I’ve been depressed all my life.
Well, that’s not exactly true. I actually had a happy, well-adjusted childhood (go figure). It wasn’t until around age 12 that everything started to go south.
And its not like I live in a constant state of depression. During the course of an average day I’ll usually experience moments of happiness, joy, high spirits and etc. But its also true I’ll usually feel moments of depression during the course of most days, too. Often for no apparent reason. I’ll look out the window and see a leaf blowing in the wind and I’ll be overcome by melancholy. Or some sad memory will suddenly pop in my head and I’ll be like: “”AAHHHH. . . .” Like I’ve been punched in the psychic gut and life is no good after all, just a painful series of despair and loss.
Sometimes I’ll wonder why. And I’ll think: “Well, maybe life is just basically sad.” At least a lot of it.
Though I’m sure a lot of it has to due with one’s basic temperament, and maybe even one’s chemical balance, or even a genetic propensity towards sadness. I’ve known some unfortunate people who have told me they were literally born sad, and spent most of their lives unable to shake this state of constant depression and sorrow.
Some times I’ll even speculate on the different nuances of depression. There’s melancholy, and despair, and “the blues,” and good old garden-variety sadness, and anxiety, and dread, and sorrow, and all sorts of other shades of mental misery.
I knew this one poor woman — lets call her Judy — she lived in a constant state of tragedy and depression. Judy’s life was like a non-stop soap opera. She never stopped crying for the state of her life, or the state of the world for that matter. Her depression was practically her full-time hobby. She spent countless hours discussing it at length with her many psychiatrists and counselers. It was also her prime conversational gambit with her circle of friends.
Judy took a special — and almost gleeful — interest in the suffering of not only herself, but just about every other living creature on planet earth. There was one old guy in our neighborhood, I don’t know what his problem was, I think it was some kind of cancer, but his face had almost been completely eaten away. He was somewhat of a “monstrous” presence as you’d catch fleeting glimpses of him as he rushed from the bus stop to his apartment. Judy talked about him constantly. How much she admired him. How brave and incredible it was that he had the strength to keep living in the face of the depressing circumstances that were almost (almost) as bad as her own.
One evening I went out for a few beers with Judy and some of her friends from her therapy group. After which she invited me back to her hotel room. We spent about a half-hour chatting and listening to music, and then I went back home. Later I was surprised (and alarmed) to discover that Judy had become overcome with suicidal depression because of the terrible “rejection” she felt after I had left her that evening. It was her prime topic for weeks at her therapy sessions. Embellished to truly epic Tragedy Queen proportions. She had literally fabricated an entire depression out of nothing. Some people really work at their depression.
Last I heard, Judy had become a heroin junkie and was living in a seedy hotel in Oakland with her junkie boyfriend. And each second-hand sighting I heard about Judy described her in progressively dire conditions. Until one day, well, you just stopped hearing about Judy.
I don’t know how much power I have to change the basically down-beat nature of my psyche. I guess we all fight to uplift our lives as best we can. Usually by small increments.