Since Robin Williams' death yesterday, I've read several posts where people I know have written about their experience with depression. My sister did so here.
I don't know if the "press" present in the words"depression" and "pressure" are related to each other etymologically. What I do know is that my years of suffering from depression had less to do with feeling sadness and much more to do with feeling awful internal pressure, pressure pressing down on me, in my head and throughout my body, making me want to escape, isolate myself, and, most of all, sleep; sometimes I tried to escape with manic episodes of too much enthusiasm for my work or for other things in my life.
I never hated myself, but I hated the pressure. I wanted to be out from under it. I didn't contemplate suicide for reasons having to do more with luck than strength.
For mysterious reasons, this pressure and my bouts of depression disappeared in the spring of 2009 after two hospitalizations, neither for depression, but for pneumonia and then c-diff.
I don't know if Robin Williams experienced this pressure. I don't know if this sensation of pressure bearing down on one's mind and body is a common experience for those who suffer depression. I do know that I never wanted to take my own life, but I wanted to escape the pressure.
Now, every morning when I wake up, I feel apprehension that the pressure will return or has returned. That it hasn't returned since 2009 means that for over five years I have lived with daily boundless gratitude that I experience my life directly. While under the influence of depression, I experienced things in whatever way they came to me after passing through the fog and pain of the pressure itself.
It's much better now.
I didn't do anything, to my knowledge, to bring this improvement about, but I do all I can to do what I enjoy: relish time with family and friends, take pictures, watch good movies, pursue new experiences, do some writing, and enjoy good beer.