Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Depression is

If you haven't experienced clinical depression, you know someone who has. It is the most common psychiatric disorder, with approximately a 10% lifetime risk rate. You should know what depression is.

Depression is not just sadness. It is the lack of happiness. It is anger, frustration, fatigue, and enormous guilt. Depression wakes you up in the middle of the night, shows you you're standing in a hole, hands you a shovel, and commands you to dig.

When it isn't keeping you awake at night, depression makes you sleep during the day. It makes unconsciousness seem like an infinitely more palatable experience than anything in the waking world.

Depression blames you for everything. Depression is very convincing. It makes you second-guess, then third-guess and fourth-guess.

It takes your favorite things, smears excrement all over them, and buries them in rotting garbage, then dares you to find them beautiful. Depression laughs at you like that grade-school bully you're still angry at. It encourages you to wallow, then mocks you for wallowing.

Depression gives you piles of work to do, then takes away everything pleasurable about doing it. It is the thief of joy that tells you it's robbing you, robs you, then shows you the precious possession it has taken as it walks away.

It requires you to ask your friends for help, then makes it impossible for you to ask anyone for anything. Depression knows that boldness and company are its great weaknesses, so it keeps you meek and alone.

It makes you hard to love, and tells you just how hard you are to love. Then it makes you repeat "I am hard to love" hundreds of times as penance for being hard to love. It promises that there is an "off" switch to this feeling, but that you haven't yet earned the right to know the secret.

Depression is the abuser who beats you bloody, then holds you and strokes you, promising to never beat you again because it loves you. It convinces you that the way you feel is somehow your own fault, that your feelings must be the results of your actions, of your own terrible, terrible choices.

Depression takes the joy away from your music.

Depression cannot be argued with or convinced. It cannot be reasoned with. When it's there, it feels like a permanent fixture. And when you have it, it feels like the only thing you have.



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