Yes, I have been procrastinating. You would too. A couple years ago, a friend, a psychiatrist, told me to step away from this project. But it is time.
I had a funny conversation with another friend a few years back. For some reason, she always imagined me as the tortured writer, typing away in the middle of the night, dredging the depths of my soul. Nope, I told her, that’s not me. Midnight was my time to fly and revel in the writing. I’d sip coffee, sometimes play music, and have fun.
This is different. I am starting to write the new book, with the working title, “An Odyssey into Depression.”
How do you remember things? For me, when I choose, it is like diving into a pool. I submerge in the memory and relive it, all the senses reactivating: sounds, smells, feelings, sights, and tastes.
It is what I need to do.
I recently read an article on LinkedIn. “Five Tips to Cope with Double Discrimination” by Ashley Nester, MSW. The poster wrote: “I have learned that I am not responsible for another’s misunderstanding of my experience. But I can use my perspective to help and educate others.”
I added a reply:
“I love this, but I’d add something else: be understanding of their misunderstanding.
I suffer from depression, and I write about it and talk about it. One of the things I’ve learned is I need to be an educator, especially to the people who love and care about me.
I think it is human nature for us to try to identify with another person by basing it upon what we know. It’s hard for people to grasp that my clinical depression is so much beyond what they understand as depression. It is hard for them to grasp such a distortion of reality.”
People suffering from depression get frustrated and hurt by the reaction of their loved ones. The loved ones get hurt because they cannot help, or do not even know. I have been on both sides.
The thing I have come closest to that explains the struggle is from a science fiction show, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” Benjamin Cisco, the lead character, encounters a species that does not understand linear time, they exist in all time at all moments.
Think about that on for a second. How would you explain linear time?
That is what explaining my depression can be like. As I wrote, it is natural for a person to try to identify and emphasize by basing it upon their own experiences. I have learned, though, that my loved ones’ depression is not like mine. They reach for feelings, like the death of a loved one, to identify with me. But that cannot come close. I have lost loved ones so understand.
Clinical depression, to me, at its heart, is a powerful illusion. It is a distortion of reality so profound that it cannot exist in normal reality. Worse, as we are experiencing that depression, we see that distortion of reality as normal.
Just as an example, I was in my therapist’s office for a session. We were discussing various things and in an aside, I mentioned my suicidal thoughts. Then, I moved on with the conversation.
“Wait, wait, wait,” my therapist said. “Let’s talk about the suicidal thoughts.”
“Why,” I asked. I wanted to move on with the session. The suicidal thoughts were unimportant to me.
“How long have you been experiencing them,” he asked. “Don’t you want to talk about them? Do you have any plans to hurt yourself?”
I was puzzled. Confused. I was about 33 and suicidal thoughts had been a part of my entire life. I wrote that they were like gnats on a summer evening. I can have them for days at a time, weeks, or even months. They pop up in my mind a few times, or a dozen times, per day. I brush them aside and do what I have to do. Bringing them up in a therapy session was like going to my family doctor and discussing the pain in my back I’ve had since I was 14.
“Aren’t they normal,” I asked him. “Doesn’t everybody have them?”
“Oh,” I said. “Well, I’ll bring them up the next time they are here.”
I must be “here” now to discuss my depression. I wrote about the doorstep to suicide. I need to set up camp here to write the book. Maybe just off the doorstep a little ways. I forget the altered reality, but, to explain it and write my book, I need to remember. I need to dive into that pool and allow the demon to grasp my ankle and pull me down.
It is scary, but also therapeutic. I’ll be overthinking the hell out of this one. I need to tell my story. Maybe, by sharing, and helping people to understand themselves and their loved ones better, I will be able to find some peace. Find a purpose for going through what I have gone through. I may even be able to find some mercy that I can seem to be able to freely offer others but am unable to grant myself.
Shall we dance into the darkness? Do not worry. I know the steps, I know the tunes, and I understand the halls of midnight. We shall not go astray.
Be kind to each other. Be kind to yourself.