What that means - for me, because everyone's different - is that most of the time...I don't feel what I would consider to be cheerful, or upbeat, or happy. I suspect that if people saw me, they'd tell me to cheer up because it might never happen. I doubt anyone would ever describe me as the life and soul of the party, unless they go to some seriously weird parties.
I mean, I'm capable of moments of happiness. Eastercon recently had a lot of them, as did my holiday in Swanage with Sarah. Popping up to Telford to hang out with badfalcon was good too. But always, lingering in the background, is It. I won't call it The Embuggerance, 'cos that's ©PTerry, and refers to something else entirely. The Big Black Dog, that was Churchill's phrase, wasn't it? Maybe a better analogy would be, it's like a cloud. Sometimes it clears away a bit to let sunlight through. But mostly it's there. Sometimes looking deceptively cute and fluffy, sometimes just hanging there in the sky, sometimes threatening rain to come, sometimes just big and dark and ominous.
Those big and dark and ominous moments are the ones I hate. They're the ones where the It just gets too nasty and horrible and I feel utterly miserable and pathetic and want to scream and scream and scream, or hibernate and avoid contact with other people. It's like being trapped in a little cell, just big enough to contain me and not much else. I can reach my hands up and pound on the walls...but it doesn't make a blind bit of difference because nobody can hear and even if they could, nobody's listening.
That's what it feels like, at its worst.
But. There is a but, and it's important. It's a big but.
I'm damned lucky.
I've got an absolutely fantastic wife. I've got a lovely family, some terrific friends, including a great church family. I've got a decent job, that pays reasonably well. I'll never want for good books to read, good music or audiobooks to listen to, good DVDs and Blu-Rays to watch. I can afford a roof over my head and three square meals a day.
None of those things can stop the depression deciding it wants to kick in. For the most part, it functions entirely separately from external factors. But having all those good people and good things in my life can help to make the dark times bearable.
Bottom line, if you're reading this and you're someone who's been there for me in some way, shape or form over the years: Thank you. You rock.