Thursday, October 28

“Depression has to do with the will to live, not with being happy or sad”


Colombian writer Margarita Posada is crying when she answers the call for this interview. I ask her if she prefers to postpone it, but she says no, that “maybe that won’t go away in a day” and she says between sobs that this is the first interview about her book that she will do “while depressed.”

“You think that when the book ends, the depression ends, but it’s not like that,” he explains.

In “Las deaths chiquitas”, published by Editorial Planeta in 2019, the author tries to explain -or understand herself during the journey of writing- his depression and what was it that happened before all the times that he fell into an empty abyss after having frantically conquered some summit.

On the one hand, we see a tireless Margarita, with a volcanic personality, who occupies all the spaces through which friends, lovers and family pass.

He introduces us to his loving pets; tell us about extraordinary and even enviable jobs that take her to cities of the world and to parties of overflowing euphoria sprinkled with alcohol and other addictions.

Describes in detail and with deep reflections a fatal Woman dominant, intellectual, with bright eyes, “of excess and exaggeration.”

Those stories with almost legendary confessions are woven, on the other hand, with those of the sad and defeated woman that on several occasions their parents are put into the house and into bed without being able to get up or get out of there; who spends months dressed in old chicken yellow sweatpants, uprooted and “broken inside.”

Catatonic A Margarita who makes meticulous calculations to commit suicide and who finally shares a piece of the origin of her depression: the story of her abuse when she was five.

BBC
BBC Mundo spoke with the writer who participated in two talks at the Hay Festival in Cartagena that took place virtually from January 27 to 31. (Photo: BBC)


Why is he crying? Why are you feeling so sad today?

During the 11 months of the pandemic I have lived dead laughing, helping everyone, feeling like a Superman, very full of life, but I am like the coyote of the “Road Runner” that continues with momentum to the middle of the abyss, so I suppose there will always be these types of disorders.

It had been two years since I had been depressed, that is generally the truce that this gives me. I feel a kind of uprooting, but everything is fine so it is very strange. My house is clean, divine, with blooming orchids; I spent three weeks on my farm, which is where my navel is; my dog ​​was happy. I was able to see my brother, my wife, my nephews.

I think they are like oscillations and that the lives of all human beings oscillate in a certain way, but a little bit smoother, not as downhill as mine, and that in the end trying to avoid the crests of the wave is what makes one does not fall so deep.

In your book “Little Deaths” you use a number of metaphors to explain your behavior and feelings, like, for example, that ‘crest of the wave’ you mention. What does it mean to be on the crest of the wave?

The crest of the wave is a state of hypomania. Those of us who suffer from depression very surely also know what it is to feel as if we had the Robocop costume. We are all powerful, nothing hurts us, it is like putting our finger on the candle.

Normal people remove their finger when burned, we don’t. It has to do with a lot of stamina and a lot of curiosity, but with the desire to live recklessly.

Depression ends up becoming precisely the result of that aversion to pain. And then it’s like “it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t hurt, I can do more, I can do more”, keeping everything that feels for a long time.

Then you end up swallowing your packet of shit in one sitting.

Posada
In “Little Deaths” the author tries to explain -or understand herself during the journey of writing- her depression. (Photo: BBC)

By that The book is called “Little Deaths”? What are those little deaths?

When I signed the book, it was called “Let’s talk about something else”, because generally when you say to someone “I’m depressed”, the first thing they respond is “okay, but let’s talk about something else”.

Then I ended up calling it “Little Deaths” because I thought it honored what it feels like to be depressed, it’s like being dead when you are little.

If that gives one the possibility to continue living, then what happiness to die small and not have to face the big death that is to commit suicide.

You explain what depression is and is not, it seems that your mission was to make readers understand something about it, what?

I think that at first there was a great intention to show how misunderstood depression is in our society, but then I realized that depression was misunderstood because no one who has depression talks about it.

So it’s like coming out of the closet and in the end I also end up being much more compliant with people who weren’t able to approach me and ask or be with me because they simply had no idea what to do.

I have become much more empathic with them because waiting for others to understand is ridiculous. It is only understood by someone who has gone through these states, which is as if a cable were pulled from one, the root, the navel.

Depression has to do with the will to live, not with being happy or sad. When one is sad it is because something is missing; when you get depressed, you don’t need anything, but you don’t connect with anything either, not even with the good that is happening to you.

The book ended up being simply an explanation for myself, very different from what I imagined I would write.

What was that first book like?

My mother told someone who interviewed her and I had never understood it like this: “Margarita began by writing an epitaph and ended up writing a cry of hope”, as she was no longer such a vein cutter.

At first it was going to be a fiction that went through the lives of people who have been close to me and who have committed suicide.

And everything revolved around suicide and what saves us. Suddenly there was a moment when I saw that it wasn’t about that, it was about me.

Posada
“Depression has to do with wanting to live, not with being happy or sad.” (Photo: BBC)

There are unexpectedly painful bits in her book like the episode of her abuse when she was 5 years or your thoughts about suicidal methods. What can you share about it?

I removed some of those parts from the book, out of respect for my parents, as a very clear description of when the phone rang while I was hanging from the rafters of their house. My dad’s unrepentant cries of “why don’t you answer?” prevented me from hanging, I got down to answer.

Also the description of the abuse narrated almost minute by minute, because really the bottom of my depression is that abuse that I suffered when I was little.

I completely forgot the episode until I remembered it, after a boyfriend told me at age 25 about what had happened to him. That’s where my bouts of depression began.

During all this time that I have been trying to process what happened to me, forgiving little by little every day, understanding that finally what I need is to be at peace with it.

Not because I am giving any peace and save to anyone, but to be able to give peace and save to myself.

You say that, although we associate the soul with the heart, depression does not occur in the heart, where does depression happen to you?

I believe that the stomach is the true heart and I believe that depression is chemically in the head. I ended up realizing, kicking around, that this disease is difficult especially because the body is at the mercy of the head and if the head gets sick, everything is complicated.

You have to ask a tiny piece of your head to rebel against the chemistry that is not working and to have the minimum sanity to put the head at the mercy of the body, not let it happen the other way around. So you have to swim, walk, force yourself and be stubborn. Little by little it is achieved, without a doubt.

What my depression has taught me is that there is nothing more spiritual than the chemistry of the body and I believe that whenever human beings talk about spiritual or spirit experiences, we are talking about chemical effects.

Posada
“Really, the bottom of my depression is that abuse that I suffered when I was little.” (Photo: BBC)

There are anecdotes in which you tell how you distrawas going their moods with alcohol, parties, sex, travel, etc. And how then he went from euphoria to depression. Now it seems that you have other tools to feel better, what are they?

I do yoga and swim. Starting to walk, as I explain in my lane chapter, balancing one foot at a time. Don’t give me marathon homework, don’t try to be perfect all the time. If – as now – my voice is breaking, then let my voice break.

Be compassionate to yourself because depression is very unsympathetic.

I have also completely changed my lifestyle, I have not drank alcohol for five years, and it is not because I am virtuous, but because I need it. The question of whether I am an alcoholic or not an alcoholic does not matter to me, but the liquor generates more depression in me.

I also repeat and even tweet it: don’t underestimate the power of a bathroom. For me water is healing. Change clothes, because I am one of the people who goes to live in a change of clothes when I get depressed.

And, very importantly, I wouldn’t be telling the story if books didn’t exist. Sometimes reading melancholic things when you are depressed is the right thing to do because it makes you feel much less alone in that feeling.


If you or someone close to you is depressed or in trouble, seek help. You can find here support resources according to your region:


This article it is part of the digital version of the Hay Festival Cartagena, a meeting of writers and thinkers that takes place in that city colombianof the 22 to January 31 of 2021.


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