"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Not the Same
(Note: I know I'm writing two posts in a row about the same thing, but I wanted to say it clearer, and a bit differently.)
de-pres-sion Function: noun 1 : a state of feeling sad : DEJECTION 2 : a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies 3 : what nondepressed people can seldom understand
I realised something the other day, after the incident in putting the pet to sleep that I wrote about a few days ago.
I've mentioned the long lasting depressive episode I am in. After that happened, I was not only in a depression, but grieving at the same time.
Surprisingly, they are as alike as, well, apples and zebras.
That may surprise you. If so, then you have never felt chemically induced depression. Thank your lucky stars and pray fervently that you never do. On the other hand, if you understand what I said, I'm very sorry.
The difference between grief and depression, I think, is event driven.
Grief is an event driven emotion. we are thrown into it full bore by a huge hole in our lives that was previously filled by a person, a pet, or something we loved very much. We grieve for the absence in our lives, and for the separation we feel. Gradually, like the slow fading of color in a newspaper left in the sun, it becomes less and less intense until we can go on with our daily lives without it triggering unless we allow it to.
Depression is not like that at all. In depression, it may come suddenly or it may creep up as slowly as thick syrup pouring from a bottle. The hole isn't inside, it's in the depression itself, and we are thrown into it. Then we are caught in the maelstrom, whirling out of control ever deeper and deeper into the blackness until we know beyond a doubt that there will be no escape, never, ever.
Hopelessness envelopes us, but not the hopelessness of grief's loss. No, this is a hopelessness that is permeated with a feeling of confusion and, somehow, injustice. We feel so bad, and we have no idea why.
And thus it continues until either a person cycles out of it or meds arrest its progress. Assuming, of course, that the depressed person survives the episode.
So the grief and depression were quite different.
The grief is almost gone now, even though those last hours are burned into my mind forever.
We've thrown a few different meds at the depression, and the last one seems to be having an effect. We'll see.
What this has taught me is that there may never be a way for "normals" to understand mentally ill people. They use the word depressed and mean really sad. I use the word, and it means being consumed by a dark hurricane.
How do you communicate over a gap like that?
In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant. My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known -- no wonder, then, that I return the love. --Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher (1813 - 1855)