Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Journey Through Darkness

A Journey Through Darkness - My Life With Chronic Depression -

DEPRESSION — THE THICK BLACK paste of it, the muck of bleakness — was nothing new to me. I had done battle with it in some way or other since childhood. It is an affliction that often starts young and goes unheeded — younger than would seem possible, as if in exiting the womb I was enveloped in a gray and itchy wool blanket instead of a soft, pastel-colored bunting. Perhaps I am overstating the case; I don’t think I actually began as a melancholy baby, if I am to go by photos of me, in which I seem impish, with sparkly eyes and a full smile. All the same, who knows but that I was already adopting the mask of all-rightness that every depressed person learns to wear in order to navigate the world?
As an adult, I wondered incessantly: What would it be like to be someone with a brighter take on things? Someone possessed of the necessary illusions without which life is unbearable? Someone who could get up in the morning without being held captive by morose thoughts doing their wild and wily gymnastics of despair as she measures out tablespoons of coffee from their snappy little aluminum bag: You shouldn’t. You should have. Why are you? Why aren’t you? There’s no hope, it’s too late, it has always been too late. Give up, go back to bed, there’s no hope. There’s so much to do. There’s not enough to do. There is no hope.

Surely this is the worst part of being at the mercy of your own mind, especially when that mind lists toward the despondent at the first sign of gray: the fact that there is no way out of the reality of being you, a person who is forever noticing the grime on the bricks, the flaws in the friends — the sadness that runs under the skin of things, like blood, beginning as a trickle and ending up as a hemorrhage, staining everything. It is a sadness that no one seems to want to talk about in public, at cocktail-party sorts of places, not even in this Age of Indiscretion. Nor is the private realm particularly conducive to airing this kind of implacably despondent feeling, no matter how willing your friends are to listen. Depression, truth be told, is both boring and threatening as a subject of conversation. In the end there is no one to intervene on your behalf when you disappear again into what feels like a psychological dungeon — a place that has a familiar musky smell, a familiar lack of light and excess of enclosure — except the people you’ve paid large sums of money to talk to over the years. I have sat in shrinks’ offices going on four decades now and talked about my wish to die the way other people might talk about their wish to find a lover.

As someone who goes through depression quite often - although not as badly as the writer - I found this article very helpful. She describes exactly the feelings of useless and desire just to stay at home that can just well up, often for no outside reasons, and overwhelm you.

I had never considered reading as a deflection measure, but now see it is. Blogging for me is a way to get my mind on something else.

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