I don’t think that James is supposed to be depressed. I don’t think that he is grieving, in the pathological sense, or afflicted by anything which easily could be given a name. James to me, rather than ill or suffering from a specific or set of specific conditions, is like someone who is acutely miserable. Not that one is lesser or greater or rarer or more common, or by virtue of being or not being any or all of those more or less worthy of focus and discussion, but depression, bipolar, borderline, psychosis and other charted and discernibly symptomatic sicknesses like them are completely different to misery, which is what personally I think I have deletriously experienced in the past and continue to experience less deletriously sometimes now. My misery as I’ve had it varies from my depression et al (I realise saying et al makes it seem as if I am dismissively grouping together the previously mentioned illnesses as all the same, not worthy of repeat mention, generic, almost fantastical, fabricated, in their genericism, but I’m saying et al only to save on words, which this explanation for saying et al countermands, I realise) insofar as it’s more flexible and adaptable, as in, it may come and sometimes go but it’s still capable of transfiguring the tiniest and most trivial life details, and also the most profoundly happy moments and memories, into itself, misery; it’s more imaginative, depression especially a ceaseless, tuneless reflex angle downwards that replaces your apprehension of the actual nature of anything, happy or sad, with the same, simply and universally true apprehension of total hopelessness—-where when you’re miserable you find different kinds of misery in different thoughts and comprehensions, when you’re depressed every miserable thing is entire- and uniformly miserable, so there isn’t even any mental stimulus in the misery; and that explaining misery to people who know you and to doctors requires more words than perhaps explaining depression, depression as a term coming pre-installed with connotations and gravitas and medical precedent and courses of treatment and people likely knowing someone else who’s suffered with it terribly and so likely to understand more than misery, its more esoteric but also less grave littler cousin. I have had a worse time justifying to myself being miserable than I have being depressed, depression something that can be met with medicine, misery a feeling, a product not of inscrutable and blameless biological impairments but over or incorrect thinking, a self or semi-self-inflicted mal-lifestyle that I ought to be able to remedy independently with just some effort and changes, and so by denotion more transient, less likely to afford or to allow me to expect to afford any kind of interpersonal dispensation. Though more destructive, misery has never to me seemed as grand or fascinating a threat, the equivalent of perennial let’s say leg pain to depression’s let’s say protrusive compound fracture of both leg bones.
The fact James has come to Silent Hill in the first place, and that if you Examine his car or try to leave the game’s starting area by running in the direction opposite to the direction that you’re supposed to run in, his inner thoughts appear on screen in white text explaining ‘there’s no point going back now’, creates a character who is miserable–entirely miserable–but not in a maladious sense depressed. ‘No point going back now’ makes it evident that there is very little, likely nothing, left worthwhile in James’ life than his very heavily implied, even at this point in the game to be futile search for Mary, and the psychological masochism that that involves, but this is a different kind of nothing to the depression nothing. James is about to put himself through an ordeal that leads, generally, to the obliteration of his soul–he’s got nothing else left to do with himself than to sustain mental and emotional torture, which certainly sounds like an end, an end of a life. Depression leads to a different kind of end though where not only is there nothing, but nothing to do with the nothing. Imagine the hero is on a quest or mission to find love or honour or get revenge, and when they do get it they realise that they feel nothing, that even in all their struggling and trying and pain and accomplishment there is ultimately nothing. From that you still might nevertheless learn or feel something. Although it’s miserable, the existence of this nothing has potentially some meaning, some kind of energetic potential to make you start to think about whether trying actually gets you anywhere or if notions of honour, love and so on can ever be substantiated. This nothing leads to something, even if it’s a more pronounced feeling of nothing. This is James, I think. He has nothing, but in the indulgence of that nothing, in acting and thinking and feeling like you act when you have nothing and think nothing and feel nothing, he finds something. Even the bleakest endings of Silent Hill 2 show James changed in some way. Whereas I think depression is nothing without the potential for either something or even more nothing. In the way that the concept of yourself before you were born or after you die, or a universe before it’s created, is kind of unfathomably empty, your heart and soul and self when you’re depressed don’t only not exist but their not existing also doesn’t mean anything or contain anything, like feeling and impulse and sensation don’t exist and don’t have the potential to exist and are so impossibly distant from reality and likelihood that you cannot even comprehend their incomprehensibility, and feel nothing from realising that. It’s a nothing that leads to nothing infinitely, each iterate nothing meaning nothing, but also at the same time a singular nothing with nothing following or escaping or being produced from it, an absence, and then an absence of an absence, and then an absence of absence of an absence of an absence, a feeling that exists powerfully because it encompasses all others but doesn’t exist whatsoever because it feels like nothing, like the end of a nothing, a hole which, like the one described in the message that James finds in one of Silent Hill’s haunted houses, is also gone.