Not all people with depression are home lying in a darkened room. Not all depressed people sit with the curtains drawn listening to Morrissey or reading Emily Dickinson. There are people with profound depression who would surprise you, if you knew. But you don’t know they are depressed. They won’t tell you and you won’t notice. They are noncomplaining, high-functioning, dependable individuals who can work next to you each day without giving you so much as a clue to the noise in their heads and the pain in their hearts.
I already regret that last line. I don’t want to be maudlin. I want to present the facts. Let me try this again. There are people we see, know, work next to, who are profoundly, clinically, depressed, who have trouble finding any joy in daily activities, no longer enjoy things they used to, feel little motivation, are noncomplaining, high-functioning, dependable, creative, responsible people. They show up, do their jobs, often volunteer in their communities, and leave those around them with no idea anything is wrong.
You wouldn’t know. Let me tell you.
Nights are sometimes spent curled up in a chair, in a ball, head racing with the most horrible thoughts. There is nothing to do to calm this. Not meditation. Long talks with monks. Rabbis, ministers. Self-help books. Workshops. Guilt doesn’t work. Gratitude for a wonderful life filled with love and laughter and everything one would need doesn’t work.
Psychotherapy. Gestalt. Rational Emotive Therapy. Bioenergetic. Breathwork. Tired of seeking help. Tired of trying. Tired of everything. Tired.
There is nothing to take to calm this. There are no drugs to take because anything that would help could also harm, and so is not kept in the house in any reasonable quantity. Some self-medicate – alcohol, pot – but most do not. At some point, one goes to bed.
The nights are long. Sometimes sleepless, sometimes sleep laced with dreams of failure, or frustration, or remembrance. Sleep is something looked forward to, as, when it does come, the only solace, the only refuge. But prior to sleep, always the thoughts, please, please let this be the last time this bed is laid in. Let tomorrow not come.
But it does, and even with the practice in gratitude, with years of meditation, with knowing the problem is chemical or structural, knowing one has a wonderful life, still, regardless, the first thought upon waking is “Damn. Not again.” Sometimes less polite. And the thoughts start right up again. “This has to stop. This has to. I can’t take this anymore. I just don’t want to do this anymore. I’m done here. I just want to rest.” But there isn’t any.
Morning is a trudge. The daily common activities are chores, but they must be done. And the thoughts, always. Pointless to do anything, but one has a job.
Work. Self-medication begins with music. Maybe coffee – high caffeine. Loud music. Nineties Alt today, Or Tool. Maybe some Sixties’ Psychedelic. One sings. People stop in. There are meetings and conversations. Things get done. Reviews and evaluations are done. All are stellar. Inside, this feels like slogging. Forced. Exhausting. Outside, effortless. Gliding. Flowing. The day ends.
A second job or a volunteer event. Be involved. Or a long walk. Or Gym. One mustn’t seem lazy. One mustn’t seem as though one isn’t taking care of oneself. But going home is the last thing to do. How long can it be put off? Out, at least there is something to occupy the mind. Some days are harder than others. The thoughts are more dense. Some days the thoughts are still there but they don’t come as fast, as thickly. One can distract the mind. One is less prone to cry.
As the evening wears, home cannot be avoided forever. It is quiet. Maybe some TV. Maybe some reading. But there is no escaping what is going on inside. Another mental inventory of the medicine cabinet. No, nothing. Good. Good? People would be upset. People would be hurt.
Calling someone might help. Don’t do it. Don’t complain. Don’t even mention it. People would figure you were too much trouble to deal with. Depressed people are difficult to have around. They bring you down. They won’t love you anymore. You will lose the people you love.
Bed. Bed. Please, please don’t let me wake up again.