It’s easier to write about depression in English than in Finnish. Maybe it has something to do with the realization that, despite all these decades, I’m not still ready to accept depression as a part of my nature, a big piece of my life. Writing in English helps me to look at depression as an interesting phenomenon, not as a part of me.
Well, I’m content to write about depression in any language. A few months ago I couldn’t have written anything about it.
Depression isn’t sadness. It isn’t gloominess. It has nothing to do with unhappiness. Depression isn’t a mood you’re in. You can feel yourself gloomy and sad, but you can get out of those moods. Maybe it takes some days, even weeks, but eventually you can shake off the unpleasant mood.
Depression can’t be shaken away like the blues. Depression hangs onto you with grey claws. Depression doesn’t wake you up in the morning; it forces you to sleep hour after hour, it makes your limbs weak and slow. If you manage to get rid of the sleep for some hours, you sit in a chair doing nothing. You see all those books on the shelves, but you can’t read anything. Your ability to concentrate is nil. You can’t listen to music, melodies are vague and unclear, words of songs are incomprehensible. The chat of people is as understandable. If you hear their words, it takes less than a second to forget what they said. It’s as though the place where your brain used to be, had been totally emptied and filled with black, thick cushions which muffle the world outside yourself. You can see there are movement, light, voices and happenings around you, but none of that touches you. You’re isolated, totally alone in yourself.
You want nobody near you. No one brings a smile on your face. A hug from your child feels nothing. You aren’t able to sense the caress of the person you love. You are fading away, and at the same time you’re afraid to be left alone. The presence of other people reassures you of still being alive.
Being dead is the state of your mind when you are depressed. Dead people don’t have to wash themselves, there’s no need for clean clothes. Ghosts don’t eat, so you have no appetite. You drift from day to day, and as long there’s only the depression, you can lull in that thick mat of cushions of your mind.
Until anxiety comes to visit you, and your lack of feelings turn into fear, horror, panic and a desperate need to put an end to everything.
(But this is no writing about anxiety. Maybe I’ll write about it some other time.)
The photo is a manipulated version of the original here.