Glaucoma runs in my family. My dad has it. He puts medicated drops in his eyes every day, to lower the pressure on his retina -- the light-senstivive tissue at the back of the eye. Lowering this pressure prevents further damage to the optic nerves which connect the retina to the brain.
If he didn't use the drops, the vitreous humor (fluid) would build up and cause extreme eye pressure, damage the optic nerve. Eventually, he would develop tunnel vision. Then the tunnel would get smaller and smaller, until it disappeared altogether.
He would be completely blind.
I have high pressures in my eyes too, since my early 20's. But the optic nerve still looks good, so no drops yet. But I do worry about my vision, a different kind of seeing.
I used to think of depression as seeing only the negatives in an envelope of photographs. The images on the negatives are real, but they're the dark version, the ghosts of familiar objects floating with eerie shadows. It's the creepy side of reality.
But today I revised this metaphor. I think depression is more like glaucoma. We're still aware of our surroundings, what they're supposed to look like, but we can't see beyond the small tunnel. Our spiritual vitreous humor is backed up, creating extreme pressure that chokes our vision, shuts our soul windows.
I've been struggling for months to keep a positive outlook. Life has been challenging, and I've worried considerably about my most vulnerable loved ones. Even when the pressure has been siphoned off, I've still had trouble seeing.
I couldn't find the crock pot or my auto insurance card. I lost shoes and a jacket. There were missing hand towels, medical reports, car tags, house keys. I couldn't find joy, the light or my future.
Then today I woke up happy. No particular reason. Of course I embraced it. But I noticed that it felt a lot like when we fall in love, how that high suppresses any negative reality. The joy supercedes worry and pain. We can get a speeding ticket or a late fee, stub our big toe or forget to pick up a prescription, but that's okay. We're in love, and when we've got that, we can handle just about anything.
Even soul glaucoma, at least when it's in remission.
When it's not, I can't handle the slightest hangnail. All obstacles, even the tiniest blips that very few radars would ever pick up, feel like a horrendous assault on my spiritual being. And it's all because I can't see. I'm blind. And what I can't see, even though I know it's still there, feels lost forever.
Today when my joy returned, I found many other lost items. I found the crock pot in a lower cabinet. I remembered that my lost shoes and jacket had been relocated to a storage unit to make space in my closet. I found my auto insurance card, right where it'd always been, in my wallet. My hand towels were near the crock pot, the medical reports were in an accordion folder, and the car tags were where I'd left them six weeks earlier. So were the house keys.
These items were never lost. I just couldn't see them, or remember where I'd put them before I lost my joy. It was as if a life recorder had stopped where my vision ended, and the useful tapes were just out of reach. The recorder stopped creating new memories, at least ones I wanted to remember.
Depression is very real, and can be as debilitating as complete blindness. Even worse, once that tunnel completely closes off, so does the human. Because it isn't only a sense of light we lose as our retina ceases to measure it; our life energy stops registering. The life force never makes it to the brain.
I'll hold on to this joy for as long as I can, this light I can feel and see. I'll believe it's permanent, just as I often believe the darkness is.