I often wonder if writers are depressed because they are writers, or if they are writers because they are depressed. It seems if you have been depressed, you have been to a strange planet and you come back needing to explain the chill in the atmosphere and the lack of color of the suns.
Normal people probably come closest to depression when they dream. I heard a theory once that your dreams are just random images floating in your brain, and the instant you wake your mind gives it reason and some logical structure. That's how you end up with "George Bush and I were at McDonald's in our underwear and they made us leave so we went to China." And depression is just as logical. You have a mind that is telling you that you are evil, and the part of your mind that needs order out of insanity says "Well, you are, and that's why you should drown your children. It's the only rational thing to do to protect them from being raised by an evil person like you."
I didn't start at 100 percent insane right after my colonoscopy (see http://mocklog.typepad.com/queen_mediocretia/2005/11/i_go_insane_par.html). It took about five days. On day one, the pie chart of my soul was divided into 2 slices, a 99 percent me slice, and a one percent slice for the "still small voice" of my conscience. You know, we all have that little voice that says "What the - god, THAT was stupid. What were you thinking?" It's only one percent, you can shove it in the closet pretty easily.
On day two, the voice expanded to take up to twenty percent of the the pie chart of my soul. Larger than normal, but no larger than it gets when I've done something stupid. The next day - twenty five.
When it hit fifty percent it became impossible to shove it into the closet.
When it hit ninety percent, it kicked me into the closet whenever I tried to have a rational thought. And my soul stayed that way for about three months. I would sometime wake up at 3 a.m., moments before my no longer still or small Voice woke up, and I would think, "Huh - why am I awake at 3 a.m?" That would wake the Voice up and it would start in with "Because you don't deserve to be asleep. You are an awful person. You are a cold, heartless, uncaring person and anyone else who thinks differently is just falling into the deception you perpetrate against mankind. "
Happy thoughts like that filled every waking hour I was alone. I would be at work (it let me work as long as I didn't talk to anyone about it) until I left, and as soon as I would get into my car it would start in with the guilt.
I know you're thinking how insane this sounds. Of course, I would have shrugged the Voice off if it had been still and small. But every thought was voiced by the Voice. I had no say. I understand that some depressed people shrink to only one percent, and the rest is not taken up by a Voice, it's just emptiness. And why not kill yourself, because you aren't there anyway?
Except, thankfully, after two and a half months of not controlling my thoughts I visited my friend Carol and she foolishly asked how I was doing and I suppose the Voice was napping, I told her what an awful person I was. Picture two hours of me crying and explaining how I was a cold, unfeeling person, standoffish, how I kept boundaries between myself and others, and that type of behavior is what causes wars. So, basically, I cause wars.
Carol started by asking if I'd had thoughts of suicide. "Oh, no, I don't deserve to kill myself!" I answered, "There's only three ways that could go. I could die and be eaten by worms, and that wouldn't be right. I can't get off scott-free. I'm awful. Or, what if church is right and I would go to heaven, even though I'm awful." (Violent sobbing.) " That's not a punishment, and I don't think I'm so special God would make an exception for me and send me to hell. " (Big sniffle.) "If there's only a one-in-three chance of going to hell, which is what I deserve, I have to stay here and think about what I've done."
Carol and bless him, her husband, tried for quite some time to tell me I wasn't a bad person. "But you don't really know me," I complained. "If you really knew what I was like inside, you would understand and you wouldn't be talking to me right now."
It was getting quite late and Carol took the tack of humoring the crazy person. "Okay," she reasoned. "Let's say you are an awful person. No one can tell. I think it's a great thing you're doing, hiding your evil nature from the world. "
See, reason. I couldn't argue with that. And I stuck to the idea that at least I was a good fraud for at least a month, until I noticed I was down to crying only once a week. I'm not saying that Carol's humoring made me turn the corner, but it gave me another rational construct to hang my insanity on, while my damaged brain had a chance to rebuild itself and restore the balance of serotonin.
After I came out of it, I got a medical power of attorney and convinced Gary that if he ever wakes up and finds me crying at three am, and if the reason for my tears is that I am a horrible person, he must give me drugs. No point in fighting insanity.