Once upon a time, in the days of grumpkins and snarks, when the winter seemed as eternal as a reincarnating cockroach…

Wait. Wrong subject.

Closer to sixteen years ago, a man named Karl Poff once explained that pain is relative.  He explained it to me like this, more or less: 

If a baby loses her pacifier, it is the worst pain that she’s ever known. It’s the apocalypse.  The sky is falling; zombies are coming to get us all. It’s horrible pain–a 20-on-a-10-point pain scale. 

If a man loses his wife, her death could be the worst pain that he has ever felt, a well of pain with depth so profound that it seems to crack the world, leaving it broken and empty without his wife in it. 

Even though they look far different to outsiders, their pain is the same. No matter how trivial a pacifier may seem to anyone above the age of three, it is the worst pain the child has ever experienced. 

It is so damn easy to forget that not everyone is like us; people experience and manifest pain in different ways. 

Pain isn’t relative to other people’s; it’s relative to our own threshold. 

As we live and grow, our threshold increases–both a good and a bad thing. 

It means the pain we once believed to be the *worst thing ever* isn’t  anymore, but it also means that this particular pain is no longer the *worst thing ever* only because we have experienced a deeper, more cutting, *worst thing ever*. 

 I’ve lived with depression for as long as I can remember. I haven’t always been depressed, of course, but I’ve always (as long as I can remember) had it with me, like a shoelace that inexplicably unties itself, tripping me when I least expect it.

I consider it to be relapsing/remitting, much like Jed Bartlet’s Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, or Rheumatoid Disease for that matter. 

I have it, but sometimes it sleeps. In fact, a lot of the time it sleeps. It seems to go into remission, and it appears to be gone, at least for a while. I feel close to normal: I have ups, downs, and plateaus, and it feels more like what I imagine a normal person feeling. None of those conditions are crippling. 

But when it relapses, ohh boy.  Depression is a child of the 60’s, a rebel in its own right. It’s a countercultural succatash, presenting in as many flavors as beans exist. 

Sometimes it brings spicy Italian sausage for a bit of added kick.  Because *the worst thing ever* becomes a bar by which everything else is measured. 

It doesn’t always manifest the same way. Except that everything is a mess. Always. 

Sometimes, it’s literally painful: a drawing up of limbs, tightening muscles and shoulders as hard as concrete, a headache. Other times, it’s mostly pain-free. Withdrawal, removing myself from any activities on the other side of the wall that separates the carpet from the grass an isolated numbness.  

Perhaps the numbness is secondary. 

Sometimes in the numbness, an episode or ten of a well-loved series (Calling Doctor Who!)  will distract from the pain, leaving an insulating numbness. 

For the past month or so, I’ve been staring at a screen and blank pieces of paper,  reaching for something to write about. The reaching seems insane; there is always, always something to write about. 

A friend even contacted me. “I think my computer is broken. I don’t see a post since ‘A Small Promise Kept.’

Yeah, your computer isn’t the problem. 

I keep thinking that I’m going to snap out of it, that words about one of those billion, trillion things to write about will find their way to paper or the screen. But they don’t. 

Not yet, anyway. 

 I’m still lost, I think. 

In my old pictures, I came across this:  

 

I know depression will eventually go back into hiding. 

In the mean time, I just keep plodding along. 

 

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