Everything is depressing. Did you know that? I didn’t. Now I do and I feel oh so enlightened but also not really.
I can get depressed about anything (the water’s too cold/ the water’s too hot/ I can’t wait twenty minutes for a bus/ I don’t want to work today/ I don’t want to be at home/ I don’t want to fall in love/ I don’t want to be alone…etc.), and I think I pretty much fight daily with the voices that tell me I should just crumple into a dark corner and set up camp there for the rest of my life. As a practising psychotherapist, or general functioning human, this would not be a good idea. Luckily, depression is not based on practicalities or logic. Did I say luckily? I meant luckily.
I say luckily because sometimes depression is a gift. When I’m feeling depressed, it reminds me that I’m not dead inside and I do care about something. I’m not talking about the down-in-the-dumps, I-could-slit-my-own-throat, if-I-just-jumped-in-front-of-this-train kind of depression; I just mean the mild kind. The kind that makes you question what life is for and whether you should get out of bed, but still helps you find your way to the bathroom to brush your teeth and put on clothes that are acceptable to go outside in. It doesn’t even make me grumpy; it just makes me a bit, disconnected.
I am almost certain that every living human being in the world has experienced depression in their lifetime – it’s in our DNA from the day we’re born and pulled from a warm, safe place into the horrible, rancid space that is the world, to be met by giant people and shiny sharp things all around us. No wonder babies cry all the time; they’ve all probably got Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Anyway, depression is completely natural, but for some of us it can be crippling, debilitating, and life changing if you do it right. I think I’m best managing my depression after a break up. Especially if I loved the guy, then I’m in for a world of darkness and pain that can unfortunately only be broken after months, if not years, of healing. Yay!
Instead of getting all general and unwittingly slipping into my “knowledgeable psychotherapist role” (playing it fast and loose with the word ‘knowledgeable’ there), I’ll talk about a break up that sent me into such a pit of depression, it was matched only by its predecessor, “desperately lonely depression of ‘07, post university-undergrad and pre real-world-life-things”.
His name was Zanzibar but we’ll call him Zaz for short (it obviously was not his name but I’ve changed it to protect the identities of my previous intimate “partners” – the quotation marks will make sense momentarily), and he was beautiful. Extremely intelligent, brilliant physique, a beautiful writer and a complete and utter disaster at being anything close to a partner for me. And yet we did the mating dance for about two years, before I discovered he saw me as nothing more than a really, really, really “good time”. Zaz recently got in contact actually, after two years of no correspondence, wanting to once again collaborate between the sheets. I politely told him to go fuck himself instead.
However, two years prior, I might not have been so strong in my convictions. Once we ended our mating dance for good (an ending which involved me holding his manhood in my hands while he had his hand down my jeans in the corridor of his flat, after he had told me for the first and last time that he loved me), I responded by immediately realising what a stupid girl I had become, and left him quickly, regretting it the instant the door closed behind me. I must have sat for two or three weeks in the dark, in my living room alone. Literally, just staring at the walls and hating life. This to me was what it was like to be in love, except it was without all the good bits. Or to look at it another way, think of a tiny chainsaw slowly hacking away at your insides whilst your head pounds out an endless stream of consciousness about all the worst things you’ve ever done in your life, including but not limited to, falling in love with a commitment phobic man, letting him bang you senseless, and then leaving that man even though you feel like you might die without him. Yeah, something like that.
I was de-pressed. I kept only one friend at that time, who let me compound my depression with her own, whilst I convinced myself that no other human would ever be interested in me as a friend or otherwise. Even though sitting in the dark ceased eventually (it was becoming harder and harder to read books), the feelings and pain and internal darkness probably didn’t end for another year.
A YEAR. My God, what a long and stupid time that was.
Now here’s the great part. Once I came out of it, life looked like fucking paradise. I mean, everything smelled of roses and tasted like candy floss, as opposed to the faeces of life I had previously been smelling, and the cigarette ash tasting food I seemed to have been consuming prior to that. There’s nothing like some good old fashioned depression to help you appreciate when you’re feeling “ok”. It’s like when you have a head cold; the rest of your body is fine but your brain is really struggling so you can’t actually do anything, and you look back wistfully at the previous week when you had the full and glorious ability to take that package to the post office, but just couldn’t be bothered because Smallville was on. I love Smallville.
So depression is a funny old thing, and having suffered with it for most of my wonderful life, it never really goes away. Don’t get me wrong though, mine is not chronic and I have lots of wonderful days. But it’s kind of like constantly balancing on a shaky fence; the slightest bump and I can fall twenty feet to the ground with a resounding thud, or I can just get a scare and awkwardly regain my footing, forever imagining what it would have been like if I’d fallen and feeling sad/ scared/ annoyed about that. Because of this great quality, and because I’m supposed to be a shrinker of other people’s heads, I’m always monitoring how I feel from one moment to the next. You have no idea how difficult this makes it to fall asleep/ eat/ do anything remotely human, but it also helps me when I feel like I’m about to fall off the edge.
Sometimes shit happens and feeling crappy is inevitable, but if I can pick up on it early, then I can at least commandeer a trampoline or something, to give me some bounce back.
Image credit: Trampoline by parkjisun from the Noun Project