I performed depressed for the first time in my memory last night. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done.
Literally thirty-five minutes before showtime it hit me -- all of the 'negative thoughts,' as my counsellor calls them (for some reason that sounds like a cheesy name to me -- I'd almost rather refer to them as 'the lie,' which is what my program director calls them, even though I actually believe those thoughts are the truth and have I confused you with this parenthetical comment yet?).
I've never really paid attention before to how I react when this happens. This is such a normal/frequent part of my life that half the time I don't know where one episode ends and the next begins. But because it happened in such an unnatural context (the excitement of performing is usually enough to dull the depression so I almost never experience it while performing), I was more aware of the differences in me.
I spent most of the evening trying not to cry because I already had full stage makeup on. I completely forgot about the dance in the first act -- the dance that I not only choreographed myself, but also taught to two others. I forgot the entire ending of the opening song (I never thought I'd say this, but thank goodness I'm only ensemble in this show). Whenever I wasn't onstage, I was literally crouched in a fetal position in the wings because I didn't have the strength to stand and I didn't have the strength to interact with people backstage. Never before have I had to make a conscious effort to put on a mask when I crossed the threshold of the stage. For the first time I found myself thinking, don't let them see... everything's fine, you're perfectly okay. I don't know how well I did at that -- I have never had to work so hard for a character before. Usually it just sort of happens. I remember thinking here is the real test -- can you act convincingly when you're dying inside? I don't know if I did. But I tried. I don't know if it was enough.