At the suggestion of my psychiatrist I decided to interview my depression to see if I could understand it better. The arrangements were not difficult to make. My depression is never far away and is delighted for any opportunity to visit. What follows is a verbatim transcript of that interview.
Me: First of all depression, thank you for sitting down with me for this conversation.
D: My pleasure.
Me: I’d like to start off by saying, “fuck you!”
D: I understand that and am unfazed by your harshness and vulgarity. Indeed, I rather enjoy it.
Me: So what brings you here, time and time again?
D: I can see where that could be a bit of a poser. Sometimes I feel invited and other times, well frankly I just barge in.
Me: Let’s look those one at a time. How on earth do you ever feel “invited”?
D: It genuinely seems like you want me. I’m not suggesting that you’ve ever said: “come on over” no, it’s much more subtle than that.
Me: Please elaborate.
D: Sometimes there’s an unsettling event in your life such as an argument or confrontation or a disappointment or perhaps bad news, in those cases you open yourself up to me. Your guard is down so its a simple matter to enter.
Me: But why enter at all? Why not just leave me alone?
D: But you’re feeling bad about something, it’s only natural that I show up.
Me: I may be hurt by something, or disappointed or whatever but that does not mean I want or need to go into a full fledged depression.
D: But you’re prone to depression. You’re a vulnerable chap. You take a lot of things in stride but other things knock you off your stride. You’re just waiting to wallow in the pain. You may think you don't want me, but part of you does, I believe that.
Me: You do realize that your taking advantage of my pain serves no purpose. It would make far more sense if you just left me alone so that I can work through whatever is bothering me then get on with being happy.
D: That’s not how I work. I like to plant myself in a host who’s -- like I said before — vulnerable. I revel in your pain. I'm sorry, that may seem harsh but that's just what I am.
Me: You’re just a mean son of a bitch, aren’t you?
D: You don’t really think name-calling is going to have the slightest effect on me? Perhaps I should amend that, I rather like it. The more vitriol you spew my way the more empowered I feel. I live off conflict, animus, discord and failure.
Me: I still don’t get what your motive is, what you get out of this.
D: Come now, I’m depression it is my raison d’être. What the hell did you think? You might as well ask why the wind blows. We do what we do.
Me: This conversation has gotten depressing.
D: Thank you.
Me: Okay, earlier you mentioned barging in when I’m not depressed….
D: Yeah that is fun. I just step right in and bring your mood right on down and sit on it.
Me: That’s especially cruel.
D: You flatter me.
Me: How is it you leave it all? Why don’t you become a permanent fixture if you’re so powerful?
D: Hey, I’ve got my weaknesses too, just like everyone else. For example when you run, those endorphins are toxic to me, I have to get the hell out. Also you sometimes get distracted, -- like when you’re teaching or enjoying a film -- and pay no attention to me. That’s frustrating. Then there’s those meds you take, it’s not easy to ignore them. Oh and those sudden upswings in mood you experience -- my bane -- that can turn into a God awful fight. When you’re mood gets elevated I have to bide my time before returning. There are a lot of complications to keeping a person good and depressed. Some folks are easier than others. Some I can’t get to at all, like your wife.
Me: But aren’t there reasons for depression? Like biological ones?
D: Oh absolutely, that biological weakness is what gives an opening. Some people, such as yourself, are prone to depression. It's no use wasting time on others unless some sort of tragedy befalls them.
Me: What about other factors? My psychiatrist and I have talked about some of the issues that might be plaguing me like age and whether I’ve made good use of my life and my childhood.
D: Those all help. Anything that can get you down I can work with. I can even put thoughts into your head such as the fact you’re still an unpublished novelist. And at your age.
Me: Not funny! So you can send bad thoughts to my brain?
D: Sometimes directly to your subconscious.
Me: Aren’t you afraid that the right meds are going to spell your doom? Or successful work in therapy?
D: That kind of stuff is always a threat. I’d appreciate it if you stopped seeing your doctor and went off all medications.
Me: Like I’d do you a favor.
D: Think of it as a challenge.
Me: It’s challenge enough just living with you. You’re like an uninvited, unwanted roommate who’s only ever away for short periods.
D: That’s a lovely way of putting it.
Me: If you were me, what would you do?
D: You really think I’d help you out?
Me: Think of it as a challenge.
D: Hey, that was my line.
Me: You’ve been of very little help. Just know that I’m going to do everything in my power to kick your ass and keep you out for good.
D: Talk, talk, talk.
Me: Once again, fuck you!