After Midnight

Have been up for almost an hour now.
Woke just before 0300 and unable to return to sleep.
Not sure why this is.
Was feeling much more positive when I went to bed.

Have been thinking about Anne’s story and a statement she made:

“There’s a long period of time where you don’t know who you are, because your brain’s not working and your brain defines a lot of who you are. You have to refind yourself,” Anne says.

This quote keeps popping into mind and I continue to try and catch the full extent of its meaning. Like a man reaching for something that continually eludes his grasp. It is there, not there, and gone all at once, lost in the dark circle that surrounds the desk.

And I begin to think of what it must be like to be you. You sit there reading this text. You are settled within your surroundings, likely the familiar setting of your own home. You know who you are. You have an intimate sense of self derived from the long term discovery of your own capabilities; you know your own performance envelope. You know how your body works, how it responds to your control, how it moves through space. You know how to sit down and you do not even need to think of how to perform this simple act. It is all known to you. Your reach. Your limits.

Then you suffer an injury and enter a magic tunnel. When you come out the other side you are in terra incognita. When you attempt to do those things that were once within your capacity you find yourself strangely unable. All those endless tiny actions that you once performed automatically, without a thought, have eroded, been washed away, lost. You try to perform as you once did but your world now conspires to mock you. Every action results in a rebuke or an insult. And even when you believe you have performed well you ultimately discover that no, this sense of accomplishment was an illusion. You erred, made some mistake, but did not immediately recognize that fact.

And since your sense of self is dependent on these thousand minor daily enactments, the learned rituals by which we each address our lives and move through our days, you now find that your entire self image is gone. There is no more “You,” as you once knew it. That comfortable space “You” once inhabited is somehow vacant. There is nothing left for you to hold on to. “You” are no longer there. You are forced to reinvent yourself.

It is a very scary place to be. You have no idea what you can do and no true idea of what your actual capacities might be.

And this is the source of the great despair. This forced acknowledgement that you are no longer you, your capacities and abilities are no longer your capacities and abilities. Your daily routine is now a source of active insult as the world dictates that you are no longer capable. To overcome this you begin a process of self deception and illusion as you seek to convince yourself that yes, you truly are as you once were, yes, you can regain that prior level of effortless natural performance, yes, you are on the verge of repossessing the prior world from which you have been evicted.

And then it all comes crashing down around you in steaming piles of rubble as you realize that nothing will be the same again, the world is a brutally new place and it now demands you relearn everything, from the most basic tasks to the most complex. As Anne says, “You have to refind yourself.”

And where do you begin? At age 60 trying to “refind yourself” means reacquiring 60 years of lost tacit knowledge. How do you start to reintegrate yourself in a world that you do not recognize? That does not know you? Where you do not know yourself?

And it is the apparent impossibility of this task that triggers the depression.