I've just read a post by my brother, CJ aka Scriptor Senex, telling his readers that today is Blue Monday. That followed a post by Meike aka Librarian on the book The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. The subject which links the two posts is depression: the first a fairly light-hearted look at why we are supposed to feel at our lowest today and the second the serious depression from which Sylvia Plath suffered.
I have friends who have clinical depression. Most of the time no one would know. Medication assists and years or decades can pass without incident. When depression does strike then, like any other potentially serious illness, the consequence for the sufferer and those around can be severe.
From what I can gather anyone who has not suffered from the illness has difficulty really understanding it. In a way it's the same as, say, cancer where the consequences can be serious but someone who hasn't had a potentially terminal illness can't really understand the feelings of being told that you have that illness.
When I was 16 I had most of one of my lungs removed. The question of dying never even occurred to me. When I was discharged from hospital I suffered from post-operative depression. There was little apparently known about it and it wasn't something I could talk about or explain because I didn't understand it myself. I would walk for hours and hours on my own in an aimless sort of daze. I walked round the coast of the Wirral Peninsula getting the ferry to New Brighton and walking round to Hoylake and beyond. I knew the coast from Heswall to New Brighton pretty well then.
It was only when I stayed with my Godfather at his family retreat in a field in North Wales and went for a 'walk' which took hours longer than I'd expected, that I realised how serious things were and the worry that my family were being caused. There were no mobile/cellphones in those days and my Godfather was beside himself with worry when I eventually showed up.
Then the depression went as suddenly as it came and I never suffered from it again. But I never forgot it. The effect it had on me has lasted to this day. I love going for walks (or did before my dicky knee made it rather difficult). I am happy with my own company. However I cannot go for a long walk on my own. Whenever I contemplate it I am 16 again and it's as if something in me is frightened that if I went on that walk my 'then' state of mind would return. Of course that's completely irrational but that's the thing about that sort of illness: it's not necessarily rational.
So although it's Monday, this is this week's Thankful Thursday post. Why should I be thankful? I'm thankful because when depression is mentioned I can understand what the person is going through but I also know that for me it is an illness long gone and consigned to the history of my youth.