Have you ever driven through foothills at daybreak?
I mean, just imagine…You've been driving all night, and you're too close to that little
bed and breakfast you just love–you know the one, the one where the paint on the walls is
kinda peeling over by the heater, and the afternoon sun always streams onto the
floorboards with a little breeze rustling through the heavy drapes? You're too close to
that little place, too close to your vacation away from what has somehow become your
life, so you don't stop driving. You know you'll get there soon enough for the 10 am
check-in time and lunch, and once you're done with your food you'll sleep, and sleep…

And you're so preoccupied with the fabulous food that Maggie, the proprietress, might
have waiting for lunch and always makes herself, from scratch, like you're a regular
member of the family,(maybe the stuffed whatever-bird-it-was you had last time, without
the peppers because you don't want to wake up with that taste in your mouth), and
thoughts of how long you think you'll sleep on the slightly lumpy but terribly soft bed
(will you wake up, at least, to see sunset, because it is late spring and you've been going
on so little sleep recently anyway you might get to see the wonderfully rosy dusk you

You get so caught up in thoughts like that that you lose track of what the sun's doing now
and all of a sudden you can't see. You realize you've coasted up and around the curve of
a huge hill, foothill, actually, and the road has taken you out of the trees and, for a
glorious moment of being suspended midair (though you still feel the exhilaration of
going 65 miles per hour on the highway) you can see everything. And it's silent, and
perfect, and you feel like it's all yours for that one instant, and no matter what happens,
you'll be happy having owned perfection for an instant.

This is what you see:

Broad curves of green, drawing the eye down inexorably into vertigo as they end in tiny,
tiny hedges and houses and roads and cars. Since it's spring, everything is dewy and
easter-fresh green, and you can feel it growing, living, even though you're whipping past
it at 50 miles per hour now. You see the sun, bright as ever you've seen it, and it's not
worn down by the city traffic and the city smog and the grey, grey city mentality. The sun
is blinding you, and it's okay, because time is moving so slowly that driving isn't a
problem anymore. You see, at the base of the valley, a cloud of vapor huddling close to
the ground, unwilling to surrender and go away by itself. The mist is waiting for the sun
to burn it away, make it dissipate like the steam it kind of is anyway…

And it's perfect.

And it's perfect.

And it's yours, so it doesn't really register to you that you're going to be driving through
that mist in a few minutes. It doesn't matter that you can't really see through that vapor to
the town that it is so loathe to give up to the day.

Nothing matters, because for that shining, brilliant moment, everything is perfect.

And you hold on to that moment for a whole minute, craning your neck to keep some
exquisite detail fixed in your eye. You don't realize that 50 miles per hour is awfully fast
to be going downhill while you're not looking at the road, but the freakin' scenery. You
don't realize that people, other drivers are getting annoyed with your still-safe
carelessness, and that a lot of them didn't catch that moment of beauty like you did.

You feel sorry for them, because they passed up the opportunity of owning it all in favor
of fumbling in the dashboard for their ray-bans and spilling coffee on their lap. They
were cursing at fate and at the sun while you were reveling in what fate handed you on a
sunlit-gilded platter of verdant green…

But then, on the way downhill, you slip, just a little. Say your tire runs across the strip of
corrugated pavement on the shoulder that makes that awful jarring noise. And you realize
your mistake, and that you're going down a very steep, curvy road at 45 miles an hour.

You realize that's a little fast, and you slow down. You hate that you made a mistake like
that. You could have gotten into an accident. You could have gotten pulled over…

Pretend you have a passenger. They're asleep in the back seat, but wake up when you
drive over the noisy bit of concrete. They see a little of the self-lecture you're giving
yourself, and ask if you're ok. You don't want to worry them, so you lie and say yes,
everything's fine, and tell them to go back to sleep. Knowing you, trusting you, they
smile, and close their eyes, and are asleep after but a few moments.

You keep berating yourself for making the stupid mistake, because you had forgotten all
about your passenger, and they could have died along with you…

Then, before you know it, or can remember in time…

You're driving through that fog. It's not light, airy mist, like it seemed from the top of the
hill. It's dense, and solid, and you imagine that this is what it would be like to drive
though cotton candy that doesn't like color, so is white, just to be contrary. This town
seems to be huge, the fog endless and all-encompassing, and that you'll never be free of
it. The fog has spread instead of dissipating, and it's all you'll ever know. You can't see,
and your progress has slowed to a crawl. You're extra-alert now, because of the stupid,
stupid mistake you made earlier.

But you can't see, and you think you make another mistake, or you're going too fast, or
too slow… Before long, you are convinced that you're a terrible driver and you keep
darting glances to the unaware, unconscious person in the back seat, hoping, hoping…

You hope they don't see how awful of a driver you are–and to think, you drove most of
the way here! You hope they don't get hurt by your stupidity. You hope they don't see
the sour glances other drivers are surely throwing you. You hope it won't take long to get
to Maggie's place so you can curl up on the bed out of everyone's way.

And then, the person in the back shifts a little in their sleep, and mumbles sleepily in that
endearing way that they do, and you can't help but smile.

And then, before you realize it, you're climbing uphill again, and the mist falls away, and
everything doesn't look so bad anymore.

That is depression.

Take the ups of incredible perfection, the interminable downs, and that is what clinical
depression feels like, to one that suffers it every day.

Imagine *that*.