Inspiring Talk by Andrew Solomon

We know depression through metaphors.Emily Dickinson was able to convey it in language,Goya in an image.Half the purpose of artis to describe such iconic states.

As for me, I had always thought myself tough,one of the people who could survive if I’d been sent to a concentration camp.

In 1991, I had a series of losses.My mother died,a relationship I’d been in ended,I moved back to the United Statesfrom some years abroad,and I got through all of those experiences intact.

But in 1994, three years later,I found myself losing interest in almost everything.I didn’t want to do any of the thingsI had previously wanted to do,and I didn’t know why.The opposite of depressionis not happiness, but vitality,and it was vitalitythat seemed to seep away from me in that moment.Everything there was to doseemed like too much work.I would come homeand I would see the red light flashing on my answering machine,and instead of being thrilled to hear from my friends,I would think,”What a lot of people that is to have to call back.”Or I would decide I should have lunch,and then I would think, but I’d have to get the food outand put it on a plateand cut it up and chew it and swallow it,and it felt to me like the Stations of the Cross.

And one of the things that often gets lostin discussions of depressionis that you know it’s ridiculous.You know it’s ridiculous while you’re experiencing it.You know that most people manageto listen to their messages and eat lunchand organize themselves to take a showerand go out the front doorand that it’s not a big deal,and yet you are nonetheless in its gripand you are unable to figure out any way around it.And so I began to feel myself doing lessand thinking lessand feeling less.It was a kind of nullity.

 

The Secret We Share

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