I was going to post a description of what my depression is like, a sort of written picture of what it looks like to me, because it is a very visual thing to experience. I was thinking about it today, partially because Observant posted about feeling gloomy, and partially because I was feeling gloomy. It had seemed a gloomy weekend, and I was exhausted on top of it. Simonne’s post seemed to reflect something in the goddess club’s part of the blogosphere, which was both difficult and beautiful in a sort of terribly wrenching way.

But in writing about this part of me, the depression, I began to feel better. And then after reading posts that Grace, PM, and Ruby wrote, I realized that I was feeling more than better. I was feeling on my way to not bad.

In writing about my depression, a couple of the things I said were:

Today I have the gloom, but I also have a fierceness, a ruthlessness. I am going to go running when I get home […]

Recognizing my committment, this time, to fighting back…that alone is enough right now to push back some of the gloom.

It was odd because I didn’t read Grace’s post until after I’d written up my thing on my depression. Yet in Grace’s post, she quoted Goethe:

“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred….unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”


Anyway, I came home, and I did run. Not, perhaps, to the exhaustion I’d envisioned, but certainly to the point of burning lungs and muscles. I’m sadly out of shape, so this didn’t take long! It got the endorphins going, and it chased away the gloom.

To me, this says we’re stronger together.

And, as usual, it didn’t even occur to me that some 5-HTP would have helped (as it has in the past for what I call despair lite) until after the gloom had been fought. This is often the case, the forgetting. If I’d told Rich I was feeling gloomy, hopefully he would have remembered to remind me!

So here I am feeling downright chipper, yet in going back to link in Observant’s post, I read PM’s comment, and realized that maybe it would be a good thing if I’d just go ahead and post my description of my depression after all. So here goes, written this morning:

I’m sure depression feels different to everyone. I’m not even sure it feels like a physical presence to everyone, but based on the physical descriptions I hear others use, I’m betting it usually does. Today, I am not depressed, but I’m feeling the gloom and some of the hopelessness that make me feel like I’m teetering. Careful I think to myself. And in my visual mind, I mean Walk Carefully because I see a tightrope, and my not-so-great balance. But I have to walk this tightrope until there is solid ground again.

There are all kinds of logical reasons for my current gloom. It was a fairly gloomy weekend, in terms of weather. I didn’t get much “me” time to recharge. I started off the weekend dredging up some stuff I guess I’d rather not think about. I have a headache. I don’t like my job. I know what some of my triggers are, and some of the things that make me more vulnerable, and a few of them were hit this weekend.

But of course these things are typical in the course of our lives, and it doesn’t really explain why it sometimes leads to depression, or the precursor, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Depression isn’t logical. Trying to explain it logically is absurd.

Sometimes when I’m not depressed I can still feel the depression, and it feels like this soft dense ball of darkness nestled inside me. I can poke at it in my mind, and know it is there, waiting. Know that it can expand until it is covering me, enveloping me, preventing me from seeing the world outside. That it isn’t so much that I’m not depressed at that moment, as the depression is temporarily dormant.

When it is expanded, I can feel it all around me. It is the dense humid darkness of the jungle. It is the dark moist soil of fertile ground smothering me. It is all the hopelessness and despair choking the light out of my vision. It is a heavy weight that saps my energy and makes the simplest things the kind of tasks that I have to brace myself for. Going to the grocery store requires firm conviction. Most other chores are put off. Going to work is enough of a routine that I, luckily, don’t have a dialog about it, and can just get up and go.

As much as I hate it, sometimes the depression is like coming home, the welcome familiarity of something that has been a constant companion in my life, the enveloping arms of a mother. It is frightening too. I’ve always been able to compress it back to that small ball, eventually, and hide it in the unused corners of my mind, but there is still the fear that next time…next time it won’t let me. It will be too big and too powerful. Next time I’ll just disappear underneath it. Sometimes that sounds dangerously appealing.

This is just my depression, I have no idea if it resembles anyone else’s. I can’t imagine a time when it won’t live inside me, the tiger in the dark. My therapist thinks it is possible, but the whisper in my mind wonders if that simply means that she’s never been depressed, and therefore doesn’t understand that depression is a living breathing waiting thing.

I know there are people who have it much worse than me, who have lost jobs and lovers and more when the depression takes over. I am so thankful that (so far) the routine things remain doable for me, depression or no. I know there are people who have never been depressed, and I find that incomprehensible. I can’t imagine what that would be like. I think about it, think about them, and it is as if they are another species entirely.

Today I have the gloom, but I also have a fierceness, a ruthlessness. I am going to go running when I get home (and hopefully my IT Band will cooperate), and I’m going to exhaust myself while flooding my bloodstream with endorphins. I’m going to cook something, because I find cooking therapeutic, and between the two, I’ll end up using up most of my evening. I’ll put on my playlist that has a lot of dancable pop music, and I’ll dance around my living room. I’ll play with my cat, and simply focus on her to the exclusion of everything else. I’ll avoid anything that could poke holes in this protective field I’m putting around myself, and if the price I pay in this fight against my nemesis is a distance from certain aspects of my life, it is simply the price I have to pay today.

I know enough to know that catching myself at the start of the slide means I still have this energy to fight. It doesn’t always work, but if I put it off, I slide too far, and the depression saps too much energy for me to fight in any meaningful way. And then the endorphins will have only minor effects. The sunlight won’t seem to reach me.

Recognizing my commitment, this time, to fighting back…that alone is enough right now to push back some of the gloom. (Which oddly enough, Grace blogged about with a Goethe quote, which I didn’t read until after I’d written this!) Action almost always helps. Feeling something other than helplessness, powerlessness.

Depression is seen by many as a weakness, as a fault. In some ways that is true, but I know that my brothers and sisters who have fought this battle with me…we are strong in ways that can’t be seen by those who haven’t suffered the depression. We keep coming back, rising from the ashes like the phoenixes we are. We might never be stable, we might even be damaged, but we are not weak. The weak wouldn’t survive the darkness.

The tiger is stalking me, but I’m practicing my roar. When he attacks, I’m going to stand my ground. This time, I think I’ll win.

Thanks y’all. It’s been a good day. And I think we’ve earned another sexy cat picture.