Monday, November 3, 2014

Thoughts on Depression

So I was reading out the first chapter of my supposed novel out to my husband and he says that I am very negative. I cant write happy stuff. I had a look at my poetry posted on this blog and I find them all dark. In the very first job interview, the HR head of a company had asked me what I write... I had told him two of my short stories and he said- you write very sad stories. Someone who does not like me might even comment that I seem to be perpetually depressed.
Well I do seem so, dont I. But truth is, I am basically a very happy person. Very pessimistic but happy. I am happy in my own company, which very few people can say of themselves. I am a thinker. I used to be a brooder, but with age, I have less reasons to brood and more reasons to worry. So the things I think about are mostly like- what would be my Booker acceptance speech. Which is to say, I am ambitious in my thoughts if not in my actions. And that I am not even always pessimistic.
Being pessimistic also gives me an unique advantage. If good things happen, I have given myself the leverage to be pleasantly surprised. If bad  things happen, I am always in a position to say I knew it!!
Truth is, I have stayed with depression almost all my life. However, every time, I think of depression as some kind of maze which I have to find a way out of. It is a challenge but I keep trying. Maybe that has been possible because I have never been acutely or severely depressed,  It is more of a sense of extreme sadness and hopelessness when I tend to let go of my perfectionist nature for a bit and sleep all round the clock. But there had come a time in my life when I had needed medical intervention. The pills the shrink gave me, which I took for 3 months, I call them my 'happy pills', did a lot to accelerate the process of coming out of my maze. Then I decided to stop taking the anti depressants and I have not needed them since.
I have often wondered about how people commit suicide. What is that darkness which makes them think that it is better to head towards the absolute unknown, to cease to exist, to jump into a chasm with no end in sight. It is like standing on a 1000 foot tall chimney ledge, with just enough standing room and strong winds, where you cant see the ground. Your situation is unenviable, no doubt. On the outer side you have a ladder. You can climb down in precarious conditions. It is hard, but the ladder will take you to the ground you cant yet see. On the other side you have a jump into darkness. You know nothing of whats inside the chimney. It is pitch black, it may take you infinitely down once you jump. But you prefer to jump anyway because you dont want to take the trouble to climb down into the light?? I dont understand that.
I have often wondered if killing themselves, for some, are not about their ego. I know of someone who had tried swallowing pills once. She was taking professional help dealing with her schizophrenia, but she was a student who was doing well, had friends and was not in a stage of life where it poses big problems. She survived, but it set me wondering why she would do it, other than to gain attention. That I suppose is also a big reason. Like you hear of Lady Diana throwing herself off stairs, cutting her wrists etc, and surviving at the precipice every time. It is a call for help, it is a call for attention. It is a sign for worse things to come unless help is given or taken.
I am glad to say writing... and reading... helps. Even googling 'depression' and reading about it helps. We should try that more. We should help ourselves when we feel the world is not helping. One thing is clear. We must never never ever waste the light to choose jumping into the darkness. The light is too dear, too joyful, too hopeful, to give it a miss for the one last time... every time.

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