It is 10:48am when this interview begins. I am again sitting at the round kitchen table and am dressed in the clothes that I have slept in. I have not looked in the mirror but I presume my hair is a mess. I meditated for a few minutes this morning and then proceeded to make myself some cereal and green tea for breakfast. I “surfed” around the internet, wasted time on facebook and youtube and am now ready to begin the interview. Outside my window it looks as if the day is going to be filled with blue skies, sun and heat. Strange weather for mid October.
Interviewer: Good morning Randall.
Randall: Good morning.
Interviewer: Did you sleep well?
Randall: I had a hard time getting to sleep but once I feel asleep I believe that I slept well. I remember getting up a lot to pee though.
Interviewer: Did you drink alcohol last night?
Randall: Not much- I had a pint of beer.
Interviewer: How was it?
Randall: Delicious. Beer is very grounding for me and even though it has drastically increased the size of my stomach I have a hard time staying away too long from my beloved beer.
Interviewer: I see. How have you been feeling lately?
Randall: To be honest the past few days I have felt what can only be described as a kind of negative, bleak, depressed feeling.
Randall: Yes, you say that as if you are surprised?
Interviewer: Well I know that you are prone to bouts of depression but I am surprised because it seems as if things are going so well in your life.
Randall: It may appear that way but you know that old cliché adage: “Wherever you go there you are.”
Interviewer: But just a month ago you were infused with the greatest feeling of happiness that you have ever felt. What happened to this feeling?
Depression: Wish I knew. Trust me I am looking for it. Depression is kind of like a weather system. It gets triggered by something and then moves in over you like a rain cloud. It is tough to get away from and all I can really do is wait for it to pass. It is true I have a lot to be happy about- my beautiful wife, my new home, my great dog, my life and on and on. It is true- so why am I not feeling “happy?”
Interviewer: This is what I was going to ask you. Do you have any idea what the cause of this depression is?
Randall: I think that it is a combination of things. One is that I am worried about my finances. To be blunt I don’t have much money and I live in fear of going broke. Why am I 41 years old and still so financially strapped and why am I not more ambitious about changing my financial situation? I suppose in this regard a part of me feels stuck and like a failure. Yes I have everything and more that I could ever want but there is this one thing missing. This thing is this inner satisfaction that I can take care of myself financially. That I do not need to depend on others for economic help. As I think I have said before- in our culture manhood is all tied up with economic success and somehow there is this feeling that has been conditioned into men that if they are not able to be economically independent they are somehow less of a man.
Interviewer: Yeah I have noticed this myself.
Randall: The second part of my depression I think stems from the fact that my life has not turned out the way I thought it would. I never imagined that I would be starting a career as a psychotherapists and have so more financial aid debt to pay off as a result. When I was younger my dream was to succeed as a writer and painter but this is not how things have turned out. Even though it is very difficult to make a living this way I thought I could do it. I never really wanted to be “a professional” with financial aid debt. Seems very mediocre and unremarkable to me. I envy artists who are able to make a living doing their art, to be themselves and get paid for it and the fact that this is not how things have worked out for me depresses me.
Interviewer: Well out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Randall: What is that supposed to mean?
Interviewer: Not sure but it seemed like the right thing to say in the moment.
Randall: I see.
Randall: The third reason I feel depressed is because I feel like I am not able to please my wife sexually at as a result I feel as if I am letting her down. I seem to be sexually inhibited and it requires a lot of effort for me to be intimate. My wife has a very healthy sexual appetite and if I was in the mood we would be having sex at least five times a week. But the problem is that I am often not in the mood and I just don’t understand why. I think my sexuality is all fucked up. I know that I am shy sexually but I just don’t understand why I can not be sexually intimate with my wife more often. My wife is one of the sexiest women I have even had the pleasure of having sex with but still this does not seem like enough. There is something deeply rooted in my sexuality that keeps me from being uninhibited and consistently sexually active and I wish I could find out what it was and change it.
Interviewer: As far as your sexuality is concerned this is a big topic and I would like to spend the next interview discussing it if possible. For now I would like to stay focused on discussing your depression if you don’t mind?
Randall: No I don’t mind but I think that I have said everything I need to say on this topic.
Interviewer: Do you talk with your wife about your depression?
Randall: Kind of. I think she gets what is going on and I try and talk about it but it is often difficult for me to open up and discuss it. It’s embarrassing that I feel this way and plus I just would rather not talk about it. It is a complex problem.
Interviewer: Complex how?
Randall: Well I know there are so many factors involved. There is also the fact that I don’t have a job at the moment. I am trying to start a psychotherapy practice but things are very slow. I also went a few days ago to a memorial service which kind of confronted me with the facts of life and death. At a deeper existential level I think I am depressed because I know that everything we work for, everything we own and love passes away. The cars, homes, art, furnitures all these things remain when we pass away but we are gone. The suddenness and finality of death make life, for me at least, seem very beautiful but also very tragic and sad.
Interviewer: Seems as if you are having a kind of existential crisis?
Randall: I have been having an existential crisis most of my life. I have been aware of these things to a degree which is probably not healthy. Whereas most people spend their lives working and trying to avoid the fact of their mortality, I have confronted it head on. It is scary to think that all of this can disappear in an instant and it is this awareness which has led to my life long struggles with anxiety, hair-raising anxiety.
Interviewer: So it seems as if while you are living you are in a perpetual state of mourning?
Randall: I do not know if it is mourning but I know it all vanishes in a second, that we age and deteriorate and for some reason this scares me and makes me sad.
Interviewer: Yeah I find it a bit depressing myself but at the same time it makes life that much more beautiful. It makes life something I want to cherish, be present with and really drink in.
Randall: It also really makes me want to do things that have meaning, to accomplish things that will out live me. I guess I get depressed when I see artists who are engaged in this process and I know that right now I am not. Having a career, having to pay bills puts a person in a situation where they are investing in things that vanish and do not stand the test of time whereas when you make art you are involved in a process that is much greater than you and the things you own.
Interviewer: But even art eventually will turn to dust.
Randall: Yeah, but if it touches enough people it will be around for a long, long time and there is something deeply gratifying about knowing that you are involved in this process.
Interviewer: So why don’t you involve yourself more in this process?
Randall: I am trying but it seems as if the motivation is just not there. I am also confused. A part of me would rather spend my days on earth working in the garden, wandering around, listening to music, sitting on benches, writing in my journal, walking my dog and just being. I have spent many years of my life making art and now a part of me just wants to do very little and be. Enjoy my life and work on myself.
Interviewer: That does not sound so bad to me.
Randall (shakes his head in agreement).
Interviewer: Well I certainly hope your depression passes soon. I need to get going but I hope that we can continue this conversation at another time.
Randall: Sure. Thanks for listening.
Interviewer: Try to enjoy your day today. Make an effort to be positive and not think too much. Listen to music, walk around- do whatever it takes to just enjoy your day and get that feeling of happiness you spoke of earlier back.
Randall: Thank you.
Interviewer: Thank you.