I want to talk about a state that I enter into, which I associate with depression. I’m in the state right now, which makes it hard to think about and talk about, but I’m going to try. I call it Quiet.
The first way I know that I am in Quiet is that my mental monologue (and music tracks, and playback mode) quiets down. It’s the sensation of a turbulent sea become placid, or the ripples in a pond slowly disappearing. My skull actually feels like it is full of soft nothingness. Or it feels like the winter silence when you are outside and the usual noises are all muffled by falling snow.
I find that I notice a lot more, visually, and even about myself, when Quiet. I notice details of plants and animals around me. I see people, and I see myself, at a slight remove. Perhaps a half-step back, where I’m aware but not invested or reactive. It becomes easier to notice beauty, or to be briefly surprised but not distracted.
I find it harder to speak, and sometimes easier to write. Sometimes impossible. But the inertia I have to overcome to say something to someone increases – it’s like throwing off a heavy blanket every time, and I’m usually just as inclined to sort of stare at them, noticing something about them, even appreciating them in a new way, but without any words to go with it.
I feel immensely sad when Quiet. Sometimes I cry a bit. I feel immeasurable loss. At the same time, I don’t cling to the feeling or identify with it much. It’s just…there it is. In and underneath everything.
I am very accepting when Quiet. It’s probably a state that I wouldn’t mind being in when I die. Very much a sense of, “This is what it is.” Sad, morose, but not anguished.
There is a feeling of emptiness, in both the positive and negative sense, when I am Quiet. There is also a sense that I could feel this way forever – it doesn’t have the rising action, peak, and falling action that I experience in other moods. It’s just, oh, there it is. The Quiet.
I admit to appreciating Quiet, even though I wouldn’t call it pleasant. If I felt this way long-term, I might even harm myself with the same even-keeled aplomb with which I watch birds circle or squirrels tug on branches for acorns or someone face while they are talking to me.
From my study and practice of Buddhism, it seems to me to be something like a low-functioning version of satori. That makes sense of my own experiences of satori. It would be like comparing mourning with despair, or anger with hatred. It has some aspects in common, but doesn’t seem like what the Buddha had in mind.
I just wanted to write this out because I hadn’t before, and it’s interesting to me, the different kinds of experiences that fall under the umbrella of “depression” or “anxiety.” One of those is Quiet, and of the various things depression gives me, it’s one I feel like I can at least learn from.
I’m wondering if anyone reading this has an experience like Quiet.