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May 30, 2014

Observations from the flight deck


boj did not appear for some 4.5 months (mid-December 2013 through April of this year) because I was sick.

To be specific, I found myself in the fourth major clinical depression of my life to date.

The others occurred in 1977, 1991, and 2001.

I will not elaborate on how badly I felt while I was away: you can find out what it feels like from any number of other blogs and websites, many beautifully written and absorbing.

An interjection: For those who find themselves at a loss as to how to deal with someone who is seriously depressed, the single best account of what it feels like that I've ever come across is William L. Styron's "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness."

Many people whose judgement I trust consider Andrew L. Solomon's "The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression" equally masterful.

Anyhoo, while boj was publicly silent, from time to time I felt able enough put together a post or several, kind of a hope chest in the event the black dog, as Churchill described it, eventually lifted enough to let me function at a reasonable level.

Today I'm far better than I was in January and February but still not my usual and customary cheerful self.

Nevertheless, I'm able to continue boj in its usual format and intend to do so for the indefinite future.

All of the preceding is simply an explanation for why, from time to time, a post that has appeared previously in the not that distant past appears here again.

The confusion backstage at Typepad — a result of my not being precise and accurate in the past few months as I composed and then scheduled, unscheduled, and rescheduled posts, sometimes repeatedly, is sometimes impossible for me to undo, and so an occasional repeat post appears.

I'm not trying to get away with anything, trust me: my original charter — to offer things to amuse, entertain, surprise, amaze, delight, or any combination thereof — still holds.


May 30, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


Oooh, so sorry to hear of your struggle. Like others, I appreciate that you shared with us. That in itself is healing.

Who says that virtual friend are not really your friends? We care, we long for your company, your wisdom, insights and humor. And we cry for your and with you. In short, we love you!

Gray Cat is the Bomb!

Posted by: Kay | Jun 1, 2014 2:20:52 PM

Another courageous post!

You may share Lincoln's melancholia - but, you also embody his courage and strength of conviction. I am of a mind that many of us would be very much better off with regular mental health care. I sincerely hope that your Serotonin levels are high and that whatever class of neurotransmitter that's triggering this horrid dark cave with no escape path is being controlled.

Take care, my friend.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Jun 1, 2014 4:52:12 AM

Hey, we are with you and here for you man. Pick our brains anytime. We are cheaper than the couch.

Posted by: steven frisk | Jun 1, 2014 1:22:22 AM

Thank you Joe. Sharing this with us is harder than others would imagine. I long for your courage. Give Grey Cat a scratch behind the ears for me.

Posted by: PamelaK | May 31, 2014 7:15:39 PM

I was one of those who checked on BOJ every day. Having been through it myself, I had a feeling that was where you were, and I am so very glad you are kicking the black dog's butt. I know grey cat was a lifeline for you. Pets are like that.

Posted by: Nancy | May 31, 2014 3:37:11 PM

I missed you while you were gone. Glad to have you back because BoJ is a daily read for me. I know the Black Dog and am sorry you know him, too.

Posted by: Sally-Lodge | May 31, 2014 11:35:28 AM

What a great man you are while you are suffering we were enjoying reading you blog ,and thank you for sharing the information I am sure the you gave someone a hope. Wish you the best

Posted by: Mohd | May 31, 2014 7:43:32 AM

Much admiration, Joe.
Unspeakably glad you're feeling better.

Posted by: Ron | May 31, 2014 1:14:15 AM

I'm so sorry that's why you took time away. Depression is a cancer of its own. Praying that you'll feel 100% soon, for as long as possible!

Posted by: Katherine @ Grass Stains | May 30, 2014 11:39:17 PM

Thank you for sharing this information with all of us and I wish you all the best. I hope that you'll be OK for while. I really appreciate your Web site and your honesty. Please take care.

Posted by: Mark | May 30, 2014 10:33:27 PM

Genuine Joe. Thank you for continuing the struggle to be real and alive and fully you, even when the darkness comes. I'm glad Gray Cat has you as a companion, and you let us in.

Posted by: Matt Penning | May 30, 2014 10:14:10 PM

With this post I think you've helped a substantial number of people you don't know in ways you can't know. You and Gray Cat are my heroes. (Heroine, for GC.) xo

From one who is there and doing that, I agree that Styron's and Andrew Solomon's books are excellent, as are Kay Redfield Jamison's "An Unquiet Mind" and "Night Falls Fast." (KRJ writing about bipolar illness, mostly [I just have the one pole], but still highly illuminating.) "Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression," edited by Nell Casey, is also very much worth reading.

Of course, never underestimate the power of Gray Cat's Fuzz Therapy. (Many thanks to Calvin & Hobbes for their Fuzz Therapy via comic strip.)

Posted by: Flautist | May 30, 2014 9:44:41 PM

That same black dog has laid on my chest, wandered around my house, and held me hostage. Not lately, thank God.

I heard there's a pub called "The Black Dog" in Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard. I've always wanted to go there so I could buy the t-shirt but realize when I'm depressed, it would be in the laundry and I would be helpless in the face of laundry to be done.

Welcome back. Gray Cat will help. So will the spring/summer weather.

Posted by: Becs | May 30, 2014 8:23:38 PM

It seems "The Black Dog" bites most of us.

I am glad to read that you are getting better - maybe time does heal all wounds.

Posted by: terrence | May 30, 2014 8:13:21 PM

Good post. Continue to feel better.

Posted by: Carol Feldman | May 30, 2014 7:45:34 PM

WOOT! I've been thinking about you, Joe, and hoping that you were feeling better. Thank you for peeking in again to the world of the living.

Posted by: Diana | May 30, 2014 7:24:22 PM

I am honored to share the same moniker.

Posted by: JoePeach | May 30, 2014 5:11:26 PM

You're great Joe.

Posted by: Pippi | May 30, 2014 2:59:05 PM

I hope you feel better soon Joe. Glad you have Grey Cat to keep you company.

Posted by: Rob | May 30, 2014 1:31:57 PM

But we had such hopes that the talented Gray Cat would blog in your absence!

I missed your postings. Thank you for your honesty and hope that you are feeling better. I believe you will see many comments with "Been there, done that," myself included.

Posted by: pictou | May 30, 2014 1:13:30 PM

Joe, thank you for your courage in reaching out even during your darkest times. Please know that as far away as you felt, you remained close for us your readers.

Posted by: Marianne | May 30, 2014 1:02:19 PM


Posted by: Tara | May 30, 2014 12:38:11 PM


Posted by: larry ziegler | May 30, 2014 12:30:50 PM

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