Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thank You, Doctor Who

If you've known me for any length of time, you know that, for better or worse, I am largely defined by my illnesses, both physical and psychological.  Crohn's Disease and my other autoimmune illnesses limit what I can do physically, and depression often limits me psychologically and emotionally.  The physical and the psychological are certainly inextricably linked, but after 45 years I have come to largely understand what is going on with my various physical illnesses.  I know when I can leave the house, I know that the first thing I need to know about a new place is the location of the bathroom, and so forth.  I recognize that I am going to spend most of each day in pain to varying degrees.  It may be abdominal pain to rival appendicitis.  It may be neuropathic pain which has no basis in reality apart from feeling quite real to me.  It may involve painful joints from arthritis, or it may be some combination of everything.  With a migraine for the cherry on top.  But pain is always there, and it never, never, never goes away.

My point is that I can almost guarantee you that the level of my depression will directly correlate with the amount of pain I am in.

I try not to let it dominate my life.  I try to keep it from my family, and for the most part I am, I think, successful.  They know I have pain, don't misunderstand me, but I like to think that I'm able to keep the actual level of pain to myself.  I'm probably delusional; they probably know exactly how badly I am hurting.  But it's easier on me if I don't "know" that.

When I am one straw away from the camel's back breaking, when I am sorely tempted to just go upstairs and take that entire bottle of pain medication so that I can just be DONE with it...I put on a DVD of "Doctor Who."

Yes.  "Doctor Who."  The long-running British children's science fiction programme for which there should be a countdown clock somewhere off to your right, right now.

People think that science fiction often has no heart.  Or no relevance.  My parents used to make fun of "Star Trek," wondering why on Earth I was wasting my time watching grown adults run around in their pajamas.  I could explain the appeal until I was blue in the face, and they would never, ever get it.  I often run into the same thing with "Doctor Who."  Yet I can honestly tell you that the Doctor keeps me alive.

I defy anyone to watch the episode about Vincent Van Gogh and not be moved at the end, when Vincent comes forward in time and hears the curator, played by Bill Nighy, explain how he is not only the greatest artist who ever lived but also one of the greatest human beings.

I defy anyone to watch "Don't Blink" and not be astounded at the quality of the writing, and the acting, and the casting (Carey Mulligan!  Carey freakin' MULLIGAN!  And did I mention Bill Nighy?)

And I defy anyone to watch Neil Gaiman's episode, "The Doctor's Wife," and not be touched when the Doctor's "wife" says, "Hello."

I can't tell you how much I look forward to this silly little British show.  How much I count on being moved by it to remind me of what it means to be human.  How much I count on it to give me hope.  Thank you, Russell Davies and Steven Moffatt and Matt Smith and Karen Gillan and Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant.  Thank you for saving me, and for giving me something to look forward to when the last thing in this universe I want to do is go forward.

Is "Doctor Who" solely responsible for me not joining the choir invisible?  Of course not.  I know, most days at least, what it would do to my family and friends.  They certainly keep me going when the going is hard.  As does my writing, including what I write here, and as does music.  I am sure that getting to sing with friends has played a huge part in my sticking around.  But "Doctor Who" is certainly a lovely little bonus.  And when I'm all alone, and things are pretty rotten and desperate, there's always that Blu-Ray of "Vincent."

Try it sometime.

No comments:

Post a Comment