How appropriate after writing about depression to find this image on my way to classes early this morning. If there is a picture possible about what depression might look like, then, for me, this is it. The actual sky was dark, but not this dark and the sun was weaker than it appears here. Light plays tricks on a camera as it tries to cope with images taken of the direct sun, even a sun filtered by layers of clouds. The camera paints a darker scene with a stronger sun. I then think that perhaps even this is trying to tell me something for the camera doesn’t really lie when it shows me something that I thought was different. There is more than what I see, more than I understand about what I see.
I then think of my own experience with depression when I entered mid-life. The world I saw was much different than the world those around me at the time saw though we all saw the same scene. In depression I didn’t have full access to my mental capacity nor my senses. My range of vision was more like I was wearing blinders which cut off all peripheral scenes. The world had less depth, more two-dimensional. Even sound was muted. If I payed any attention, it was only to the bits of the world that mimicked my mood. But I didn’t see and note all of this at the time. I thought that the world had changed; I didn’t see it was not the world, but my self that had muffled and filtered. Depression is called abaissement du niveau mental for a reason.
Though my dreams were talking to me, though the natural world was talking to me, I was deaf. It was time for help and help came in the guise of a guide. That’s one of the important things that come to one when life ceases to have depth and meaning, a guide. A real guide will coax images, sensations and fantasies into existence, images that point back at the blockages of energy and in doing so, point to new ways of thinking, doing and being that are necessary so that the journey can continue.
As I went walking later in the day, after writing up the first part of this post, I saw that the day had become even more bleak, grayer and darker with thick air. It made me think of how depression is not limited to individual people but can often seize a community or a country. In small communities, a tragedy involving young people often steals the energy and vitality from the community. It is only after a period of grieving and healing that the community can again find a new way to go forward. In the modern world we see a bleakness descend over whole countries. We call it recession and depression and we dig in, bury our heads and wait for the darkness to pass. But like an individual, a guide is needed for the collective psyche, a guide that will invoke active imagination which will bring new possibilities and new hope.
Who will be our guide? What fantasies will our collective imagination produce? How do we get there from here?