It sounds like there were times you felt pretty close to going under.
It’s just a matter of how prone you are to real mental disorder. It’s true that certain suffering is educational. It’s true that experience is important. That artists have an unstable psychic nature and sometimes it’s valuable. All these things that you’ve heard about writing, about the artist, are true. But a lot of people spend most of their life in acute pain. And it breaks some people. I was no stranger to depression and many distressed kinds of states, but at a certain point it really wasn’t funny. And at that point you have to start being what the Christians call ‘born again.’ You’ve got to recreate your personality so that you can live a life appropriate to your station and predicament. And having illusions makes it very difficult to create an appropriate self.
Leonard Cohen’s Nervous Breakthrough by Mark Rowland, Musician, July 1988.
Leonard Cohen & Depression
A summary of the clinical depression from which Leonard Cohen can be found at Leonard Cohen’s Depression, Its (Failed) Medical Treatment, & Its Resolution