Over the past few months I developed this really charming habit where, for reasons I cannot always explain, I just start crying. Once, my mom texted me asking about the weather, and just thinking about snow prompted me to dissolve into tears at my desk. Or sometimes I’ll be really happy and then start crying because life is really big and I can’t handle that.
Last Sunday, while talking to a friend on the phone, I started crying but was carrying on this normal conversation about life while tears were just streaming down my face. I put up with it until I got so…burdened that I had to ask to call him back in a few minutes; when I hung up, I realized I had no legitimate explanation other than unreportable sadness.
As it turns out, ‘I have a case of unreportable sadness’ is not really a legitimate explanation in most situations, but that’s the way it is to be depressed.
“Depressed” is a strange-but-fitting word to describe a mental condition, because we use it to describe “a general state of unhappiness or despondency.” But depressed literally means pressed or pushed down upon. Depressed—figuratively, I guess—means bearing a weight you cannot explain.
It’s also hard to explain depression because it’s hard to rationalize and justify. Of course I could just do this or change that; it would be so simple!; an easy fix and I’ll be on my way. In my reasonable moments, yes.
Yet, unreportable sadness gets in the way most days—at least, it has been getting in the way for a very long time. I can’t say how long it’s been; I spent most of my winter evenings on the couch at home, wishing that I could do something to help myself and feeling like I couldn’t. I guess that’s the hardest thing to admit now, looking “back” (as if that stage has completely passed) on the winter: I trapped myself under the weight of my depression, using self-imposed isolation as both as the source of my pain and as my comfort.
But pain provides poor comfort, loneliness is no good friend, and unreportable sadness cannot beget joy. Joy is the opposite of depression, and the two do not co-habitate in one mind well, if at all.
I guess that’s the good news: My mind has been unreportably sad, but it is getting better. I’d like to write that I’ve taken X and Y steps to combat this hopelessness, to push it away for good. I’m not sure I’ve done that yet, because I still don’t see the end of the tunnel; I just believe there’s light there.
You see, people keep asking where I see myself five—or worse, ten—years from now, and I don’t have a good answer. I’m not sure what to say, and there’s an awkward pause until they ask, ‘Well, what are you hoping for?’ I want say I’m just hoping for spring, and that even spring is a lot to hope for most days.
But maybe the important point is that I do have hope again, where for months there has been none. I have named my sadness—reported it now—and begun to push it away. There’s much more to say here (and hopefully in a more elegant way), but I want to end with this for now: This week has been the first time I can remember feeling hope in months; this week I didn’t cry at all.
For now, these words—and the only Mumford song I like, if you’re wondering what that’s about—will do. To be continued, with more hope and good words.