Today, in an appointment, I was asked if I thought I was depressed.
I was rather taken aback… not sure how to answer. After the year I have been through, and then with the icing on the cake, including the ‘cherry’ of these last few weeks, I suppose, I would be entitled to be that. But what is depression? I only know it as a clinical term for other people. Not something I would associate with me.
The only way I can describe how I feel, is by using a scene from my favourite movie, Inside Out.
The lead character, Riley has core memories which are represented by bright yellow spheres, protected in a special ‘core memory bank’ to be accessed readily at any time. Each one represents a core part of her and her unique personality, a core memory for ‘goofball’, ‘hockey’, ‘friendships’, ‘honesty’ and of course ‘family’. These core memories have shaped Riley to be ‘Riley’ as she knows herself and how others know her.
As life takes an unexpected turn for Riley and her life as she knew it changes, she reflects on her core memories that once made her joyful and happy, but suddenly and unexpectedly they make her sad. Inside Riley’s head, Joy finds Sadness touching a yellow core memory and therefore turning it blue; ‘Everything is different now’, cries Riley. And a new core memory in blue is made to replace the old joy core memory, leaving Riley consumed with sadness, suffocating her personality traits, turning them off, leaving them in darkness.
I have core memories and personality traits similar to that of Riley, ‘fun’, ‘health’, ‘friendships’, ‘honesty & integrity’ and of course at the centre ‘family and love’. These all made me happy, and despite the tough year, at the end of the summer, my true colour of yellow and joy shone through the sadness and I felt like ‘me’ again.
I have always been known to take photos, a lot of them. Maybe because I like looking at the memories, maybe because subconsciously I am worried I may forget, that I may have the Alzheimer gene like my Mumbo and Granny.
I have a happy memory wall in the kitchen that I look at daily and regularly, which I suppose triggers my core memory bank and each time I see it, makes me feel blessed, grateful and full of joy. Our favourite holidays, happy times, laughter and they were there to help me focus on our family, our life and our love as I made significant changes in my life, my attitude, my beliefs.
But now, as I look at them, they all are tainted with pain, grief, loss and overwhelming sadness, as all I see are the hidden lies, false smiles, ignorant laughter, all made to be a façade.
But it isn’t just Sadness touching each memory… Anger and Disgust are also fighting over my joy spheres. Fighting, grabbing, tussling and making so much noise in my head….
And Joy… she is just sinking… sinking… and shrinking back in to the distance, curled up on the floor, head on her knees… watching the carnage in disbelief, in shock, not able to move or do anything to save the precious golden orbs.
Is that depression? The definition according to the internet is ‘feelings of severe despondency and dejection’. Synonyms are melancholy, sorrow, woe, misery, gloom… many more.
So am I depressed?
The movie depicts how Joy and the emotion crew work hard to help Riley change her perspective on her new situation. Can I get Joy back? Can I help Joy become the main character again?
If I reflect on the film and when I reflect on how I have done it before, I know I am not despondent or dejected because I believe in myself enough that I can do it again. I have sought help. I have my armoury of tools – my books and lessons I have learnt, my support network, my inner strength. I have time. And I have my belief.
Like one of the messages a friend sent to me, I believe that ‘some times good things fall apart so better things can fall together’.
And I have hope. ‘Hope is the conduit for miracles.’
With hope and belief coupled with time, I know I will create a new happy wall, covered in happy memories.
So no.. I am not depressed.