“Hello Darkness, My Old Friend”

It’s pretty amazing, the song “The Sound of Silence”. I’ve always really liked it for various reasons, especially the visuals the lyrics provide. Even the “alternate lyrics” versions we came up with in Mixed Company at Prospect High School (I’m looking at you, Anne.).

I’m not going to lie and tell you that the last few days for me have been easy, because they haven’t. They haven’t exactly been the worst days of my life, though, either. At work, my colleague Paula is away on vacation — and we had agreed to this when we hired her, so there are no surprises there — and it has thrown me back into doing both her job and my job. It’s only a week, yes, but sometimes taking it all on feels so very overwhelming for me, especially since there seems to be no end in sight to training up someone while trying to do my own job.

In addition, I’ve started on a new medication, with the dose increasing weekly, and my body has reacted in all sorts of ways to it. Sudden headaches, being energized then crashing, all sorts of things. I’m sure that’s not helping my outlook at present either.

Thursday is usually a day I spend away from the offices, either working on projects from home in relative silence and distraction-free (which is awesome, by the way) or to have a day off in lieu of another day I have been working. This Thursday (today) has been the first Thursday in a while where I have nothing on — no counselling, no running the cat to the vet, no doctor’s visits — and I get the chance to relax.

Like the opening lyrics in “The Sound of Silence” though, I woke up feeling a bit depressed again today, so it was like welcoming the old friend back. And it kept getting worse, slowly, like a fog spreading its tendrils: Like “A vision softly creeping”.

Why I find this interesting, and why I’m writing about it here, is that it seems like after a particularly tough day or week or month — whether this is at work or personally or in general — once I let my guard down, or try to relax, or unwind from the previously coiled state I’ve been in, I find that my depression tends to try to make itself noticed more intensely than normal. And that puts my plans for doing personal projects (like writing) on the back burner because I feel so unequipped to do them.

(What makes it even more apparent is today is a beautiful, sunny, warm day, a very lovely Spring day, the bright blooms and the clear blue sky outside contrasting the darkness I feel inside.)

I have to be less hard on myself. Down time is okay. Just enjoying the nice weather and listening to music is not a waste of time. Having my own space and time to be by myself is vitally important to me (and if you listen to my Mom, it always has been). It is very difficult for me, sometimes, when people invade my own space, whether it be through actions or with words or whatever.

But in being less hard on myself, I also need to be realistic. Stop avoiding things. Take control of my life but not in an overbearing way. Steer my ship on the path I want to follow. Know what I can change and acknowledge what I can’t and distinguish one from the other.

My journey with depression will never end, and I’m okay with that. I acknowledge that, and in doing so, I think it makes the depression that more manageable. It is my constant companion, and while I know it isn’t as pervasive or as severe as other people have it, I feel by embracing it, it loses its power over me somewhat. It defangs it, it declaws it, it neuters it.

And that brings another meaning, a very personal meaning, to those lyrics: “Hello darkness, my old friend.”