I suffer with depression. Many themes in this sonnet relate to some important ideas that I needed to help me when I was languishing at the bottom of that angst ridden pit. A lot of the negative emotions sprang from worrying about how I would be perceived by others. Would they see me as weak, stupid or a waste of space? The shame of being depressed compounded the problem. My desire to present myself as being “OK” was precariously held together by lies and a false smile.
Shakespeare’s sonnet urges us to let go of our ego driven need to look good according to the standards of others. Boasting and adorning ourselves with trinkets is a hollow and endless rat race. We need to nurture our souls and take care of our inner selves. Why compete with others when it is their love that you wish to attain? You do not need to be better than someone in order to gain their friendship. We need to help each other navigate the ups and downs of this troublesome thing called life.
I have recently looked back at some of my old poetry attempts and found a few relevant to what we are studying. This one I found was written while I was in the middle of a very bad episode. I find it fascinating to read now and can see many similarities with Sonnet 146. There is nothing like a severe bout of depression to teach you humility and get you searching for what is really important in life. I was in a very bad way so please excuse the language.
The walls are cracking.
I can see the gaps opening.
All the lavish extensions falling away.
They amount to nothing.
A futile attempt to cover the truth.
The substructure is fucked.
My house will crumble.
There is no stopping this.
I have built a mansion
On foundations of shit.
And no matter what I attach to the exterior,
The base support is disintegrating.
I fought it long and hard.
Desperately trying to conceal the feeble foundations.
But there is no escaping the simple truth.
I must let it fall.
I must start again.
I will rebuild a new and reliable structure.
One that is grounded in truth.