Recently, I heard it described that depression is a liar. It deceives us into believing all hope and joy is sucked out of the moment in which we live. I don’t know if it’s a liar so much as a thief, sneaking in on little feet, gradually drawing all the curtains closed, lowering the blinds, closing the doors, and immersing you slowly until you’re not sure when it began, but you sure know that it’s arrived.
Not that I equate depression with darkness. The summer, delayed, has finally arrived, and the heat and light is an assault in a way I could never have imagined as a child on a sunny beach on the other side of the world. I can’t blame the sun for shining though, as much as I can blame darkness for falling.
I turn again to the great deception that the fall is my fault. I decided several weeks ago that I was ready to give my mind, soul and body a break from the anti-depressants that have been my lifeline for most of the past twenty years. I forced myself to believe the doctor who blithely seemed to imply that beating depression was just a game of will, and that with sufficient mental trickery I could overcome it. I should have known better.
Perhaps I could have made it, had it not fallen in the middle of one of the most stressful periods of my life. I deceived myself that I had gained sufficient mastery to overcome it. Yet the thief came slowly and unbeknownst to me, my unconscious began to assert itself: making plans – deliberate plans – that I still hold a little too tightly to… an escape plan, that given my experience of the grief of deliberate loss would bring only pain and suffering to those I love most. I would not do that, as much as that plan hovers in the peripheries, beckoning with its escape.
With my upcoming birthday, I mark the 22nd anniversary of the acute food poisoning that triggered the onset of the Sjogren’s that has plagued my adult life. It doesn’t seem fair, but around me I see suffering, both chosen and undeserved, and it reminds me that despite the pain, we have to go on.
I feel alone in the universe that is my heart. My multi-dimensional self seems somehow collapsed – the nuances of light, life, colour and soul seems gone. The loss seems shocking, and what’s worse, most around me don’t seem to notice the grief that’s wracking me. I reveal a little to those heart friends I love, not because I want to weigh their own suffering with mine… I just know the pain of not knowing that someone I loved closed the doors, thinking that in their silence and solitude, they spared me pain.
So, torn between those rememberings, and the noisy people who complain vociferously if another reveals what it means to suffer and be human, I try to express a little of it here, and scribble a new painting in Artrage. I don’t think it’s complete yet, but it’s called “Alone in the Universe”. It reminds me of what it means to be a void in a star-filled nebula, only to remember that in the midst of that light there are pockets of dust – dark matter – that contribute to the radiance that astronomers so admire.
Perhaps depression is that dark matter. It has to be there to reflect what is good and is beautiful in us too. That humble dust is part of star stuff, and that’s what we, miraculously, are too.