The Shadow

My friend talks about the Shadow.  It is the coming of depression.  The signs are often apparent, from a fair way out.  There is advance notice, a telegraphing of intentions, that things are up for a change.  There is the twilight, and the dimming, before the Shadow truly  arrives.

Me, I can spot the signs from a week out.  Things that don’t normally upset me, do, and things I normally don’t enjoy, or pass over quickly, suddenly offer new attractions.  Depression is a destablising force, something that whacks your character out of balance.  It can be the impetus for great change, but it’s also about losing who you are, your true identity.


10 Responses to “The Shadow”

  1. SilverTiger Says:

    I have come to the conclusion that although we speak of “depression” as a single well-defined thing so that all sufferers know exactly what you mean when you use the word, it is in fact a group of different, if related, things, and that different people experience difference symptoms and degrees of severity.

    For example, there are at one extreme types of depression that require to be treated with medication before the sufferer can make an attempt at a normal life, whereas at the other, people suffer a lower level, intermittent “depression”, that inconveniences them to varying degrees but rarely disables them altogether.

    This is without considering the popular use of the word “depressed” simply to mean “sad”, “fed-up”, “in a bad mood”, “tired and cranky”, etc. This misuse nonetheless raises the question of diagnosis: are all of us who claim to be “depressed” actually depressed? Without recourse to specialist advice (and how right are the specialists?), how can we be sure? The subjective nature of “depression” makes it a difficult issue to resolve.

    In the end, I suppose it comes down to “I know what I am feeling” and
    everyone else has to take it on trust when we say “I’m depressed”.

    My experience with the lower level type of depression suggest that we can learn to spot the symptoms and take evasive action. Habitual sufferers of depression get used to it and its familiarity can almost seem welcome: if I’m depressed, then you can’t expect me to cope with my responsibilities and I have every right to curl up into a ball and ignore the rest of the world.

    It takes courage to fend of approaching depression but I have been doing so with fair success for about two years now. I tried once before and failed but I have become better at spotting the symptoms and refusing them a toe-hold in my mind.

    I do not claim a universal panacea. As I said at the beginning, each case is different and I may just be lucky to have the kind that can be resisted with an application of determination. Others may not be so fortunate.


  2. Naughty Heather Says:

    “There is the twilight, and the dimming…”

    Beautiful image, beautifully written description. Also very accurate. Having been through it a few years ago, I live every day watching for it. I never know when it could come back.

  3. tobeme Says:

    Interesting that you sense it coming, that some people watch for it and that you accept depression as something that has to happen. I don’t know about that, I believe if you can sense the twilight and the dimming that you could take steps to prevent the depression from taking place. I mean, if you are aware, to me that means you can do something about it.

  4. Jon Says:

    I find that when I’m depressed, usually it’s just that I’m really tired. I’m almost never depressed after a really good night’s sleep. Then again, I don’t usually get a really good night’s sleep.

    Usually I get depressed because I’m not doing anything productive. Usually comes after I spend an inordinate amount of time doing something recreational and useless, like watching TV.

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    I think you have to strike a balance between accepting that it is happening and taking what steps you can to prevent it. For me, it comes on as growing irritability and increasing difficulty in communicating. It’s as though a glass wall is growing between me and other people. I can see them, but I can’t get through to them, or them to me. It’s a strange feeling.

    What helps? Acceptance. Exercise. Staying active. Doing something light and fun — watching a comedy, for instance. “Depression is a destabilizing force” — absolutely.

  6. Gregor Says:

    I’ve known the shadow all to well.

    It is alright to be with your sadness. Don’t loose yourself in it, but sometimes we all need to listen to it.

    When I am feeling it come on I like to practice meditation and simply allow myself to look into the nature of it, allowing it to arise and pass with my breath.

    I also like to remember the words of my favorite Beatle. “All things must pass”

  7. surplusvalue Says:

    Articulately said and completely on the mark. Completely and utterly.

    Although I have never truly encountered the extremes of Shadow, I have like everybody, encountered the spurts of dimness and choppiness that invariably strike. The times when the ordinary are negatively exaggerated and the unwelcome appear worse than they actually are.

    Recognition, acceptance and finally, action are the steps I find necessary to exit – to overcome.

    An aim of productivity at any moment usually cures the mild forms to a point where they can be eliminated or at least swept aside, under the carpet for another day. Otherwise the identity you hold dear slips out of easy grasp, where it is progressively harder and harder to reach. To where it can no longer be reached.

    Concise, yet provoking and influential – what an extraordinary post.

  8. ggwfung Says:

    thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences on this one. You never know where your words might reach, who they might help. They have certainly given me support.

    Deepest thanks to:

    SilverTiger, Naughty Heather, tobeme, Jon, Elizabeth, Gregor, and surplusvalue


  9. janoftheday Says:

    tobeme: I mean, if you are aware, to me that means you can do something about it.

    Yes and no. Depression is often a chemical imbalance that can only be managed through medication, in the sense that you can only ‘do something about it’ if you alter the brain’s chemistry. Not everyone chooses medication. Not everyone needs it. A lot of people live with depression, knowing what the signs are and doing things to be able to live within that period and still function. Like Silver Tiger, Jon, Elizabeth, Gregor and surplusvalue have all experienced.

    Depression is sometimes an anxiety state brought on by a trauma or years of not dealing with something and needs to be treated through therapy. You don’t feel this one coming on, generally speaking, because it’s cause and effect and it’s only at the point where you are unable to function that you realise what is happening.

    Speaking from experience, I have lived comfortably with depressive episodes for half of my life and even used them to spur on my writing. It wasn’t until I entered into an anxiety state through a relationship ending and then work becoming extremely stressful that I, effectively, had a breakdown.

    That breakdown triggered something in my brain which means that I need to ‘do something about’ my depression by taking medication. Otherwise, simply put, I wouldn’t be here.

    Every day I wish that there was a different way of ‘doing something about it’, but I’d rather be alive and able to function.

    I also wish that people who haven’t experienced depression were better educated about it.

  10. carolinetangoh Says:

    I call it The Abyss or The Deep Dark Hole. Often I sense it coming. One feels sad, lonely (vs alone), helpless. Like a passing dark cloud. And the thoughts that follow. But then The Light comes back and lifts me up. Learning to be watchful of the thoughts and feelings.

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