So must a prisoner feel when his sentence is unexpectedly commuted, and he walks through the open prison door into the sunshine; a free man.
On Saturday, my black dog left me. Tracking back on my Moodscope graph, I can see he arrived on 4th November, so he was with me for just five weeks – but it felt longer.
For many people, depression is something that lifts incrementally. For me, the change happens in an instant. I've written before (although I can't find the blog now) about the change. It's like standing in a quiet and dusty water mill, then feeling the sluice gates lift, hearing the stream rush in and the wheel begin to turn. Suddenly, there is the fecund scent of water, the steady and powerful churning of the wheel, and the mill stones begin to grind. The mill is productive again.
At some point on Saturday afternoon, my black dog ceased to blow his fetid breath into my face, lifted his head, sniffed the air, and with one bound, was off! I could breathe again; I had energy. The world has sharp edges and bright colours. Even shades of grey are distinct. Scents are sharper and sounds are in their proper place. Most importantly, I can be with people again without being overwhelmed by their energy.
I know many of you might be reading this and thinking, "Well, it's alright for her, but I'm still here in the dark; my great dark beast is still with me. Please bear with me though, because there is more of a point to this than just asking you to celebrate with me.
The thing that strikes me most, coming out of depression, is that I never know how ill I am with it until it leaves, and normality is restored. I think, when in that dark place, that the darkness is normality. I cannot accept that "normal" has a smile on its face and a bounce in its step. I cannot perceive that "normal" is happy, or sad, or bored, or excited – or any and all emotions. When I am locked away in isolation – for depression is an illness of solitary confinement – I think that's all there is.
So, my message of comfort to you today – using the meaning of "fortify and strengthen", is to tell you again that depression is an illness and that you will recover.
You may be in that state of illness where you cannot get out of bed. You may be at that point where you can sit on the sofa and watch daytime TV. You may be at the stage where you can do a little work but must watch your energy levels. You may even be in the situation where you can carry out all your duties, but with no joy in your heart. You are still ill.
The illness can last days, weeks, or months. For some unfortunate souls, years.
But you will get better. There will be sunshine again. Even in winter.
A Moodscope member.