The penultimate Moment of the rising Action of Clive Staples Lewis’ The Silver Chair relies on the eponymous Seat. A mysterious Prince explains to the Protagonists that his mental Health requires the nightly Use of an enchanted Throne. Each Evening, the Prince’s Attendants appear, and secure him into the Cathedra. For a single Hour, he raves in stark Insanity, dangerous and violent, as he relates it. The Queen of that Place has magicked that Seat so that it helps this Prince to maintain his Sanity over the remainder of the day. Twenty three Hours of the Day his Faculties are in Order – for a single Hour, he is overtaken by the Spirit.
The Prince invites our Heroes to observe this unclean Hour, to stay hidden and watch as he rants in abject Lunacy. They stay – they watch. The mad Prince claims from the Silver Chair that only at this Hour is he in his right Mind – it is the Chair that binds him, traps him in a Prison of his own Mind the greater Part of the Day. One hour he has of Clarity, and the rest of his Time is shrouded in Darkness.
So, indeed, it proves. The Chair is the Source of the Enchantment that the Queen (read: Witch) has laid upon the Prince, the rightful Heir of the Throne of Narnia.
I write all this to say that, for my own Experience, Depression often feels as though I am that Prince. Much of my Day, I am lucid and clear. I am operative – as I told my Physician when I embarked on the Course of Anti Depressant Medications, I hoped that they would make me functional, and they have. I have recovered my Mind sufficiently to present as Working, to seek new Employment, to spend Time with Friends and Family.
And yet…there comes an Hour, late in the Night, often as I am taking my evening Ablutions. The Light is gone. A Peace steals down the Stairs, a Centering. I find, of a sudden, that a Yawn transforms into a Sob, and I am weeping in the Dark. All that I have failed to do, all those broken Dreams, shattered Promises, they press upon my Chest, and I am undone.
To this Day, to this Hour, I do not know, though, which is which. Am I mad at that accursed Hour? Or is that my moment of Sanity in each Day? Am I bound by ancient Sorcery to grin and salute and be gracious, while all the while some Part of me is screaming? Or is that passing Madness a Symptom, a Weight that presses on me now, but will lift again?
To be fair to all those who love me best, I am doing better. My days are less fraught. I feel less perilous, less like I stand on a Precipice of Madness. These wearying Troughs weaken – my Peaks begin to resemble an ordinary day.
Still I wonder. Which is the mad Prince? And which of us is Sane?