My friend David will always zero in on one that tends to give me pause. This time it was melancholia. I had used it in an email describing the state I’ve been in. It’s what I can only describe as a low grade sadness that hovers, like a persistent rain cloud.
It’s a word you don’t hear much but come upon in books, making me linger, giving it its due whenever appearing on the page.
Melancholia…noun, a deep heaviness or gloom. A feeling of mournfulness as a result of despair you can’t quite pin down.
An emotion nebulous and vague, fuzzy and formless…murky.
Imagine a face without visible features.
Truman Capote in Breakfast at Tiffany’s called it the mean reds, Winston Churchill, the black dog. It’s hazy and spectral, like a ghost who visits, tipping over all the furniture.
Melancholy is the adjective: crestfallen, doleful, desolate and glum. Depressed, despondent, dejected and just plain, down in the dumps.
An inexplicable strain of hopelessness.
Years ago it was treated like a flu where you’d stay in bed sipping teas and broth. Now of course you take antidepressants and if you’re smart, go talk to somebody.
It’s good to know you don’t have to combat those demons alone anymore, waiting for melancholia to suddenly break, like a fervent fever.
Reminds me of a story:
A man fell into a deep hole calling out for help. A rabbi goes by, looks down and the man cries out, “Rabbi, help me.” So he throws down the Torah, smiles and moves on.
Then a priest appears. “Father, please help me!” the man pleads, who tosses down his Bible before going on his way.
But then a friend shows up jumping in the hole with him. The guy says, “Dammit Jack, what the hell…now we’re both down here,” and Jack says…
I guess my point is…friends, like David, can help lift and shift those melancholy clouds.