A Week’s Winter of Discontent

          This particular depression is seasonal, in that it follows a cycle, a schedule both predictable and mysterious. Each year, whether I anticipate it or not, it descends, wraps me in a cocoon of fog, walks me through a bog of stupidity. Once I recognize it, I can accept and ride it, but I cannot escape it, until the veil lifts.

           It comes twice a year, once in January, once in May, in the days surrounding the death anniversaries of my two parents, forever coloring my birthday and Mother’s day, which always fall in the same weeks. As years pass, it changes flavor, but, so far, not power nor punctuality. It descends and oppresses, the way I imagine the pollution storms do in China. Visibility and expectations plummet. Life goes on, but in a head wind; everything is, for a time, different.

           Depression is a Winter, of sorts. It doesn’t kill, it eclipses, occludes, infiltrates what is alive with a Botox of death, crowding and smothering soul and sentience with discontent… disconnection. It is an invasive weed, come– like our new president– to trample refinement and subtlety it doesn’t recognize, because that is what it knows how to do.

            It’s sin but not sinister. It is the ignorance of that which does not know Grace. It can be made of life, even made by Grace, but packed too tightly and chaotically in the space, so that it knows only rankling, distortion and the darkness cast by its own density.

            But who or what is it that is actually depressed? It isn’t that which is always Alive here. And it isn’t the deadness here that thuds in contrast. It is that sensitive, self-aware, living membrane in between, which objects, chafes, frets and flails, and like anyone in quicksand, digs itself in deeper.

            This Depression is not something to resist, to do anything about. It is something to be still with, until the eyes adjust to the Dim and you illuminate it from within by the simple, rarified light of your being. The room may be airless, and maybe you can’t stay there; but your visits make a difference: Compassion, acceptance, witness are a contagion. Perhaps you do not feel better, but you do feel, and you don’t flinch; and that is a start. You include the one that occludes; and that makes you bigger.

            Some depression can be understood, and dispelled. Some, like this one, does not ask to be understood. It is fumes emanating from the leaky mines of history, asking only to be acknowledged, accepted, like a stain, which itself is blameless; like the sins of the fathers; like the child of a rape.

            Forgive it what it doesn’t know it does, and, anon, it will tell you what you do not know. What it tells you may not be true, but it is a story that has risen for redemption.

            I resist depression because it forgets me who I am. But I have learned compassion: At least I have known who I am (or at least enjoyed the illusion). Depression itself never has. This is why we fear it and why it pursues us. It is the Undead pursuing the Not dead.      We survive by knowing the difference.


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