I've been trying to do more regular postings for a while, but, try as I might, no subjects seemed to have come to mind: at least, no subjects about which I feel I have anything useful to say.
I've come to the conclusion that the reason for this is that I've been wanting to write about a specific something, but been too afraid to do so, so it's sat there like a baby reluctant to be born and holding all the other babies up (yes, I know, it's not a very good metaphor, but it's the one in my head).
Clearly nothing else is going to happen until I get this one out of the way. So here goes.
I've recently gone through I fairly severe bout of depression. This is not unusual for me, nor, really, surprising, given that I've recently chosen to be made redundant from a stressful job. However the intensity and duration have been unexpected, and unpleasant.
Why don't I want to talk about it here?
I know that be posting on the Internet, I am making my comments available, in principle, to everyone, from close friends to prospective employers. And, because of the power to download, and to share, I may find that my comments are unable to be taken back.
It might seem strange to some, but I am less uncomfortable with the possibility of strangers poring over my miseries than of close friends and family members finding out how bad things can be, and have been. But I have not worn a mask in front of strangers. I have with family and friends. It's partly down to pride/shame, partly not wanting to give extra burdens to those who love me, and partly a desire to behave normally for a while, and push the Black Dog out of sight.
I don't know whether it's really true or not that the peoples of the far north have many words for snow, but either way I'm sure that they are aware of many kinds of snow.
We only have one word for depression, but I've experienced many kinds of depression. If they didn't all happen around the same time I might not even believe they were connected, although they can overlap. Here are some:
- A heavy, aching, soul-sucking dread. The first time it happened, many years ago when I was still immersed in evangelicalism, I thought it might be a demonic attack. It takes all the meaning out of the world. I wonder if Philip Pullman's spectres were inspired by this.
- An intense conviction that nothing will ever be OK again: that how you feel now will never change. There is no hope.
- Sudden, unpredictable, attacks of fear. I might be working away at my Mac when suddenly one would sweep over me, and I would rush to my bed, climb in, and pull the covers over my head (I suppose this is technically anxiety, but to me – and others – anxiety is an integral part of depression.
- Loneliness. The certainty that no-one will ever understand. Including God. If God exists.
- A feeling that the world has become monochrome: a longing to be surrounded by colour again, not by shades of grey.
- Waves of grief that seem to come from nowhere and leave my crying helplessly. Although the grief seems to want to attribute itself to specific reasons, I'm not convinced. Sometimes that little bit of me that is above the storm looks, observes, and wonders where it has come from.
- The conviction that when I am in this state I am seeing the world as it really is (I hasten to add I don't think I'm being very original when I think this). We live briefly. We rarely realise our dreams. We grow fail and die. Generation after generation, the same tale, told by an idiot, signifying nothing.
I'm now looking at this from outside. I'm trying to record the experience before I forget. Why. I don't really know. But if the title of this blog means anything, I cannot leave it out, and I owe it to the people I love to be real with them about this, at least in writing. Maybe I'll honour them with more trust and vulnerability the next time it happens, as it certainly will.
Thank you to the people who love me and have stuck by me. Unobtrusively, unpatronisingly, and persistently, with simple friendship.
Here, gratis, is a poem I wrote many years ago, about the same experience. I originally titled it 'Withdrawn'.
Slide into obscurity, as
Double glazed panels slot into place
Familiar faces become slightly blurred
And infinitely distant.
Where before, hands would touch
And speech connect,
My voice reflects back on itself,
and my fingertips slide defeated from the glass