Just One Word

Anonymous Guest Submission

If I had to select one word to describe depression, it would be this: paralyzing.

I had always thought of depression as an affliction of the mind, and symptomatically, of the emotions. And it certainly is. But what it also is is what I had no warning of nor defense toward: a physically paralyzing and unsparing force.

I remember well lying on a bench seat I had requisitioned from my Ford van that I had adapted as a sofa for my office. It was November and dark early. My son was in the next room, hoping I’m sure that his father would be able to pull off another dinner and not collapse too early on the more conventional sofa in the family room while we watched the tube. I was talking to my fiancée on the phone and complained, “It seems to take the greatest effort just to do the smallest thing.” She replied very softly, “That’s because you’re depressed.” And I knew immediately what she meant: not that I was sad or low because my team had lost or because a magazine issue wasn’t going well or simply that I missed her. She meant that I was depressed, clinically depressed.

I worked at home most of the time then, so my low spirits and imprisoning lethargy weren’t quickly visible to my colleagues. That is, they were invisible to all except my son and audibly to my lover. And whatever my symptoms were that November night, they were going to get much, much worse.

Reluctant to acknowledge that I might truly need medical help, I struggled the next few weeks without it. “A basket case” is a funny expression to describe the same condition. And that’s what I was, struggling to do anything, lying flat out on the Ford Motor company bench, watching days go by, unable to do anything more than the barest of necessities. I was paralyzed. Squeezed of life, squeezed of vitality, nailed to the surface of bed or bench or sofa.


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