I read a post yesterday from one of my favorite bloggers, Alie Brosh at Hyberbole and a Half. The web community had been worried about her; she had pretty much disappeared for the last year or so. Her last post, while funny, was very dark. She’s back, and with a new post about what has happened since then.
Many of us have spun down the hole known as “clinical depression,” although there’s nothing clinical about it. The earmarks are obvious, and when you see someone falling into that vortex, you’re tempted to do all the dumb things people did to you. They usually plied you with some variation of “Snap out of it!”, which is pointless. Alie described the process with such poignancy–and accuracy–she had all of us in tears and laughter at the same time. And the professionals in awe of her ability to define it so well.
She described it as being in the possession of dead fish, and no one else can see it. The fish are dead, and everyone else tells you that the fish aren’t dead, they’re deadest before the dawn, just get new fish, etc. To someone who is depressed, this has no relation to their life. None. I used to liken it to talking to a potted plant, because that’s what your mind feels like, if you could think in such a complex way. Suicide? No–Alie described it perfectly, you want to be “not alive,” and that’s different. Everything feels like nothing, and that gets really boring.
I’m a supporter of the use of medication, but not as a substitute for your life–but that’s another topic for later. In brain injury research, this becomes clearer, the injured person no longer has the ability to think in that way. It just isn’t there, they left it out on the pavement, or whatever. It’s like asking that potted plant to do calculus. With clinical depression, it’s harder to see this, because the person looks fine. But the brain has just shut off. Fortunately for Alie, she has gotten help, and is improving. She’s a very brave young woman, whether she knows it or not–which she doesn’t.
Keep it going on, Alie, sometimes a minute at a time is all you can do. Glad to see you back.