I’d like to write about depression this week. Not because it’s been in the news. (Though I’m glad that it has been.) I’d like to write about this subject for a much more personal reason. As it happens, I’ve been experiencing a depressive episode for the past several days.
I’ve come to realize recently just how much depression is a disease. Part of me had always resisted that label. Disease. It made it sound like I had the chicken pox or something. Or that I were creating a false equivalence between my ailment and, say, cancer. Something legitimate.
Despite everything that I’ve experienced and learned, I still struggled with the nagging doubt that this was “all in my head”. And I had always wanted to believe that there existed some remedy that could make me “better”. A change in circumstances, or behavioral patterns, or the application of any of the tools I had learned while in treatment for depression.
To me, depression was primarily a logical beast. I felt that if I could reason with it, barter with it, then it would shuffle away and leave me alone. “If I engage in mindful living, will you no longer afflict me?” “If I exercise more?” “If I sleep better?” “If I eat better?” “If I spend more time playing guitar?”
But I have had to admit that depression is utterly unconcerned with the remedial activities in which I may engage. It comes and goes as it pleases. There may be a reason, a trigger, for a depressive episode. There may be several. Or there may be none. It may simply appear.
To be sure, there are things that I can do to prepare. I can board up the doors and windows, and make sure I’m stocked up on bread and toilet paper. But none of that provides a guarantee of safety. The power may still go out. The house may still be damaged, or flooded. And the waters will remain until they recede.
Right now, the house is still flooded. And I’m trying to wait it out as best I can. Writing is one thing I’ve chosen to do in the meantime. It’s not an easy task at the moment. One of the more insidious aspects of depression is its sabotage of any attempt to reach out. Interacting with others becomes difficult, and feels impossible. Even writing becomes laborious, when the writing is about how I’m really doing.
The biggest reason why I’ve resisted labeling this thing a “disease” is that I want to have hope that someday I won’t be bothered by depression anymore. Because it really does suck. But I don’t know if that’s going to happen. Which I don’t say to be fatalistic or, well, depressive. It may simply be the truth.
Which is fine, I guess. I can treat it. I can practice the things that I’ve been taught. For the most part, I’m able to do what I need to do. I hold down a job. I keep the kids from killing each other. And I try to work on my quality of life. But I do get tired sometimes.