Hope Contagium

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

Tag: melancholia

A Day

Another gray day making its mark on a black soul.

A gray day.
A gray mood.
A black soul.

Mediocre life.
No value.
No meaning.


Virginia Woolf’s Depression

If left to herself, she would have eaten nothing at all and would have gradually starved to death. It was extraordinarily difficult ever to get her to eat enough to keep her strong and well. Pervading her insanity generally there was always a sense of some guilt, the origin and exact nature of which I could never discover; but it was attached in some peculiar way particularly to food and eating. In the early acute, suicidal stage of the depression, she would sit for hours overwhelmed with hopeless melancholia, silent, making no response to anything said to her. When the time for a meal came, she would pay no attention whatsoever to the plate of food put before her. I could usually induce her to eat a certain amount, but it was a terrible process. Every meal took an hour or two; I had to sit by her side, put a spoon or fork in her hand, and every now and again ask her very quietly to eat and at the same time touch her arm or hand. Every five minutes or so she might automatically eat a spoonful.

 – A description of Virginia Woolf’s depression, from Leonard Woolf’s diary (Virginia Woolf: 1882-1941)
With gratitude to The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon

Depression vs. Melancholia

I believe too many are stuffed with anti-depressives and that this medication is given way too quickly. But there is a difference between depression and melancholy and the trouble is that depression is approached completely wrong by doctors (who often are the ones we first turn to in search of help). Ten minutes at the doctor’s office and he/she knows what’s going on in our heads? No, I don’t think so.

For the individual, melancholic suffering is intensified and gradually becomes more unmanageable because of the way it is viewed by our society and fellow men. You become estranged and mostly ignored. They can’t accept it, so naturally neither can you.

In my opinion melancholy is actually an incredibly beautiful state of mind. It’s a feeling which enhances you and changes the way you see the world. It allows you to gain compassion and a deeper understanding. It gives us courage to seek answers we wouldn’t even know existed without that melancholy. But if we look up the word “melancholia” in the dictionary the emotion is described as a disease and from here, maybe, we can understand why it is so unwelcome and unacceptable. Despite that all of us experience sadness in our hearts.

I like to cultivate my melancholia because it helps me grow and gives my life wonder. I like to indulge in thoughtfulness and look from the ground to the skies. Melancholia is not always a gripping negative emotion consumed by misery from our surroundings.

A feeling of melancholy is not the same as depression. Happiness is not a state we can live in uninterrupted. It’s not pills we need to fill ourselves with. Sometimes we just need a hand to hold on to while we walk.


On my way home this evening, I look at the reflections in the train window with a melancholic yearning. I imagine to melt into the thick glass, flow through it and revolve into a different dimension. Here, everything would be different.

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