One interesting take on describing Depression is contained in this apocryphral, surreal anecdote "Depression is like a man attempting to peel a potato with a potato. When it is pointed out to him that you can't peel a potato in such a way and that maybe he should use a peeler, the man agrees, and is handed a peeler. It turns out to be another potato".
Many sufferers do not have the vocabulary to adequately describe their personal hell experience of Depression or to shine a bright light onto that despairing darkness and verbalise what they see and feel. Sometimes words are just not enough. However for the public to try and fathom what in the world Depression is, we have to try and be honest, succinct and accurate in our depiction of IT. To hold up your hands and say " I suffer from Depression" is the first step. This recognition and acknowledgement, without a shadow of doubt is brave and worthy, but the next question might be "What is it, what does it feel like?" and more often than not the same old phrases are trotted out which do not evoke the sheer void, blackness and loss of self that is experienced within the grip of depression.
I watched a video, a TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_breel_confessions_of_a_depressed_comic?language=en and within it is a searingly honest, painful admission but it doesn't shine a light into the darkness. He has had millions of hits, justifyingly so, but it doesn't paint a picture with words. It doesn't join the dots. Believe me, it just doesn't join the dots from "I am Depressed" to "I wish to Die". It sadly makes an assumption that we can envisage how this poor man was led to the brink of suicide. But we can't. I know from experience that in the depths of depression you feel that your pain is written all over your face and that it is blatantly evident. This is not always the case, unless you have perceptive friends. In an attempt to try to convey the harsh reality of what I was going through ...and to make sense of it to myself, I wrote a poem called "Black Dawg" that tries to go to the dark places and though using mere words I m trying to evoke the helplessness, the Hell, the listless life-draining, the incessant monkey chatter of bad news and bad thoughts. All of this at odds with the version of Self I had come to believe was Me. I am working with a visionary illustrator to illuminate and reinforce the message. Our hope is to depict Depression in a way that sufferers can identitfy with and that non-sufferers can comprehend. When published I would hope it triggers recognition of symptoms plus an understanding of the dark, soul-less world that Depression inhabits.
A subject that has been marginalised and misunderstood in the past, I'd like to think the time has come for artists/artisans/You/Me to use their skills in the mediums available to try to fathom the fathomlessness of the Big D. For instance, Edward Honaker uses his photographic skills to great effect with these images as his interpretation of his struggle. It resonates with me personally with the off kilter abstraction and the fact it is black and white, Depression's true medium.
A theory of mine is that work in the past used to be more manual and physical and you were praised for your physical ability. Now we are appraised more for our mental agility and when that short circuits and a fuse is blown..... well, we know the result. The Modern Age has a lot to answer for.
So back to the poem. I have posted excerpts in previous Huffington Post articles over the past year http://www.huffingtonpost.com/louis-mcintosh/
So heres a line or two from "Black Dawg"
I can't think, my Brains in clink
Synapses creak, they creak, they creak
Can't form the words to even speak
Will it last an hour, a week?
Lifts as a cloud but returns at Peak
Leaving me weak, so weak, so weak
I try to hide but it can see Me
I try to fight with all my might
I try to seek the Fears that Bleed Me
Black Dawg stalks Me day and night
There are many, many,more verses but the good news is it does brighten up for the second half as I attempt to show the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train but Hope. Hope is the key to getting out from under the duvet of despair. Just a slither of Hope is all you need, to begin with, and then hopefully at some stage you will find Hope outweighs Hopelessness. Thats a lot of Hope to end with (and that's on purpose).
I would welcome any definitions in a tweet-size form of Depression is..... in the comments section.