I’m depressed. No, but really. Relatable Michael Scott gif aside (trying to lighten the mood – is it working?), I, like millions of other, am suffering with (from? with? from? who knows) depression. I’ve hit that big ol’ bastard of a hypothetical brick wall and I’m plagued with constant, intense and prolonged feelings of sadness, inadequacy and hopelessness. And then some. The problem is, saying “I’m depressed” doesn’t seem to pack a punch anymore. Case en pointe: “Ugh, I’m, like, so depressed today”; “Her travel photos are gonna depress the hell outta me”; “Jeez, this day is depressing as hell.” These are all perfectly legitimate uses and variations of how we apply the D-word: aimlessly, semi-meaningfully, harmlessly. As humans, we do the same with an entire arsenal of adjectives. That’s just how we roll!
But what do we do when one D-word is representative of both a description and a disorder? What happens when that one haphazardly-used word starts meaning more to you? How do you go about explaining that you are, categorically, depressed?
This is a problem I was trying to mentally navigate before my name popped up on the board in the doctors waiting room.
Doc: “So, Daisy, what seems to be the problem?”
Me: “Umm, well, this sounds kinda futile just saying it. I’m not really sure how to word it. I think I’m depressed.”
(Why do we word things like that when we’re in the presence of a doctor? I don’t think I’m depressed, I know I’m depressed. Similarly I don’t think there’s a problem with my back, there is a problem with my back – I just need you to tell me what exactly that problem is. We perform this unnecessary dance of doctoral etiquette, proffering the intelligence and diagnosis skills upon the professional, despite knowing full well that, at the very least, the pain is in our back. That much we know to be true. That much we are sure of. Anyhow…)
Doc: “And why do you think that?”
Jesus, I wasn’t expecting that question. What the fuck was I expecting? In all my panic over using the D-word, I completely forgot to imagine what the rest of the conversation may have in store.
Me: “Umm. Why do I think I’m depressed? Golly. I guess I’m really, constantly, perpetually sad.”
Here’s what I should’ve said:
“The prolonged feelings of sadness, maybe? I cry, like, minimum of five times a day. I mean, I howl. Not enough for anyone to hear, mind you, because that would draw attention to me and My Sadness, and me and My Sadness are not ready for familial attention just yet. Me and My Sadness sometimes drag ourselves off the bed and onto the floor where we weep together, head in hands, chest getting tighter with every despair-ridden inhalation, for twenty minutes or so.
“Sometimes me and My Sadness just shut down altogether and my body acts like nothing but a vessel, silently carrying me and My Sadness. Our friend Hopelessness usually hops on for the ride; he’s a bit of a free-loader, we don’t like him all that much. Me and My Sadness often think about what would happen if everything were to come to an end. Sometimes we wish for it. And then we feel guilt-ridden. And then we howl a bit more.
“There are other times when me and My Sadness catch a glimpse of what we’ve become in the mirror and we – yep, you guessed it! – cry some more. To conclude, I guess I think I’m depressed because I feel really fucking depressed.”
But I didn’t say that.
Doc: “And why is that, Daisy? Do you have reason to be depressed?”
Me: “Reason? Like, a death? No, no-one has died.”
Doc: “How long have you felt this way for?”
Me: “It’s got progressively worse over, about, three or four months.”
Doc: “Has anything happened to you in recent months?”
Me: “Nope, nothing that isn’t standard. I’m kind of in the midst of trying to become a proper, bone-fide, paid writer and I’m looking for part-time work on the side to get some cash. It is what it is.”
Doc: “Hmmm. Okay. Do you have a boyfriend?”
Me: “I do. He’s nice.”
Doc: “So you say you’re a writer. That’s a creative field. A field in which you sometimes have to throw your entire self and your emotions into your work. Would you agree?”
Me: “I guess so? I don’t know if I’d say that my desire to write means that I have a predisposition to depression.”
Doc: “And what are you expecting from talking to me?”
Me: “Umm. Again, I don’t really know. I just kept on reading things about how it’s important to tell someone and so far I’ve only managed to tell my boyfriend and although my entire family thinks he’s a doctor, he’s actually a brain scientist and he can’t help me, medically speaking. Although his title does suggest that he could. He can’t.”
It’s at this point that my mind wanders and I begin to imagine my boyfriend dedicating his life to effectively treating the illness, like Jake Gyllenhaal does for Anne Hathaway in Love & Other Drugs.
“… I just thought I should tell a professional.”
Doc: “Okay, Daisy. Can you fill in this questionnaire for me – it’s to determine how severely depressed you are – and I’m going to prescribe you a months-worth of Prozac. Depression is linked to the serotonin levels in the brain and sometimes, if you’ve run a little dry, you need a top up and that’s essentially what the pills will do. You can also try counselling. If you want to try the Prozac then do and come see me in a month to monitor your progress.”
And that was that. Me, My Sadness, an abundance of snot and a sense of relief dragged ourselves out of the doctors room and towards the bus stop. It was raining, it was grey and it was miserable, and I thought of the one and only thing that we all remember from English class: pathetic fallacy.