Snazzier (Equation) Painkilling: Craigslist, Therapy, & Battling A Depressive Episode

My 3:31a.m. search of the New York Craigslist classifieds section finds 78 entries and displays all of them. I am looking under “All Services,” as I wasn’t really certain what sort of “service” they and/or I was seeking. Something that pays a sustainable wage and isn’t completely disheartening and potentially dangerous. I type key phrases using quotations marks, which I have been taught to be, on the whole, a more effective, snazzier, and accurate means of query; so you typed “depression,” and found the displayed 78 entries included Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) treatment, but does not specify the cost. It is mostly them offering services rather than the opposite. As in the opposite of what I thought, a year ago, when I was terminated from my job at South End Press while hospitalized at McLean for five weeks.

Things often seemed to work that way lately.

craigslist therapy

For actual assistance finding appropriate mental health services, contact your local branch of NAMI. If you are in distress and in need of urgent conversation, the volunteers at 1-800-SUICIDE is just amazing. (And yes: I speak from personal experience, and no, I am not ashamed.)

Years before, I enrolled in Couples Counseling with an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing-certified clinician who had employed an emergency EMDR intervention during one of the sessions I was attending with someone I am no longer dating and scarcely know anymore at all, other than until very recently, he was still crushing up pills of Oxy (and co.) and snorting them; and that his nose had bled all over the C train. The therapist asked your then-partner, “What do you need from her?” and suddenly the room grew threateningly large and extremely small and suffocating all at once, and the ceiling rose exponentially as I stared up at it, and the right angles at the corners growing exceedingly obtuse, and you felt as if suspended from a great height and, afloat. Sensing, somehow, the impact of the fall, seized with a thick, crushing vertigo—and thought about a nightmare I’d had as a child where I lay in my bedroom in dim orange light, paralyzed, as Mylar balloons drifted in with greater velocity and volume until they were everywhere; and I could see my expression on the mirrored side of the balloons, distorted as if in a fun house, frightened and sad but mostly just lost, almost gone—and I clutched the pillow next to me on the psychiatrist’s deliberately and noticeably plush couch, and the doctor said,” Quickly. Toss it to me. No judging.”

I tossed him the pillow and he tossed it back and he told me to toss it back again, which I did, and he told me not to worry about or even consider whether or not this was stupid and childish and nonsensical, and to just keeping tossing the pillow back and forth, just keep tossing it to me (which I had been doing the whole time), and to concentrate on the muscles I was using; to think about my whole range of motion; and when thoughts of anything else came in, because they will inevitably come in, allow them a respectable but cautious space and then push them out completely, replacing the intrusive flickering of self-doubt and alienation almost physically: as in these are my right and left arms moving forward and back, and my biceps stretched and released, and I can feel the pressure building up in my forearms—lactic acid; tenth grade biology class; lots of dirty windows; awkwardly cut bangs—that there are bones and muscle and blood and marrow all in there, in me, and I am working as a complete machine, every part in operation; all the while still at looking pillow’s range of motion, still fixating on the fluidity of the brown corduroy’s somehow measured and calculated back and forth. To not necessarily believe in or even think about the purpose, the doctor said, but merely to participate in it.

He then asked me to look at the decorative plate on the wall, which rested on mahogany and tempered glass hutch over his desk, amid a cluster of framed diplomas declaring LSCW, PhD, MD; calling out Harvard and MIT and Fordham; and he told you to describe the plate in a stream-of-consciousness style, as in: the plate has red and green and yellow-gold leaves painted on it that look done by hand, and it seems expensive and a gift, not the sort of thing one would purchase for oneself, and that it meant something significant merely because it reminded me of a similar plate my grandmother—my grandmother on my father’s side, with whom I do not speak—used to have to or still has. I haven’t seen her in about twelve years. She had a plate just like, but I’m sure a cheaper version; it was in her basement, which was also filled with Nancy Drew books, and I wasn’t permitted to so much as read the books left alone borrow them, and, well, okay, I snuck around and read probably read every, single one. There was or is a porcelain apple on a shelf just out of reach I remember wanting to touch; and an old-fashioned, non-functional—or at least I recall it as being non-functional—refrigerator in the adjacent, unfinished room that housed the washer and dryer and various detergents and bleach and nothing else, or at least I can’t think of anything else. And there was a pear tree in the backyard that was incredibly short, just a foot or so over my head—I was the same height then as I am now: just five foot two. But then, I was eleven or so, and not permitted to pick any of the fruit, and so it become exceedingly tantalizing: Garden of Eden style hard to resist. I don’t remember why I wasn’t allowed to pick the fruit. I’m not certain I ever knew. But I do distinctly remember how the pears fell to the ground and were left to rot there, similar to the intricately paved rose garden, forgotten and burned by the sun after my grandfather, their caretaker and creator, died of a cancer that started as a seemingly innocuous bump on his lower right calf and quickly metastasized into the sort of death that is so abrupt the memorial service is more like a question mark than anything else, or perhaps even an ellipsis, than a proper, understood good-bye; and that the backyard was long and narrow and reached toward a high concrete wall, and there were a wealth of low flying planes, always, wheels down, ready for JFK. I don’t want to die of cancer, but I smoke. I don’t smoke a lot, maybe two a day, but I smoke. And I don’t want to die, but then I sort of do need  to die, sometimes (note: I am now fully conscious that is the depression talking, and not me in my healthy state), and did in fact attempt to die once. It’s impossible to explain—or at least would take a very, very long time, more time than we have, not just today but perhaps always. It’s just harder is all, and I won’t go into it now. I mean I can’t go into it now. But that’s what I thought of. That’s where I went during EMDR.

And, naturally, I ate a pear.

I still recall the sweet glory of theft and its juices.

Some things you just remember the taste of.

And so that is what I told the therapist that wasn’t from Craigslist about the plate.

The therapist asked me to stand up and press against the wall with all of my weight, and bounce off it a few times, again imploring me to engage the act without analysis and without speaking, which I did. I thrust my (dwindling) full weight against the wall again and again: all of me, falling, caught, and released by choice. He told me to return to my seat and tap the left side of my nose with my right hand ten times, and vice versa and I did so. He told me to go to a place in my mind where I felt safe. Not to over-think it; just to go there. And I did. I went there. I was in a powder blue snow suit, the hood tight around my face, and I was in an igloo and the sun was extremely bright and shone through a just wide-enough hole, and everything was so white I could barely see; but I could see enough, and  felt the ground against my back, and it was not too cold, and I was there and could see your breath leave my body. He asked e if the ceiling was lower now; if the “portions of the room were back in order,” and I said yes because they were lower enough. He then asked if I felt it was okay now for him to once again pose the question about what it was that he, my then-partner, felt it was that he needed from me. On the couch, unintentionally crawling out of the snow, the ice, safety zone, I found that for the next forty-two minutes I literally could not speak no matter how hard I tried, all while thinking, in a way, that I had been speaking. It wasn’t until much later that I  found out I had not been. At all.

Amid somewhat poor grammar, I realize, on my second reading, the advertisement is peppered with a compromising quantity of quantifying; and slightly defensive and even paranoid in its declarations, such as the need to state, in parenthesis, that “EMDR (well researched by medical professionals) does work for anxiety, depression, addiction, phobias and relationships, as we’ve seen in many cases.” I lament the exclusion of the serial comma (which I know to be optional except in the Chicago Style, but nonetheless disapprove of its omission); and the use of italic, bold, and underlined words in a single sentence; and noted the sunflowers around the MD’s name with a dubiously raised-eyebrow. The ad mentions that the sessions run 90 minutes, are recommended on a weekly basis, and “consist of activities involving eye movements, sounds in alternative ears using headphones, and/or handles that stimulate each hand with a vibrations, with more traditional cognitive talk therapy braided throughout.” A vibrations. In the photo on the doctor’s biography page, he is halfway underwater and wearing a life jacket. He has hand on the stomach of a dolphin who faces the sky with opened lips. It is difficult to tell if the dolphin’s eyes are open. The doctor is smiling and squinting in that way that people squint when someone is trying to take a photograph of them and it is too sunny. He is looking directly into the dolphin’s mouth; its round, safe teeth. His brief biography states that he is a licensed scuba instructor. You understand why psychiatrists and social workers often put this purportedly humanizing information in their biographies, and you feel you just fundamentally disagree about what qualifies as humanizing information, and note that this is something you will never, ever discuss with any of your therapists. Two-hundred and fifty bucks for an hour and a half squinting shink/scuba instructor who probably has an apparatus that shakes my hands.

In the photo, the dolphin’s eyes are open, I realize. It just doesn’t really look like ii at first.

The other Craigslist entries include a “Psychic Tarot Card and Palm Readings for ONLY $10,” as advertised by Ms. Tracy out of Jackson Heights, Queens; several massage ads, often offering either Reiki/holistic healing/spiritual counseling or something vaguely sexual and a suggested donation of 300 roses, but never both; one “Great Piano/Singer for your Party, Weddings, Bar Mitzvah,” which you click on, curious why this ad is a search result, and learn that the Great Piano/Singer for your Party, Weddings, Bar Mitzvah produced and played keyboards for Bette Midler’s Songs for the New Depression and find myself completely disappointed and demoralized; the ad containing a plethora of specials for detoxifying colon cleanses, promising good health and renewed vitality; and several promises for new methods of ejaculation control and a better love live. There are two advertisements with white text that you cannot read unless highlighted. One is a hypnotist who will barter for services, can have “doctors referred,” and whose clientele is mostly by through referrals. That they have three offices: Manhattan, White Plains, and Long Island.

The other white-text offender (and you find it an offense) is a professional cleaning company in Manhattan that lists four different phones numbers, and has a tactless animated .gif of a sweeping maid, and I notice that how her skirt is slightly short and the gesture of the broom mildly provocative, or maybe it is just late (meaning that it is too late and this is what too late feels like), and underneath the ad, invisible except when highlighted, it reads, “specimen wiggling fraught wobble earlier sponsor unreliable forestland testifying transiting hubbub shovelful road kill hypnotizing slummier enthusiasts voyagers soothers undrinkable rioting excised frolicker sued unconnected interdependently bunch lasted nachos leaver electrocutes muted cakes exemptions twang rotating excoriations woodworkers silk milligram spiraling sigh offhand zodiacal overbid unqualified loop style lord visitation grades skeptics worriers quivering minstrel sunroof fraternizer questioned noisemakers ungracious contradistinction spindlier syncopates expectorated sidewinders unearned effusing thrive unexceptionable twists unchaste springboard violinist horticultural snuffboxes vagueness swelled egocentrically tactically depression velocity unvarnished squander taste piper rumored viewings banker waterline exacerbate gluten unwieldy eternally satisfy donors literacy spoilage pride throughout obtaining domineeringly winters neurosurgeon though horseflesh spearmint burnable improvements grimaces unites zestfully immolations unwisely nonviolence violence convulsion bureaucrats exiles appeaser subatomic expressionist unscrupulously exhaled voluptuous airbags vegetation lookout snazzier equation painkilling shudder ascent.”

You search depression without quotation marks. It yields the same results.

I don’t know what it was I expected. Just something more than this.

Just look around.

Can you see that too?