The grey is a term I have for one of my modes of experiencing depression. I wrote about it three years ago:
The grey is like a great grey landscape of bleakness, just dust & stones. Emotionally dead: I can’t rouse me, nor can anyone else, to laughter or fun, certainly not joy; but nor can I be roused to great negative passions like hatred, anger. Annoyance, maybe. It’s hard to talk in any but the business sense, by which I mean I can conduct the necessary communications to accomplish my job, or buy something at the store, but it’s not good for banter, it’s not good for discussion of politics or my feelings, it’s not good for intimacy. Better off to leave me alone. Better for me to be left alone. No, correct that: it’s can be very good to have company, but company needs to be quiet & nondemanding. I need not to be made to talk.
That’s pretty much how I was feeling yesterday, & to some extent the day before. Coming out of it is something like waking from a bad dream: one looks around, one sighs in relief with the sure knowledge that the bad dream is not, in fact, true: there is color in the world, & life, & it breathes in you.
This was a short bout. Over time I’ve had enough experience with depression that I’ve learned pretty well how to manage it, & get myself out of it sooner rather than later. As of three years ago, the state of my art was —
I get lots & lots of sleep. I make sure I’m still eating well. I don’t have high expectations of myself. I vedge out. I pull back from overcommitments as well as commitments to stuff that prevents me from doing the good stuff (like writing) that feeds my spirit. And when my energy picks up, I do that good stuff that feeds my spirit.
But since then I’ve added something in, a supplement I learned about last year called 5-HTP. I’ve written about that too:
5-HTP is an intermediate between the amino acid tryptophan (oh ye of post-Thanksgiving turkey dinner sleepiness fame) & the neurotransmitter serotonin, whose activity is targeted by a lot of antidepressants. Thus, 5-HTP is alternative to antidepressants — & from my standpoint, a superior one.
Why do I think it’s superior? For one, it’s available over the counter, a natural supplement for something the body produces naturally. For another, it has few if any negative side-effects (or, as they are more honestly known, effects). It’s those negative effects that have always steered me clear of SSRIs & other psychopharmaceuticals that have been often suggested to me. It also seems to work differently than the SSRIs — selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, whose mechanism is to keep the supply of serotonin that one has in the brain in circulation for longer; whereas 5-HTP supplementation provides more of the raw material needed to synthesize more serotonin: increasing its supply, rather than merely keeping a limited supply moving around for longer. The scientifically inclined can correct me if I’m wrong. But I don’t think I am.
So: veg out, sleep, eat right, 5-HTP, & I feel lots better. Enough so that I can even contemplate attending yet another round of public hearings on the Anchorage equal rights ordinance at the Anchorage Assembly tonight, complete with however much repetition of the same Christianist “Truth is Not Hate” hate speech that we’ve already heard over & over & over & over (etc.) again.
Not something I cared to contemplate doing when I already felt separated from any joy in the world. Now I can not only contemplate it, but can even consider what it is about the Christianist world-view that seemingly makes joy an even rarer commodity for them.