C’s Quest Toward Sophrosyne

     Let me tell you a story about someone seeking happiness. We’ll call him C. “C” felt suicidal and he even concocted plans. He would slash his wrists and lay down in the tub so as not to create too much mess for whomever found him. C thought maybe pills would be less messy. Yeah, he’d do that instead.

He never carried out these attempts but he did have a breakdown. A big noisy crying screaming breakdown. So he sought “help.” He traveled 40 minutes in a taxi because he didn’t drive, due to a lifelong disability. He had to travel because his insurance had to be taken into consideration and this was the clinic he was instructed to go to.

Now C knew he’d had a lot of trauma in his past, (doesn’t everybody?) But he wanted to move past all of it. Over the previous ten years of his life he’d been diagnosed as depressed and treated with at least half a dozen anti-depressants. They all had the same result: They STOLE his creativity. C could no longer paint. He couldn’t write. Now why didn’t anyone list “Loss of creativity” as a serious side effect of anti-depressants? He started doing research online and found that yes, “loss of creativity” was a common, very common side effect.

Finally he decided he felt worse than he did when he was depressed. Antidepressant medications took away his healthy creative outlets that he used to handle stress: The creation of written works and art. It took his sex drive and he gained weight. All of these side effects made him feel worse than ever. So he stopped taking them and took a chance on this clinic that his insurance company recommended.

They spent an hour with him doing ‘intake.’ He was given a purple folder with pamphlets that detailed all sorts of group session schedules and brochures describing all kinds of mental issues. The folder had various business cards and a clinic overview. Then… folder in hand, C spent another half hour with the man who would be his new therapist.

“Why are you here?” He asked C.

“I’m feeling worse than ever,” C said. “As I said during the intake portion of the visit, I even thought of ending it all. That frightened me. I had a breakdown and feel hopeless. I want to do psychotherapy or something. I want to make sense of past traumas, to see how they shaped the person I am today. I want to move past the past.”

The therapist went on to hand C a piece of paper. It was a form that he had to sign in order to continue with appointments.

“Wait,” said C, “This paper you want me to sign, it states I HAVE to agree to take any medicine prescribed to me? I won’t sign. I wanna get better without meds. They make me feel worse. They make me incapable of creating anything. and then I feel really worthless. Why is it you never hear that anti-depressants take away creativity? That should be a warning doctors give to patients, because to me, it is not a good trade-off.”

“We can’t help you then if you do not comply.”

“I’m an individual,” argued C, “I don’t have a specific mental illness that makes it imperative for me to take meds. If that were the case, I’d take them.”

They went back and forth a bit. The therapist was insistent. C was incredulous. He was refused treatment because he wouldn’t sign.

He walked out, throwing his purple file in the trash on the way out the door. He had chosen the only “help” he’d ever known: writing and creating art. He was not about to comply with this clinic and give those things up.

That’s C’s story.

Today he is on his own, coping by himself. He was suicidal and he never even got a follow-up call from that clinic as to how he was feeling.

As for myself, it seems I’m always heading somewhere. On my way to nirvana? When, when I ask, will it get here? I grow impatient. I want to attain:

sophrosyne.(A healthy state of mind. Healthy amounts self control, moderation in all that I do, and a deep awareness of my ‘true self,’) Thus, being in a sophrosyne state of mind I will reach true happiness. Am I right? I seriously doubt it.

Happiness probably is a state of mind, and nothing more.

I resolve to refuse to WAIT to be happy. I’ll no longer wait for happiness to come; when:

I achieve a comfortable financial state.

When I finally lose all the extra weight.

When I tackle problems A, B. and C.

Nope because if I keep waiting I will have put it off. I’ll never know happiness. I wrote this poem as a kind of: me against the world statement. I like the images it evokes.


old-world, still life, time-eroded faded brick

hint of a mansion never built

old packhorse, dark wet sand, wind and rain

matte black line; moving into the background

end of the trail

entering another world; kinetic individual

lifelike laughter of the fairies up on the dark peak

natural rock formations, miscellany of the fascinating

withdrawn from the tumult of the world

‘quite simply different’, “go-it-alone”

take drama to new heights in broken splendour

shameless coastal castle; still life

     Someone once told me, “I don’t understand your poetry! I’d have to look up words in a dictionary to get the meaning. What IS the meaning?

I answered, “My meaning doesn’t matter. Read it slowly and ask yourself, what does it mean to me?”


a quickly rendered drawing

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