depression, a public feeling, by ann cvetkocich

Passages I could have written myself:

Although it was very inconvenient, the most disturbing aspect of the whole episode was the fact that I had been able to ignore the initial pain. By ignoring it, I had made it worse. I was able to recognize this as a warning sign – a notice about my inability to pay attention to the sensations of being in my own body – but I didn’t really have any idea what it would mean to live differently.

Dental care is something of a metaphor for the state of other affairs in my life. Taking care of the tooth disasters involves an act of faith that when something is wrong it can be fixed and that it’s possible to move on… Health maintenance has become for me a sign of self-love, although it also gives rise to some nagging questions about class. Regular dental care seems to be part of the secret life of middle-class domesticity that passes as normal – one of those things that no one talks about but everyone is supposed to do…

When you’re depressed, and all you want to do is sit still or curl up in a ball in bed and never get up, putting the body in motion is a major struggle and a major accomplishment.

I sometimes feel the need to touch the land of my childhood in order to remember myself to myself. I’m not recalling a lost paradise; I’m acknowledging the troubled history that led to my departure as a part of figuring out what it means to go back. My own history of dislocation connects to the histories of immigration and displacement… My “ancestral home” is the site of many histories, both happy and sad, both my own and those belonging to others.

(Note that I am not depressed right now and have not been for years. This book is giving me an opportunity to reflect.)

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