Remember that swarms of attacking kobolds is the metaphor I’m using for depression. Winston Churchill spoke of the black dog that followed him everywhere as a metaphor for his own depression (though I think he was actually bipolar — I’m sure that someone with a better knowledge of history can correct me on this), and I didn’t want to steal his thunder. So for me it’s kobolds. It’s funnier if you’re a Dungeons and Dragons geek like me and know that lone kobolds are weak and easily defeated, while a big swarm of them can be a serious threat to reckon with.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with a condition called “double depression”. With double depression you get to feel constant low-grade depression — dysthymia, for those who are curious — interspersed with bouts of more serious depression. The dysthymia isn’t incapacitating or even all that serious, doesn’t have any specific cause, and can even lift for days at a time. You get used to it, sort of like that low-grade pain in your back that you don’t even notice until it’s gone for some reason. You can get good at acting as though it doesn’t exist; you can act cheerful with your co-workers, your friends, even your loved one.
But the low points — the dips, as it were, or major depressive episodes — really can be incapacitating. You wake up, having slept for eight to twelve hours, feeling exhausted and as though you have to wind yourself up, like a child’s toy, just to get out of bed. Nothing holds your interest. Even typing on your computer keyboard seems like a chore. There’s a hollowness in your chest, an emptiness in your solar plexus, that demands you just curl up and ignore the world around you. Daily maintenance chores — showering, shaving, brushing your teeth, taking medications (among which are, ironically, anti-depressants) — are skipped just because you don’t have the energy. Interacting with co-workers is okay, because it’s a distraction and because you’ve mastered the art of hiding your feelings, though it’s too easy to just call in sick and sit at home eating and watching television or surfing the web (and you probably would if you had any sick hours left and hadn’t squandered them all already). Being at work sucks because, in spite of the “attaboys” and “good job” comments you get from your boss and co-workers, you can’t help feeling like you’re screwing up and are on the verge of being fired at any moment. Above all you spend the day on the verge of tears without really knowing why.
Hope is elusive. You feel as though nothing good will happen, that nothing good will ever happen. At the same time, you also feel as though everything good that has happened has been due to undeserved good luck, or just a plain old fluke. I also have trouble writing, because of the above-mentioned chore of sitting at the keyboard and typing, and because I’m convinced nothing I write — short stories, novels, whatever — is marketable, let alone publishable. In this mood, it’s difficult to motivate myself to do any writing at all. Works in progress stay untouched for days, possibly weeks, at a time.
At least, that’s how I experience a day when the kobolds are attacking in swarms. Your mileage may vary.
Lunch hour’s just about up, so I’d better finish this up. Do you have days when the kobolds attack? How do you experience them? It’d just be nice to know that I’m not the only one.