Hello nail, I’m head

Sometimes, you read something and sit there slack-jawed at how well someone says something you feel, something you know so intimately, that it just needs to be appreciated, and shared.

I was led to this by Dooce today. My favourite bits:

In the decade since his [Peter Kramer] first book [Listening to Prozac], medical researchers have found evidence to move depression from mood disorder squarely into the category of disease. It causes visible, irreversible damage to the brain cells. It eats at the blood vessels and attacks the heart. It causes bone loss. It’s cyclical, and if left untreated, it gets much worse over time. Depression costs more days off work than backache. In its most obvious health consequence—suicide—depression kills more people annually than war and murder combined. And we now know that, like diabetes, it’s probably behind many of the coronary and other deaths that are recorded as something else.

Depression is no joke.

this:

It looks like sloth, but it feels like war.

this (my bolding):

Like rheumatoid arthritis, depression turns your own body against itself. It chews not on your cartilage, but on your brain cells and your sense of reality. It’s as seductive as a wife-beater, shutting out other voices to turn itself into your only friend. The only one who tells the truth about the bleakness of the world. All your energy goes towards getting through whatever stands in your way—struggling, slogging, pushing, through work and small talk and getting food—whatever it is you have to get through until you can be alone again with the voice who can be trusted.

And the last thing it feels like is an illness. No, this monumental, world-swallowing suckage sits outside you: it comes from the project, the job, the love affair, the city, the family, or the decade. For me, these low cycles have always led me to abrupt life changes. It’s a kind of shock therapy: uprooting jobs, careers, relationships, and countries. Those shifts feed the craving for anonymity and reinvention, and they leave behind the shame of a condition that breeds shame.

When I was eight years old I got glasses for the first time. I put them on in the living room, and when I looked out the window, I could see each blade of grass, crisp and bright and distinct, where before there had been a soft green blur. I looked at everything that day, and said hello to all the small things. It was amazing, that all this had been there all along.

Getting better from depression was like that. Missing dimensions popped back up. Plain old normal days tasted crisp and delicious. And then there were the bittersweet replays, when I traveled through the previous months and years, and counted all I’d misheard, misfelt, and missed. Depression isn’t noble or interesting; it’s monotonous, self-absorbed misery that leaves little room for art or kindness or other people.

and this:

…how to return to people who hadn’t realized I’d been away. I would have liked some scars to point to, to explain my absence.

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  • julia

    Wow. Having suffered from depression for years and years, this is spot on. Thanks for posting it.

  • Kathleen

    This is the first thing I have ever read where I am able to say, “of course, I must be depressed.” One of my new year’s resolutions was to simply be kind and to be aware of other people when they are kind. I had chosen this resolution because I realized that over the last few years, I seemed to have lost my kindness and I couldn’t figure out why. Now I understand. So glad you posted this.

  • nutmeg

    “Those shifts feed the craving for anonymity and reinvention…” Felt that before. Motherhood seems to multiply the effects of the ups and downs. But, by its nature, it also pulls you through because you simply have to look outside yourself and care for those who can’t do it for themselves. (referring here to the “lighter” forms of depression – if there is such a thing!)Great post Kim.

  • Janet

    Yes, indeed. I remember the first time a doctor told me that my brain chemistry was at fault and that I had a real and treatable illness. Monumental relief and yet… The very part of yourself that you need to fix and that you rely on to help fix itself becomes untrustworthy and unreliable.

    Thank you for reminding me, it’s very easy to forget about the chemistry. It would be a fine thing if this disease were treated properly in this country.

    PS I’ve reading for a while and meaning to delurk….

  • Blue Moon Girl

    That’s just amazing. Thank you so much for sharing that post. That said it better than I could ever hope to say it.

  • meggie

    Kim, thanks for posting this. Having suffered bouts of depression most of my life, & not realising what it was, I really related to all it said.
    When I was younger, I rebelled against taking drugs to help- & most of them didnt help at all.
    And as Nutmeg says, your children do sometimes pull you through- but what is the cost to everyone.

    Now I am older, I take medication for the first time, that works. And I take it gratefully!

  • Em

    Ah yes, that’s me through and through.

  • alisha

    Thanks for posting this Kim it somes up everything that sits in my head about the black dog.
    I think that you are amazing.

  • Suse

    Thank you for sharing that.

    xx

  • Surfing Free

    Thank you. I think that give a small insight into what the the world of depression must be like.

  • joanne

    What a fabulous post – brave and oh so precise.