There's no precise term for the spaces between depressive episodes. Remission or recovery won't do — both are weighed down by connotations of cancer and addiction.
Most people are not depressed, or at least not often, so I guess we don't need a word to describe it. For the same reason, we don't have a term for not suffering from angina.
When depression is our default setting — I've written before that, of late, I've been depressed roughly 80 percent of the time — it feels like a deficiency of language that there is no way to easily convey (I prove my point by scrambling for the words) that I am currently free from it.
In any event, that is me right now. I am in a state of not-depression. A bearable lightness of being.
Not-depression manifests itself in occasional surges of mild giddiness that come with the realization that I do not feel dead inside. It reminds me of when I first wore prescription lenses, and the world came to life in technicolor glory all around me. Being fourteen and perpetually hungry, I went straight to McDonalds and ordered items from the menu I had no idea existed. Delighted, yes, but also resentful I had been missing out all this time.
After twelve months of sloth and weight gain, I started a fitness regimen. Enlisting a personal trainer, I have been working out, outside in Hoi An's oppressive heat, every day but Sunday. It leaves me shattered. But I will not surrender this not-depression, not without a fight: getting and staying fit, losing weight and feeling healthy — without these, relapse is inevitable, probably soon.
Coming out from a depression, I find myself relearning how to deal with people. The phone will ring and it takes several seconds before I register that it's okay to pick it up. "You are not terrified of this phone," I tell myself, "so answer the bloody thing". I rediscover the pleasures of conversation, reminding myself to ask questions, maintain eye contact and smile until it comes naturally. Sometimes, laughter happens. A day or two back, I shouted and waved at someone across a busy street. Can you imagine?
For now at least, negativity and self-loathing have lost their power to overwhelm and paralyze. Why these thoughts, previously so powerful, orbit but fail to land is beyond my comprehension. But I am grateful for it.