… but not really. Sunny? Today? No way. I’m so sorry, of course I should be giving you a small ray of sunshine here, or at least a glimmer of interest. But at the moment I can’t.
Maybe right now, to me, the only way to stay on top of it all is being cynical. So yes, to give you an idea, here is my sunny day:
One of the first lessons when it comes to coping with depression is this: don’t keep trying to do what you already know that you can’t. Because a repeated, continuous sense of failing will only make your depression worse. Much worse.
In fact, right now, I guess I should not even try to write anything here. Instead it might be safer to step out into the mud of the garden and find myself something different, something small to do.
You probably already know another prime lesson about handling depression. This one: if you realize you’re incapable of doing what you actually should do, then don’t keep fretting about it. Instead, try to do something else, anything, however insignificant. Just get up and try something you might still be able to do.
Like, make yourself a cup of tea.
Cynical again? Maybe. But yet another important lesson (and then I’ll stop) is this: if we want to survive our depressions, then we have to come to terms with what we have, what we can, what we are now.
You may be seriously damaged by depression, true. But in combination with your desire for perfection and happiness, that damage should be no reason to give up on yourself. Maybe it’s not yet time to dump yourself in the bin. If it turns out you cannot handle a full cup of tea anymore, then try a half one.
A broken cup can make us sad. Feeling broken yourself even more.
Generally I think it’s a huge mistake to confuse depression with sadness. This is a mistake that is often made by well-meaning comforting outsiders who know nothing about depression. Sure, sadness may at times be a component of depression, but at other times we can be so depressed that we don’t feel anything anymore, just numbness. In such situations, depression has little to do with sadness.
So depression as a mental illness is a much more complex phenomenon than sadness, which essentially is just a basic emotion.
Still there are times when depression can make us more sensitive, more susceptible to emotions like sadness, and thus can overwhelm you with sadness even when you didn’t expect it. In such a case, sadness and depression can form a dangerous mix that leaves you rather helpless. I’ve written about that before (see for example Inexplicable Sadness).
I won’t go into my personal sadness now, because I think that doesn’t belong in this blog. I will say only that for myself, this not-so-sunny day turned out a typical example of a depression-and-sadness mix, and that my own sadness today is explicable. It has to do not with a broken teacup, but with a broken relationship. Once essential love that since years is damaged in an irreparable way.
This particular kind of sadness can easily turn into a poisonous cocktail of bitterness, loss and nostalgia, and therefore it would be unwise for me to pour it out here. So I will get up now, stop writing this impossible post, and try to do something else.
Another Sunny Day
The only other thing I will do, emotion-wise, is leaving you with some fine musicians. By definition, a good song can shape and represent such sadness much better than anything else. And I guess that’s why there are at least a million songs about broken love.
Please listen to the excellent Glasgow band Belle & Sebastian. When it comes to mixing emotions, they are amazing. For more about them, please do take a look at their official Belle & Sebastian website.
Here they are with the song Another Sunny Day from their 2006 album The Life Pursuit. What to me makes it especially powerful, but you might also say a little wry, is how they manage to mix a happy, upbeat melody with rather sad lyrics. After all, this is how it ends:
the lovin’ is a mess, what happened to all of the feeling?
I thought it was for real, babies, rings and fools kneeling
and words of pledging trust and lifetimes stretching forever –
so what went wrong? it was a lie, it crumbled apart
ghost figures of past, present, future haunting the heart…