A long time ago a friend of ours committed suicide. She wasn’t a close friend and I don’t know the nature of her depression.
Except I do know that all depression is more or less the same. No future. A funnel cloud sucking you down and down. Rage at the waste of time, waste of life. People say things like they said about her: if only she’d gotten on a bus and gone somewhere! If only she had a hobby! She didn’t know how lucky she was. She was a complainer. Acupuncture could have helped. I think her husband added to it.
It’s so banal, so boring.
Churchill called depression his “black dog.” I can barely understand that, since I have black dogs and they are among the very few things that make me want to live to see the future. At the moment I’m sitting on the front porch, watching the light make ballet shadows with the leaves, bright salvia flowers with black calyxes on fire in front of my eyes. Glinting, brilliance, I see the beauty but I don’t comprehend it. There’s some kind of shield, kind of like a guillotine dropping, between me and the beauty.
Sometimes I think of the beautiful blond young guy, a physician’s assistant, looking into my eyes, making sure I was paying attention, and I hear his words: “this is depression; we can fix this.” No you can’t. Maybe for a while, maybe for a minute, long enough for the shadows to change on the sourwood tree. But you can’t change it for half an hour, or an hour, or until tomorrow.
So sad not to be able to see – in the sense of take into the brain through the eyes – all the sensuous colors, the light that I know is there.
Do I expect sympathy? No. Do I expect help? No. Understanding? Maybe; lots of people have been depressed. Do I expect people to tell me that happiness is a choice, and that I should get on the bus and go somewhere? No, but I expect plenty of people to think it. Will I kill myself? No. Suicide is too cruel to be thinkable to me. My husband, my children, my grandchildren, having to feel bad, miss me, wring their hands over what they should have done. I can’t do that to them. Now I sound ersatz-heroic to myself and I think what the hell. I’m such a giver that I’ll refrain from getting relief in order to save my family from feeling bad?
The truth is I don’t want to be dead. As the first of several mental health professionals correctly called it, I want to be alive. But it’s getting late. I’m wearing down, running out, diminishing. Money and ideas, hope, optimism, energy, counting for something, all gone or too much work.
I bought a big book on depression once. It was called “The Noonday Demon.” I got as far as the description of what it’s like to try to get out of bed in the morning if you’re depressed. I knew that so well I figured I knew the rest of the book too and stopped reading. Awareness, oh god another day, (I can hear the voices saying “you’re lucky you woke to another day!”), what should I do first, I can’t, I can’t get both feet on the floor. Standing up not remotely possible. A mash of obligations, too confusing. Taking a shower too complicated by a factor of several hundred. Then there are the decisions. A fresh towel or the one I used yesterday. Insurmountable. So what’s the difference between being dead and not being able to get up?
I guess I just hope that this will go away and until it does I’ll have to go through the motions, maybe get on a bus and go somewhere.