Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Depression is a gravity well

I once read a story about a famous violinist. He was approached by an up-and-coming youngster, and asked for a critique. The youngster played for him, and the famous violinist told him he was rubbish, not to bother trying to play professionally.
Another musician asked him what he was doing - the kid was fine. The famous violinist said 'if he's got the heart for it, if music is in his soul, he'll ignore me and go on to become great'.

I think that's horribly unfair. It might work fine for neurotypicals, but it could absolutely crush a depressive.

I have depression. Someone - Spike Milligan? - called it 'the black dog on my shoulder'.

For me, it's a black hole inside me. A great black pit, and it eats everything. It eats light first: hope, self-esteem, belief in myself, faith. It eats wishes and dreams and desires. It absolutely destroys happiness, or any sort of sense of achievement.

I've thrown away a lot of my work. To other people, this might be a disaster: I know many people who have told me they love what I write and want to see more of it. To me, the work is just trash. Something that kept me alive for a few seconds more. Something that distracted me from the black hole that is the centre of my existence.

I exist for my family. If they were to die - a car accident or something - I would collect the meds in the house, check the medical sites, and come up with a cocktail that would put me out.

The black hole takes everything else away. They are outside me: they escape the black hole. As long as they keep giving me their love, there is something that passes through me before it's drained off. Some light. Some joy.

It's a Renaissance cliche: the melancholic poet. Well, I'm a writer, and I'm extremely afflicted with melancholia.

I don't know where I was going with this. I'm sorry.

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