At its best, it's just there, chugging away in the background, keeping me company even though I've asked it repeatedly not to. I'm probably never going to be the life and soul of the party, but I can pass for reasonably contented-ish. I don't know whether it's a side-effect of my depression or part of my natural demeanour (or some combination of both), but I'm not the most smiley person in the world. I suspect I'm the sort of person that people want to say, "cheer up, it might never happen," to, even on the rare occasions when I'm feeling reasonably chipper.
But depression at its worst? How to describe that? Over the weekend, someone (by the name of @sourcitruslady) tweeted her experience of it - "Imagine trying to sew a button on while wearing mittens. Now multiply that feeling across all your senses. That's depression." I can sort of relate to that, but it's not quite how I'd describe it. My description goes something like this: it's like being stuck in a small room - no bigger than a shower cubicle, no doors, no windows, and you're hammering on the walls and screaming to get out and nobody can hear you, or if they can they're not paying you a blind bit of attention.
It's bleak. It's unremitting. It relentless. It's unforgiving.
It's broadly speaking what I've been going through since about Thursday evening, in its latest bout.
But...here's the paradox - and I know I have several friends out there who also struggle with depression, so I throw this out there partly to see if this chimes with anyone else's experiences - during the lowest of lows, I can also experience times of happiness. Reading a book, watching a DVD, listening to (or indeed recording) some music, bunging some comedy on the television - I can enjoy those. Which is a good job too, as they're my escape routes, both when I'm depressed and just in general (tidying up, or an episode of Warehouse 13..? Hmm, let me see...)
The effect may be only temporary, but, say, letting Europe's The Final Countdown blast through the car a few minutes ago when I was driving home from Tesco was a positively delirious experience. And yet, back home, out of the car, music off, and we're back to the bleak unpleasantness of depression.
Anybody else know that feeling of extreme contrasts, so soon after each other? Just for the record, I don't think I'm manic depressive - I mean, I saw the Stephen Fry documentary, and whilst I recognise the lows, the highs he and the people he spoke to described seem to be more extreme and more enduring than what I'm used to.
Anyway, I'm off to watch University Challenge. And oddly not get depressed at all the questions I can't answer...