East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

It’s not depression, it’s just an overload of a-holes


Ever since I saw my father sink into depression and drag all of our family with him in his self-destructive attitude, I have blamed myself for not being able to catch the hints early on, and I have also started keeping my mind under observation.
Scared of losing it? You bet.

I have written in the past about the ups and downs of pursuing what could be described rather presumptuously as a creative career – be it writing, or teaching, or scientific research.
The condition of being constantly engaged, the mind constantly working on ideas, connections, developments, is in my opinion a big help in keeping dark mood at bay, but when it fails, it helps the dark moods to come on and do their thing.

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In the last few weeks, while battling with insomnia and other things, I noticed a curious thing: I’d be perfectly fine until sunfall, and then a sort of exhaustion would creep over me, stopping me from doing anything constructive.
Even reading a book becomes a fight, while a deep sense of unhappiness sets over my spirit.
It really got me scared.

What is this? Some kind of melatonin-related form of fatigue? Me feeling the weather (we have been alternating rain and fog these last three weeks)?
Not enough vitamins?
Too much tea?
Money worries?

It’s not the restlessness caused by having too many stories to write and not time enough to write them. I know that quite well.
It’s more like a feeling of physical and mental burn-out.
So I talked to my doc, and he found nothing wrong with me physically.
Go out more, he said. Take a good walk once in a while.

Then I tried a simple experiment.
Starting at 5 pm, and until 6.30 pm, I stopped checking Facebook. This is awkward, because I use Facebook to keep in touch not only with a lot of good friends, but also with clients and publishers and people I work with.
But for the sake of experimentation, I put up some music, and spent one hour and a half listening to music and reading.


And it went fine.
Best evening in almost a week.
So I did it again – changed music, changed book, changed chair… same effect.
And again. It works.

Of course, after 6.30 I went back online and I checked out a few discussions – like the one about translating Hope & Glory in Italian – and replied to a few posts from various friends.
And I also found a cartload of stupid comments to my posts, aggressive reactions and various signs of the creepy authoritarianism that’s taking a hold over my country.
Post a photo about the Great War? You get a nationalist comment.
Post an article about climate change? You get climate crisis deniers making circular arguments to show that black is white and everything’s grey anyway.
Post a music video? Somebody will feel compelled to tell you in detail how much your musical tastes suck.

I think on social media the first after-office hour has the highest concentration of hostility and animal aggression in the whole day. I think it’s because a lot of people feel repressed and stressed out in their day-to-day job, with mindless talk with their colleagues, meaningless rules and overbearing bosses, and when the cages are opened, and they are free, they are in a hurry to go out among the tribe, expose their genitals and start screaming like frigging primates to assert their dominance.

To feel alive.

And if you are the kind that does not like hostility and aggression and opinions presented as fact and all that… if you are someone like me, living through that hour, especially when your life’s already stressful on its own, can be shattering.

But take one hour off, and it will all be fine.
Because after one hour/one hour and a half, the comments and the screaming have lost their immediacy. Is something that happened in the past, and involved unpleasant individuals.
You shrug them off, and go to dinner.
And then, you brew yourself a cup of tea, fire up Scrivener, and start writing again.
It’s a beautiful world.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

4 thoughts on “It’s not depression, it’s just an overload of a-holes

  1. My father dropped in the dark hole of depression and died at the very bottom of it in 1995, after 5 years of nightmarish rollercoaster between ehuphoria and desperation when I was 24. The most tragic death, in my opinion, the self inflicted. I know what you’re talking about and feel close to your concerns. I remember him telling me: life is something to live not just to write about. I needed a long time before having fun again writing stories.
    In these months I’ve developed I great respect for your work, the humour, and deepness of your analysis. I know nothing about you, I dont’know you, and for sure I don’nt want to appear as a sort of literary stalker (aniway it’ so hard for me to frankly admire an Italian writer…) but allow me to reccomend to take care, to put your your wellbeing first and to take those walks (something I have to impose to myself more often also). As writers we really are called to take care of our bodies, our vehicles to imagine other lives, different personas, new exciting worlds. Because maybe people don’t always realize but they really need good books and stories. I want to believe (as someone stated once): life need to be written, not just lived. Feel alive. And please, forget my poor english.


    • You English is fine, and thank you for your comment.
      I am sorry to learn about your father – I sometimes wonder if something, in their upbringing or their shared history,made the generation of our parents more vulnerable to depression.
      And thank you for the kind things you say about me and my writing.
      Rest assured that I am taking care of myself – there are some bad days, but who hasn’t a bad day once in a while today?
      All shall be well, of this I am convinced.


  2. Maybe they believed too much in the legend of beeing strong-Callahan like men in a world of neveredning possibilities. They didn’t think enough about their own and external fragilities, about changing perspectives in order to adapt to the collapsing realities of family dynamic, job opportunities, changes oh hearts. Maybe, maybe. All my gratitude to them. So long.


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