Friday, 19 November 2010


Bad misfiring in synaptic gaps.
The wrong fuel mix;
Dopamine, serotonin, noradrenalin, acetylcholine
(sometimes other stuff too),
It’s complicated –
Amazing, really, that for most of us it works
Most of the time.

The result is suffering,
The crushing weight of senselessness.
Darkness, dreariness,
The feeling that it’s all just too hard
And pointless

And frightening too.

There are memories – more, knowledge –
That it hasn’t always been like this,
That there has been joy and hope
And beautiful luminous sunrises
And the caress of loving hands
And contentment at work well done.

And that they all meant something.

There somewhere
But packed away behind glass,
Wrapped in cotton-wool,
Useless now,
Impotent against
Actual hopelessness.

There’s the huge heroic effort
(unnoticed, unsung)
Just to function,
To keep up appearances,
To appear “normal.”
It’s not something others would understand anyway –
Your very own, personal hell.

(And who really gives a fuck anyway?)

Or – worse even –
That others start to see it,
Notice the crumbling façade
And start to worry
And ask solicitous questions
For which there are no answers …

Ah no, I’m all right, really!

Letters left unopened, telephone unanswered,
The bed becomes a haven of refuge,
A place to lie,
Sleepless, drifting in ever-smaller circles.
Sometimes there is enough energy in the evening
To get up
(For the evenings are somehow less threatening;
Another day has been managed … somehow)
And then spend most of the night up,
Watching meaningless television programmes,
Immediately forgotten.

Sometimes you cry,
Sometimes you are too empty, even for tears …

There are various types of depression, with various causes and triggers. Experts reckon that around 10% of the world population suffers or will suffer from what is officially known as major depression disorder at some stage during their lives, about twice as many women as men. It frequently co-occurs with other psychiatric and neurological problems, such as anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as Parkinson’s and dementia. It often afflicts people with chronic pain problems and cardio-vascular diseases.

It can generally be treated, at best with a combination of medication and psychotherapeutic support, and most sufferers succeed in finding joy and purpose in life once more. The majority recovers completely, for quite a few the episodes recur or become chronic but almost all of these can, with the help of medication, lead quite normal lives.

Many prominent figures have suffered from depression, including Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolf, Brian May, Ernest Hemmingway, Winston Churchill, John Stuart Mill, Robbie Williams, Jackson Pollock, Michelangelo, Kirstin Dunst and John Denver.

Some do not survive it; the suffering becomes too great and they end their own lives. I have lost two friends this way.

And I have made personal acquaintance with what Churchill called “the black dog.” It is almost a decade ago now and an experience I hope never to have to repeat. Those suffering need our support – and our encouragement to seek professional help, particularly because a common symptom is such a loss of energy and motivation that they may not be able to take this step themselves.

[This theme is continued in the following post: ]


The "Crying Eye" picture has awakened quite a lot of interest online since I published this. Here is a link to the site where I found it.


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