Depression can be a difficult thing to describe, not least because its symptoms vary from sufferer to sufferer. One person may experience anxiety and become defensive or aggressive while another may withdraw from social contact. One person might experience anxiety in one phase of depression, then social withdrawal in another. This is oversimplifying the condition by an enormous extent, but I think it shows a point. There are some vague patterns to depression but every episode can be different and not all symptoms are experienced at the some time.
Churchill famously described his depression as his “black dog”, now a euphemism which has almost become a cliché. I don’t find such euphemisms helpful at all. They reinforce the taboo that depression and mental health are things which shouldn’t be talked about openly. Instead we should talk about it in hushed tones, using some sort of secret language lest someone find out what we are talking about. This just isn’t right, not to my sensibilities.
One of the other difficulties in trying to explain depression is that while it is possible to describe the symptoms and explain how I am feeling, it is difficult to actually show someone how it feels to be depressed. Language can go some way to describing depression but it simply can’t allow someone to experience what someone is going through.Accepting these limitations, I’m going to try to explain what I’m going through in this particular episode of depression.
Today I find myself experiencing some of the classical signs of depression. I just can’t find the energy to motivate myself to do anything today and my mood is quite low. Some people reading this will think that sounds very much like a teenage strop – I just can’t be bothered to do anything today. It’s quite a bit more complicated than that. It’s not a case of laziness (although there are times when I could be rightly accused of that…).
Nothing interests me today. I can often find something that I enjoy a lot of the time, but today that has all gone. I’m usually quite a foodie but I’m not really finding anything appealing. I enjoy watching films or playing pc games most of the time but I just can’t find anything interesting in them today. I enjoy photography and we’ve just had a snowfall so there are lots of good photo chances, but I just don’t have the desire or energy to do that today. It’s almost as if the whole drudgery of life has come bearing down on me and I feel like I’m condemned to an endless cycle of dreary, repetitive encounters or tasks. Something as simple as washing a few cups and the saucepan which presently resides in the sink will take quite a bit of effort, when usually I would just wash them and that would be that. Even trying to concentrate enough to write this post is difficult.
I’ve already mentioned laziness and I want to try to explain that I’m not just being lazy. I’m not quite sure why that perception has arisen in me and why it causes me concern – maybe it’s the perception that someone reading this might look at what I’m doing today and think “Well he’s just being lazy isn’t he? He needs to get up off his arse and pull himself together.” Of course if it were as simple as just pulling yourself together, these episodes need never happen.
I think I’ve written all I can for the moment. I know there is more to write, but I just can’t concentrate enough to make my writing make any sort of sense, so I’m going leave this part-finished. It’s such a delicate thing to try to explain that I don’t want to mess things up by writing nonsense and losing what few readers I already have… I’ll return to it when I have a bit more energy.