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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

How to live longer

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on February 2, 2016

Appropriated from

Appropriated from

Tom and Ray Magliozzi of Car Talk fame did a bit where they bemoaned having to exercise regularly. If exercising a half hour every day adds up to a year of exercise in your life, one or the other of the Magliozzi brothers quipped, you’ll live just one year extra plus a day before you “buy the farm.”

So what if I said you could live longer with or without exercising more, without actually doing anything different than you’re doing now?

I drank alcohol regularly for 30 odd years prior to stopping completely on January 1, 2010. I wasn’t a fall down drunk, nor did I actually get wasted drunk, but I was a daily maintenance drinker. I drank until I got my buzz on. For that 30 years, when I wasn’t forced to go to work, I woke routinely around 9, 10 in the morning. After I stopped drinking I was depressed for another 9 months and so I continued to rise late in the morning, even though I retired and no longer had to work. That means I was sleeping 9 to 10 hours a night.

When I finally got on top of my depression, I resolved to curtail my sleep to a more normal 7-8 hours a night, meaning that I now wake at 7 or earlier most mornings. That’s 1 to 2 hours extra of wakefulness a day on average, which adds up to 15 to 30 more days of being awake each year.

No one knows the time of one’s death. Waking earlier doesn’t actually extend the date of one’s dying, but it does give one more time to be awake, and hence consciously alive. Plus, I wake up at a calmer, more peaceful time of my day. I feel like a get more done these days as well. That’s something.

Besides, I get to catch a sunrise now and then on my new schedule.

Posted in alcoholism, life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Vic Chesnutt, Cowboy Junkies, and the cure for depression

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 23, 2014

Cowboy Junkies. Photo by Chris Lay

Cowboy Junkies. Photo by Chris Lay

Cowboy Junkies performed two sets on Saturday, June 21 at Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. The second set was devoted to playing the entire Trinity Session album in full, with the first set featuring songs from CJ’s Nomad series of four albums. Two songs–“Wrong Piano” and “Square Room”–were Vic Chesnutt covers from their “Demons” album.

Vic Chesnutt at the Bowery Ballroom in New York in 1999. Photo by Rahav Segev

Vic Chesnutt at the Bowery Ballroom in New York in 1999. Photo by Rahav Segev

I went into a depression when I stopped drinking. One of the things that helped me combat my depression was listening to Vic Chesnutt. Terry Gross did an interview with Chesnutt on December 1, 2009 in which Vic talked about his various suicide attempts in his life and how he felt about his just released song “Flirted With You All My Life:” “This song is a joyous song, though. I mean, it’s a heavy song, but it is a joyous song. This is a breakup song with death, you know what I mean?” Here’s a version of that song recorded December 14, 2009:

Vic was left a partial quadriplegic after a drunken automobile accident at 18 in 1983. Vic was in frequent pain, struggling with alcohol abuse, and depressed for much of the rest of his life. Despite feeling better at the time of the above “Fresh Air” interview, Vic Chesnutt committed suicide on December 25, 2009 from a conscious overdose of muscle relaxant pills. He had racked up some $50,000 in debt due to medical bills by then. “And, I mean, I could die only because I cannot afford to go in there again.” Vic said to Terry Gross of his choices. “I don’t want to die, especially just because of I don’t have enough money to go in the hospital.”

Singer/song writer Vic Chesnutt

Singer/song writer Vic Chesnutt

At first blush, it seems counterintuitive to listen to dark, morose music in order to alleviate one’s depression. There’s a whole subculture, called Goth, centered around depressed adolescents listening to depressing music. The Cowboy Junkies have been described not just as alt country, but as “Gothic country,” and Vic Chesnutt’s musical style has been called “Southern Gothic.” However, in The Way of the Samurai, Yukio Mishima commented that: “Hagakure insists that to ponder death daily is to concentrate daily on life. When we do our work thinking that we may die today, we cannot help feeling that our job suddenly becomes radiant with life and meaning.”

Rest In Peace, Vic Chesnutt.

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