I would like, if I may, to introduce to you a man. He is a depressive (hereafter to be used not as a term of judgement on a person’s personality, but of their entrenched depression), and he would tell you that himself. Neither he, nor I, would treat that term as a marker of pride or of shame, or because we want to elicit a particular sympathy from anyone listening. “I,” he would say, “am a depressive”. It may have something to do with his permanent physical ailment (depression is an extremely common occurrence amongst anyone who happens to suffer from a debilitating health disorder, such as diabetes), or it may simply be who the man in question is. In the past, he has been prescribed anti-depressants, but he has refused to take them.
If he was depressed, he reasoned, then it must be for a reason – it must be because there is something in my life making me depressed and, instead of hiding behind the shield of medication, I must work to resolve that issue. This, you will agree, shares a great deal of his perception of depression. He believed that depression was a rational thing; something that could be worked at, fought on its own terms and eventually defeated. Like it was a wall to break through; like it was a prison cell to sunder.
It has become apparent, to me, that depression is not actually the result of any extraneous circumstance, as our subject believed. Depression is not contextual. Instead, I have come to understand depression as a result of personal interpretation. A true depressive (which, once again, is not a grandiose term looking to place one form of misery above another in some hierarchy of contentment) is impossible to cure without showing them the executioner’s needle. To a true depressive, their depression is impossible to relieve. It is as much a part of them as their memories, as what fleeting passions they manage to cling to.
A study of the depressive tends to reveal the same vague sensations which are practically impossible to truly transcribe. Perhaps the most effective, and certainly one of those I would agree with, is that depression is, ultimately, a feeling of hollowness. It is not an emptiness, per se, but hollowness in the sense that the exterior of the depressive is so thin, so ‘porcelainate’, that in and of itself it becomes a major component of the depressive’s hollowness. Personal experience lays this hollowness at the back of the throat, or feeling like it’s just below my oesophagus. It might seem odd to try and physically place a feeling which is largely emotional and certainly mental, but it seems to be the most honest description I can conjure. A hollowness at the back of the throat.
In addition to this hollowness, there are many other symptoms of the depressive. The lack of excitement and hope in favour of a general, all-consuming sense of anxiety – a form of anxiety, in fact, which often results in a borderline obsession with the event, situation or context of the anxiety. This is a permanent anxiety which flickers from source to source like some form of physical parasite. This anxiety is also reflected in terms of nostalgia – but not a positive one. Depressives often find themselves caught in a permanent cycle of shame; something as little as an awkward reply in a single conversation can sit and fester on the brain for months, which can often lead to a form of insomnia.
True, also, is the fact that depression can severely impact motivation. The instinctive, gut-reaction of the depressive to practically everything is ‘fuck off’. Largely, this comes from an understanding that nothing genuinely matters, and a perception that even those things which arguably do matter are irrelevant. This can manifest itself in laziness which not only has its own range of severe side effects, including weight change, lack of exercise, lack of sunlight, low energy, low inspiration to look after oneself and, perhaps most commonly, a disturbance of one’s sleep pattern which can then contribute to the already existent insomnia, thereby making it practically impossible to sleep until early the following morning, if at all.
The most common misrepresentation of depression, or rather the fight against one’s own depression, is that many people tend to picture it as something to be overcome. In my experience, that is blatantly untrue; instead of being something to defeat, it is something that one learns to exist with. Or it kills one. I have heard the great metaphors, of depression as a dragon desperately requiring some heroic passion for its defeat, or for the silver bullets of drugs to bury the werewolf of depression once and for all.
In truth, depression is an endless ocean. An ocean which sometimes sits calmly and is sometimes rocked by the most nauseating of storms. Sometimes the water will open into gigantic whirlpools and swallow the depressive, causing them to kick and fight and scream against their own consciousness. Sometimes, the water is a muddy blue and sometimes it is pure black, reflecting every glance the depressive throws its way. Sometimes it recedes enough for the depressive to reach a small island, and shore up their boat before the water crashes down on forgotten sand again – even the most well-built and protected of boats will be torn to shreds after so long in such foreign, volatile and blackened seas.
Yeah, so this has been inactive for a long time. Motivation is hard to come by. Hopefully, I’ll have more time over the next few weeks and months to really get back into the habit of using this platform; I’ve got plenty of stuff written and saved up for posting, it’s just a matter of making sure it’s actually worth throwing into the meagre public eye.
If you’re interested in reading any of the stuff I wrote before I took my half-year hiatus, then you can check out some ‘poetry‘ here!