Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What It's Like to Not Be Depressed

I’ve been blissfully up lately. Let me tell you what that means for the way I perceive the world.

There are two basic cognitive issues that plague me when I’m down. The first is a perception of worthlessness. The second is the perception of friendlessness. Tangential to both of these is a sense of hopelessness that neither of these will be rectified and an inability to keep from obsessing over them. That means that I have difficulty concentrating on other things. I’ve learned to use prayer to help me focus on other things.

There is one obvious physical manifestation of being down. That’s sleeplessness. That’s a clear sign that this is a physical problem and not merely a psychological one. I have trouble going to sleep and when I do get to sleep, I have trouble staying asleep. My body is not only failing to produce the neurotransmitters and hormones that affect mood, but the hormones that regulate sleep.

But inasmuch as mood alters perception, there is some truth behind what is being perceived. I know that I have gifts that are being underutilized. Therefore, I have a limited value in my usefulness. It’s also true that I don’t have particularly close friends. I went to a restaurant alone last night. Several other people in my church were there already. They said hello but no one joined me. Some others from my church came in last night.

The difference between being up or down is that when I’m up, it doesn’t matter as much. I can pick up a piece of trash from the floor and feel like I did something worthwhile. I feel freer to say things that seem to me to be off-the-wall to other people because I don’t care that they think I’m strange for saying them. I can walk away feeling like I matter at least a little bit to someone because I was able to same something.

When I’m down, I perceive the futility in everything I do. Even if I do something worthwhile, it seems as though it didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. I tend not to talk to people unless they talk to me without much effort to making the words come out. So I don’t say anything unless I can justify the energy. People come up to me and act like they care because several people know that I suffer from bouts of depression. To me it seems like they only care because they feel that they have to, not because they want to. It’s not like if I sat down alone at a restaurant that they would walk in and joyfully join me. They would join other people, but not me. And I know this because when I’m up I see the evidence of it. It matters more to me that I have trouble forming deep friendships with people when I’m depressed.

So, for the time being, I’m up. I’m happy enough in my own skin. The dread that the distant storm will approach hangs over me like the sword of Damocles. I’ll enjoy the calm weather while I can.

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