A Rather Short Thing on Depression (a.k.a. “The Thing”)


“I have studiously tried to avoid ever using the word ‘madness’ to describe my condition. Now and again, the word slips out, but I hate it. ‘Madness’ is too glamorous a term to convey what happens to most people who are losing their minds. That word is too exciting, too literary, too interesting in its connotations, to convey the boredom, the slowness, the dreariness, the dampness of depression.”—Elizabeth Wurtzel, “Prozac Nation”

I am 29-years-old. I cannot say for sure whether or not I was depressed during the pre-language years of my life, as it is (I think) impossible to really store memories at such an age, but from relatively young, I can remember just feeling this thing that I was pretty sure all of the other kids didn’t feel. So I ignored the thing for as long as I could until someone pointed out that they noticed something peculiar about me; both of us knowing it was the thing but collectively not knowing what, exactly, that thing was. I remember. It was during a brief visual exchange in elementary school. And I realized I was going to have to work a lot harder if I were truly going to keep this potential disaster all bottled up.

I “succeeded” in doing so for many more years than were reasonable. And I think this comes down to two basic things: people’s little interest in others and grave interest in themselves in all sorts of ways (myself not excluded); and because it’s only when the thing becomes wholly distracting to others that it starts to be addressed (e.g., “What’s wrong with you?” in either a slightly condemning or concerned timbre; as if your actions are, in any way, “new”).

And now it is practically your name and the date, and most things that happen—that you love, that you lose—they seem vaguely resultant of it somehow, and that this thing feels really, really long; and this time it has been going on for so long that it does not feel as if it is stopping. This is the first time it is has been like that. Perhaps that’s what happens: eventually you don’t go into full remission. You don’t get to recovery. I don’t know. But I’m trying because I know this battle. For we go way back. Me and the thing and me.

I have had serious major depressive episodes three distinct times, and I can tell you that indefinitely. I have not felt it lift high enough away since late spring of 2009. And yes: this is getting a little hard to weather. That’s all. And it’s getting challenging, the thing calling every bit of fire in me, and I feel more scared than I could have conceived of being that first time everything turned into a tiny white light in the darkness, and I still managed to identify the floor as tile an instant before I passed out; but I feel more knowledge too. We go way back. That impossible hollow.

But it’s 2012. And I’m standing.

We all are fighting the good one. Believe that.

You too.

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3 thoughts on “A Rather Short Thing on Depression (a.k.a. “The Thing”)

  1. I was able to deal with my “thing” after a lot of positive thinking and reinforcing to myself that sadness does not have to consume my existence. Gradually, I learned to cope with my pain. I am now in better control of the “thing” in my life. However, we all have to deal with the the “thing” never being entirely gone from our shadows as it lurks in our inner darkness, biding its time to reappear again whenever circumstances turn bleak. This is why focusing on the light, the bright stuff in our lives that yield happiness, is the way to go. Abide by the vibe. :)

    • Hey there,

      Thank for your helpful remark and your words. I absolutely understand what you mean, and am glad you are so in control of your emotions now.I have engaged both Cognitive and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and think that’s essentially what they were trying to help us with.The CBT experience was a little ridiculous for me (for I only liked one instructor) and DBT absolutely changed my life. Before I went to McLean, I was so deeply depressed that I often had issues simply getting to the grocery store or reading my mail (by which I mean I actually lost a bunch of weight but also had a phone that was constantly ringing. It was not a great times). I definitely try to focus and use my DBT strategies, for those realizations often help me, and it can certainly bring about clarity and light.

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