Natalie wrote about the way depression affects her on her blog the other day. As I was reading it, well it was all too familiar, ya’ know? This part, in particular:
“In my depressions (and I’m only talking about myself here – want to get that disclaimer out there so as to avoid offending anyone else who suffers) I would probably describe myself as absent.”
Absent is a good word for it. In some extreme cases, like I had years ago, that absence can mean even a physical absence, when the dissociation forces either a new identity, or a missing one. I think that’s the big difference between depression as a sickness and “feeling sad or blue”. Everyone feels sad at some point in their life. Not everyone is absent. Depression causes a certain level of dissociation. Where that level falls is different for each individual, and changes over time but it is most definitely there. Even now, when it’s been years since I had what would formally be called a dissociative episode, and years since I had to be on the pills, I still have my bad days. Days when I’m physically there, but not really there. Days when I could really be described more as a shell than a complete person. Days when nothing interests me, nothing motivates me, nothing makes me even remotely happy for a few minutes. That’s depression, those days when even the things you love and are passionate about, don’t move you at all. Nothing moves you. You’re not capable of feeling sad, because feeling would actually involve a level of involvement with life that you don’t have.
I’m sure, to my wife, those days are hard to deal with. And I’m sure if you’ve never suffered from depression or known someone well enough to have seen it, this is all just a mystery, but it is very real., and it’s very difficult.