It was a nice two days, anyway.
But I couldn’t expect my depression to stay away for much more than that.
What I’m experiencing now isn’t a bottomless, cosmic cold sore, like last week’s depression. But it’s a definite downturn. And that (plus the fact that I’m stuck for other material) gives me an excuse to post a little essay about depression I’ve been thinking out. I justify this in two ways. One, I’m going to make a literary comparison. Two, some of you may be writers who don’t know much about deep depression (or is that an oxymoron?) and I hope to clarify exactly what the experience feels like. For the record.
One of the most notable (and surprising) characteristics of a truly ripe depression is the sense of clarity it seems to give.
Deep depression is like Occam’s Razor, a simple, elegant answer to the whole messy problem.
It’s like the “payoff” in a classic mystery. You know the scene where the detective gathers all the suspects and explains everything, extending an accusing finger at the true culprit (who generally pulls out a hidden gun and forces the detective to dispense quick justice)?
When you’re deeply depressed, you look over your whole life—everything you’ve done and experienced, and you say, “Oh, that explains it. It’s all so simple.” It’s like that moment of clarity one imagines one has just before one dies. Which, the depressee feels, is likely to happen any minute.
So it resembles the payoff in a mystery, as stated above, but the mystery isn’t an English Cozy, or even a Thirties Hard-boiled. It’s a Noir, directed by a Frenchman
I suppose it’s a little like the experience of LSD users. I don’t know about this from experience, but I’m told that musicians (for instance) who performed under the influence of the drug thought they were producing brilliant stuff. And were appalled when they heard recordings once they’d “come down.”
When you’re deeply depressed, all your questions are answered—unpleasantly. “Why am I having trouble at work? Why are my relationships going badly? Why is my health failing?” The answer is simple. “It’s all my own fault. I am a miserable, stupid person whom nobody loves. Not only is my life lousy, but it’s going to get worse and worse until I die. Which will be soon.”
I believe in reason. I’m a strong defender of reason (all praise to Francis Schaeffer). But human beings don’t always recognize reason (or unreason) in their own heads.
That, I think, is one of the things we need other people in our lives to help with.
I’ll go out and find some. Just as soon as I’m a little less depressed.
(Please note that the above, written under the influence of a certain level of depression, may all be complete hogwash.)