Barefoot running, humor, Prozac, and other tools

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August 26, 2014 by scratchtype1

I almost wrote tolls instead of tools in the title and that could have been oddly appropriate. Around 2 weeks ago now, Robin Williams’ death shocked us. A suicide, a death which only becomes more terrifying the more that it makes sense to someone. Suicide because of his struggle with depression, and maybe because of his learning that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. His death lanced deeply into me, some because I felt I knew him some from his years of comedy, from his roles in his movies. It slid deep into me because he was a funny man, he was absolutely brilliant at times in his off the cuff monologues. A little bit terrifying too, to see someone do that so adeptly, so quickly, so intelligently. He awed me some.

It was maybe 2 days after his death when I saw an article online about how he had run in high school and had some speed. Perhaps I then made the mistake of looking down at the comments section and saw one person write something to the effect that if only Robin Williams had kept running, he wouldn’t have killed himself. That filled me with a mixture of anguish and anger. “It’s not so simple,” I thought, “That’s just bullshit and don’t fucking go there, don’t fucking go someplace where you don’t understand what you’re saying about the thoughts and feelings of another person.”


It was in 1999 when I was first treated for depression. It was late in the year and the psychiatrist I went to see first tried Wellbutrin, but then we tried Prozac. That began helping me some. Some of the symptoms eased. My impression that the world was losing color, becoming grayish or that the colors of it were very subdued lifted a bit. But nothing profound was taking place and one week I got a mother of all colds which got into my ears and nearly rendered me deaf because of the blockage. My physician put me on antibiotics and one evening in January 2000 the ears finally cleared. Being able to hear with clarity was joyful. I listened some to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I went to sleep that night and when I woke up, the world had changed.

Not only was there clarity to sound, there was a clarity of colors and vision. I went outside to split some wood to revive the fire and there was this beautiful light snow falling, these tiny flakes that I felt almost like only I could see. For the first time in many many years, I felt happiness, I felt alive while I split some wood into kindling. The axe was sharp again and sliced through the grain of the wood, and the pieces cracked apart with beautiful snaps and pops. The day was gray, but still bright. Then when I had revived the fire in the stove, I felt the warmth from it like an embrace, like a hug from a long-lost friend. I felt alive.

Then about a year and a half later, I found myself in another deep depression, and one which almost took my own life. The tool of Prozac had lost effectiveness.

In the years since, as I dance with the darkness and obscurity deep within me, knotted to the very core of my being, I’ve tried to assemble tools to keep it from taking me to where it took me in 2001. I imagine that Robin Williams had done so too, although I could be wrong about that. Still, over time I’ve learned that the tools can vary some in how effective they are, in how well they can make me feel or keep me functional. That may be one reason why I’m always trying to learn something new, at the very least keep the mind active.

I also tend to be cautious about ever ever saying something like, “If you just do this, you’ll be happy.” In my experience, fuck that, because it ain’t true for me. That’s why when I’ve written posts on here about how sometimes I have senses of joy, happiness and connection while running barefoot, I try to qualify the statements some. We all have to find our own paths. It helps to listen some to others, but just because they do something that makes them happy, it may not work for me or for you. I once wrote a blog post elsewhere about that idea because I was angry, because I was still hurting although healing. That post ended up getting tucked away. About 6 months later I began living barefoot as much as possible and then eventually started to run.

Being barefoot and running that way was soon a wonderful tool in the toolbox. It helped to get me through a cold and dark winter and feeling fairly optimistic. But I noticed over time that it was having a sort of parallel trajectory to the one that Prozac had once had. The mood-lifting effect became more muted over time. As that happened, the job that I had worked at for over 13 years disappeared when the company shut down our division. Then late last month, my left hip started going bad some.

Now it’s been a few weeks since the hip got bad some and I’ve only run a few times this month. The hip feels great now. I almost ran this morning. Very close to doing so. I think tomorrow I can get it done. The hip will be fine, it’s a question of whether I can summon the will to do so. I’ve been struggling some these last few weeks on that, many nightmares. The week when my brother was here was something of a respite. Since then, I’ve had to find other tools to help me.

One has been the camera. The other has been Esperanto. Last week I went hunting for other Esperantists with whom I could write. One reason was to improve my ability to produce thoughts in Esperanto. The other was to simply communicate with other human beings. I seem to have found 2 so far, one from Brazil and one from Hungary. One speaks no English and the other only a little bit. Yet we are communicating well with the tool of Esperanto and this activity is very much helping to transfer my passive understanding of Esperanto (I can read with nearly full comprehension most Esperanto texts, and can listen with plenty of understanding) to an active ability. I’ve been finding one odd effect — not only am I having more spontaneous thoughts in Esperanto, I find that I am more comfortable about expressing my thoughts and and feelings through it than I am in English. It may be if I hadn’t been doing so over the past week that this blog post would not be being written as it is now. Strange, but I’ve seen testimony from others who speak multiple languages who sometimes say they use different languages for different kinds of thinking. Somehow, Esperanto is serving as a tool to be able to speak more directly about how I feel.

I hold no illusions though that it will solve everything for me. Hell, last night I spent some time trying to translate a poem of mine into Esperanto. As a reward for that effort, I woke up from a tense nightmare last night. Tools that can cut one way can sometimes cut on the other side too.

As a parallel to January 2000 when Prozac got me almost high, and I was happy while splitting wood, today I worked some on splitting wood for the coming winter. I often thought in Esperanto while doing so today and played around with seeing if I could catch a photo of me splitting a log apart. Jen, pronounced yen —

King atop His Castle

My bare feet atop a smooth log


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