Flaming June by Frederic Lord Leighton
Women suffer from unipolar (as opposed to bipolar or manic) depression in greater numbers than men do; twice as much by most estimates. Three times as many teenage girls as boys report having experienced an episode of major depression.
The reason or reasons why women have unipolar depression more frequently than men is less definite, due to a great extent to the fact that we don’t fully understand what causes depression, whether in men or women. Depression is a highly individual disease. Each case is different. One person’s depression may be wholly chemical, while someone else’s is brought on by events and stressful factors in her life. Yet another person may suffer depression due to a combination of chemical and environmental factors. Continue reading
I’m in a meeting at work (actually, a presentation) and I’m noting, as usual, how still most people (okay, pretty much everyone in the room) are compared to me. The word “still” rarely applies to me, but it’s most noticeable in situations like this. I shift position, jiggle my knee, twirl a lock of hair, pick at my nails.
I look around the room. Most of the attendees are sitting with their hands folded, either in their lap or on the table. Okay, I’ll try that. I fold my hands on my writing pad.
Just sitting here. Calmly.
Less and less calm.
Okay, how long did I last? Maybe a minute, tops. Crud. I just can’t do it. How do other people manage? They look so still and peaceful. I’m envious. Continue reading
Villa Falconieri by John Singer Sargent
If it can be said that there is anything good about depression, this is when you’ll see it. Assuming that you are feeling much better than you did a month ago (and if you’re not, please read A Note about Antidepressant Treatment), you may feel almost as if you’ve been reborn. After having been deprived of the ability to enjoy everything your life has to offer, you’ll notice that colors are brighter, sounds are sweeter, smells and tastes have more depth. Having had a lack of interest in things you normally enjoyed before being depressed, you may find, as I did, that you are all of a sudden interested in everything, even things you never thought about before. Continue reading
A few years ago, my mother unearthed some pictures of me as a baby which I had never seen before. One showed me at about eight months old, crawling on the grass of Golden Gate Park. I was looking directly at the camera, my tongue sticking out of the corner of my mouth, and I was laughing. My face was lit from within, and looked happy, confident and even a little mischievous.
I was absolutely transfixed by that photograph for days. I would continually take it out of my wallet and stare at it, torn between laughter and tears. For a while I couldn’t figure out what it was about the picture that drew me. Finally it hit me; this was the only picture of myself as a child that I had seen which showed me laughing. All the photos I had ever seen depicted a child staring solemnly or smiling diffidently, but never laughing. I looked at the Golden Gate Park picture and wished that I had remained that happy, and that depression had not taken away my childhood. Continue reading
My Room at Beau Rivage by Henri Matisse
The key words here are indulge yourself. Listen, you’re having enough trouble getting out of bed every day and going to work or school. You don’t need to push yourself. Think of yourself as an invalid recuperating from a very debilitating illness. You have to pamper yourself, body and spirit. This page is therefore all about “cocooning”, that is, wrapping yourself up in layers of comfort to protect yourself. Continue reading