“Depression is something that makes you lose your sight.” ~Michael Schenker
Dark night. Black cloud. Thick fog. Darkness. Shadowlands. Blackness. Black sun.
All of these common ways of describing depressing describe conditions in which we can’t see very well. Our sight is dimmed in darkness, fog, and shadows. Familiar objects take on distorted appearances. Color is washed out. We can’t see where we’re going, and we can’t even see our current surroundings with any clarity. Everything appears gray and misshapen.
It’s not surprising that these phrases would come to be used to describe people’s experience with depression because this is exactly what depression does to one’s emotional and psychological sight. Everything seems bleak and gray, with no joy in sight. It’s hard to see the way forward; it takes every bit of energy one has just to hold it together enough to minimally function. People, situations, and relationships become distorted and misshapen by an inability to see even our current surroundings very clearly.
It alternates between being scary and deadening (at least in my experience). I cycle between high anxiety (bordering on panic attacks) and inertia that makes it hard to even get out of bed. I feel like I could cry for days, but I don’t really know why. Everything seems to bring that choking sensation of suppressed tears to the back of the throat.
Even though each trip through the darkness is unique, I know this terrain well, so I am equipped with mental maps and traveling gear to help me make it through the journey. I’ve felt this particular bout coming on for weeks now, but I’ve been hoping that it was just stress and that a little down time to rest would make it all better. It’s not helping, so I’ve spent much of the day getting that gear out, polishing it up, reviewing the maps from previous journeys, making sure I’m ready.
It’s meant making some tough choices to say “no” to things that I was expected to do. I have had to disappoint a number of people. Some understand, some don’t. Even if I explained, some would understand, some wouldn’t. I’m learning to live with that. Sharing about depression is really much like coming out as a lesbian, so I have gathered a fair amount of practice between the two over the years.
I am hoping to make this trip through the dark land a shorter one than some others have been. I’m pulling all of the tools out of my tool bag early in this particular journey, so that should help speed me on my way. But there are no guarantees.
Because the one thing I know about this particular space is that I can’t see clearly while I’m here.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.