I’m going to try to describe depression, now. ‘Depressed’ is a word that gets bandied around a lot, and although it’s a valid title for a lot of things, there’s a huge difference between what some shrinks call “reactive depression” and “clinical depression”. I used to have the one (and it was treatable, even curable, with more social contact and eating better and getting more rest and exercising and developing coping mechanisms). Now I have the other (and it’s treatable with medication, but never curable, and eventually the medication goes too far and puts me right back into the place I started out). Hence the need for an explanation… so here goes.
Life, with all its activities and places to go and things to do, is like a sunny backyard patio. There are some flowers around, in pots, with maybe the odd honeybee pollinating them, and a few butterflies fluttering about, and the day is mild and bright and although nothing’s particularly right or wrong, everything’s pretty peaceful. And even if the sky gets a little dark, or some rain falls, or the butterflies go away for a bit, or you maybe get stung by a bee, it’s okay, because, well, it just is. Into each life a little rain must fall, and all that jazz. And you’re a reasonably mature individual, you take some time looking after your own mental health, and so you understand that just because you’re not happy in the moment, that’s alright, that’s normal, that’s the way life is, and after all, how could you appreciate the good without the bad? (You obviously speak to yourself in clichés, just like me.) And everything is more or less fine.
One day, though. One day, you wake up and walk outside to your patio, and there’s just… a feeling that you can’t place. A feeling like someone’s watching you; here, in your safe, private backyard, where no one should be able to get in, there’s an intruder. And you don’t know how you know, but you know they mean you harm. You try to ignore them, maybe back slowly into your house, out of the light and into deeper, lockable safety, behind closed doors and bolted windows, but your back door slams shut before you can reach it, and then it just disappears. Your house is still there, but there’s no way in, it’s just 4 walls and 1 tiny window that’s big enough to show you all the things that used to be yours, but it’s nowhere near big enough for you to crawl through, and get back inside to safety. For just a moment, amidst the rising tide of panic, you are so, so profoundly sad for the loss of your things, yourself, that you forget to be frightened.
But all too soon, you realize you can hear the intruder again. You KNOW he is out there, creeping around in the woods, maybe climbing up the side of the house to pounce on you from the roof. You try to think of some way to fend him off, but you know you are ill-equipped, and any fight you get into, he’ll win. With no warning, the sky grows dark, and it’s so cold, the 1 lone bee and his butterfly friends have all flown away; and then hours pass, and eventually, from sheer exhaustion, you fall asleep, right there on the concrete floor of your patio, and you pray that the sun will come up as normal the next day. You’re not asking for much–you’re not even trying to get back into your house yet, because you know that’s impossible–but you’ll settle, and gladly, for a few hours in the sun, where you’re not being stalked by a stealthy, murderous trespasser. You fall asleep shaking, and even you can’t tell if it’s from terror or cold or maybe it’s God punishing you.