And I’ve been thinking lately about whether I’ve got any quirks like that. Not because I want to have migraines or anything; mostly because I resemble this grandfather in a lot of ways, and in some ways I think that understanding him better might help me understand myself better.
So far I haven’t come up with anything — I’m pretty normal.
But lately I’ve been wondering: If painless migraines exist, could there also be depressionless depression? Is it possible to be depressed (or something like it) and not actually feel depressed, even though other symptoms are happening?
Now, I realize that by asking this question some of you might get worried about whether I actually am depressed. So let me just say that I’m fine and there’s no cause for alarm.
But here’s the thing: Earlier this year I learned that a certain performing arts center was looking to hire a new lawyer. Miraculously, everything seemed to align: The job description seemed to have been written for me; I had incredible connections and glowing recommendations. If, as people say, landing a job is as much about “who you know” than “what you know”, then in this case it seemed like I had both the “what” and the “who” in the bag.
All that notwithstanding, I didn’t take anything for granted. I spent a ton of hours crafting a knock-out resume and strategically activating my professional network. When those efforts resulted in my getting a call to interview (from among hundreds of applicants), I spent another 36,000 hours preparing for the interview — researching the organization, reviewing my own experience, doing mock interviews with friends.
But it wasn’t enough. A couple of weeks after the interview, I got an impersonal email notifying me that someone else had been hired. Heartbreaking news. I mean, here was my dream job, for which I had been calculatingly preparing myself ever since I started law school — and, frankly, for which I was very well qualified — and it went to someone else. It felt wrong. Objectively wrong — as if the universe had made a mistake. I’ve wanted other things before, and worked hard for them, and when I didn’t get them I felt disappointed, but nothing has ever felt wrong like this before.
Boo-hoo. C’est la vie. Get over it. I know. I know — and I will get over it. As time goes on, I’ll get more perspective and other opportunities will arise, and (maybe) I’ll look back and be able to say (and actually believe) that things worked out better this way.
In the meantime, though, ever since I realized that I wasn’t going to get the job, I haven’t really cared about anything. I go to concerts and plays; I buy new suits; I plan cool vacations; my sisters have babies; I go to work and church and hang out with friends. But I don’t really care. I procrastinate the important stuff. I blow off everything else. I don’t look forward to doing things I normally enjoy, and when I do them anyway I come away thinking, “Meh.”
And that is what’s weird. Because normally I care a lot about that stuff. Heck, I care a lot about pretty much everything. That’s why I’m the neurotic, perfectionistic, driven person that I am. It’s the source of all that crazy enthusiasm I have for things like running up mountains and sitting through six-hour operas and working crazy hours at the law firm and planning multi-continent travel adventures. But now? Not so much.
Which is why I’ve started to wonder if it’s possible to be depressed without actually feeling depressed. Because I don’t feel depressed, just apathetic, and isn’t that a symptom of depression? Google searches say yes, but who am I to diagnose what’s going on inside my head?
In any event, I’m not sure what to do about it. For the time being, I’m just going to give it time and try not to beat myself up over it. I’m also going to focus on the change of the season. This winter has been full of cold and concerts and work (and the endless Les Miserables, which merits another post in and of itself). As we move through spring and the theatre season ends, maybe it will be good for me to have a conscientious change of pace: get outside more, find different ways to socialize, set new goals and priorities, plant some flowers. Find new things to care about.