Very depressed today. Unable to write a thing. Menacing gods. I feel outcast on a cold star, unable to feel anything but an awful helpless numbness.
Sylvia Plath, Journal, October 13, 1959
But depression is not a sudden disaster. It is more like a cancer: At first its tumorous mass is not even noticeable to the careful eye, and then one day—wham!—there is a huge, deadly seven-pound lump lodged in your brain or your stomach or your shoulder blade, and this thing that your own body has produced is actually trying to kill you. Depression is a lot like that: Slowly, over the years, the data will accumulate in your heart and mind, a computer program for total negativity will build into your system, making life feel more and more unbearable. But you won’t even notice it coming on, thinking that it is somehow normal, something about getting older, about turning eight or twelve or turning fifteen, and then one day you realize that your entire life is just awful, not worth living, a horror and a black blot on the white terrain of human existence. One morning you wake up afraid you are going to live.
Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation
I began to think that melancholy was a dialect that only some people knew—or could even hear—and in my conversations, I sought these people out.
Virginia Heffernan, A Delicious Placebo
I’m getting less good at faking it. People in my family are noticing and asking what’s wrong. My friends give me invitations to talk, to cry. I love them for their caring, but I want to run from it. I have lost their language, their facility with words that convey feelings. I am in new territory and feel like a foreigner in theirs.
Martha Manning, Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface
The term clinical depression finds its way into too many conversations these days. One has a sense that a catastrophe has occurred in the psychic landscape.
Leonard Cohen, in the International Herald Tribune, November 4, 1988
The Failure of Will theory is equally popular with people who are not depressed. Get out and take your mind off yourself, they say. You’re too self-absorbed. This is just about the stupidest thing you can say to a depressed person, and it is said every day to depressed people all over this country. And if it isn’t that, it’s Shut up and take your Prozac.
Chase Twichell, Toys in the Attic
Rituals, even unhappy ones, provide a measure of comfort. Like a superstitious ballplayer who will only use certain bats, my depression rituals have become a fixed, normal part of my life. … I need rituals to prevent unnecessarily rocking my already shaky emotional boat.
David Karp, An Unwelcome Career
I’d been depressed before, of course. But I’m talking about really depressed. Not just feeling a bit down or sad, a depression that has something to do with biorhythms. I’m talking about the kind of depressed that floats in upon you like a fog. You can feel it coming and you can see where it is going to take you but you are powerless, utterly powerless to stop it. I know now.
Alan Cumming, Tommy’s Tale