I guess this will show you again why a really good depression blog cannot exist. Why not? Because a good and intense depression piece should be written, obviously, by someone who is depressed himself. Herself. But if you are really depressed yourself, then you’re just not capable of writing a blog post. You’re too exhausted, demotivated, paralyzed, whatever.
I suppose this is why I often feel irritated by those feel-good cheer-up depression self-help websites. They always look like they’ve been written by people who are not depressed themselves – who’ve never even been a little depressed: wise guys who in fact don’t have a clue.
Well, to the point now. This weekend I was very depressed (still am) so I forced myself to take action. In the form of a long, healthy walk. Off I went! The only problem was, it didn’t work.
On the road it was like I was shlepping along this heavy black depression stone inside my head. It didn’t go away. I kept walking, and walking, and walking, but I couldn’t get rid of it. You know, even proven good solutions won’t always work. Occasional failure is just a fact of life. Isn’t it?
So I walked and walked and walked, putting one foot in front of the other, and again, and again, and tried to look around me. But everything I saw made me feel only more sad and hopeless and lost and lonely and failing.
I passed one of the small lakes near my home. On a sunny weekend day there are often one or two people fishing, or swimming, or just sitting around. But this time there was no one at all. Just me. Like the rest of the world had agreed: this doomed depressed person is coming along, let’s get away!
The lake itself, beautiful as it was, seemed to say to me: What the hell are you doing here? You don’t belong! You have no right to be here! You’re spoiling and contaminating everything with your ugly, poisonous mood!
And of course, this you saw coming, I also began to feel guilty: guilty because I didn’t enjoy the beauty of nature like I was supposed to…
I tried to fight back by pulling out my phone and taking a few photos. Here is one of them. But even while taking this photo I was thinking: maybe it wouldn’t be too bad to wade in and drown myself right there in the middle, where it’s cold and dark and deep. Just a few moments, and all will be over.
Then I reminded myself of all the sensible advices I had put online myself. Come on! What had I recommended others in my post about Mindful Walking? Right! When walking, find some way to really concentrate on your immediate environment! Full concentration will help to chase your depression away!
So in an impulse, I decided to focus on the colors around me. And to help me stay focused, I would use my phone camera to take a picture of every specific color I would encounter for the rest of my walk. And I would try to name each color.
So that’s what I did. Let me tell you right away that although this did help a little, it didn’t really chase my depression away. Maybe I was simply feeling too bad for that. But I kept photographing colors, all the way home, and at least this assignment kept me going. Here are a few of the photos:
White & Yellow?
When after nearly three hours I got back home, I was exhausted. Yes I know a good walk can be invigorating. But not this time. This time, even while trying to walk home in a focused way, looking for colors, making pictures, I’d lost my fight.
Well, like I said: occasional failure is just a fact of life. Besides, there just is no anti-depression strategy that always works. That’s how you can tell if someone is a quack: if they tell you they have the ultimate anti-depression solution that always works, guaranteed, then you know for sure this is a charlatan who should not be trusted.
This morning when I flipped through yesterday’s photos, I suddenly realized there was one color I had not explicitly named, and therefore not intentionally photographed – the one self-evident color, the one that was dominant in all photos: green.
In fact, what I had shot was mainly green (with a few stray patches of other colors). Green, green, green. All pictures, all green. And not one kind of green: no, a thousand different shades of green.
Apparently, during my depressed walk I had been not focused enough, still not really observing my environment. I had taken this green background of everything for granted, not really noticing it in my crazy quest for other colors, and not at all noticing the many different shades of green.
Is this some kind of lesson? I don’t know. Make it one, if you want to. You’re welcome.
Because I’ve got so little to give you today, I will let someone else do the work: Tom Waits. The wonderful, unique, inimitable singer Tom Waits. Here is a link to his website. And as an example from his 2004 album Real Gone, here is the fitting song Green Grass.
Green Grass is a brilliant song (in my view, at least) but not a happy song. It is supposed to be a voice from beneath the green grass, talking to a loved one who came to visit the grave. Waits was most likely thinking of an actual grave. But the song might also be interpreted as symbolic: voicing not death but depression as a kind of grave that separates us from those who used to love us.
One of the things that Waits suggests in this song is that in due time we will all become a tree, or the green grass that others, above ground, will still be able to touch. Is this supposed to be some kind of comfort? Again, I don’t know. Maybe, in some way, it is.
(click the “Play” button – if it does not work, install Flash)
• tip: I don’t feel in the position to give you tips this time. Well, maybe this one: don’t feel guilty for not feeling happy. For that will only make matters worse. Happiness is not some kind of missed obligation.
• footnote: The “Stone-In-Head” picture shows an ancient Maya (Copán) head from the British Museum collection. I admit I inserted the brick myself.