We sat on a street bench in sun looking at the empty bowling green, hearing some kids playing tennis on the club courts and talking about happiness. Is it an age thing? He thinks it is. He is content. Happy with the small things. I can see it. It is manifestly true. You make me happy, he says. And shows it in every thing he does. Isn’t that enough? Yes, it should be. And on a certain level it is. I like to serve. And I know that I make his life smooth and rich. I know this. But one a deeper level I recognise that some of my spirit has gone. What is that spirit? It made me sad to talk of it to him. I don’t want to cancel out his contentment, his pleasure by articulating my disease. And yet, I want to get to the bottom of it, to know it. Why? So that I gain something, possibly? Is it to gain a mastery of it? I know I am bleaker than I was. Is it disappointment? I talked about having a smaller outer life, and this is undoubtedly true, and yet, is it? I am still doing so much. And my inner life, my working, my writing and artistic life is more open, richer and deeper than it ever was. It is just the spoils that are not there. It feeds me inside not out. Is that not good, better than before? Is this just about growing up? Accepting what is and what is not possible?

You don’t want to be like her, he says. You’re too intelligent. She is so delighted with the small things. Yes, she is. But I don’t see this as unintelligent. She lives. She is vibrant, full of life. This is good. I like to be around her. Now. Everything delights her. Why not?

Is this just a lack of serotonin? A purely chemical dis-ease. Or the menopause, or SAD or just me being morbid, melancholic? Who knows. Perhaps I should stop fighting it. Accept the greys, the grey tones as part of my spectrum of experience. And let it be. Just be.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.