A while back, Aunt Becky had posted a pretty good rant about those anti-depressant commercials that portray depression as a big fuzzy bathrobe, or little cloud, or maybe a wind-up toy. I almost hate writing about the same sort of thing, first because she said it so well in the first place, and second because I kind of hate the idea that maybe it will look like I’m just copying on her riff. But I’ve got the idea stuck in my head, and it’s gotta go somewhere, so there ya go.
I’ve never actually known anyone who thought of a warm fuzzy bathrobe as an analogy to depression, which leads me to believe that the guys who came up with that ad campaign are probably the same ones that came up with the “out of sight, out of mind” tampon ads – in other words, people that have never come even mildly close to wanting or needing the product they’re advertising.
I read that Winston Churchill described his depression as a black dog. That’s an image that makes sense to me. I’m guessing it wasn’t just any old dog, either. A cerberus. All three heads have row after row of sharp, sharp teeth, and they’re growling and dripping gross dog slobber everywhere. Now that’s an image that makes sense. But that said, that image isn’t really mine, either.
Sometimes I imagine depression as that giant shark from Jaws. Think about it. You’ve been having a good old time at the beach, maybe some cotton candy on the boardwalk, got some cold beers stashed in the cooler, and you’re just going to join everyone out there in the nice warm water, just kick back for a while. So there you are, relaxed and feeling good, when KAWAP! Something comes along and bites you in the ass.
Sure, sometimes it just takes a little nibble. Just a taste before it loses interest and moves on, leaving you a little breathless but otherwise relatively unscathed. And sometimes, it grabs hold and works you over. Remember that scene at the beginning? Poor Chrissy. The shark keeps letting her up before pulling her back under. At one point she’s clinging to the buoy, and you think that maybe, just maybe, she’s got a chance to escape. And then she’s gone.
Other times, though, it’s nothing as dramatic as a killer shark. Sometimes it looks more like The Blob. Just a giant black mound of who-knows-what that just oozes over you. You barely notice it at first as it creeps up on you. Come on, what’s to worry about? You can get away from it easily enough. Seriously, how fast can a blob be, right? Except then maybe it snags a foot. And while you’re busy extricating your right foot, it’s swallowed your left. If you’re not careful, before you can say “Steve McQueen” it’s blobbed up and swallowed you whole. (And if you’ve ever seen the original movie, you know that no one enjoyed the experience.)
I can only speak for myself, but visualizing that depression as a solid (or blobby) object seems to make it easier to get a handle on things. It’s always easier to fight back against something tangible as opposed to just a concept, right?