Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Some happy, some sad

Yesterday was an interesting day... in addition to dealing with recent changes in my medications, I had plenty to think about: July 29th is both the birthday of my friend Julie, and the first anniversary of the death of Scott Vice.

Julie is in New York, raising a family. Her husband Avram is a musician and lyricist, and her two daughters are almost absurdly cute. I haven't met Avram or the girls, I just piece together a picture from the emails Julie sends. There seems to be alot of joy in their lives, which is good for the kids... but the pressures of raising two kids, in New York, must be enormous. I've heard all of those 'fruit of your loins' speeches that some parents give, about what a joy it is to raise your own kids, and while I feel that the relationship between parent and child can be incredible, it may be the years of joy that you look back on when they are grown, but it is the hours and minutes of life that you must deal with every day. I don't think I would have the strength to do it, and I admire people like Julie who do.

And somehow Julie manages to remain hip while dealing with all of the mama trip. Her kids appear to be growing up in an engaging environment, and they will probably never know how hard their parents worked to make that possible for them, at least not until they have kids of their own. I have always had alot of love for Julie, and the tiny bit that I get to share in the stories of her life is delightful to me. I wish her and her family the best, this year and all the others.

On a completely different note, one year ago yesterday our friend Scott Vice sat down on his bed and took a bottle of sleeping pills. He had come to the end of his fight with depression and self-doubt. He was one of the kindest and most interesting people I have ever met, and everyone but him knew that he was a very rare combination of large amounts of heart, mind, soul, and humor. Everyone he knew loved him.

Scott always gave 200%, and always felt that he wasn't giving enough. This then, ultimately, is the disease that killed him. I have this disease too. As do some friends of mine. My New Head™ is giving me relief from this disease, and now I look at the other people I know who have it, and wonder why they don't realize that their scripts are faulty, or that to some extent the reliance on scripts like that isn't the same thing as really living. Of course, people have wondered the same thing about me the last few years, and I know all too well how the disease changes everything, degrades and erodes and devalues every act, every thought, every word, and how the disease also tells you that the only way to make the pain go away is to try harder, give more, burn out. Eventually you reach a place where you lose track of the goals, and the process, the tedious soul-killing process of weighing your every act against some expectation of the ideal, becomes and end in itself. In the case of Scott, this end was literal.

I fear that some other people I know may find this end as well; others have feared the same about me. I have a bigger fear that people with this disease will live with it all of their lives, never taking the steps to face their own demons and determine their own self-worth. The disease makes you dislike yourself, and the creedence you give to some external force, allowing it to define your life, is disempowering, making you dislike yourself even more, and making you bitter towards the others who, through your own reliance on what you perceive to be their judgements, appear (wrongly) to be 'doing things to you'.

Life isn't something that happens to you. Death usually is. For Scott, the only way he could see to get away from the pressures he felt, from the feeling that life was indeed something that was happening to him, was to take death into his own hands. We lost a good one, there.

I'm learning alot from these two friends. I think Scott really woke me up to just how far down I had fallen, and though I am not out of the dark places yet, I am working very hard on realigning my head and trying to find some happiness in the world. Talking with Julie, just the day-to-day sharing of stories and hopes and fears and dreams, is joyful, and the fact that she is intelligent and funny makes every interaction a pleasure.

Birthdays and Deathdays are fine, but they are just days. They are useful markers to wake us up and make us remember that it is all those other days, the lives of the people we love, that mean so much.