02 October, 2013

the anatomy of sadness

today i walked to the university in the crisp october morning air and something happened that i did not expect at all. as i passed a neighbourhood church i noticed the small playground set someone had put up for the children. as i looked at it, i found myself thinking that it was a sweet gesture, something good and pleasant.

this left me reeling, because as far as i can ascertain it's been a very long time since i've seen anything as something other than dark and dismal. the thing with depression is that it creates the polar opposite of a silver lining - it suffuses the entire world with the kind of despondent darkness and sense of foreboding that is routinely used by the makers of horror films to make the serene seem sinister. (happy families in the park harbour horrible secrets; the sunlight on the river is cold and hideous; the future holds nothing but bitterness and ashes.) not wanting to frighten this fledgling feeling, i looked away and kept walking. as i crossed the footbridge and looked at the calgary skyline, i realised that i didn't hate it, that what i felt  was a sort of noncommittal neutrality: yup, there's a city. even the fall colours seemed, if not beautiful, then at least non-offensive.

now i know that this is far from over. i know there's more to come as i work through whatever the hell is eating me up (ideas? thoughts? send them my way! awesome prizes and give-aways for the most original notions!). one thing i've found in this go around is that i get breaks, moments of normalcy; hours, sometimes whole clumps of days pass by without my wanting to turn some sort of OFF switch on myself. these function in much the same way that breathers work during waterboarding - moments required for the continuation of life, if only so the torture can go on.

the first time i got three days of normalcy i bounced downstairs to my fabulous roommate's basement man cave office and announced that i was back. yeah. no. not so fast. that night i stayed up crying and thinking poky sharp thoughts. now i approach things a little more cautiously, but i have learned to take what i am given and use it to regroup, reevaluate, reestablish the fact that i am in fact a human and not just a quivering bundle of out of control misery. today's moments of hope seem... well, hopeful.

then again, september is over. but surely it can't be as simple as that!


Crusty Juggler said...

So well put! My version of depression was/is different. A constant non-stop buzzing with no particular highs or lows. Just low, and then lower. But I'm so glad you're getting bits of relief. I hope they become more frequent.

Zhoen said...

This is proof that what I'm dealing with is not depression, because I've never felt this way. Overlapped with it, yes, but this was never my core feeling.

Have you read Hyperbole & 1/2? She has two long cartoons about depression in the archives.


polish chick said...

i don't know if it's proof, zhoen. case in point - crusty juggler's experience has been completely different. i think there are many flavours of this shit.

as for hyperbole, yes! i was thrilled to see a new post. her posts on depression are absolutely brilliant!

Tom said...

Having never suffered from clinical depression, it is difficult to comment except to say, "Thinking of you, and hoping you some through very soon." It does appear that there are hopeful signs around you.