On the front lines of emotional illness...
This weekend, reeling from the likely prospect that I will not be being hired back in the fall, I've somehow managed to avoid the lapping tendrils of outright depression. Long a stalwart nemesis of mine, entangled as it is in the existential threat chronic pain poses throughout my days, I'm fortunate to have - at least as of this writing - managed to keep it at bay. God knows why (that saucy bastard!), but I've been able to abide in the belief that my employer's decision wasn't reflective enough of my true capacity as an educator to fully warrant the painful cognitive battlefield of self-deconstruction. Oh, I hear her calling, at least once every few minutes, but like a cheeky damsel I chasten her with a limp wrist and wiggle her elsewhere. So, let's continue to strike while the iron is hot, shall we?
From the positive state, it is difficult to imagine how much could be given over to a negative state of conflict.
The negative mood consumes everything and makes everything relative to its perceived unresolved tension. Every small thing becomes indicative of that same vast, unresolved struggle.
The positive mood is always emphasizing the positive. The negative is there, but more or less resolved. And if not, it is more than buoyed by the comfort in knowing - truly appreciating - the positive. In a positive state, things could happen in one's life that could never happen in a negative state without causing systemic risk. A happy glow surrounds everything.
This is not so much to do with the inherent qualities of that thing (or idea), but its perceived meaning from within each state. The state consumes one and refracts conscious reality through its prism. Things are looked for (or not looked for), but the emphasis is always dependent on the state. The glass is full, or empty; opportunity is there, or not; the self is good, or bad.
The positive state is perfection: it is ebullient, resilient, decisive, generous, and objective.
The negative state is flaw: it is cynical, mordant, sluggish, selfish and biased.
These seem to exist on a spectrum, or at the very least seem to each have spectrums that overlap. The excesses of the positive state - over-generalization and self-delusion - are base characteristics of the negative state. While the positive state exhibits both through a lack of self-reflection, the negative state does so through an excess of it.
The trick is dealing with genuine catastrophe. For at once one is stricken by the emotion pain of having suffered a blow, and the realization that some real flaw exists in one's self and must be corrected. This is never an easy task, however. If it were so easy to sort out what mistakes were made, they likely never would have been. On occasion, this crashing wave seems to wipe the slate clean, receding at once to provide clarity and absolution from past sin.
But to degree that one suffers from melancholic tendencies, the wave never seems to recede. It washes one under, every hour driving the victim deeper and deeper into his watery grave. The choice is never then to simply put things into the past and return to the surface. Shackles are there! Quickly, they must be unfastened! The blindness of the foggy deep all around, the overwhelming sense of doom welling into bright bubbles of burning panic exploding all around.
It is in this desperate, frigid scene that important decisions must be made. What is real must be sorted from fiction. Relative importance must be measured and adjusted, matters then sorted accordingly. The past must be reconstituted and evidence examined. A framework must be erected, refuse removed in rusty, finicky trucks and labels affixed for future reference. Slowly, things must be rebuilt.
And then, just like that, one emerges. All that seems so far away, so long ago. It is as if these really are two places, two very different states of consciousness. Yet for those of us prone to falling, the water is never more than a few unfortunate events away.