December 8, 2014 by phicks2012
In my lifetime I’ve been subject, at rare intervals, to situational depression when life has taken a sharp left turn and kicked me in the teeth. However, I hate being depressed, and have always taken steps to pull myself out of the depths by doing something –accomplishing something — that will boost my personal self-esteem and restore balance to my life, assuring me that I am not, after all, worthless, unloved, or unattractive.
But I’ve also had friends and acquaintances who were subject to clinical depression, which is a different animal entirely. Some have been bi-polar, such that they have, at least, had upswings in mood often enough to make them fun to be around on those occasions. On the other hand, a very few other acquaintances have qualified simply as emotional vampires, sucking the joy out of any room they entered and taking the pleasure out of every encounter.
Years ago, one of my friends who did have upswings told me that some people clung to their depression because, after a while, it became comfortable. “How the Hell” I asked him, “can feeling miserable and making everyone around you miserable be comforting?” He told me that some people (himself included) convinced themselves that they were depressed because they were more sensitive, intelligent, or perceptive than everyone else, and so were capable of seeing all the negativity while everyone else was essentially vision impaired. He said that made him feel “special”, and that, in its own way, was comforting.
The problem is that when people who believe this declare that no one wants to be their friend they may, in some instances, be right. People might “like” to be their friend, but after a while just cannot deal with the ceaseless negativity and with having to prove constantly that they do care.
The poem below was written for my SCA newsletter, but was inspired both by that long-ago conversation and by subsequent interactions with people who, clinically depressed or not, simply cannot or will not see an up-side to anything. 😉
“Chosing the Dark”
When sunbeams slant, the world to warm
And fires are stoked as daylight fades,
For some those comforts hold no charm;
Their hands are sure to draw the shades.
In darkened corners of the soul
They huddle, sure in their despair,
That they alone can feel the cold
While fools decline to join them there.
Denying beauty in the dawn
Because the colors swiftly pale,
Their eyes are to the darkness drawn
Declaring that all beauties fail.
They find no glory in the stars
And scoff at those who cannot see
The dark and lurking avatars
Of anguish and insanity.
They look on those who see the light
As cloddish dolts who cannot feel
The depths of pain due keener sight;
Such visions as their own reveal.
They tell themselves that they are blessed
With rare perceptions such that they
Can see those shadows while the rest
Of humankind would hide away.
They tell themselves that they possess
A sharper sensitivity,
And thus are special, while the rest
Are mired in mediocrity.
And thus they cling to darkness there
And push the joy from every room,
Refusing to embrace the fair,
And finding comfort in the gloom.
But towing darkness in their wake;
Tenacious dolor in their lee,
Their utterances of gloom can make
A self-fullfilling prophesy
Of dire oaths that no one cares
To be their friend or share their life,
For chosing darkness and despair
They offer only pain and strife.
And those who rise to beauty’s song,
Embracing pleasure with their hearts,
In shadows’s grasp do not belong.
They flourish best where laughter starts,
And in the end will walk away
From spirits married to despair,
Who choose the darkness o’er the day,
And will decline to join them there.
[10 November, 2014]