Black clouds. Rain clouds. Grey clouds. Large black dogs with floppy ears and wobbly feet. Shadowy hands holding you back. Globs of dark fur, drenched in the rain, peering at you through an alleyway as deep as dreadful. All these things, and I’m sure many more, have been ways that people have tried to visualize depression.
For me, I’ve always considered it a bit more comically, more commercially even. Do you remember that little guy from the Zoloft commercials? It’s so cute, but so sad, so small yet so poignant, altogether insignificant.
It’s a frown, a sigh, an expression of anguish or uncertainty as the weather darkens, but you look outside and it’s still sunny and warm.
Perhaps it helps to visualize depression. Perhaps it helps to make it human. Or perhaps putting a face to these feelings isn’t at all what we need.
Sometimes I wonder what damage those fairytales we were told as children left imprinted in our psyches. Forget the idealized yet ignorant gender norms portrayed in every romance. Forget the blind hopefulness of always waiting for a happy ending. Forget the unbridled belief in magic and myth and mystery.
Maybe there’s a deeper damage to all those Disney dreams.
I knew it was raining when my class was interrupted by the squeaking from the hallway. By the time I left the building to cross a small breadth of campus to my second course, it was merely a light rain, and when after that course I crossed to the bus stop, the light rain hadn’t picked up a great deal–but on account of now standing in the rain, by nature it seemed heavier.
I got on the bus, the standing crowd moving slowly toward the back to make room for the new recruits at the front.
And when that web came, I got caught up in it. No matter which direction I pulled, the strings held me back. Each crystalline thread became a chain, and somewhere just out of sight, I knew there was a demon lurking waiting to wrap me in its poison, and swallow me whole, my lungs still full of air, my heart still beating, still bleeding.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape. I could change my perspective, look up or look down, turn my eyes and scan the horizon, but I was still tied in place. Only if someone could come and cut me down would I be freed from this torment. Only if I there were someone nearby.
But for all I could see, I was alone. There was no one.
November is a time of great feats, and great drawbacks. There’s a few little monsters, however, that are especially pertinent this time of year.
The first is the will to write. It’s a monster worth riding, a monster we want to tame and take under our wings, squeeze the ink from his fountain-pen claws and write masterpieces while he suffers (which in turn is our bliss, but the imagery isn’t as sound as when I started, or at least not as sound as when it started in my head). Other times, the will to write is our master. These times may feel like he completely leaves us, but in truth he’s still there, waiting to strike, waiting to let us capture him again.
It’s all about taming this monster. It’s easy to let him go, to let him wander away, but it’s much harder to get him back. A steady mind and a steady hand and a determined spirit are best when taming this one. Sometimes we may feel it’s best to leave him be, and it’s probably those time when we need steel ourselves the most and reel him back in. The will to write is ours, but only if we catch him.