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Solitude. Saturday June 14, 2014

I have just finished reading a fairly recent biography of Leonard Cohen. It's by Sylvie Simmons. I couldn't put it down; it was so fascinating.

Leonard Cohen as many of you will know suffered from depression. This is examined, explained and well documented in the book.

However, despite severe depression throughout his life, Leonard Cohen managed to write the most beautiful poetry and songs. He will be 80 in September and is still writing.

He had many set backs like we all do but he kept on at what he loved doing. He was asked once in an interview if he thought that his depression formed the basis of his sometimes mournful lyrics but he categorically said no. What he did say has remained with me. He said that his writing was "a victory over depression" that despite it, he was able to write. Not all the time, not easily and not without tremendous effort and determination, but his poems represented for him a victory over and not a reflection of his depressed state of mind.

And now finally I come to the solitude bit.

Leonard Cohen is largely over his depression and has been for some years; it is not age that has relieved him of it but solitude.

After a long tour one year, he returned to Montreal and booked himself into a Buddhist monastery, which he had frequently done before when his schedule allowed. But this time, after over two years of touring with his band, he needed solitude and he stayed at the monastery longer then ever before. He still wrote in his room but was subjected voluntarily to a harsh regime, getting up at 3am some mornings. He emerged afterwards refreshed and energised. His years of depression had gone.

We all need solitude, time to think, write, just to be free of noise and demands. We may not have the luxury of a Buddhist retreat, we are not Leonard Cohen, but we can learn from his experience and try to take some time off for ourselves every now and again. A room of ones own will do.

Julia
A Moodscope member.


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Comments

crafty wee midden Sat, Jun 14th 2014 @ 8:35am

I just wrote a response and it vanished...basically, thank you...LC hels me greatly, have always been a fan, and right now Im grieving the loss of my husband of 34 years....and his words and music help a lot....thanks for what you wrote

Anonymous Sat, Jun 14th 2014 @ 9:02am

People who don't understand tell us to get out, socialise, be with people - it'll make us feel better. Solitude can be a solace, peaceful and self-pleasing. I'm not advocating being a hermit but one's own company can be sweet and self-nurturing.

valerie Sat, Jun 14th 2014 @ 10:11am

My theory is that those with depression and anxiety are more likely to be givers rather than takers in the broad sense.Even when you are at your lowest it is hard not to take on this role,even in the most casual conversation and small talk.I can't count how many times someone has told me they feel so much better after talking with me,or just being around me.I have come to regard this "aura" or whatever it is as more of a curse than a blessing.As well as lovely people,it attracts every drama queen and narcissist,leaving me exhausted and resentful.
When I am at my lowest,my darling dogs are the only company I can cope with."Socialising" is fine for extroverts,and good for them.For others it is very over rated.I think it was Jean Paul Sartre who said "Hell is other people"-right on Paul!

Anonymous Sat, Jun 14th 2014 @ 10:36am

Interesting that since being part of the meditative lifestyle of Buddhism, LC's depression has gone, mindfulness also proves these benefits by a 50% decreased risk of relapse to those who practice daily. This type of solitude offers great healing and can change lives for the better.

Anonymous Sat, Jun 14th 2014 @ 12:19pm

Totally agree here!

Anonymous Sat, Jun 14th 2014 @ 12:21pm

How interesting to have the value of solitude acknowledged!

Quacko Sat, Jun 14th 2014 @ 2:50pm

I wish that we all could step back like this- economics do not permit this.

Anonymous Sat, Jun 14th 2014 @ 3:44pm

Great post. I have always found people exhausting and its good to know its ok. As a child, family gatherings would almost hurt and I had no idea why. Nowadays I realise that I need quiet and solitude to exist. I'm not embarrassed by that anymore and find myself able to express that a little. Easy socialising is not me and I 'manage' myself into it if I have to. A Buddhist retreat sounds heavenly...wonder if we could raise a fund to experiment on one of us!!!!! I was raised on Leonard Cohen, another happy fan here. Love from the room above the garage.

Willow43 Sat, Jun 14th 2014 @ 7:58pm

Julia I totally agree,solitude is important to me as I have depression and anxiety.

Anonymous Sun, Jun 15th 2014 @ 10:08am

There are some great books on mindfulness and lots of free stuff on the web, you can find a bit of solitary time each day practising meditation and that won't cost you anything, just a bit of time and it can bring some peace and quiet and time out into your life

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sun, Jun 15th 2014 @ 1:26pm

So, so agree! I'm all for barricading myself in my castle, with the drawbridge up and the portcullis down; large "keep out" notices around the moat; with just my cats for company. People are overated!

Misread Mon, Jun 16th 2014 @ 12:54am

This is what we all need to do at times just to survive. I did'nt realise this until,instead my hound for company, a number of friends descended on me. One stayed for over a week and at first it was great. Then I found myself and Lacey escaping to the park for freedom of chatter and laughing and,sometimes,crying. I still have my bro staying but he is wonderful and great to spend time with.We have bonded very closely since his arrival. He has to find a job,home and a new life after his fiancee died tragically last Dec. He has to rehome his little dog Betty and I feel he needs me right now. But I need him too-not just for the company....He makes a really good spag bol!!

Julia Mon, Jun 16th 2014 @ 10:10am

That's a good idea room above the garage. Maybe the lucky person could book into the same retreat as L C, when he's there preferably

Deborah Mon, Jun 16th 2014 @ 11:44am

I can really understand this I have just been to my niece's wedding and my anxiety levels were out the window causing me to self medicate with diazpem and drink (I know not good) but I got quite tispy and oh so tired about 10 p.m. so I took myself off to my son's car just for an hour out and came back all refreshed. I was starting to feel guilty but I have to remind myself I needed to do this.

Anonymous Wed, Jun 18th 2014 @ 8:28pm

I've been trying to post comments on my iphone for the past week but it just erases them again and again and...this is the first time I've had the ole lap top to rectify things. Nice post Julia. Solitude keepeth me sane and we it's great to have reminders that that's ok! Thanks.

Julia Thu, Jun 19th 2014 @ 9:24am

It's nice (for me at least) that you kept trying. Thank you Anonymous. I like that..... "solitude keepeth me sane"

Dande Lion Sun, Jun 22nd 2014 @ 12:33pm

I value solitude so highly, its as important as food, water and sleep to a hsp (highly sensitive person type - as Dr Elaine Aaron wrote so eloquently about)
I'm just recovering from my partners 50th gathering last night, which was 'nice' but incredibly hard work having to be sociable with people who like drinking and making lots of superficial chit chat. this post has given me renewed permission not to try and make myself the extrovert i used to be in my 30s. having gone through a long dark tunnel of chronic physical and mental health, i'm emerging stronger, but more sensitive, finely tuned and healthily introverted. wishing you all as much beautiful solitude as you can manage. x Crafty Wee Midden (first post) I am sending loving peaceful wishes for your loss. x

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