I have considered myself in remission from major depressive disorder for a little over a year now. It took me a while to come to that determination and it wasn’t easily arrived at. I certainly didn’t want to declare myself “cured” when there was still much work to be done. And depression has a way of making you feel less than confident anyway so it took a good while before I was ready to even state that I was definitely getting better.
And then suddenly, I was getting worse.
It’s hard to say what the catalyst was or how many events triggered the fall. But I had one. And there I was: prostrate in a muddy hole with my face in the dirt. I thought of driving my vehicle into an oncoming semi truck. I thought of dying to escape the pain much as I had done in the throes of my worst moments. I thought of how wrong I had been to think that I could have overcome this part of me. How stupid I had been to think I was winning over the darkness.
And then I had to stop and evaluate my hole in the ground. It wasn’t swallowing me up. It was like the shallow end of the pool. If I stood up, I wouldn’t drown. I could walk out. That wasn’t something that I was even capable of a few years ago. That, in and of itself, was a small triumph.
So I came to the sad conclusion that I’m still capable of those thoughts. Those dark and dastardly thoughts entwined me with my depression like a strand of DNA that cannot be unwound. That disappoints me. I had hoped that one day I’d be completely free of the darkness. But, I’ve made sense of it this way: I’m not cured and I probably won’t be. At least until I’m old and gray and accept that life wants me after all. Because once I get to that place, the holes that I might fall into will be mere dips in the landscape of my life. The ground is hard, but the fall is short. And, with work, getting shorter all the time.