A disclaimer before we begin: this post is based on my own experience and how it has affected me. I’m well aware that many people have it better, worse and different to me.
Okay, with that out of the way and before we begin, I’d like you to image what a depressed person looks like: how they dress, what they’re doing, what they do for a living…
Got it? Good. Now, I’m not going to be all preachy about how anyone can be mentally ill, just like anyone can have the flu. Not only is it obvious, but it you’re searching on a tag that gets you here, you’ve heard it all before.
That said, you’re probably picturing someone middle-aged, drink-reliant and you might throw in ‘artistic’ if you’re feeling generous. You’re thinking of someone who can barely function when Churchill’s ‘black dog’ hits, but who is otherwise brilliant. If you’re one of my Doctor Who fan readers, you may be thinking of Van Gogh in Vincent and the Doctor. In truth, depression can be like that. It can also be different.
I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve come up with another wafer-thin metaphor to describe it. I can divide my own depression into two horror movie themed categories: Hollywood blockbuster and low-budget indie flick.
In a blockbuster, you have a big, terrifying monster. It might be an immortal serial killer or a clown-dragon-nun from Mars. Whatever it is, it’ll be terrifying, loud and impossible to escape; SFX coming out of its ears.
This is the kind of depression that’s easy to identify in the street. It’s the guy railing or crying at the lack of cinnamon in Starbucks or the lateness of his train. It’s hard to battle when you’re in the midst of it, because it’s such an all-encompassing tsunami of emotion. That emotion is everything there is, and everything feeds it. Once it’s over and normal service resumes, however, it’s hard to imagine what got you so upset in the first place, and the opinions therein can be filed under ‘depressive’ and never considered again. This is if you’re one of the lucky ones like me, for whom this state itself isn’t ‘normal service’.
The other kind is that one movie you’re cinephile friend told you you had to see. It’s low-budget, slow-paced and was probably filmed in a language that isn’t your own. It’s a movie where the guy you fell in love with in the first reel was the monster all along; the one that makes you slide your eyes over to whatever potential-murderer you happen to be watching the movie with. It’s the kind of movie that feels like it could happen, and sticks with you longer than you’re happy to admit.
This the kind of depression I get most frequecanntly, though unmanaged it can turn into the first kind faster than a bad American remake can hit the screens. It’s the insidious kind of depression that sneaks into your thoughts without tripping your internal alarms. It creeps in an begins to colour your thoughts about anything and everything. It’s the kind that makes you know for a fact that that girl could never be interested in you, that you’d never get that job, or that your family are utterly ashamed of you. It’s like that feeling of waiting for a text after a first date multiplied a thousandfold. This is the kind of depression that really has the potential to undermine your well-being. If you don’t identify it as the malign presence it is as early as possible, you never know how many thoughts or decisions it could have effected in the interim.
One also finds that the holes that are already there in the psyche can invite in this monster. Just like going to see Stephen King’s It with a pre-existing clown phobia* will leave you more afraid that you might be otherwise, so too can pre-existing neuroses allow in the Indie Depression DemonTM.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a Hollywood BreakdownAlso TM, but the Indie Bastard is constantly on my back, threatening to find a hole in my defences. I think he found one earlier, but I was expecting it (from prior experience) and I’m fighting it even as we speak. My guard’s up, but the little twat is behind it. Now all I have to do is take the blows and wait until I can give him a taste of his own medicine.
Anyway, yeah. Back to silly challenge questions tomorrow. 🙂
*Coulrophobia if you’re interested.