I have, for almost as long as I can remember (and that's a long time) suffered from dysthymia
, also referred to as "chronic depression." It's a kind of depression that isn't usually as crippling and "get on the ledge"-ey as severe depression, but on the other hand, it never goes away. It's like the tide-- the water level rises and falls, but the sea is always there.
For the past several months, the tide has been getting higher and higher. While I'm sure the various stages of grief, anxieties about work, creative frustration, and other personal factors aren't helping, there's also a certain amount of "it's just doing what it's gonna do" about it.
This morning, when I told laurie_robey
that I was depressed, she asked "What are you depressed about?" She meant it quite seriously and with all the love and care in the world, but it was just plain not a helpful question. There is no "what" that I'm depressed about, because depression is your brain shutting down its "awesome" receptors and firing off its "suck" receptors, and then trying to find a rationalization for why you feel so bad.
There are external circumstances that my depression has attached itself to, but they're not real "causes." You know how when you're grumpy, every little thing irritates you, but it's really just the grumpiness looking for a target? Depression works exactly the same way. I've had trouble coming up with creative works lately, and that bugs me, so the depression takes that and blows it up into despair (and makes a point of not noticing some of the strides I've made in artistic skill). I've lost contact with some of my old friends, so the depression takes that and blows it up into soul-crushing loneliness (and tries to sweep under the rug the fact that I've made quite a number of new friends over the past year).
Since Friday night, I've gotten precious little sleep, due to convention logistics and other factors, and that as much as anything led to this morning's emotional meltdown. So the true answer to Laurie's question, "What are you depressed about?" would be "I'm depressed about needing more sleep," which let's face it, is a pretty silly thing to wallow in despair over. It's not what I felt like
I was depressed about, however. If you'd asked my emotional brain what it was so upset about, it would have replied with a laundry list of self-loathing neuroses, unfeasible wishes, and nonsensical complaints, all of which the brain manufactured to explain to itself what
it was so sad about.
But there was no real "what." My thinking brain understands this and so called in sick and went back to bed. An extra four hours of sleep later and I've recovered a lot of my equilibrium and am somewhat functional again. My thinking brain has become quite adept over the years at spotting the depression at work and heading it off at the pass, but this morning the depression was in full force before my thinking brain was even awake, which is why it hit so hard.
But I am getting better now. Thanks for your patience and well-wishes, all! And if you suffer from depression yourself, remember to sleep! A nap is often the cheapest, most effective form of self-medicating for depressives... and without the crazy and dangerous side-effects.