Nothing quite prepares you for it. You think you know what it is like to be clouded and shrouded by despair, to be followed by the black dog. You’ve known people who have suffered it – friends, family, colleagues, watched their own struggles and seen them cope. Or not cope.
But nothing quite prepares you for it.
It fell over me towards the end of November. At first it comes unrecognised, slowly shrouding you in despair that just seems to be part of the normal day to day routine or worry. Like daylight turning into night you barely noticing it untill you consciously stop and look and think about it. By which time you find yourself barely able to recognise yourself as a person anymore, and – like trying to turn back the night into daylight – not in any position to do anything to reverse it.
Sitting on the outside of the bubble of blackness such pithy comments and attitudes as “you need to pull yourself together”, “snap yourself out of it”, “just get on with things” come, flippantly rolling from the lips of their communicators either as some hard-nosed Calvanist therapy; or from a deep lack of understanding about what it is to be in the bubble of depression; or possibly from a lack of wanting to understand.
The thing is why would anyone is this situation not “pull themselves together”, not “snap out of it”? The truth is once the blackness overcomes you you simply can’t. It chains you down with morale and motivation sapping weakness so debilitating that even eating becomes a disinteresting activity. Motivating yourself to do anything beyond staying under the covers in a morning is nigh on impossible.
And low energy means that sleeping all day is quite an easy activity to do. In fact it’s probably the one thing you remain really quite good at.
To feel alone in that black bubble of despair is to feel worthless, to feel unloved. No amount of contrary assurances, heartfelt affection from close family and children can change it.
And attitudes and “advice” and commentary as above from those around you with such little understanding merely adds to the situation. Depression quickly becomes compounded by anxiety about certain situations, not wanting to be in company or around friends for fear of their judgements; not wanting to go to work for fear of failure and further failure. Not having the motivation to even sit and think your way out of the hole you’re in.
The doctors were surprisingly understanding and sympathetic. “Welcome, ” they say as I sit in the practitioner’s chair, finally admitting to a situation I’ve been in denial about for months, possibly years. “Welcome to the black parade, the march of 1 in 3 who suffer from this at some point in their life.”
The medication – cyproxil, or citalopram, 20mg daily at the moment – goes some way to snapping you out of that, helping ease yourself back into motivation by flooding the blackness with pin-pricks of serotonin spiked light. But it takes time and is not without its side effects.
In the past few days or so I have begun to deal with issues that needed dealing with, I have been able to deal with them. Other issues await.
But everything is day by day. Today may be an up. Tomorrow could be a down. The day after the weather could be darker and more stormy than before, and then the day after that could be the start of Spring.
It really is like that, a roller coaster of feeling caused by nothing more than a simple chemical romance in your brain. I don’t want sympathy, I don’t want judgement. To ask for understanding is all I do.
And if you’re wondering about the title to this blog entry, I’d just point you to the lyrics of the song which – for me – say it all.