by Nix Winter
The word carries so much weight, and well, no weight at all these days. In the simplest meaning, a depression is just a slight indent in a surface. So if I have a cake not quite ready to come out of the oven, and I touch it too soon, it could fall just a little. It could become a depressed cake. Yet, a depressed human is so very much more intense.
Here I sit at my desk. The sky is gray outside my windows and there are lovely green trees, so many that the sky is almost hidden away by the green reaching life. Raindrops didn't get through my window, but little bits of rain cling to the edges of my eyes anyway. I'm not a cake, but depression is so much more than a slight indentation. Depression is knowing I love the rain. I know I love writing. I love the music that's playing. I love my cat. That love and happiness might as well be the trees outside my window for how much I feel it in this moment. Inside, I drip with a dark and endless promise of rain.
I've tried medications. I'm not alone in that. There is a rumor or urban legend or maybe it's true, that if you test London's water, after it's been through the treatment plants, it still has detectable levels of a well known antidepressant. It doesn't matter if it's true or not. What matters is that so many people are willing to believe that it is true. Medications work really well for some people. For some people, like me, they came with some unacceptable side effects. Just so you know, I'm not above medication or some crazy thing. I like my pain killers when I have a headache. I like science. I like chemistry.
What has worked for me though is something a therapist told me along time ago, with a little bit of modification. Just while writing this article, the dark hiss of despair has let go of me. It gets easier with practice. I can see the beautiful trees outside my window now and feel happiness in their beauty. My secret is 'HALT', and strong hold on hope. 'HALT' means that I try not to get to hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. I really do have control over all those things. Hungry is helped more as I age by making sure I pick healthy food, because, honestly, one can self medicate to unhealthy proportions with this one! Angry has been the hardest for me because anger was so taboo to me. Unexpressed anger turns like a hungry tsunami on me, drawing back like it's going to be all silent and forgiving, then crashing down on me in a wave of sorrow like I'll never see the surface again. Lonely... well, did I mention the cat? I'm kind and friendly to most people. I've learned it's not about what other people do for me – it's about what I do for other people. Tired is also another hard one for me. I've found I have to be firm with myself and the world and demand my safe and private space, my room, where I can respect myself and sleep through the night. Boundaries are another subject I learned about a long time ago and just took too long to put into practice. The last little secret ingredient is hope. When the dispair that used to cripple me grabs hold, I hold onto hope. The promise that the darkness has let me go before, and it always will let go. I will always find the trees beautiful again.