When a great depression assaults my emotional economy, I must turn off the lights and close my doors. I cannot open up to the business of living. I cannot tend shop, man the register, or make myself change out of my pajamas.

Sadness comes at a high cost. It leaves me bankrupt. My dreams and envisioned futures become murky and obscured. Melancholy devours all profits and depletes my reserves.

When I am depressed, I am closed. Sheets of sadness cover my tables. Those passing by find apathy on display in my windows. So much time must be budgeted for sleep, that I can’t afford to pay my utilities. And so my light and heat have been shut off. I am cold. I am dark. My storehouses are empty except for dust.

Sadness is a recession into myself. There is no force in my work. Even the simplest task is taxing. Unemployment rates are up. A poverty of spirit grips my soul and moves my mental state to the slums — to the doldrums.

With depression, foreclosure becomes my inevitability. New sentiments must make competitive offers. Will depression sell? Or will it hold on? The purchase process is lengthy. Negotiations are testy. My emotions are held in escrow until ownership is transferred.

When the transaction is complete, restoration can begin — tentatively at first. Please pardon our appearance in the in-between.

The first step is to take stock. Some junk must be thrown out. Then there are things worth saving: new emotional inventory, lessons learned, and accrued empathy. Sadness is a loss that pays dividends in self-understanding. After assessment, a thorough cleaning. The built-up muck of regrets, insecurities, failed investments of energy, emotion, and relationships must be scrubbed. Broken dreams repaired, replaced, or mourned. Blueprints for no longer being blue will be drawn up. Then rebuilding can begin in earnest. A few counterproductive barriers torn down. New walls built, others reinforced. The final steps: A fresh coat of paint in an optimistic shade, pictures of bliss hung, storerooms replenished. A new register obtained for change — one that both makes and accepts it.

Open under new management, I feel renewed and full of promise. Sadness may browse or make a purchase, but it is no longer the landlord. Profits wane and grow, but my outlook remains positive. My new emotional owners are benevolent and prepared. They have done this before. Less affected by the fluctuations in the external markets, they focus on preserving the integrity of the product — keeping me whole.

No matter how great, no depression lasts forever. There is always a rebound. Recovery, in time, will come. Closing shop for a spell may be necessary. What resources remain must be kept secure. My personal psychological property is to be saved from complete forfeiture — lest I see its assets auctioned and its structures razed to the ground. Then one day it’s just an empty plot and nothing more.

Only in closing — only in shutting down — only in complete surrender to the emotional poverty a great depression brings about — only then can gains be made and renovations take place. Only then can a new wealth of experience fund my grand reopening.

This piece originally appeared on Write Away.

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