Reflection: On Depression

Depression is a range of motion. It is arthritic pain that punishes you for stretching too far when you talk too much, when you’ve been awake too many minutes, when you’ve been near people – those you love and those you don’t - too long. It is an ache that yawns between your bones and behind your sternum when you breathe. Sometimes it swells, and it bursts, and then you cannot move until you can stuff your pain back into its container. 

Depression is identity theft. It is a deficit taken from the whole, and it reduces you and punctures your presence with holes to take its due. It dulls your wit by turning every interaction into an abrasion. It makes you wary of speaking, of looking. It makes curiosity seem like a punishment for all its seeking out of new ways to erode what is precious about you. The things that were quintessentially you forget to make their appearances. You learn that joy is a muscle that requires a strength you once found effortless, if you’ve ever had the strength at all.

Depression is exhaustion. It is every cell asking for twice the energy to divide and it adding up to more than you have to spare. It is malaise laced with ennui and desperation. 

Depression is a time disease. It paralyzes you and you lose track. It surprises you with milestones of time’s passing because you had no idea that time wasn’t waiting on you to get better. First it’s holiday after holiday, then it’s years, then decades, and at the end of it all you’ve been robbed of your potential because you could not find the strength to claw your way through an infection that every breath brings into your body and every heartbeat forces into each of your cells. 

Depression is a name for a shapeless loss without definition, without edges, without handholds, without the honor to fight you in the light where you can see it. 

Depression is a membrane between self-preservation and self-destruction that, once broken, remains. It is an uncovered manhole that you must sidestep for the rest of your life that one day, likely without warning, you will step through when you weren’t looking, and you will have to fight your way out all over again.

Depression is a muted sea.

Cover: Pablo Palazuelo - Temps Clair (1959)