater reality of existence. And true bonding seems to me to be the only true happiness possible.