(I wrote this in July, I'm publishing it in December...nope I'm publishing it in May)
It's a very interesting thing to be aware of your own depression. This isn't the first time I've felt depressed, and it probably won't be the last. I didn't anticipate it coming so soon, but here it is in all its demonic glory.
The cycle goes like this:
I feel uncomfortable. I just plain do not like what I am doing and the things around me and wish it was different. How do I change it? Well, that list is long and runs the gamut from "go for a run" or "make yourself a sandwich" to "move back home" to "run away" to "jump off the roof" which luckily, my depression has only made me feel that way once. And that was because of an emotionally abusive relationship that I was lucky enough to get out of.
These things you could do to "fix" your situation are options. Options that you like to think about obsessively. "What should I do?" and you get fixated on thinking about what you need to do. So much that it becomes all you can think about, instead of actually *doing* any of those things. You think so hard that it wears you out and you get tired. You sleep. Too much. You wake up and cry because the "problem" still exists. You go back to sleep to avoid the mess. Before you know it, you haven't done any of the things you wanted to today. Which makes you judge and blame yourself for keeping yourself in the situation you do not like.
This all makes me think of that stupid shit Coldplay song called 'Fix You'. That is the grossest dumbest piece of shitcake I've ever heard. You can't fix me, man. I can't even figure out how to fix me, so back the fuck off.
[need a picture of stupid chris martin] *update I never found one and decided it's better to not include a picture of chris martin
When you judge and blame yourself, if you are aware of it, you know that's not a helpful thing. But you have this...STUFF...that keeps mulling around in your head and it feels like you *cannot* turn it off. Not even if you're busy. Depression will find you no matter how busy you are. The STUFF...this muck of thinking about the situation you do not like...doesn't go away. You can either spend a ton of time thinking about it and how to fix it, or not spend any time thinking about it, and it will still be there. Just waiting to strike when you have a moment to yourself again. The only chance you really have to get out of it though, is to stay busy because through that work, hopefully you will achieve something. Reach a goal. Which is the only way to change your situation, which is that thing you don't like. Part of what the STUFF is about. The STUFF is sometimes about your work, or your relationships, or about your abilities, or about how you think you look, or how other people are acting around you. The STUFF is made up of things you can change, and things you can't. When you're depressed, it's harder to see the difference. When depression has found you, the way out is not clear. It might seem clear to people around you, but even if someone encourages you or gives you advice, it may not help or matter. It is probably helping in some way, but it doesn't feel like it does. Nothing feels helpful. Everything just feels like a problem. That you can't solve. If you can't blame yourself, you start blaming other people. You have to put the STUFF somewhere. Ah, my job/living situation/relationships/family/myself is why I'm unhappy! That's the big problem right there. But you might feel stuck. Or you might start feeling guilty for thinking that way. When you feel guilty, it feeds your depression. Your depression monster thinks guilt is really tasty. Your depression monster loves it when you blame other people and then feel guilty for doing it. Your depression monster loves it when you live in the past and yearn for something you had and lost, especially if you blame yourself for losing it. Your depression monster will help you perceive that you've lost the things that made you happy, and make you believe it is your fault. Your depression monster's well-balanced diet consists of guilt, shame, blame, fear, dwelling on the past, anxiety about the future, loss, and inactivity.
I don't necessarily agree with this description, but I like this guy's work. He has a whole arsenal of these drawings of mental illness monsters that are...cute. Helpful? Maybe? I don't know, it probably helped him, so *thumbs up*
You can actively try to fight depression. You can try to make yourself do things. Sometimes the things that end up changing your situation happen without your involvement. The world is changing all the time, whether you're trying to change it or not. Sometimes you just have to wait. Sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other because that's what living is. The only other choice besides living is death. And then you think of the things you like about life. Maybe you don't have them or aren't experiencing them right now. But you could again someday. Someone you love. The ocean. A play. A concert. A movie. A party. Even those things seem dull. They become things you *used to* love. You try to grasp onto past accomplishments. Nope. They don't mean anything now, that was then. The depression monster is a very good arguer. Ultimately you still get down to "what's worth it here?" and even if that answer is nothing....that nothing is worth it, that you believe you actually don't like anything anymore, which is the depression monster's goal....is to make you believe that you don't like anything....that life is not worth it.....the only way to fight it, is to start liking things. The depression monster has you pinned against a wall, it has argued with you to the point of making you *agree* that there is nothing worth it here, nothing worth liking or enjoying, nothing worthy of love or if there are things worthy of love that what's the point if it's not reciprocated because they don't love you back, that *you* aren't worthy of love, you *agree* with the monster. The only way out is to disagree. No, monster. You're wrong. You realize you have been fighting with a depression monster. And that monster *is real* but now that you know what it is, you can try to fight it. It will still get you sometimes. And you may not fully kill it until your situation around you changes on its own, something which you cannot control. But your only choice in the meantime is to fight the monster. And you do that by *trying to enjoy things* and *forgiving yourself when you can't*. If the depression monster has disarmed your enjoyment sword, the other weapon in your arsenal is forgiveness. You can even forgive the monster. After all, the monster is just trying to live too. And it's even more fucked up than you are.
Something I've learned about the depression monster is that you kind of have to have a conversation with it before you can defeat it. Know your enemy. Greet it. "Hi, depression monster, why have you come to me today?" And oh boy will it tell you. It will tell you all of the reasons why shit sucks. And it's gonna try to convince you to wallow with it. If you're anything like me, the thought is romantic. Oh man, wallowing in sadness?! The woes of the world?! HNNNNNGH it's so romantic I just want to fall in love with this monster and die with it on the Titanic. The thing is, I legitimately feel that way enough of the time, and I always have. If I could die in some romantic way right now, I can't tell you I wouldn't do it. If god stopped time for a second and said "Hey, things are going a little....south, don't you think? How 'bout we give you a car crash and re-strategize." I'm fully aware this might sound ungrateful for the things I have or like I don't love my friends. Bitch, please. I LOVE the people I've chosen to call my family, including my family and more than that. It's not about that. It's never about that. Which is why I'm convinced Depression with a capital D is Real with a capital R.
I think like anything else, making your life healthier is a way to treat disease. There are so many diseases that can get better with a better diet, exercise, drinking more water, getting more sleep, moving to a healthier environment or climate, etc. etc. Sometimes you don't have the resources to do that, or sometimes you don't want to. That's the other bitch part about depression is that somehow it feels *true* to yourself to continue being depressed. You're somehow in love with your depression monster. It feels...right.
I don't know the last time you felt in love with someone or something that was bad for you. I do. It's so painful to say goodbye. I still get depressed. I took medication for depression once and it gave me weird side effects and I didn't take anything again. I'm in therapy right now and that's helping me. I think whatever someone needs to do or wants to do is what they should do. I think if someone is depressed they should not be shamed for that or made to feel like they need to just think positively, because in the end, that is shaming, and shame only leads to further depression. It somehow makes it slower to get to the other side. To see the light at the end of the tunnel. The only way out is through. You can't back pedal your way out of depression. You have to face it, stare at it, talk to it. And then, when you're ready, like any addiction, decide you don't want it anymore.