So after all my optimistic little phase, I went to my GP for the first time in five years today, and her diagnosis was "mild depression." Well, well. No shit, Einstein. If anyone read my blogs' archives from back in 2002, all the clues would probably lead to the same conclusion. Mild depression. What does that mean, anyway? Being a little sad for long periods of time? Or feel very down, hit rock bottom, for a couple of weeks? Or maybe have short bouts of paralysing anxiety in crucial moments of your life, followed by months of light but piercing self-deprecation after the anxious episode made you totally screw up? Does it mean feeling powerless when you can't go back in time and changes things? Or feeling worn-out when you look ahead because certain things will never change?
I always thought people with depression would wear pajamas all day, and have dark circles around their eyes, and sleep during the day after long nights crying their eyes out. They would not go to Yoga classes like I do, or eat their vegetables and grilled chicken like I do. They wouldn't call their friends and make jokes about their own stuck-up situation like I do, or put on make-up before leaving the house like I do. They wouldn't make love before falling asleep, or take the cats to the garden in the morning with a mug of hot tea just so they can all catch a tiny bit of sunshine like I do.
I thought depression was something a like a permanent heavy weight on your shoulder, not that quiet desperation that hits you when you're not trying to get busy with anything, so you'll stop thinking. I thought it was something that stopped you from doing anything else, like a barrier that stops an overflowing river, instead of just silently following you like a weightless shadow while you try to get on with your life.
I thought depression was as clear and easy to identify like a broken mirror, not a set of puzzle pieces scattered over 10 years. That's how long it took for me to realise that maybe something was up. And it took 10 minutes for my GP to say what it was.