No, I’m Fine or “The Descent”

A Castle. With Hole
A castle wall in France – replete with hole.

*NOTE* This post was drafted about a year ago, as I began my a major depressive episode. You’ll notice that my output dropped to zero – I had hoped to keep a journal of the descent into depression, unfortunately I lost the will almost immediately. It is provided here in the hope that it may help someone recognise the signs of depressive illness in their own life.

I was having a little trouble deciding what to write my next post about, when this morning I realised that the reason I was having trouble was that I was experiencing the first pangs of a depressive episode.

As often is the case, the warning signs have actually been around for a couple of weeks – here are the things that I have been ignoring/rationalising:

  • Body Dismorphia (I’m currently losing weight ahead of my wedding, and I’m now even unhappier with my body than I was before I started)
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling emotionally unbalanced

Rather brilliantly, this puts us in a place where I can document some of the features of this nascent depression live (and see whether so documenting it has any effect on it’s progress).

As I began to realise that this was, at the very least the start of a minor depression it occurred to me again that there always felt like a degree of inevitability to the onset of depression – and that I’d never really had chance to intercept my own feelings at the point at which it was actually happening. How does this all feel then? Well, I think the inevitability stems from the confluence of two factors, first that depression saps your will and self interest, and second that the fight becomes painful.

Maintaining yourself, emotionally and physically requires effort – notice it or not – and when a depression comes upon you that effort becomes painful. Allowing the depression to progress is a pain that excuses the others, it is easy to use the depression to excuse yourself the pain of living. As Samuel Johnson said, “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man”. How easy is it to say to yourself “I don’t need to do that today”, or “I can catch up with Laura tomorrow” instead of maintaining your life? The slide into depression is horrible, but seems less of a struggle than trying to carry on normally.

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