It has been and remains overwhelming to say the least. I have always been prone to depression, but the changes wrought in the last five months make past bouts of depression trivial in comparison. It struck me yesterday that no one has asked me what this has been like for me. Most of the time my moods are placid and even stable, only occasionally punctuated by episodes of despair.
In times of acute psychic anguish, any possibility of escape can sometimes be an overwhelming temptation. The despair suffocates with its oppressiveness and inevitability. It can last a few moments, or it can last hours. Describing this despair as a rampaging monster misleads. The metaphor of a monster implies that the despair has reason and purpose. Monsters are sometimes angry: anger, while not pleasant, can be understood. Or if the monster is the devouring kind, it is hungry. Again, hunger is something that can be understood and even placated sometimes. If something can be understood, its limits and goals can be found. With knowledge of the monster's limits and goals its comings and goings can be predicted, and if predictable, then can be planned for.
The despair comes when it comes. It can be brought on by seemingly trivial events. There are only bad accidents, never good ones.
The despair is a result of an imbalance in my brain. There is certainly reason enough in my life to despair. These moods when they happen seem to be more akin to a sudden shift in chemical states. They have all the "reason" of a physical event, something indifferent and unrespecting of the psychic niceties of self-respect.
I chose the word "despair" because it captures the specific loss of looking toward the future. Hope in its most abstract and general sense implies that there is a place for one's desires and plans in the way of the world. Friends assure me that "it won't always be this way." Eventually, they tell me, I'll have something once more to look forward to.