Sunday, February 28, 2010


A day, it's been a day. Singing with the little girls in my choir this morning, leisurely reading of the New York Times, frustration, anger, melancholy, comporting myself as an adult (miraculous, that), and coming out of it cheerful in the end.

This Sunday's New York Times magazine has an article called "Depression's Upside." The idea is that something so prevalent as depression must have an evolutionary purpose. A couple of researchers have suggested that a depressed brain deliberates more, thinks more analytically. Ruminates, as a cow slowly chews its cud. And this focused rumination gets problems solved.

I'm not sure I've ever really, in my whole life, arrived at a good solution to any problem more complicated than cleaning a closet, arranging furniture, or getting a cast of fifty offstage and back on again for bows. But as I think back, serious depressions have prompted me to make changes. Or try to make changes.

The article cites research that says that writers have a much higher incidence of depression than other people. Depression makes you think slowly about hard stuff. It gives you time to think about how to write it down. And writing it down in turn helps you do the thinking. So writing and depression are natural partners. I'm sure this applies to me. I'm sure there's a strong correlation between the timing and frequency of blog posts and my mood. Gloomy moods are more interesting.

All this is making me feel better about feeling bad. Being cheerful, steady, and resilient is a gift, but not one that I'm given very often. But now, as long as I can crawl out of bed and make it to the computer, I can think of spells of depression as a gift, an opportunity not to be wasted.

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