Out of the blues

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

The abyss

As far as I know, people feel ashamed to confess they have suffered of dejection. I do not know the reason, but there is a sort of taboo surrounding this very serious disease.

On the other hand we all are even too eager to speak about “depression” in general: “Today I feel blue”, we often say, when actually it is only matter of melancholy or sadness.

Real dejection is a traumatizing illness of the mind which necessitates psychiatrists to be got over. It could require also hospitalization and a well trained staff (educators, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors) which devote their effort to help the patient. And yet sometimes they fail, the patient does not recover, or relapses, or fluctuates between elation and depression. It is fruitless to blame this or that, this illness very often is not prone to be caught and cured, despite every effort they do. Dejection finds the best cures in specialized centers, where they perfectly know how to deal with mood problems. Dejection in fact is a disturbance of mood, in a suffering individual the mood is very low, apathetic, introvert and, to associate it to a color, black.

Lifeless eyes

If you look in the eyes of these people, you do not see desperation, you cannot detect anything particular, rather you immediately notice that those eyes are lifeless, always bearing the same dull expression, incapable of expressing feelings. The depressed, actually, have big difficulties in expressing their sentiments, they do not perceive any more the distinction between joy and sadness, for example, they are always imprisoned in a sort of cage where everything is always the same, where they always live on the limit of reality and unreality, where they oppose to the normal daily flux of life their own personal story which continuously develops and exists only inside their mind. This story generally has got a unique thematic, different for each individual. It could be dirtiness, persecution, infidelity, insects, or other, the main fact is that this leitmotif become their unique thought. Every action, word, gesture of theirs is referred by the suffering person to the supporting and recurrent idea that controls their existence.

An infernal plot

Therefore this individual builds a complete plot around themselves and the world which surrounds them and are incapable to divert their attention to other objects; that is one of the reason why their mood is so low, because they do not see an end to the tortures of the mind that keeps on construing new plots, new episodes, new beginning of the supporting, imagined story.

Captured in this infernal closed circle, they do not care about themselves any more. Their obsession is so time-and-energy consuming, that very little remains to them to think of their life, if they were still interested in it. Whence they do not look after themselves: how to dress up, how to wash, how to be in order, how to move, how to relate to others. In some cases they become unable to go out of their home, they cannot work.

It could happen that they do not know anymore what they have or what do not have to do. They interpret a kind of ritual where every action is thought about a lot of times, until they cannot decide what to do. In doing so, they let time go, and it might take an entire morning to establish if it is right to have a shower or it is not.

Who understands feels only a deep impotence and a great compassion, but the majority believes they are a bit out of reality, they are throwing a tantrum, they need to be treated harshly, to be told off severely, to make them reason about the “normal behaviour”: tell them to tidy up, to go to the hairdresser, to be “nice” for their husband. The majority of depressed people are women.

To consider all this with a clean head seems really nightmarish for the suffering person who is not able to explain what they feel and know they cannot do anything which they are told, because they cannot do anything but dragging themselves under the burden of their obsessive idea. They sometimes try to start a communication speaking about the obsessive idea, and therefore they speak and speak repeating always the same things, hoping that someone could catch what they really need and give them an appropriate answer, but quite always nobody succeeds in giving a “right” response, as a consequence the suffering person feel even more frustrated and sad.

The beginning

It all begins in very subtle ways. The picture is different for every individual, but generally speaking they start crying very often, even they despair, shouting, accusing themselves of nonexistent mistakes. Sometime they secretly beat themselves up violently,even with hard objects like a brush, slap themselves repeatedly, rip their hair. They bring the evidence of this violence, like blue and black marks on their face, or arms.

A further step is to abandon all their diversions or passions: there is only one thing that interests them, the supporting idea. Therefore, after some time, they are no more able to think logically, or speak, or reason.

There are people who still drive and try to go to work, but the unbearable idea does not ever turn itself off, it persecutes them perpetually, thus they have to give it wholesome attention. This hellish situation gives way to absurd behaviors, contradictory behaviors, illogical even, like to drive toward and backward their destination, helplessly striving to stop somewhere, until they, literally exhausted, make even dangerous maneuvres along the road but to stop at last.

It is thus not difficult to understand how dangerous depression can be, how serious must the cure be, how many efforts by the doctors and the patient must be done. The illness that presents the above described symptoms is called Major Depression, and in some cases it associates to a life trauma or the very experience of the illness manifests itself as a trauma.

The resurgence

It might be difficult, appear impossible, but resurgence happens. There is not a unique and right road to follow, but there are protocols and techniques which may arrest the disease.

First of all dejection must be diagnosed by professionals. As said, we too often speak lightly about depression nowadays, and we should not, because, as we have seen, depression is a very serious infirmity.

Once it has been diagnosed, usually they start administering medicines, like antidepressants, which must absolutely be got under strict medical control. Then psychoanalysis, structured activities, daily conversation with the doctor help the resurgence process.

Willingness

Yet most of the work must be done by the patients themselves. The pristine element is motivation to be well, and, above all, the deep desire to overcome the dark tunnel they have fallen in.

Only clutching to these points of force the therapy functions, otherwise medicines are simply medicines, doctors are human beings, educators are good people. The added value is the cooperation of the patient, actually it is the basic start point.

Naturally all the components of the therapy work together, therefore if the patient feel a bit better they are more willing to spend themselves. The steps toward recovery are slow and short, but steadfast. First of all the expression of the eyes: they again look at the world outside, do not focus on an inner void. Thus the whole face is more relaxed, opened, mime.

Inwardly the individual finds again one by one their old faculties, their own interests, and, mainly, there is now a communication with other human beings, such as relatives, friends, colleagues.

The process takes long time. Some people for whom the worst sign of their illness was the incapacity to retain in their mind concepts, contents, information, start picking up their primigenie interests, like, let it be, reading. They become voracious, read a book a week, and every time they write down the summary and their opinion to verify if their brain functions again. These people are well, but they fear that dejection can again catch them, or that the illness has ruined forever their self, soul, intelligence. They therefore feel the necessity to proof to themselves that they are “winning” over dejection, that they now are stronger than it, and continuing accumulating proofs, they feel more and more self confident.

Once they have found the road, the recovery accelerates.

A new fight

there something more behind the curve. These people metaphorically have been born a second time, they are no more the same people as they were “before”, they are new people, with different ideas, behaviours, priorities. This can sometimes disturb the people who live with them or who knew them. They do not correspond any more to established conducts, they follow their own codes of behaviour, their own ideas, their own priorities, opinions, they use constantly their personal judgment, free will, and critical sense.

It is thus inevitable that a new fight starts. This time, however, the fight is conscious, done on purpose. The force they found in themselves during the period of recovery is by now steady inside them and guides them towards their goals, be those of every kind.

They look at word with different eyes and are brave enough to defeat the prejudices by which they are surrounded, such as “he/she is crazy”, “he/she is not able to stand on their feet”, “he/she is unreliable” and so on. They willingly crash them one by one, fighting like lions, behaving in accordance and never giving up.

At this point they are again some of the “normal” people, and live their life as better as they can. follow their goals with a more determined intention, have opened their heart and mind to accept other people sincerely.

Their story becomes everyone’s story.

A new person, a new force

However they say that they cannot explain even to themselves, but they feel a strange force, a unusual faculty, an extraordinary willingness that makes them feel different. But this time they do not fear that feeling any more.

Here a poet, Percy Bysshe Shelly expresses better than me what depression means.

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Stanzas Written in Dejection, near Naples

Percy Bhysse Shelley

The sun is warm, the sky is clear,

The waves are dancing fast and bright,

Blue isles and snowy mountains wear

The purple noon’s transparent might,

The breath of the moist earth is light,

Around its unexpanded buds;

Like many a voice of one delight,

The winds, the birds, the ocean floods,

The City’s voice itself, is soft like Solitude’s.

[…]

Alas! I have nor hope nor health,

Nor peace within nor calm around,

Nor that content surpassing wealth

The sage in meditation found,

And walked with inward glory crowned —

Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure.

Others I see whom these surround —

Smiling they live, and call life pleasure;

To me that cup has been dealt in another measure.

Yet now despair itself is mild,

Even as the winds and waters are;

I could lie down like a tired child,

And weep away the life of care

Which I have borne and yet must bear,

Till death like sleep might steal on me,

And I might feel in the warm air

My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea

Breathe o’er my dying brain its last monotony.

Some might lament that I were cold,

As I, when this sweet day is gone,

Which my lost heart, too soon grown old,

Insults with this untimely moan;

They might lament — for I am one

Whom men love not, — and yet regret,

Unlike this day, which, when the sun

Shall on its stainless glory set,

Will linger, though enjoyed, like joy in memory yet.

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She is a writer and teacher. Visit her blog at www.anna-ferrari.com, where she discusses books, culture, literature, the women’s world, booktherapy.

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Anna Ferrari

Anna Ferrari

She is a writer and teacher. Visit her blog at www.anna-ferrari.com, where she discusses books, culture, literature, the women’s world, booktherapy.

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