Autobiography · Mental Health

Depression, An Explanation

flock” © Stefan Powell, 2006. CC BY 2.0.
At breakfast, bright notes of lemon and dill dance across my tongue in a decadent hollandaise. My coffee is a full-bodied mug of caramel. The linen of my freshly-bleached napkin is soft and tender as it kisses the skin poking out from underneath the edge of my dress. Silverware catches the light, shimmering unapologetic up at me and I use it to cut through layers of poached egg, cured meat, and English muffin. Each ingredient marries the next. Ice clinks in glasses, the murmur of the cafe rises and falls like waves lapping the beach. Nobody shares my booth and I bask in the solitude of morning. But I am wearing gloves. Covered in plastic wrap. I am trapped inside a bubble, twice removed.

I leave the restaurant and put my headphones in. Turn the music up loud and the melody climbs down my spine, cradling my bones. The bass moves my legs and I fall in step with it. But the sound remains muffled, like listening to it through a tunnel. No matter how much I increase the volume, it can’t get through the glass I’m standing under.

On my walk I touch every piece of plant matter I pass. I caress fresh leaves between finger tips, feel their veins pulsing. The fog collects on the collar of my jacket and shimmies down the back of my neck, cold and wet. I drag my fists along the concrete walls until my knuckles bloody, but my hands do not belong to me. Someone far away must be feeling these things.

At night my husband lays his head on the hollow of my chest where my shoulder and torso connect. My breath falls in rhythm with his slowly. Comfortable and quiet, almost nonexistent. His smell is safe and familiar, but distant. An old shirt he left here weeks ago, not him.

Floating on the ceiling, I watch us lying in bed. And I wonder if I’ll ever find my way back into that body again.

24 thoughts on “Depression, An Explanation

  1. The explanation for depression interested me in the title. I felt in reading it a place of utter connection/ not disconnection to oneself I suppose. It was a place to find one’s way again but is there any better place than being in touch with oneself.. it’s a meditation why folks stay there;;,
    conceiving an objective view of the world surrounding..Having depression you know. there is at least an explanation

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  2. I wonder if we disconnect in order to protect ourselves in some way. Like if we come into contact with all our feels, and flood into our body in real time it would be so overwhelming it could kill us. I see it with my patients all the time. They disconnect from themselves to stay in a pain filled body, or an unhappy marriage. I’ve seen them lose it when they realize where exactly they are in time in space. I’ve seen people reconnect with themselves and find out how unhappy they are. I’ve seen people end up divorced.

    Feeling all the things, all at once.. . can be too much. Not feeling at all. . can be lonely. Lucky are those who find themselves in perfect balance of the two.. .

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  3. Reading this was a sensory experience, it is such a full-bodied and relatable account of depression. Feeling othered in your own body is something that I can definitely relate to. The distance is dangerous, but it is also what can bring the problem into view and focus. In my experience, floating on the ceiling can help you realize you love and miss the body below. When you realize your floating, it becomes easier to find your way back.

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  4. Holy shit. Pardon my language but, but… wow. Just wow. I agree with kristinolivia, it’s like going through every emotion you’ve ever had when reading this. I’ve felt it but never heard it described in such a way. Incredible. ❤️

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      1. You, Ruby Browne, are very much not alone. You are an inspiration to me through your words, you’ve shown me that the ability to express what we experience can be professionally rewarding. And even though we’ve never met, and may never meet in person, I feel like you are my nonbiological​ sister from whom I was separated at birth 🙂 As strange as that sounds, it brings me comfort. So thank YOU.

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  5. A helped me to find my way here, too (thank you A!) and this is simply stunning, and achingly hollow, in spite of its gorgeous exterior. Maybe one of the most evocative descriptions of depression I’ve read. Hats off to you.

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      1. I shared this once, on FB, and it was amazing to see how so many people read it and loved it and sent it further…you did a really, really exquisite thing here, by writing your world in a way which made sense to others. Thank you.

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  6. A really good description. I have always described it as being in a bubble with no exit. Emotional overload and numbness to the world around you. No room for emotions from caring people, no room for anything else, period. Self doubts chattering away as if over caffeinated and high on meth. Separating from our body as all consciousness moves to hang with a familiar friend, the part of our mind where we go to check in periodically for self flagellation. It’s the annoying family member we must spend time with.

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