Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What Color Looks Like

{los Palacios Nazaríes}

I've spent a lot of this past year thinking about depression. There are times in which I wonder if I've ever been depressed, while in others I question if I always have. I know that winters are always hardest for me. Without even getting into the emotional aspect of what the winter does to me, I know that I lose motivation and drive and passion and I'm always drained; I'm just not me. This winter was particularly hard, the worst it's ever been, but since I've never talked to a professional about it, I'm reluctant to align my experiences with any labels, so whether my depression is seasonal or not, or whether it even is depression, I don't know. But the way this manifests for me, the way the experience functions and affects my life, is multidimensional and spreads in ways I have trouble putting into words. 

It's hard to get that distance from yourself, to find a sort of clarity where you feel like you're judging yourself objectively and fairly and accurately. And when it comes to mental health, it's even harder. But one big thing beyond the motivation and beyond my general outlook on my life and my future and my friends and everything else around me, is color. I know I'm depressed when things begin to literally look bleak. The grass isn't as green, which is funny because it's both literally and metaphorically true. And beyond the fact that all colors lose their vibrance and brightness, I also can't see things clearly or sharply. It's like there's a film in front of my eyes and I can rub them all I want and even get new glasses but at the end of the day all I have to do is wait for summer, wait for the depression to pass. 

And every summer, it's the same. I go through the same patterns over and over. First I'll be walking around town or driving on the highway and all of a sudden I'll notice how the greeness of the trees is so insanely bright. It's so vibrant and in your face that I'll think it's just the way the sun is hitting at that hour or I've had too much coffee or I'm just high off of Vitamin D. But then it'll keep happening. I can't tell you the amount of times I stopped to look at the different types of flowers on my visit to the Alhambra this weekend. Have you ever seen a purple so bright? A red that popped so much against a green so vibrant it looks almost comical, cartoon-like? And then I remember, this is what colors actually look like. And I realize wow, I was more depressed than I had thought. 

And then I start noticing how much more alive I am. How much more I feel and how much more deeply I am affected by beauty and happiness and moments of peace and contentment.  How much more I value sunsets and spending time with the people I care about and watching hours pass in the backyard with my notebooks and pens and pencils, just writing or sketching or whatever. I appreciate it all more and I'm able to value it and think about it and feel it on a deeper level than I'm capable of in the winter. I'm more passionate, more me.

So I don't know if this is all in my head or if I'm depressed or never have been or still am. But I do know how summer makes me feel, how the sun makes everything a thousand times better. And I know that it's a matter of time before I slip back into that again, that sort of bleak darkness. Winter is coming. And sometimes it worries me. I'm not ready to let go of all this yet. It seems like I just got the sun and all that comes with it. I just became me again, and knowing that it's all going to go away in a matter of months makes me sad and a little scared.

But at the end of the day, I think I'm okay with it. What's the good without the bad? How much would I appreciate the summer and the sun and the heat if I didn't have winter to compare it against? Maybe it's not completely healthy or wise to be okay with it, okay with whatever winter does to me. But for now, when I'm running high off of endorphins and adrenaline and Vitamin D and Spanish air, I'm just going to take a moment to appreciate this: how much and how deeply I feel about everything in my life right now, how much this experience has meant to me and has affected me, and more than anythinghow damn happy I am. 

~ V

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