Depressed isn't the same as sad. It's worse than sad. Depression lies closer to numbness.
by Bill Mehlman
How do people who do not, by the most wonderful roll of the genetic dice, suffer from depression? And, further, how much do they understand about those of us who do?
There's been so much talk about depression on television and the internet that I'd have to guess that the average non-depressive person has a better idea of what the story is than was the case decades ago. Big Pharma has spent enormous sums of money "explaining" to people who suffer from clinical depression that it's not their "fault." Typically, the ads contain a quickly-shifting series of micro-vignettes, showing the various forms depression can take. You know them: they show men and depressed women wallowing in misery. Staring off into space. Toying with their food. Ignoring the obligatory, confused and sympathetic golden Labrador. Veiled hints about a lack of connubial bliss. Pitying, confused, resentful glances from co-workers. (Please forgive the absence of my usual parallelism in the preceding phrases. I'm not thinking as clearly as I do most of the time. Wait! Maybe I'm depressed!!! Holy guacamole, Batman.)
Awright, awright. Here's the gist of what I'm muttering about. "Depressed" isn't the same as "sad." It's worse than sad. Sadness is a relatively active state, in that you're feeling something. Depression, in my vast experience, both first- and second-hand, lies closer to numbness. When I'm really getting beaten up by my chemicals, I'm not sad. I'm a complete zombie. I'm not afraid, either. My head keeps hearing, or saying (I'm definitely not together enough to start an investigation of the issue of duality) "Don't be sad, don't be frightened. Maybe the frost will work a big piece of a Palladian pediment loose and it will fall on your head as I'm strolling up Madison Avenue, and then you won't have to worry about being sad or frightened, right?" It's truly pathetic how comforting this possibility can be.
That's it for now. Depression has its icy hands wrapped tightly around my larynx. But I'm not sad. You want to see sad, watch someone who finds out that his golden retriever is terminally ill. That's sad. I'm just sitting here like a rutabaga, trying to find the strength to go to tai chi.