Saturday, 23 August 2008


It's strange to look back (strange in a properly estranging way) on my former life as a depressive. Substantial patches of my childhod, long foggy nautical miles of adolescence, much of my twenties and into my thirties, all of it given over to this foul, selfish pain-meme. Nothing, thank Providence, since then--not for a decade--but it used to be closer to me than my jugular vein. Looking back the main thing that strikes me is how obscuring the illness is. I seemed to spend all my time inwardly contemplating myself, painfully and obsessively, and yet with hindsight it is clear I had almost no accurate sense of myself. I hated myself for a whole tranche of perceived failings, and yet was blind to the major failing that used to define my personality (my selfishness, and the way that affected those around me). That's what's worst about depression; not that it was painful for me--though it was--but that it was more painful for those around me, for whom (I don't use the word carelessly) I was a kind of abomination, stuck cyclotropically between inanity and inertia. I'm less selfish now, I think (I hope), and on a much more even emotional keel. More, the silt has settled in my waters to the extent where I can now glimspe the seabed; not as deeply lying as I formerly thought.


Laura said...

Speaking from my own experience, I'm not sure it's so much selfishness as being consumed by the self. I see selfishness as a disregard for others, arising from the conscious or subconscious decision that oneself is far more important. Depressives, meanwhile, disregard others only in that they don't see them. There isn't such an element of choice. They're mesmerised by their own turmoil. Perhaps it's a survival mechanism. It's certainly a symptom of adolesence. I'll always remember, when I was fifteen, the startling revelation that other people have feelings too. And not only that: other people's feelings feel much like my own. It actually saved my life.

I don't know if that made sense at all.

Adam Roberts Project said...

It makes perfect sense, and is very eloquently put too: although looking back I wonder about the 'there isn't such an element of choice' line. Not that depressives don't believe that, because I suppose they do; but that doesn't make it true.