Saturday, 13 February 2016

No Apologies For The Infinite Radness 1.1.8 - "War on Drugs" (Barenaked Ladies)

(Trigger warning: suicide)

There is a woman, present tense, and things are going very badly for her. She has a plan to make herself feel better, but it's simply not one that can work. She dreams of a past that never existed, and reclaiming a husband who will never return. So there she sits, balanced between two tapestries of lies, cracked and mangled.

The narrator is having dreams about her dying in the bath again. But what does this mean? Has she already died once, and he's reliving it? Or does he worry she'll die, and having the same sad dream about it over and over? Someone is dead, we know that much, but is it her? Just what are the demons haunting him? Do they spin misery? Or regret?

It doesn't matter, in the end. Some demons make you feel guilty, and some make you feel miserable, but sooner or later they switch places.  Or perhaps I should say that they breed. If there's one thing the monsters in your mind excel at, it's generating new monsters. An infestation. A colonisation. A war.

I have a friend who I am quite sure is suffering from depression. Having no medical experience whatsoever, this diagnosis is worth no more than a pinch of salt drowning in a bucket of warm spit, but I know what I see.  And he won't ask for help. That's not how he was raised. A man finds his own solutions, or he isn't a man. Medication is for quitters; the move towards pharmacological solutions must be fought.

The war on drugs. 

It is as the song says hard to admit, but I used to fight that war myself, long ago, before I realised just how totally and horribly I was losing. Losing sleep, losing friends, losing joy. And even when peace treaties were signed and diplomatic lines established with a slip of green paper and a fortnight of addlement and nausea, the demons didn't stop whispering. They just shifted from misery to guilt.

Near where the narrator lives there's a viaduct. They've put a suicide net there to catch people trying to end their lives by hurling themselves into space. But does that stop people from killing themselves? Or does it just mean they kill themselves indoors instead, where the rest of us don't have to take notice? Where we can go about our day. Every time I'm on a train that stops because someone is on the tracks, I look around at my fellow passengers rolling their eyes and remind myself I once knew someone who killed himself by jumping in front of a train.  Nets and railings and fences are valuable, sure, but they're not a solution, they're what we have to have in place whilst we look for a solution.

Or they should be. We don't actually seem all that bothered about the problem in the first place. The commuters roll their eyes, and wonder how much the delay will make their workdays harder. The wheels, sooner or later, keep turning.

"Another died, and the world just shrugged it off."

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