I suffer from depression. Except I don't seem to be suffering too much. Maybe I should say I've been 'diagnosed with' or I am 'coping with' it. When I first got the diagnosis, which must have been 10 or 15 years ago, I went and told my parents. I tell my dad, and what does he say? "You know, I think your mother is depressed." I told my mom, and what did she say? You guessed it: "You know, I think your father is depressed." So maybe it runs in the family. The technical term for what I have is disthymia, which is long term, low grade depression.
I'm talking to a guy I know who is also suffering from depression, and he was trying to explain how hard it is to explain depression to someone who doesn't have it, and I have to agree. It's not something that is amenable to logic. One of the worst things about depression is that it prevents you from asking for help.
Depression makes it really hard to do just about anything. It's like there is no impetus. The question of "why bother?" doesn't even come up. You can know what you need to do, and you can know that if you just started doing things you would feel better about yourself, but that little spark that gets you going is missing. You can be just as smart, just as capable and just as knowledgeable as a normal person, but you can't get anything done. It's like there is a tiny little engine deep inside you, and it connects the part of you that wants things done to the part that does things, and that little engine has been turned off.
I'm thinking about this and a vision comes to me. I'm standing at the bottom of swimming pool full of water. All the people are up there on the deck surrounding the pool. It should be easy enough to get there, just push off from the bottom, or shoot, just float up to the surface, and I could climb out and be with all the normal people, but I can't move. I can't even float. (I'm not drowning because I don't need any air because I'm not breathing.)
This reminds me of a story Haruki Murakami wrote about man who got dumped in a dry well in Mongolia. Somehow he managed to survive the fall to the bottom, but there was no water, and no way to climb out. So he sat at the bottom of the well and waited. If I recall correctly, eventually someone came by and pulled him out. He went back to Japan and eventually wound up as "therapist" to rich Japanese women. The "therapy" consisted of sitting in the same room with this guy. Something about him made the women feel better. (What can I say? It's a Murakami story.) Now that he is successful, he was a well dug outside his house and occasionally goes down there (with a ladder) to recharge himself.
Which reminds me of Rose's Dungeon of Resentment, which is where I got the illustration.
Funny thing about depression. I remember getting one of those useless healthy living newsletters and it had a list of symptoms of depression, and I read down through it and said, no, that's not me. A week later my wife reads the same list and says "you're depressed, and you're going to the doctor". She was right. Prozac basically saved my life. You're only supposed to take it for six months or so, by which time you should be better, but here it is 15 years later and I'm still taking it. Occasionally I will try going off of it, but it never seems to go well. It's not there is any big outward difference, but I notice that some small things change, like my temper gets a little shorter, so I go back to taking it again. It's gone off patent, so you can get the generic version.