Hope Contagium

A therapy journal of self-obsession, depression and meaning.

Tag: Andrew Solomon

Becoming Depressed

The air seems thick and resistant, as though it were full of mushed-up bread. Becoming depressed is like going blind, the darkness at first gradual, then encompassing; it is like going deaf, hearing less and less until a terrible silence is all around you, until you cannot make any sound of your own to penetrate the quite. It is like feeling your clothing slowly turning into wood on your body, a stiffness in the elbows and the knees progressing to a terrible weight and an isolating immobility that will atrophy you and in time destroy you.

– Page 50, The Noonday Demon (2001), Andrew Solomon

Forget, work, love

‘Depression is under the skin, all the surface of the body has the depression just below it, and we cannot take it out; but we can try to forget the depression even though it is right there.’ […] ‘There is a final step,’ she said to me after a long pause. ‘At the end, I teach them the most important thing. I teach them that these three skills – forgetting, working, and loving – are not three separate skills, but part of one enormous whole, and that it is the practice of these things together, each as part of the others, that makes a difference. It is the hardest thing to convey’ – she laughed – ‘but they all come to understand this, and when they do – why, then they are ready to go into the world again.’

 – Phaly Nuon, The Noonday Demon (2001), Andrew Solomon

Metaphors

In depression, all that is happening in the present is the anticipation of pain in the future, and the present qua present no longer exists at all.
   Depression is a condition that is almost unimaginable to anyone who has not known it. A sequence of metaphors […] is the only way to talk about the experience.

 – Page 29, The Noonday Demon (2001), Andrew Solomon

Balance

It is too often the quality of happiness that you feel at every moment its fragility, while depression seems when you are in it to be a state that will never pass. Even if you accept that moods change, that whatever you feel today will be different tomorrow, you cannot relax into happiness as you can into sadness. For me, sadness always has been and still is a more powerful feeling; and if that is not a universal experience, perhaps it is the base from which depression grows. I hated being depressed, but it was also in depression that I learned my own acreage, the full extent of my soul. When I am happy, I feel slightly distracted by happiness, as though it fails to use some part of my mind and brain that wants the exercise. Depression is something to do. My grasp tightens and becomes acute in moments of loss: I can see the beauty of glass objects fully at the moment when they slip from my hand toward the floor. ‘We find pleasure much less pleasurable, pain much more painful than we had anticipated,’ Schopenhauer wrote. ‘We require at all times a certain quantity of care or sorrow or want, as a ship requires ballast, to keep on a straight course.’

 – Page 24, The Noonday Demon (2001), Andrew Solomon

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