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Florence in Words

The Absence of Depression

A strange title for me, and a strange feeling. I’ve been aware for more than a week that the depression that usually lives with me, if not in me, has gone away. Perhaps it’s only temporary, but it is gone, though I don’t think I can explain how I know. Seems mysterious. Probably is.

I am sleeping a bit less than I do when I’m depressed. And I’m dreaming a lot, sometimes very strange dreams, which I do also when I’m depressed. So that’s not it. First clue: I’m eating more than usual, and nibbling as well, on nuts, fruit, even bits of chocolate or cookies. When I’m depressed, I eat very small meals, I’m usually not interested in food, and don’t nibble at all. Just this week, the scale showed a quick gain of some five pounds, so perhaps that’s a palpable clue: do I want to be fat or depressed?

Another clue: Last week I wrote poems each morning, just like that. And I didn’t write journals every day, wrote every third or fourth day. And I wrote nothing in the journals about depression. And now here I am trying to write a blog. But of course I have written blogs while depressed—and several of them about being in that state.

Final clue: Response to visitors. When I’m depressed, I usually prefer being alone and when I can, I put off appointments, visitors, certainly people I don’t know at all. And this week I had several visitors and felt welcoming and felt glad I had agreed months ago to host two women from San Francisco I had met in Mallorca in 2011—the first time I went to Ellen Bass’s workshop. Connie, Julie, and I had talked a bit there, as we ate meals together, and also took several walks down a rocky road, but I had no expectations of seeing them again. Well, they asked if they could stay in my apartment for a long weekend in New York as part of their longer honeymoon to be spent in Paris. They had a busy schedule, mainly seeing other people, but we had mornings--and several late evenings--for conversation over breakfast or tea. When we talked about childhoods, I mentioned that, if asked, I would never have said I had experienced depression early in my life, and I told them about the little notebooks written during my mid-teens at college, which mentioned depression. I told them that my long-time depression, which had returned after I had returned from Europe, was now gone, though I didn’t know why, or even when, much less where it had gone.

So how does it feel to be without depression? How does one describe “absence”? Does it feel “normal”? I need to work at this, for I can’t describe the feeling except as absence. It’s not there—or here. I don’t “have” it. When I “had” it, I sometimes used the metaphor of a quilt. Once, I said it was like a shot to my body.

This is the second day I’ve tried to write and rewrite this blog. Yesterday, I wandered into the area of religion, but I’ve cut that out and left it for another day. I’m going to try to look at the day: it’s a blue-sky day out my window, royal blue. And from here I can’t see signs of a stiff wind and I’m too high to see the people on the streets below bundled in layers, hats, and scarves. I’m going out in a few minutes to get a flu shot, take a short walk, test the day.

Will send the blog into the world. Perhaps that’s the key: It’s not finished, but I’m sending it. Makes no sense, I know. But perhaps I’m too eager to make sense.  Read More 
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