Sunday, 4 December 2011
The truth about depression
Lately I have felt more than usually depressed and this weekend reached a low which I recognise from many years ago.
If someone tells you they are feeling depressed, or 'a bit down', or that Winter is dark and depressing, all these things may well be true, but they are not real depression.
When you feel yourself on the descending spiral steps leading down into total blackness, when misery is the state of mind in which you wake to greet the day (assuming that you have slept), and when nothing anyone says touches you in any way, then you are in the opening throes of true depression.
There can be a million triggers, or sometimes just one. It can creep up on you when you think your are reasonably comfortable emotionally and knock your feet from under you.
You might find yourself in tears for no discernible reason, the feeling of being absolutely alone and friendless, no-one to talk to or more importantly to listen to you may be overwhelming.
You may feel suicidal and start to cast around for ways in which to accomplish your exit.
None of these things are 'over the top', or culled from some piece of romantic fiction, they are statements of fact. Yes I am speaking from experience and yes the signs are there to be seen by a truly observant eye.
The facetious comments made by the despicable Jeremy Clarkson simply highlighted for me attitude of the disinterested and ignorant.
While for some, organisations like 'The Samaritans', may have a role to play in "talking down" someone in the uncertain stages of this state of mind, for others the depression is too deep, the grip too strong to enable them to speak to anyone.
Yesterday I felt as low as at almost any time in my life and was very aware that somehow a way of climbing out of the pit was necessary before it became too difficult even to attempt.
After a night awake, to get ready for church was nearly impossible, but, knowing it might just make the difference I did so,
The church was empty when I arrived, decorated for Christmas and looking beautiful and I hated it. Felt like howling aloud but hearing footsteps quickly started to 'robe up'. As more people arrived, and we had the choir run-through I thought, "I know the anthem better than I thought".
A tiny, tiny glimmer of satisfaction, but enough to get me through the service to half-way.
Then we sang a hymn which to my amazement, our lovely choir coach didn't know. She said so, and I immediately revved up my voice a few notches and sang with more than usual gusto. The feeling of satisfaction grew.
After the service, the woman whose husband has just died came to talk to us about the music she would like for his funeral later this week and suddenly I felt such warmth and love for her that every other consideration vanished.
Reflecting on the huge lift in mood I realised that most basic of all lessons, that when we forget ourselves and put ourselves in other's shoes, however briefly, we are at our best, and that if there is any kind of antidote for depression it may have to to with divorcing ourselves from self-obsession.
Had the sleeping tablets or whatever been to hand when rock-bottom was reached, there may have been no way of coming back.
On a grim, but lighter note, I once read "The trouble with suicide is it plays havoc with your career prospects".