Depression, as a term, generally calls to mind sadness. The average bear believes that someone with depression is sad, upset about something, as if your happy emotions have been depressed by a tongue depressor and they can’t express themselves except through occasional, unintelligible Charlie Brown Teacher noises.
That is not the full story. It isn’t only the Happy engine that has been depressed, but your spark plug. Being depressed is exactly like being a child who is bored. You moan and groan and flop around, and honestly, you really want to do something. There are things you want to do and be excited about, but you can’t quite put your finger on them, and you are stuck in a limbo of not knowing which to choose, where the energy went, and dazing off into the imaginary realm of listlessness. You ask your mom (or whoever is around) what you should do, whine, fling your arms around and when your mom can’t give you any reasonable solution you hate her and walk away to wallow some more.
Unfortunately, as an adult, there are all sorts of Responsible Emotions that get caught up in this too: self doubt, worry, shame, hopelessness, self criticism, frustration, anger, and, of course, guilt.
If we each had a personal motivator inside of our heads, people who are depressed have very bad ones. The best kind they usually get is Mr. Guilt. But unlike most personal motivators, he doesn’t give your butt a kick off the couch. Most personal motivators yell a lot and say a lot of things, and then get the audience, you, to stand up, move around, do a little dance and make a little love, then get down to work. Mr. Guilt only does the yelling part. And he isn’t very kind, or uplifting.
Because in your normal self under the tongue depressor you know that you should be doing things, that there is nothing stopping you, that procrastination does no good, that the list just keeps getting longer, and that there is something wrong, preventing you from pushing the tongue depressor out of your mouth and communicating. Your normal self sides with Mr. Guilt, and they get some great exercise together, going for long walks in the frontal lobe and limbic system, screaming profanities at the top of their lungs, while the rest of You gets a kick in the stomach every time they put their heel into your neurons.
So you sit on the couch, and you try to think of something that you could start. You get distracted, frustrated, hopeless, and you start all over again.
I wish I could wake up from this sleep. When I started on anti-depressants in April that is exactly what it felt like. Suddenly I was awake. Suddenly there was purpose, energy, beauty, and Mr. Guilt didn’t matter so much anymore.
But the above is how I’ve been feeling all morning. I sat down and wanted to cry because it all seemed so stupid. I’m not sad. J’aimerais plus le mot “triste” – il me fait penser plus à des larmes, bleu, et chagrin. There is just that thing I can’t name or touch that eludes me. If I could just find it then it would be ok and I could get up and do things. But I will waste my entire day looking for it.
I have two papers to write today, I have to work in the evening, and pack for the cottage. I want to just make it through the day, flop, but I really want to work.
I’m proud of myself for folding laundry, and for sitting down to write this. It’s a start.