If you’ve never suffered with depression, then it’s very hard to explain. It’s nothing like being sad, or feeling a little down, it’s crushing in a way you never expect; no matter how often you’ve been through the cycle. Once the fog has passed you forget just how bad it can be.
A lot of the time it can feel like you are trying to run up a hill – whilst wearing rollerskates. Most of the time you are struggling just to stay in one place, let alone advance. All the while people are passing you, and looking at you like you are mad.
“Why not just take off the skates and walk?”
Sounds logical right? Maybe, aside from the fact that in our simile those skates aren’t all that easy to remove, there is also the fact that when you are in the grip of depression even the simplest jobs seem monumental. Ask anyone who has ever suffered with depression how easy it was to continue doing things like having a bath or shower, or brushing their teeth, or getting dressed. While the black dog is in town you are hit by an almost physical feeling of being weighed down or held back.
I’ve been reliant on anti-depressants for a while now, it’s been the only way to keep doing the basics. Those things that everyone else takes for granted, having a shower, brushing my teeth, brushing my hair, cooking, etc. Without the pills I just cannot function. However, with all the chaos recently, I had a while where I couldn’t pick up my prescription, and had to spend a while off my pills.
I was struggling with all the above, but I discovered that despite this my creativity increased. I found that the anti depressants made it harder for me to think, all of the things that I found so easy off the pill become so hard on them. I’d spent months and months struggling with one bit of coding on a website, almost a year, and then off the pills I sat down to look at it, and got it in 10 minutes.
So I’m left with a dilemma. Do I take the pills and lose my creativity? Bearing in mind all of my skills are within the creative areas. Or do I stop and not be able to function?
I guess, if it was only me and I didn’t have to think about my family, I’d go with the latter. I could exist quite happily as a hermit inside my black cloud, unwashed and untidy, but brimming over in creative works. However it isn’t a state with which others are comfortable, it also isn’t a state conducive to any kind of relationships.
And then the catch 22. Not being creative makes me feel awful, it’s like existing without my very essence. I may be going through the motions of life, but there’s no life in my life.
One of my hugest influences even through my depression is Matthew Johnstone, a very talented illustrator whose book I Had A Black Dog is, to me, the perfect visual representation of depression. I highly recommend it, and his blog is here.
And I leave you with one of his illustrations, a fantastically accurate view of depression.