To continue this discussion on depression, I feel altered, as if someone re-coded the software of my thoughts, or no, gave them a virus that inserts distortion, angst, and fear into perfectly good thinking. I literally try joyous thoughts on for size; they perch a moment like a sparrow on a pine branch, then they scamper away. I try and take the Buddhist approach, to be curious. Why this state of mind? What is the impetus? Boredom? Failure? Insecurity? Lack of independence? I am curled up in the corner of my own mind, as a person would be if a snake slithered into the room. When people talk to me, the viral software of my thoughts spits and churns and I am distracted. I unscramble, uncurl from my corner, take a broom, wave it at the snake. I am myself for a moment. I choose me. I say something relevant, not brilliant, but relevant. I manage. I cheer myself on.
You know it's depression when you can't wave the snake out of the house and into the garden. You wave at it, but it only slithers under the table or the couch. It's still there. You make love to your husband, you can follow through with sensation and orgasm, but afterward, you lie in bed and the snake is wrapped around your ankle.
But what if the snake is a garter snake, my therapist says. Indeed. The snake, in reality, is a garter snake, benign and trite to everyone else. But in my mind, the mind of the oppressed novelist, the snake is a cobra.
Virginia Woolf writes in A Room of One's Own:
When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Bronte who dashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to.
The gift, in this case, is creativity. When a creative person is put in a situation hostile to creativity, the creativity becomes perverse. This perverse creativity is depression.
I chastise myself for this depression. Now, I tell myself, is not the time to write. But the mind knows nothing about time, when it is time for this and when it is time for that. The mind is and the mind will be whatever it wants. You can't file it away under a label marked "Years devoted to child rearing", or "time devoted to making money". It wants out, to be free, to think, be inspired and imagine constructively and if it can't do that, it will be destructive. I remember what my dog Ralphie did to his paws when I was away all day at work; he licked the fur off of them. He was a high energy dog who needed to run and my being away all day forced him to turn on himself. I feel the same way now; the energy of my mind previously used to imagine plot and character and scene has turned on me; I spiral in somber moods. I am fatalistic. Obsessive. I hide my internal life, covet it as I would a malicious sin.
This is utterly taboo to write such things. But I believe it is better to write them than not to write them, for obvious reasons.