Some days it’s like moving through quicksand. Each step, each motion carries the extra weight of pushing through the muck, knowing that every motion carries its own risk of dragging me deeper into the suffocating, drowning mud.
Some days it’s like being wrapped in fabric. It’s hard to hear things clearly. Lights and colors are dulled. The sharpness of time and recollection fade around the edges. Thoughts and attempts to find voice are all muffled, and not even muffled in nice, soft flannel. More like rough-spun wool, with its scratchy, sharp-edged fibers.
Some days it’s like swimming in the riptide. An immense effort is required to make even the slightest bit of progress, and the risk is high that all one’s energy reserves can be depleted making this insignificant progress. Without vigilant awareness — and the judicious support of a life preserver here and there — the risk is also high of getting pulled under to breathe salt water and seaweed.
Some days it’s like the gravitational pull of a black hole. The forces of weight and gravity are so strong as they could cause a star to collapse in on itself, devouring the light and heat and energy of nature’s expression. The dark spiral of the bed-covers entwine me, holding me still and silent. Sound can’t travel in space, and the same dearth of oxygen bubbles around me, constantly suffocating.
Most days it’s like living with some sort of energetic tapeworm. Whatever nourishment I take in — rest, joy, encouragement — there’s some portion of that soul food that gets siphoned away, devoured by the parasite I carry in my brain chemistry. It seems selfish how much more nourishment I crave and request: you can’t see the hidden passenger thieving my life, thieving your gifts of kindness, love, appreciation.
Every day there is the vigilance. Have I stayed in bed a little too long? Is my resilience a little bit too shaky? Is my energy level a little too low?
I was first treated for depression back around the age of 15. Looking back beyond that, I think that some pieces of that tapestry were woven into the fabric of my life long before then. And I’m well aware that there is a vast chasm of difference between true clinical depression and the kinds of smaller sadnesses and blue moods that so often get referred to by the term.
Yet for me, there is a tonal connection from one to the other. A dotted line that sometimes-but-not-always connects the border of everyday sadness into the terra horribilis of a depressive episode. So I remain ever-watchful at any sign of sadness, energy drop, memory lapse. Analyzing any break in routine, any chink in the psychological structure.
Is today the day the beast starts crawling back?
Post in response to the Day 17 prompt for Writing 101:
We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.
Today’s twist: Write this post in a distinct style from your own.
I don’t usually go so full-out poetical, so this was a dip into the waters of that styling. Can’t decide if I think it’s genuinely evocative, or just too, too precious. It was an experiment worth trying, if nothing else.
Also, full disclosure: the “depression as tapeworm” metaphor is one I first saw a few weeks ago in a post by Mani Cavalieri on Quora. (I can’t figure out how to directly link to his answer, but you’ll find it as part of this thread.) I was very deliberate in not going back to re-read the post tonight, so my own spring-boarding off the metaphor would be solely (mostly?) my own. Still, credit where credit is due: I don’t think that metaphoric thread would have been anywhere on my radar without reading his writing on the subject. And it’s so brilliant and so entirely apt.
Image credit: http://www.unurth.com/Escif-In-The-Mountains-Spain