That’s the thing I want to make clear about depression: It’s got nothing at all to do with life. In the course of life, there is sadness and pain and sorrow, all of which, in their right time and season, are normal-unpleasant, but normal. Depression is an altogether different zone because it involves a complete absence: absence of affect, absence of feeling, absence of response, absence of interest. The pain you feel in the course of a major clinical depression is an attempt on nature’s part (nature, after all, abhors a vacuum) to fill up the empty space.
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning
I was much too far out all of my life
And not waving but drowning
– Stevie Smith
I have had depression for many years, the first symptoms being in my teens. I have my suspicions as to why but I don’t want my mind to go there. Pointless, what was done cannot be undone.
I know of ‘the black dog‘ but I never associated depression with a dog. I view depression as a multi-tentacled beast which slowly, steathily reaches through my mind, carefully and efficiently strangling those parts of my mind that allow me pleasure, taste, motivation and all things good. The descent into what I can only describe as just plain existing is subtle, each strangulation unnoticed in itself until the day I wake and do not want to move, where the only sensation that can break through is pain.
My depression is chronic. Medication works until then, for reasons I do not know, it stops. The tentacles return.
You would think that after so long I would see it, feel it, know it but I honestly do not.
Yesterday though I met the dog
I had – for once – a good week at work. On Sunday I reviewed what I had done for the week and was genuinely pleased. I need to work at being better at work after 2019 and last week hit a good spot. I wasn’t high fiving myself but I was content, happy, back in the groove I want to be in.
Nothing later that day was out of the ordinary. All normal, all stable, all okay.
While sleeping Sunday night that black dog arrived
Everyone wakes up at some point, sees the time and wants that day to be cancelled. I’d bet most of those are related to alcohol, late nights and OMG I DID WHAT?
I get it, done that too.
This was – and still is – different
No late, no drink, no shame
Stop the world I want to get off
Close eyes, stay still, let it pass
I was due to work though, so I did
The dog stayed
Work was really hard to get through
The dog is still here now
And I don’t know when it will go
I don’t know how to make it go
I’ve had down days as we all do, but I can’t recall ever feeling this way this fast and this completely
If I could I would lie down, close my eyes and curl up
Existing is hard
In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
I think about 2 or 3 years ago I started feeling unwell. Then really unwell. Then terrible. I hurt, ached, just wanted to curl up and sleep. It came on as “just a shitty day” and given back then the stress in my life was high I did not connect how I was feeling physically with anything else.
Prior to this I was in a bad time mentally and I had been prescribed a drug I had not been on before. I knew about it, had read about it and was happy to be on it.
I had no clue at all what else it might do. Rare, but documented.
Anyway, two visits to the doctor and on the second one he does some tests and “Go Directly to Hospital, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200”. Off I went and yay, the “head med” has given me a lifelong physical illness.
I stopped that med, the illness abated and I just got on with life.
A couple of months ago my head went to places that were dangerous. Unsafe. I was prescribed – with my consent and understanding – another drug. Mentally it has helped me. Very much so. I love that effect.
Then I started feeling not right. Not ill ill, just not right.
The main effect has been what I now know is Burning Mouth Syndrome. I have bottles of various hot sauces in the fridge / cupboards. Mr Singh’s, Matt’s Hot Sauce (no, not that ma.tt), Sriracha and more. I LOVE hot spices. Anything sold is stores as “spicy” is meh. Plain. Boring. Tasteless. But what I have now, and have done for a few weeks? They hurt. Actual physical pain. The only thing that does not hurt is room temp milk. Even drinking cold water hurts. Right now as I type this I’ve not had anything to eat/drink for some 20 mins but my mouth hurts.
Then I started to feel pretty crap. Every system in my body is affected in some way and that’s no exaggeration. And yet I couldn’t see why because I was not looking. I just felt like shitonastick.
Either in my dreams this morning, or in that weird ‘surfacing from dreams to the morning’ time my brain connected the giant dots which I just could not see.
Get in to see the GP. Relate history and current events and hey, guess where I get sent?
So I’m back there tomorrow.
I know the cure – stop the head meds.
Physically I will recover, I will ‘feel’ better.
Mentally .. my head will go back to where it should not be. To where I do not want it to be.
The economic commoditisation of human pain is dangerously close to victim-blaming. Such an approach can send the destructive message: see how much money you cost everyone, you broken person? CIF at The Guardian