Oh the alcoholic afternoons
when we sat in your room
they meant more to me than any
than any living thing on earth
they had more worth
than any living thing on earth.
- These Things Take Time, The Smiths
Happiness is a strange beast. I feel more comfortable with fear and sadness – they are the ones who stayed with me through everything – and allowing myself to walk away from those emotions and embrace the positive is surprisingly difficult at times. Yet, occasionally, happiness slips in unnoticed.
When you have depression, being happy is a constant balance; a tightrope you could slip off at any moment. You wait for the fall, you anticipate the crash. Using the words ‘depression’ and ‘happiness’ in the same paragraph probably won’t make sense to everybody, and I suspect those who have never experienced long-term chronic depression will wonder if I can truly be depressed if I can feel happiness, if only in occasional fleeting visits.
You can. Sometimes the depression abates for a while, and lets a little light through. Oh, it always lurks in the background; waiting for a minor slip so it can worm its way back in. Depression doesn’t just go away because life has offered a bit of respite. It can, however, become the least important thing in your life for a while, and although I often find it difficult to find the blessings in my life, I’m grateful for the brief holiday the black dog has decided to take today. I like to think it’s gone to the seaside and will, hopefully, get stuck on a sandbank and drown. I can dream.
I once told somebody that I was happy being sad; that depression defined me, and I wouldn’t want to change. To an extent I still believe this, but over a decade has passed since that bold teenage statement and I now know that there is a level of depression which is entirely pointless – it brings me no creative genius or wonderful personality changes – and which simply scratches away at my being over time, dulling my mind, stealing my memories and filling me with pure apathy.
The last time this particular dog visited me was a couple of months back, and since then I’ve been teetering on the edge of sad and happy – never quite one or the other for any length of time – trying to find a comfortable balance. Most of my life is about balance, because few things about what I experience are perfect, and most is taken up by a mixture of confusion, the need for control, and anxiety.
However, there is one aspect of my life with which I am entirely happy, and this goes against everything I’ve learned from living with depression throughout most of my life. My relationship with S. The happiness I feel from this seeps into other parts of my life, and sometimes it’s difficult to feel apathetic when I know I have something so rare; a relationship which has never faltered, not even for one second. How many people experience that? A few? Certainly not many, I think. I began to think tonight that perhaps this happiness could be the doorway out of depression. A way of unlocking the door which has kept me in the dark room since puberty. I have never felt such happiness before – without the added jealousy and anxiety which has always destroyed past relationships – and I’m wondering if perhaps this can be the start of something; a way to unclip the black dog from his lead and kick him out of the van.
- March 20th (lifeloveandfreedom.wordpress.com)
- Why am I sad??? (thoughtsunthinkable.wordpress.com)
- In a dark and lonely room (momentsofexhilaration.com)
- The Benefit Of Sadness (psychologytoday.com)
- Depression and Substance Abuse (addictionts.com)
- Mood Disorders (allaboutcounseling.com)
- The Depression Trap (anxietymatters.org)
- Major Depressive Disorder (allaboutcounseling.com)