Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hungry Bear

One of my friends is depressed--again. She was happy about a week ago. She smiled and laughed and told her awful jokes and everything was right in her world . . . until the world crashed down on her. She wasn't in an accident and no one died. Nothing broke and needed to be fixed and she didn't get hit with any unexpected expenses. The hungry bear came out of her cave.

There are some people who cannot stand to see anyone else happy, especially not someone they know. They feed on misery and depression and they're never satisfied until they've destroyed every last smile and real feeling of happiness. Only then is the bear's appetite sated. The bear can handle the occasional obligatory empty smile, the smiles that never light up the eyes or make anyone else who sees it feel light and happy. They don't mind laughter as long as it's hollow. But let the bear see a single ray of happiness or a contented smile or catch the faintest scent of hope and she charges out of the cave and devours every single morsel of joy until there is nothing left but depression, anger and sadness.

The bear is a subtle creature. She will start an argument or make some snide comment questioning competence, honesty or commitment to those around you, nagging and niggling away at the brightness until only dull and insipid smiles and thoughts remain. Insidious, the bear strikes without warning while her prey is lost in a fog of pleasure, sending her prey's bright dreams and fond memories plummeting into the dark abyss.

There are only two ways to deal with the hungry bear. Either learn to hide the smiles that come with true happiness or get out of the bear's territory where her keen senses can no longer discern the faintest whiff of joy. The only other option, and it's the coward's way, is to lock away every memory of happiness and joy and give the hungry bear what she wants: hopelessness, sadness, loneliness and depression.

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