Those who never suffer depression think of it as some sort of affliction of the lax of mind. A lament of people who cannot be bothered to just snap out of it. The recognised depressive is that of a dour individual, emanating a permanent lethargy, unable to see the reality of their life situation. How bad can it be really? It’s not like they’re being asked to go to war!
The truth is, depression, like that other most random of diseases, cancer, can strike anyone. For some, it may never happen, others may only experience it once or twice, when some particular incident – a bereavement perhaps – causes it to engulf the mind.
Depression has been likened to a large, black dog. Heavy, weighing one down. I suppose for a lot of people it is like that. For me it is not like that. There is the weight, the dull pressure inside head that just appears from nowhere. It is a split thing. I can see it, feel it, happening; negative whispers, little things becoming reasons to flip out, every past failure replaying, reminding me of poor decision making or the inability to make good choices. This is how it manifest. Suddenly, like a punch. Not a heavy punch, more a shock; an eye waterer.
This is when I should get my guard up, move away from the attack. Sometimes I do. Usually the second punch comes quickly, following up; a combination. I am reeling, trying to fight back, but the punches I throw in defence are easily dodged. My nemesis knows every secret I have. Every move I make or am going to make. Of course he does.
I am the rubbish fat, slow kid, left almost to the last when the teams are being picked, the sweaty teenager unable to talk to the girls; the guy who never sees the opportunities. The one who always disappoints. In fact being a disappointment is so common, it is expected. The punches keep coming. They are everywhere, coming from every angle. Never enough to make you lose consciousness, but constant and painful. The fight wages on for what seems a very long time. This is where the tiredness comes from; the relentless war, fighting against the barrage of blows.
Humans are pack animals. You get the odd loner, those whose prefer the company of cats or dogs perhaps, but generally people gravitate toward people. People are affected by one another. That’s why a mob can quickly become a riot and why the euphoria of live events can be felt in the largest of crowds. It is a collective feeling. It is also the reason people fear depression.
Just like laughter, misery can be contagious. Nobody would deliberately put themselves into that potential malaise. Misery may love company, but company does not love misery.
The darkness does not want to leave, it has a life; a purpose and it likes it. It is a demon child spawned by yourself. So you love it even if it feels like it’s destroying in you. You need to kill it. Even though it is part of you, born of you, desperate to exist, feeding off of you. Still, the first rule of any species is self preservation. You have to kill it. But what kind of a parent would kill their own child?
Perhaps you could cage it. Lock it away, never to be seen or heard from again. That would work. Are you strong enough to do that? Do you want to? Of course you say yes. Why would you not want to stop the internal war, the constant struggle of maintaining the facade.
Would you be the same person without it? That is the question. Without the darkness, the temperance, would you become the idiot you fear hides behind the mask of conformity? Would you be light of heart and open and sweet? The darkness brings balance, it keeps check. As ever, it comes down to the fear, the fear of the nemesis you can never escape; you.