What depression really is … from someone who knows.

The other day I wrote a phrase/quote and posted it on my respective social media timelines. It got some attention because of the really apt imagery it evoked. But I wanted to talk about it more, because this is a thing most people don’t understand and probably one of the most often miscategorised afflictions of all time.

Here’s what I wrote:

Depression is like trying to climb up a muddy hillside. There’s no place to grip & you keep falling face down in sucking, cold mud.

I had to condense it down to less than 140 characters so it’d fit on Twitter too. But the whole thought as it initially started out was this:

It feels like trying to climb up a steep, muddy hillside. There’s no where to put your hands and feet and you keep falling back down into the muck and you’re covered head to toe in sticky, sucking, cold mud.

I thought it was some pretty powerful imagery. Cold, muddy, mucky, the inability to be really comfortable with yourself and your surroundings for no reason that you can discern. Furthermore, there is so very little you can do until you find the help you need. In this imagery, a ladder or a rope or simply a helping hand would work great …  if only you could get your hand on it.

The worst part about depression is that somehow you find yourself thinking you deserve to be sitting in that bloody mud. It’s pretty irrational, but something about how you view your life up to that point tells you that being in that mud is all the result of every decision you ever made up to that point and thus a perfectly justifiable position to be in.

Some of us are able to keep trying until we get out and those people think, “Well, if I can do it, anyone can.” Which is kind of a cop-out on empathy. There is no natural or unnatural law anywhere that makes us all the same and capable of the same things at the same levels of competence. You may think I am just as smart as you are and thus able to accomplish the same things, but that isn’t true. We are individual people capable of different things. And being depressed – chronically now, not just feeling blue today – means we just want to lay down in that mud and say, “I’ll try again tomorrow … maybe” because it is truly exhausting have to keep trying to climb out day in, day out.


Musings on light and dark imagery

I had an odd experience this morning. Two actually.

The first was as I was driving in to the DRC this morning … I passed a woman on a street corner with a huge image of a dismembered baby. (I understand that there is a Planned Parenthood is nearby and that this is common Friday morning fare … ) To say that the sighting was jarring is just a little understated. Three things crossed my mind in a matter of seconds – all three of which are extremely telling about me. My instinctive and immediate response was “Gross!!!!” My secondary response was, “Clearly never had one because that image is totally inaccurate!” And my final reaction was, “Well, it is her right!” Just as I had that last reaction, I turned my head to look at her, and she smiled at me. My mind is blown.

I mean, clearly I “get it” because I was able to say to myself that it is her right to protest. The thing is … there is responsibility in protestation and I honestly believe that if you are going to protest a thing, at least educate yourself on the facts of the thing before you protest it. And this poor woman clearly has no idea what she’s protesting … because a dismembered baby is just … gross! It’s inaccurate and it’s using scare tactics to solve a problem. It’s effective … to a certain extent, but it’s extremely damaging in several other ways. At the very least, it’s perpetuating an inaccurate image of the problem. I really wish people would learn more about the world before sounding off about things they don’t understand.

Still, it’s kind of perfect considering it’s Halloween today … and isn’t today all about death and fear?

Actually, it isn’t. And that is yet another myth. Halloween, traditionally, is about autumn (or fall), thanksgiving (for experiences, and lives, and loves), remembrance, and respect to those who have moved on from this world. Whether you believe or not, some think that on this day of all other days, it’s easier to contact and communicate with those who have died. For me, it’s just a day when I keep my porch light off at dusk instead of turning it on. The whole idea of celebrating Halloween with costumes and candy is still very alien to me. I still don’t get it. Not sure I ever will.

In any case, Halloween certainly isn’t about sick imagery of dead babies. Ugh.

It takes all sorts, doesn’t it?

Luckily on the heels of that experience was one that reminded me that there is solace. I parked my car in the lot and got out. I stood at the back of the car struggling with my bag and rain gear – not something I normally do. Normally, I get out, slam the door, hit the lock button, and head off towards the building. This morning, I stopped to look at the back of my car. Very out of character. But then I saw this image …

Signs of Autumn
Signs of Autumn

… and I understood. This was my reminder that there is as much beauty in this world as there is hate and ignorance. Often I need this reminder because I tend towards severe misanthropy – especially after seeing images of dismembered babies. (Ugh! What the hell are these people even thinking? Every time I think about it, it gets weirder and more gross!)

So I am keeping that image in my head for today … the leaf stuck to my bumper. It sounds kinda silly when I put it in words like that … but it’s a good silly. Autumn is my favourite season. And that image is the perfect foil to ignorance and terror. I hope these people find wisdom some day … and soon.