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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Would You Just... Talk About It? Part Two

A quality to the light this evening like soft music playing far away. Wittle-woo-cha-woo, chirrup birdies. Choo-cha-woo. A father striding home, bouncing briefcase off one thigh. Blossom fresh and damp upon the tree. Cars in silent repose. And purple clouds spread gently across the sky, their edges glimmering pink and gold, the light being drawn from the land through cracks between cloud and sky, flashing lips with lambent flames before they too close shut and the world falls finally dark.

I don't feel depressed today. I feel exhausted, but I feel nice. Although it must be said, when you have fallen into deep places inside yourself many times, those places become hollowed out, their widths and depths become known, and even when you are walking happily above through sighing grass you never completely forget what lies below, all the emptiness that is there waiting.

I want to discuss what I said yesterday about being someone who "suffers from depression". I think that the actual symptoms of depression are universally felt. Sadness, isolation, lethargy, feeling like nothing is worth doing, like nothing will make you happy, that love itself has come apart at the seams -- these are feelings we have all experienced. There is nothing unique about depression; it is regular pain, yet felt at an irregular concentration.

I can't remember where it comes from, but there's a good analogy about this regarding thunderstorms. You can get a thunderstorm anywhere where the right conditions are met. The sun warms the surface of the Earth, heat is transferred to the air, which rises, cools, and falls, forming a convection current. Patches of moist air blowing through are caught in the current and swept upwards, where the vapour condenses and becomes rain. When a cloud grows large enough the top freezes, and particles of ice knocking into one another create an electrical charge which attracts a build-up of positive charge in the ground, connecting as lightning.

Anywhere the surface of the Earth is heated, a thunderstorm can form. And so it is with mental health. The climate of any mind will, under the right (or wrong) circumstances, brew up a depression.

But just as some parts of the world are prone to constant thunderstorms, so some minds are more at risk of depression. With a lot of effort I believe these mind climates can be stabilised to decrease the frequency of attacks, and where they cannot be stabilised, mindfulness and acceptance can go a long way to helping you weather what storms remain.

But the first step is simply acknowledging that there is nothing shameful or wrong about any of this, about how you are feeling. Black skies and crashing lightning may appear otherworldly, vengeful, monstrously terrifying, yet every facet of them obeys natural laws.

I'm way too tired to do more tonight, but if you ever struggle with low mood then do me a favour right now and remind yourself that what is happening to you is normal, that it makes sense, that as with the darkest storms, it too shall pass.

And know that, even if you do not feel it, you are loved.

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