Colours of a limited palette


It’s been a difficult time again.  A ‘low period’ as various healthcare professional like to call it – don’t you just love the power of understatement.  What a ‘low period’ means for me is a blackness – I heard someone on TV the other day calling depression a blackness and there is simply no other colour that will do.   Red is angry. Grey, black and washed out are the colours we have in our limited palette to describe something that is hard to describe, a situation where there seems nothing to hope for.  But also it is a time when the physical act of placing one foot in front of the other acquires a level of difficulty that leaves me in awe of others who seem able to do it.

Interestingly I heard on the radio this morning an item about the lamentable under-diagnoses of PTSD available to members of the police forces. Some of the symptoms described were nightmares,  a sense of isolation, and irritability.  I have all those in spades so maybe?    Being currently anti-google I looked ‘depression’ up in a dictionary (remember those) and found: the action of pressing down, or fact of being pressed down; the action of lowering or process of sinking, the condition of being lowered.

When I am in a depression I am in a condition of being lowered into a pit somewhere where it does not seem worth the effort of crawling out.  Whereas ‘depressive’ is described as  tending to press or force down.   This is not a medical dictionary.  It is just the Shorter Oxford that I had had on my bookshelf left over from the time when people still used dictionaries and wiki wasn’t born or thought of.

This simple act of looking brought up a very interesting distinction.   Whereas ‘depression’ is an action described as happening from the outside upon the object (that’s me); for the definition of  ‘depressive’ it appears that the object (that’s me again) is itself the force that is doing the tending, or the pressing down.    Is this just a formal reiteration of the tired old clichés like ‘pull yourself together’?  The very thought makes the mind boggle. Just words, but words matter don’t they? Language is all we have to make sense of what happens to us both from the outside and the inside and sometimes even that isn’t enough.

Bear with me for a few more sentences I am about to say something a little more upbeat!  In my dictionary I find something else.   For we know that depression can mean a dip in the land. But  did you know that it is also a term in astronomy meaning the angular distance of a star below the horizon; the angular distance of the visible horizon below the true horizontal plane?   I find I like these definitions better.    I can cope with being a star beneath the horizon.

Also the star shines out in an infinite blackness, does it not?

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4 thoughts on “Colours of a limited palette

  1. The ending made me smile. What a beautiful description of depression. I’m going to think of it that way for myself now.🌟


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