With a few rare, sad, tragic exceptions, the people in my family tend to live a long time with relatively few health defects, only to spend most of their lives in utter misery, punctuated at the end with a large, delirious question mark. So, while I should have little fear of diabetes, cancer, schizophrenia or heart disease, the nature of the preceding sentence is such that I do anyway. I’m not a hypochondriac – they always think they’re sick. I’m a catastrophic – I don’t get sick very often, but when I do it’s like Starbucks coffee – far more unpleasant in practice and almost certainly lethal.
But that’s not what this is about. This is about the middle part of my thesis – the part about utter misery.
We aren’t miserable for any tangible reason, but the misery comes and we throw a blanket over it and write a name on it, like “MY JOB” or “MY RELATIONSHIP” or “THE CERTAINTY OF A LONELY DEATH.” My generation is lucky, because we have ways of dealing with it rather early in our lives. These methods include stuff like drugs and therapy, items that allow us to use our natural faculties to rip the blanket off and see that the thing underneath it isn’t a thing at all, or that it’s actually a part of us, or something else metaphorical.
I keep using “we,” but I’m only speaking about myself.
I had an appointment with my psychiatrist the other day, as people like me sometimes do. I was filling him in on some of my thought processes and some of my problems. He nodded and shook his head and and leaned forward and said, in an exasperated way: “Jim, you’re really hard on yourself.”
Yeah. I know.
But not as much as I used to be.