“Your responses on the depression scale indicate that there is over a 90% chance that you are suffering from depression.”
Why did I take a depression quiz? Because I just bought a Twix bar at the market, brought it home, and ate it. Only later did I remember that I don’t eat chocolate that isn’t fair trade.
How can you forget a thing like that about yourself? It would be like forgetting you’re a vegetarian. Memory loss: Symptom one. Also, my appetite is off and my sleep habits are disrupted. Worse, I’m so indecisive that even with only three days left on my current lodging, I haven’t booked a place or even chosen what country it will be in. I need to book my flight to Belgium, but first I have to decide where I’ll be flying from.
So I wondered, could I be depressed?
Well…yeah. I’ve been alone for a month now. I eat all my meals alone. I have no one to talk to. It’s almost impossible to laugh or to feel deeply joyful or even broadly smile when you’re alone. I still appreciate the wonder of everything around me, but it is muted, dulled.
I knew this would be a problem. If I were an introvert, it probably wouldn’t bother me, but I am not an introvert. I love connecting closely with people, and sharing things. Sharing things on Facebook and on this blog have probably saved my sanity, along with occasional Skype chats with my daughter — but it’s not the same as having a person next to you to share things with.
I’ve had a few nice encounters with fellow travellers recently. But random meetings with strangers are no substitute for close companionship. “Where are you from? What do you do? Oh, that’s very interesting” isn’t the same as sharing your fears with a close friend, or making each other giggle until Pepsi comes out of your nose. Those things don’t happen with strangers.
Oddly enough, one of the things I’ve always daydreamed about is long-term solitude. Those daydreams mostly happened when I had young children at home and a business to run and I barely got to be alone long enough to use the toilet. But still, I did daydream about it. Those dreams usually involved a little house and garden on a mountaintop, with a helicopter to bring me supplies quarterly. Come to I think of it, those daydreams also involved finding a hot wounded woodsman and bringing him back to my house to heal…heh heh heh. But until he came, I was alone.
Why did I want that? I thought there would be spiritual growth in solitary retreat. I’m sure there is. Ironically, I’m living out my solitude fantasy and my travel fantasy at the same time.
I hope there will be growth on the other side of this loneliness. I hope to become a little more self-contained, and to know myself better. I hope to become more centered, and for my purpose in life to become more clear. I hope to be more in touch with my own spirit.
But I have to be careful. I can definitely feel the edges of depression creeping in on me. I expected it, and I think I can cope with it. I think rewards lie on the other side of it. But it’s dark, and cold and unpleasant for sure.
It’s not for long though. I’m very much looking forward to spending a week with a friend in Belgium as soon as April comes, and then I’ll be in London where I’m looking forward to meeting up with several delightful people. After that, my solitude will be balanced by volunteer work (which should bring short-term relationships) and meetups with several friends who are coming to Italy.
I suppose I can always set up another VaughanTown week, for nonstop talking with people from 9am until midnight every day!