(Art by Zoe Shier)
One of the most common posts made to depression forums is asking is what they are experiencing normal. I wouldn’t put a lot of things past depression. So many people are saying that they feel dumber due to depression, myself included, that I’m sure the difficulty in concentrating and remembering things might contribute to why so many feel dumber than usual.
One of the most horrible ways depression manifested itself on me when I was really ill was a total silence that landed itself inside my head. You know that inner monologue that comments on events as you go about your day? That went radio silence on me, along with my thoughts.
It was horrible. On yoga classes we try to empty our minds but mine was permanently empty. I was used to chatter, random thoughts popping into my head. That’s also how I could write columns without making any plans about what to write. I just come up with a thing and write it out. Now there was nothing. Nothing. Just white noise. All gone. My head was desolate.
You don’t think about something like that until you lose it. I realised that my inner monologue, my inner voice was something that you could liken as an embodiment of my very being. I would still react to things such as get upset or have anxiety attacks, so there must be something happening at the back of my head. It’s just not rising to the surface.
At that point you’re basically a living corpse. There is nothing. You can lie down for hours without needing or wanting anything. As I also felt emotionally numb, it seemed like something had gone awry in my brain’s wiring. Like the lights had gone out. It was something that affected my suicidal impulses.
At the time it made sense. It feels like you’re already dead, so finishing the process in a sense doesn’t seem so scary anymore. It feels a natural ending to a sequence of events, like killing an animal that’s suffering. It’s mercy. Like a plant that has withered and finally died. Once you’re desperate enough to feel something, anything, or to have it all at least stop it ceases to be the final option and just becomes an option.
The reason I’m telling about this is because I don’t think people realise what a debilitating effect depression can have on things you could’ve never dreamt of. To someone with neither personal or professional experience on mental illness depression can just come across as not being able to get out of bed and that’s it.
It’s so much more than that. To me at my very worst it was like a cancer of the mind. It started as a premonition in my cells, spread and poisoned everything that was good and healthy about me, robbing me of my likes, dislikes, cognitive abilities and life force, everything that makes me human. It spread like flesh-eating bacteria until it felt like that the only thing left was a hollow skull.
I’m also telling about this to offer some words of comfort. It will come back. As you get better, it will come back. I’m so glad it’s back. It’s like I was returned something I lost.
Now that I take part in meditation on yoga class I’m reluctant to completely empty my mind because I don’t want it to happen ever again. Like the superstitious are afraid to step on their shadow out of fear of stepping on their soul.
So I pretend to do as I’m told but let little thoughts, the random ones that usually give me something to make anecdotes about or write about, pop up.
The little chatter that makes me who I am.
“That train had a sign that it will either hold four bicycles or two tandem bikes. If three bicycles and two tandem bikes get on, who has to leave?”
“How much in trouble would you get if you stole all your water from a stream at a national park? You’d just go there like once a week with lots of pots and pans.”
“Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?”
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