She sits on a couch facing the nurse practitioner. The difference between psychiatrist and nurse practitioner elicits nothing but confusion of words and titles. Silence sits between the two. A slip of paper is torn away from its pad and handed over to her. She takes it from the nurse practitioner’s hand and neatly folds it, and places it in her pocket. Upon leaving, the nurse practitioner believes she is offering comfort with the parting words, “don’t worry, it gets better.”
But what is “better?” The question finds itself met with an answer as abstract as the query – “to be better is to be normal.” The term “normal” is used interchangeably with “ordinary.” Both these words carry an emptiness that we, as a society, fill with the banal experiences. The constructed meaning that results is one that we blindly apply to the everyday life. To be different than what the collective dictates abnormality or trauma. The feelings of the ordinary are impossible to pin down; the bucketful of collected mundane memories render us numb or unable to recognize what it is that we ought to feel.
In a state of melancholia (or depression as Big Pharma so generically titles it), however, everything becomes clear. The ordinary affects – these public feelings – are anything but “ordinary.” Ordinary signals static and unchanging, but that is not what these affects are. They are extraordinary, fluctuating between experiences from traumas to pleasure, disguising and packaging themselves as the boring and quotidian.
And if only it had been that way instead of what had actually happened in that first encounter.
Image via Flickr (user: nettsu)