One of the reasons I write is to deal with my depression, to “cope” as the professionals say. It’s difficult for me to write about and even more difficult for me to talk about, with anyone other than my therapists, and even with them it’s mostly tears-tears-tears. So prepare for some nagging self-helpy components of my writing which I’ll try to keep sequestered here. I don’t want to write only about depression because I am not only depressed.
What it sounds like when I talk to myself like someone who doesn’t believe in depression: (is there a term for those people? like atheists? maybe just assholes?)
“Ugh, this again? Really? Just get up. Get out of bed. Get over it. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just being a baby. Grow up. You’re 32 years old it’s time to stop with this bullshit. Everyone has bad days and gets in bad moods, you just take it to the extreme, because you’re a woman. And then you justify it with your ‘cycle’. Women have been having periods for years and you don’t see them lying in bed whining about not having any hope for the future and wishing they didn’t exist. So suck, it, up. Get out of bed and go to work. And don’t pout about it and be all ‘woe is me’, just do your goddamned job and be glad you get paid. Some people have it much worse than you so where do you get off claiming to be ‘depressed’. Stop being so damned sad. No one likes sad people. That’s why you don’t have any friends. No one wants to be around you because you’re such a bummer. You’re not depressed, you’re just bad at dealing with life but that’s not an excuse, so get over it and get better at it. It’s not that hard, you just lack will-power and self-determination. Just do it. Everyone else does, why can’t you? You don’t have a ‘mental illness’ you don’t need ‘medication’; it’s not a real ‘disease’. Just exercise more, think positive thoughts and read motivational quotes. Depression is just a word made up by lazy-fucks who want to get out of doing their jobs and take ‘mental health days’ and supported by pharmaceutical companies who want to profit off your sadness, and shrinks and psychs who want to take advantage of your helplessness. Ignore those voices in your head and get out of bed. Jesus, you haven’t taken a shower in days. Pull yourself together. You have responsibilities. You have a sourdough starter to keep alive. Gosh. If you’re going to be so goddamn morose at least make something of it. Why can’t you at least channel it into something useful like comedians, writers, artists, and those other nondescript creative types do. You can’t even do something productive and useful with your dark cloud that hangs over your mind full of deep, brooding thoughts. Okay. You had your time to be an angsty teenager who felt out of place in the world and now is your time to be a grown-up. Get married, have babies, buy a house, get out there. You’re too old for this shit. Have a beer and suck it up. You can drink now for christsake. What’s there to be depressed about?”
Sometimes I listen to him, the asshole inside my head who doesn’t think depression is real, and even if it is (which it isn’t) I certainly don’t have it. I’m not quite fucked up enough to actually have a mental illness. My condition isn’t quite severe enough to justify the use of medication(s). I function alright most of the time so what’s the big deal? I’ve never tried to kill myself. I must be doing just fine. I listen to him because he’s loud and repetitive, and he’s part of me. I listen to him because after awhile it’s almost comforting, in a stockholmy sort of way to hear him put me down and call my depression into question. It minimizes it in that denial is a way of coping. I listen to him because I want him to be right. I want so badly for depression to be made up or even if it isn’t that I certainly don’t have it. I want to believe depression is not real, that it’s just this thing I made up, that it’s all in my head and I just need to shut off the negative and turn up the positive, just the flip of a switch, a blink of the eyes, a step in the right direction, and depression-be-gone. I want to be normal. I want this to be how every other adult thinks and processes the world and I’m just particularly bad at it most days. I want to be strong enough to talk myself out of bed in the morning. I want to be motivated enough to go work out every day. Part of me also thinks depression is bullshit. My mind is of two camps on this, and many other topics. Maybe I am just being a baby and it is all about perspective. Maybe serotonin doesn’t exist, maybe it was made up by Eli Lilly and Pfizer, like the spelling of the latter’s name. But I’ve tried denying its existence and try as I might I don’t have the mental stamina of the Flat Earthers to combat reality.
Telling myself I don’t have depression doesn’t make it go away. Telling myself I don’t have depression doesn’t make me feel better. Telling myself depression isn’t real doesn’t get rid of all the other people who have depression. And telling myself depression is just a part of life doesn’t make living any easier. I am depressed. I have depression. And even when I’m not actively experiencing symptoms it’s still there and part of my reality. That’s not succumbing or surrendering; it’s admitting and acknowledging. They say alcoholics never stop being alcoholics, they just exist in a state of recovery. Depression is similar. It’s always there, at least it has been for me thus far. I hope one day it will not be. I hope one day it will seem like part of my past, like a former-self, like a friend I knew in junior high that I can’t really relate to anymore. But for now it’s not. And trying to ignore it isn’t working; it doesn’t work. So even if I don’t call it depression, and I give it another name -like the spiritualists appealing to higher powers, supernatural beings, and cosmic energy – what ever it is, it exists, and it’s not just really bad PMS, so stop saying it is. Maybe I should rename it. I’ll call him Hal.
Hey Hal! Shut up.
Hal looks a little like Archie Bunker if he didn’t have a job, a family to yell at, and an arm chair to sit in. He’s disheveled. He doesn’t shower, ever. He encourages me to do the same. He’s waiting for the world to end because it’s going to hell anyway. He’s upset we got thrown into this mess and he’s not taking responsibility for any of it (throws empty can into the road). He lives in the back left part of my brain in a dark, little corner full of newspaper clippings of terrible, horrible things that people have done. He holds them up and shouts at me “See, see what these rotten people do to each other? They aren’t worth a shit.” It’s easy for him to say because while he’s part of me, sort of, an uninvited squatter in my head, he’s not really a person. He can talk shit on human beings all day long (and he tries to) because he isn’t one. He doesn’t have to directly interact with them. But I do, and he doesn’t help make it easier, because I want to agree with him. I want to nap among the empty beer cans and newspaper clippings and say “It’s all trash. We’re trash. Dust to dust ::burb:: ::pass-out::”. But I can’t because I have a family, a job, and a pet bunny to take care of. Maybe I should get Hal a pet.