The perks of depression
I wonder how many reactions can such a conflicting construction — “perks of depression” trigger.
My personal excursion towards, and then alongside my friend-or-foe dysthymia had its natural standard course. It had lived passively within me for quite some years, erupted in a dreadful “what-seemed-like-forever” period of anxiety and panic attacks and resulted in a tamed medical condition that got my full attention, in a both constructive and destructive manner.
The anxiety phase was probably the darkest, most scathing happening I have ever experienced and still to this very day cannot explain in any way but through metaphors. My mind was acting beyond treacherous. I felt a constant something. A something that would always be very different from the previous somethings. At times it felt like drowning in lava and both burning and freezing at the same time. Other times it would feel as if I had been buried under a giant, on-growing block of concrete. Overall it was a never-ending feeling of falling into a void. It made it, as one can imagine, very difficult to bear. Very hard to cope with. But most of all, it was very tough to battle the idea that this feeling might never go away.
Generally speaking, most times it felt like a scare; not your typical scare; anguish. Occasionally, tired both physically and mentally, my restlessness and flutter would transmogrify into this numbness and a feeling of being trapped inside a strange body with cold sweats and unfamiliar limbs. I would fall asleep praying to both die and wake up the next morning for nights on end. And as dramatic as it might sound, it is the utter truth; yes, it was indeed that awful.
Various methods — more or less unorthodox — later, anxiety melted and its new dried material molded into the depressive figure that would also, later on, and to this very day, suffer numerous alterations.
The first of the several bits of light I started discovering, by total hazard, was when, having learned somehow how my body and mind would react in certain situations (traveling by car, walking around wandering the streets, meeting people etc), I surprised myself feeling a low-to-nothing apprehension on the matters. I think that’s the first time I fully understood the whole “it’s the little things in life that matter” cliché. Because getting to enjoy once again, dread-free, the things that others do without writhing, after almost losing hope in a never-ending-down-the-rabbit-hole-existence, is a big win.
Curiously enough, I love my depression. I do not love experiencing my depression, but I love the depression itself. I love who I am in the wake of it. . . . I have discovered what I would have to call a soul, a part of myself I could never have imagined until one day, seven years ago, when hell came to pay me a surprise visit. It’s a precious discovery.’’ — A.S.
…and a gift, because it allows one to experience a quite broad spectrum of feelings and emotions. There’s a tendency to look for its roots, whilst seeking belonging, shelter and familiarity and this is why depression, though mostly robbing one of most their powers, somehow manages to give that certain boost of curiosity and restlessness for finding answers in all the places. It, surprisingly, has its moments when it doesn’t get lonely -au contraire; outside an active episode, keeping the tempest under control on a daily basis, taming the impulses, loving and embracing them and accepting them as mine has made me have a better grasp of my self control and growth. Because, instead of running from God-knows-what, I thought I’d give mindfulness and self-compassion a shot; and it was a good idea — I doubt I would have ever considered an approach so paced and so wary should I hadn’t been so desperate to understand what was going on.
I think the biggest perk I’ve fully acknowledged is the impact depression has on how I perceive every form of art now. Because, somehow, we’re taught that the greatest pieces of art are the ones that harbor our most profound emotions, and because I cannot think of a more complex feeling, with new spikes every day, than the utter feeling of melancholy — the combination of sad and pensive, and everything that comes with. How I now manage to see something beautiful in almost everything surrounding me — my books, my music, my movies and my few people — is strikingly painfully beautiful. And even in fondness, however Mandy Len Catron may try teaching a undoubtedly good lesson, I am embracing the potential ache and affliction because this is who I am. This is what I identify with. And having coped with that made me grow a thin layer of peace on everything.