Claudine’s Little Black Book of Depression.

One of the things about depression is how horrible it is to talk about. You have to talk about it to escape its clutches (or at least weaken them), but by so doing, you have to relive what caused it in the first place.

There’s always a tell. A lifting of eyebrows when you give the details. A gasp. It’s bad. Of course, the opposite is somewhat worse: listing one’s pains aloud as if to oneself, seeing only a silent back, hearing only rapid typing, reducing oneself to little more than an ambulatory collection of problems/symptoms/disorders.

You emerge from the hour you’ve just spent in the past into a wavering present, head and heart vibrating back and forth: past, present. Present, past. What year is it? Can it be 1977 and 1982 and 2014 simultaneously? Can they co-exist in a real but non-linear sense, as some physicists argue? It feels possible, and yet there’s the ever-present social insistence to “Live in the now! Don’t look back! The past is dead!”

So.

I go when I do because I get stuck, but I don’t make it easy. Too much sympathy and I feel my heart harden. “She’s dead to me” or “I don’t think about that” or even “That’s not why I’m here,” although of course that’s at the root of every single thing that’s led me there in the first place. How to explain the off-limits nature of this subject? That to save myself an iron door was fashioned; one that cannot be breached? That the price of opening that door is the destruction of self which will.not.be.tolerated?

The trouble is the way the door expands. You shut the door on a part of yourself to save the rest and it works pretty well  until eventually you lose control of its dimensions and the ore begins to seep and ooze into the rest of the psyche. You sense it and desperately try to reinforce the head and the sill and the jamb but by then it’s too late and the drips and leaks begin to reveal themselves. One moment you’re placid and pretty-faced; the next, the fangs are bared and there’s pleasure in the biting.

You recognize failure. So you make a change: I’m done with that aspect of life. I tried and it was no good and I accept that. Trying is hard, anyway. There are better things to focus on. More rewarding areas as time goes on. In fact, those who keep trying begin to seem comical, out of touch. Pathetic, really. But then somehow that seemingly mature acceptance expands too, just like the door. And so the finishing continues, until there you are alone in a hallway with the doors to every room shut up tight, though you suspect, you really do, that there is one door behind which a spring breeze is always blowing through an open window with white cotton curtains luffing like sails, and a bed with cool pale sheets awaiting your nine year old self, when your hair smelled of chlorine and your limbs were loose and every day was sunny and every night was black and starry. And there’s a dog there, too — a big one, who loves you more than he loves anyone else, ever.

And so, in hopes of leaving that door ajar, or rather, in hopes of retaining a shred of interest and any willingness at all to open that door for discovery, you go and you talk. And my god, it is terrible.

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