I think my therapist Dr. Spielvogel (who has a psycho-dynamic orientation) made that diagnosis today.
I think he said that I’ve always been depressed and that I currently use yoga, Alexander Technique and Orthodox Judaism to defend against my depression (not to mention going off on people on my blog).
I can tell you this news because I am totally disconnected from my feelings.
Writing this has no more sensitivity to me than reporting some rabbi was convicted of molesting his daughter.
The one feeling I have ready access to is rage. I tap into that quite a bit. But as for sadness, I’m not attuned.
So what’s the solution?
I need to get in touch with my feelings and resolve fundamental relationships.
I’ll keep you posted.
JOE EMAILS: "Abraham Lincoln also had severe bouts of depression, and so did many other great men. The important thing is that it didn’t stop them from working their craft…just like it doesn’t stop you!"
Chaim Amalek emails: "I think the more likely reason for your depression is your poverty, especially when combined with your prospects and age. Shrinks who overlook this sort of stuff don’t know s— from shinola."
Rumdar takes a break from his sex vacation to Southeast Asia to email: "You and your shrink are full of crap. Pampered Western sissies. I’ve been in Cambodia almost a month and witnessed unbelievable misery, hardship and corruption. Armed Thugs with bodyguards in SUVs and Hummers ruling and patrolling the country. How depressed would you be if you had nothing to eat. Wise up."
Rum emails: "For the record buddy I gave that type a behavior up around the time you left the porn business (the first time, not the second). I am now dedicated to saving the planet."
Bob emails: "You are 43 years old. You live in a garage. Your religious community has shunned you. You have no prospects outside of porn journalism. Why should you be depressed?"
I book my therapy sessions back to back. I find the best stuff comes out after an hour or so of therapy, so I like to have a 100-minute run at breakthroughs.
"Do you ever wonder if your depression is somaticized? Do you ever wonder that if you don’t want to feel the pain of your depression and give it all to your body? And instead of saying you are depressed, you say you are chronically fatigued?"
I am sure the mind affects the body as the body affects the mind. In my experience, my body affects my mind more than the other way round. When I have the energy, I charge into the world. When I don’t, I retreat to my hovel.
Let’s say I am somaticizing. Let’s say that when I’m depressed, I slough it off to my body. What then?
Am I depressed? How cut off am I from my feelings? I am in touch with many of my feelings such as rage, but am cut off from many feelings of sadness and loss? I am cut off from certain feelings, some primary feelings about my primary caregivers. I have a lot of rage and underneath that may be depression.
According to psycho-dynamic psychology, I live according to my relationship with my primary caregivers.
To defend against the depression, I push myself to do a lot of things — yoga, Alexander Technique, Orthodox Judaism. I’m always looking for "the answer!" I run around trying to be part of the Orthodox community. I try to make friends.
If these pursuits are working for me, if they are enjoyable activities, then it is not suppressing the depression. It’s taking care of myself.
I can discuss all this because I feel like I am a news anchor. "My guest says I am suppressing my depression with yoga and Judaism. After these messages, we’ll go deeper. Stay tuned."
That’s how I feel — dispassionate, removed. I’m good at intellectualizing and humor to distance myself from my emotions.
Now we’ve defined the problem, let’s solve it. Let me take out my pen and paper and we’ll write down everything I need to do, and as I do them, I’ll cross them off my list. And then I’ll get better.
Let’s be manly about it, Dr. Spielvogel. You tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Let’s fix it together. Right now.
I remember my senior year of high school. I was taking Geometry for the second time. I’d gotten Ds in it the first time. This time I would get Cs.
The teacher assigned us some problems and I went down the list and wrote out my answers. I thought I had everything under control and was way ahead of everyone else.
The teacher came by each desk and checked on our progress. When he came to my desk, he looked at what I had done and said, "You just don’t get what we’re doing in here, do you?"
People throughout my life have said that to me. If my rabbi were here right now and he felt it was appropriate to say the full truth, he’d turn to me and say, "Levi" (if he was in an indulgent mood or "Luke" if his patience with me had been exhausted), you come to shul every day and pray and you study Torah here, but you just don’t get what we’re doing here, do you?"
I prefer to do things that I am good at. That makes me feel in control. When I do things that I suck at, I feel like a dick.
I feel powerless right now, or I would feel powerless right now if I had feelings. But I have no feelings.
I feel like I can do anything that I set my mind to but I can’t feel right now. I can rearrange the furniture in this room. I can start every day with a cold shower and 20 minutes of chanting. But I don’t know how to rearrange this depression sitting on me, even though I’m doing all the right things.
It’s easy for me to be honest because I have no feelings.
I learned early in life to lie to get out of punishment (usually a spanking until I was ten). But when I was caught in my lies, I could reduce the punishment coming to me by making a full confession. If you screw up or screw someone over, if you make a full confession, you can reduce the punishment.
My first instinct when I am about to get punished is to try to lie my way out. I usually don’t do this because I can overcome my instincts. I’ve been blogging for a living for twelve years and I’ve been interviewed dozens of times. Because I am so controversial, because I am in so many flame wars, I know that if I ever lie on my blog or in my interviews, it will come back to haunt me, so I’ve tried to be scrupulous in this regard publicly. Privately, I still tell the odd lie.