It is very hard to convey to a happy person what you are feeling when you are depressed. Much of the time you have to resort to metaphor and simile- it is like free falling through space, like living inside a dead body, like looking through a thick sheet of ice, like walking around with no skin… and you may well say that it feels like all the colour has gone out of your life. This last may not be metaphorical as it turns out. Having depression, say a German team of scientists led by Ludger Tebartz van Elst, could impair a person’s ability to detect black and white contrast (The Times, July 21st 2010, p.15). This discovery may lead to the development of a test to determine objectively someone’s levels of depression, and serves to underline the profound way that depression alters the way people experience the world around them.
I don’t know about you, but I like it when it is possible to quantify and explain a symptom caused by the murkiness of mental illness. It makes me feel less crazy, that I can somehow trust what I am seeing in front of my eyes, or at least understand why I am seeing grey when others tell me bright colours are there. It makes me wonder if it is why I can feel a bit low after a few days of overcast weather. Today is the first bright day in a while, and my mood has cleared along with the clouds.