Have I written recently about depression? Like medicine, it’s something easily forgotten when not immediately needed. Not that I imply that I need depression! (Although, do read on as to how I may be wrong.) I think it’s almost safe for me to write about how much better I feel now than I have for a long, long time. Maybe since early teens.
Like the title says, this is not one of those “How I beat ****** and lived to tell the tale” -stories. No; I’m not healed. My therapist tells me it is possible to be cured of depression (although I find that hard to believe), but I still have my periods (ha!*) of good old gloom. However, they’re shorter, milder and less frequent. In fact, lately for most days I feel, for lack of a better word, normal. There have been a couple of random moment when I might even have wandered across on temporary contentment, or possibly even brief moments of happy.
If you have never experienced depression, you have no idea how strange, wonderful and freaky that is. For me, normalcy is something that is best described as feeling nothing, but not in the way depression-normalcy feels. Depression-normal is gray and dull. Normal-normalcy is regularity, everyday, colours as they are, good and bad things notwithstanding. There are roughly two kinds of people in the world: those to whom normal means everything that is good and right in the world; and those, to whom it stands for stagnancy, conservatism and boringness. Most people I know, myself included, belong in the latter caste. It’s the caricature-normal we think of when we say “normal”. Nobody really wants to be like everybody else! But feeling normal, surprisingly, does not make me want to wear cardigans and house decorate for babies.
That utter un-named fear of normal is possibly why some of us with depression shun healing. “If I cease to be depressed,” we think to ourselves, “Will I stop being creative and different and me?” The brain that takes us down the slippery slopes of depression also takes us to look at the world in a different way (some have written we can see the world as harsh reality, without the softening effect of optimism and belief in general goodwill), which makes us sometimes arrive at ideas we may otherwise have never thought of. The very same brain that makes us hate ourselves with a passion may, at any given time, give us such insight or moments of brilliance, that regardless of the terrible all-consuming, guilt-riding, self-serving depression we hesitate to give it away lest it takes it all away with it.
A human being is a creature of habit, and as habit go, depression is a faithful old dog. It haunts our every step; every moment of joy is trailed by lurking shadows; we never forget depression, and we rest assured that if everything else in the world should fail, one thing remains constant. Unlike regular life, depression bears only known risks and darkness; regular life has ups to contrast downs, but those just make the downs so much more terrible! Anyone with manic periods (whether bipolar or not) will probably know what I mean; once you get down from a high point, it’s a hell of a drop. Depression may be the only safe place to rely on when the world just seems too much.
I am not saying depressed people choose depression any more than cancer patients choose cancer, and anyone with a just-cheer-up solution to depression is welcome to come try that at me. It is just that a fist in your face often offends, etc. But, sometimes, death seems less of a danger than life.
As for me — I feel as though I’m in a strange calm where I fear no death and hold wary optimism towards life. Having a job and a boyfriend and moving in a new flat together in a few weeks (ta-dah!) certainly helps; but the fact remains I would not be in this situation were I in the mental state I was eighteen or twenty-four months ago. How did the improvement happen? The depression in me would say: “Time”. I would, however, attribute a large part of the healing process to actively attending therapy (twice a week for two years; once a week now) and eating my medicine like a good girl. I recognise life will not always be easy and I feel fairly certain that sooner or later I will make another nosedive… but maybe, just maybe, it won’t be so bad this time. I know now normalcy for what it is, and I don’t have to dread it anymore.
* You know. Periods = hormone things = mood instability = depression.