“You have Anhedonia.” Said the psychiatrist.
“Oh thank goodness, thought I was just a mess.” I pondered.
“What is Anhedonia?” I asked.
“It’s the opposite of Hedonism, you derive pleasure from nothing. It’s a symptom of depression.” Said the psychiatrist.
“Oh, well that sounds about right, drug me up!” said I, in so many words.
This wasn’t my first rodeo, I have been the sad clown for quite a few fairs now. I’ve been the hysterical clown, the constantly-crying clown, the crazy clown and now i’m the numb clown with Anhedonia. I’m not the only one, many many people suffer from this affliction and many many pills are counted on to combat it. Say what you like about the “right” or “chemical free” way to fight this war; meditation, acupuncture and all the other holistic garbage that i don’t particularly subscribe to, truly the hole of nothingness is much too vast for humming and chanting. I’ve tried everything. Medication is only thing that has caused fracture.
That being said, I am tired of being on medication and it not working, i’m a tough sort but after awhile there is an impatience with constant, rewardless hope. It can be disappointing when expectations are quickly brought down a few notches or worse when the side affects really kick in. Weight gain is a bitch. Not only do you already feel like shit but must you look it as well? “They make me bloat dad.” Says Pat Solatano; the frantic, bi-polar character in Silver Linings Playbook. One of the only films i’ve seen to truly capture the upside of mental illness. What I’d do for Pat’s insatiable energy though. I’ve watched it so many times during my latest depressive episode, where Netflix has become another drug of choice because the thought of any social activity is repulsive. I also watch as many horror films as i can, trying to inspire some kind of tingle from my psyche. Anything, just scream or something. I get practically red faced from the effort. It’s scary. It’s scary. It is scary this is true, but the adjective and the feeling of fear don’t correlate in the land of Anhedonia, they simply pass each other on the street like strangers. Also, emotion becomes a concept, happiness a syllabic word thing that involves rainbows of some sort and real life, an active life seems like a far off land where pigs fly.
My reality is motionless and sluggish. The illness has washed my brain in some kind of muscle relaxant and the bit that controls motivation is as numb as novocain. My depression is my best friend and worst enemy, i’m sure someone has written that before but it is so true. It is the most interesting part of my existence at the moment, so what does a writer do? Research. I wondered, who was the first depressed person? Was it a down on his luck caveman, or wooly mammoth who lost her calf in an ancient, quicksand riverbank? ‘Lemme give you an express lane run down…
Apparently it was the Greeks, ah the Greeks. Always in the shit. Hippocrates stated that anyone with fears and despondencies that lasted a long time was melancholic and/or depressed. Though melancholia, which sounds so much prettier was far more broad a topic back then, really any heightened emotion could be a flag for it. ‘Everybady crazy. It was often associated with great men like Aristotle as a hazard of creativity. ‘Splains it ‘cus i’m like, so creative and stuff.
Eventually the terminology melancholia changed to depression which comes from the latin verb, deprimere; meaning to “press down.” Leave it to Latin to take the words right out of my mouth, it does very much feel like an elephant pressing on your back and on a really bad day; the elephant farts. It’s all just so romantic and a fiercely discussed subject over the centuries until being whittled down into various categories and causes. Not so Greek and broad anymore but more universal. I wish I could say that brings me comfort but alas that requires my non-existent empathy which is a downside to being in the dumps…who cares about anything else? who cares about anything? Oh look, my hand is bleeding. Who cares! In a sense all we sad clowns do have a binding commonality, we can’t care. We’re busy trying to crank the elephant off our person.
Disclaimer, there is a part of you that gives up, and a part that goes to the darkest places because you can, because your sick brain wants you too, because everything is shit and hopeless. I try not to give in and i don’t listen to outside advice as most of it is crap and unhelpful. “Take this herb.” “Just get over it.” “People in Africa aren’t depressed, they’re too busy hiding from rebels.”
If you are depressed, find a reputable psychiatrist plus therapist and listen to them only. It’s biology at the end of the day and you shouldn’t let a non-scientist give you advice about your brain juices. You’ll need them nice and healthy for when you take off your pajamas and start smiling at people instead of the zombie expression you usually have. I really hope my doctor/medication gets me off my ass and finds the elephant a nice field in Thailand with other elephants to play with and sit on. There’s that pesky hope again, it is annoying but sustainable in some way because deep down, I wouldn’t mind getting better; signing off of Netflix, washing my hair and moving out of Anhedonia, into the real world where i’m scared and happy and all those words that will finally garner the corresponding reactions.
So in retrospect and after all my in depth wikipedia research, i conclude that depression, melancholia, acedia, what-have-you; is a complex, biological symptom of life, an alchemy of circumstance and the notion that life can sometimes take more than it gives is a strong cause to consider. As human beings we will now and then shut down under the weight of this; that’s a truth and that’s ok….But having the same brain cooties as Aristotle ain’t half bad.
Now, back to the bed fort!