No, I don’t mean a vice like smoking, or drinking, although I do succumb to those from time to time. Today’s depression is like an actual vice, the kind you had in wood work class, and my brain is the substitute for the two-by-four.

Gradually someone is winding the handle, bring the jaws of the vice closer together, gripping the tender greyish pink of my poor brain ever tighter. To make room for this, my eyes are starting to bulge out; my sinuses are on fire and throbbing; my ears pop and my own blood pressure and heartbeat are the only things I can hear.

My brain held tight, unable to move; no flashes of inspiration or leaps of fancy. No jumping for joy in these jaws of judgement: judged unworthy, hopeless, helpless, hapless; judged a joke, a waste, a failure…

Yet I know none of it is true. I, the owner of my brain and therefore my destiny, knows I am not a failure. I am, even, marginally successful in my chosen field! I am certainly successful as a mother and as a partner, and have happy people around me to prove it. But these convictions and the reminders thereof do not free me from the vice.

I thought, for the first time today, what it would be like to have someone loosen the vice. I can’t do it myself. I’ve tried. The doctor has tried with tablets; my CBT specialist has tried with words and pamphlets and apps and appealing to my spiritual side. So who turns the vice? Who can unwind this apathy?

I don’t have an answer, not today. Some days, it feels close. Close enough to touch. But not, I fear, today.

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