Saturday, August 16, 2014

Get Out of My Depression and Into My Car...

It looks as though I may be at the tail end of the latest trend of talking about depression since the death of Robin Williams but as someone who has struggled with various forms and stages of depression I know how experiencing it on a constant basis and with no expiration date on it can feel very daunting.
Over the years I've been overwhelmed by it, I've felt it shrink down until it's barely there only to rear back up at the flip of a switch. If you've read a lot of this blog you probably already know my struggles with anxiety and depression, but with this piece I wanted to expose a little more light on what living with depression and it's implications can be.

I feel like discussing depression with people who don't know it's full weight is in some ways an "alien abductee" talking about their experience to anyone else.
For one, talking to someone who hasn't been swallowed by the vacuum of depression don't believe what your battle is valid or real. They hand you self-help books which in their minds are supposed to be the answer to everything. Also they throw at you platitudes of "you just have to look at the good things in life" or "it will pass soon enough" or "go out, have some fun and you'll feel better"  or my least favorite" you're just feeling sorry for yourself, you gotta just stop it ".These are easy ways to dismiss what they don't understand or think that it is just  about making excuses for not being chipper, productive or social.

“I've never been lonely. I've been in a room -- I've felt suicidal. I've been depressed. I've felt awful -- awful beyond all -- but I never felt that one other person could enter that room and cure what was bothering me...or that any number of people could enter that room." -Charles Bukowski

The other way this is similar to stories of "abductees" is even though each individual has small unique variations in what we experience, we all generally hit on the same points.
With depression, it's not feeling worth anything, the days when you can't get out of bed, thoughts of ending it all just to make the pain go away. Pain that encompasses your whole being, the mental pain of trying to make it through another day, pain of feeling like nothing is worth the trouble. All that anguish being in you head and not being able to turn it off but only mask it. There are even times when this pain can manifest itself in a physically as well.
Then there is the numbness, when your entire existence has the volume knob turned down to a whisper. The things that should make you happy feel kind of "meh" and the events that should make you boil are simply shoulder shrug. Depression gets you stuck in a head space where everything matters too much and yet not at all.

Then you have those goddamned days that make you hate everything with a royal passion. Not just yourself, but other stranger things like how your clothes don't fit quite right, the way another person gestures as they talk, having to drive when you don't want to, having to work when you don't want to be out of the house or the disgust you feel when you look around your house. None of the inner rage you feel makes any rational sense but you feel it so much that the spot behind your eyes pulsates.
Depression is a blanket of nothingness it consumes all your happiness, sadness, anger, your everything and sucks it in like black hole which feels like there is no escape.

“That's the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end.” -Elizabeth Wurtzel

I think the reason the vast majority of people were shocked by Robin's suicide was because they only saw the facade, the mask of funniness he put on for the rest of us. Thats exactly how so many people get through life dealing with loved ones as well as the rest of the world while hiding that they are being consumed by depression so ravenous it's nearly never satiated .
It feels that everyone expects you to "be on" at all times which also makes having depression so energy zapping that eventually you just can't keep the mask on. Most times you can fake your way through the day.
Smile when people are looking at you, try in vain to stop living up in your own head and make small conversation.
Avoid with all your might talking about what is crushing you, avoid showing how energy-less you are.
Go to work,
come home,
be jolly,
be excited,
be loving,
be of the world.
If you are successful enough, to the world you will seem normal. But depression has a way of putting little cracks in that facade for it to show through. For instance, you might snap at a loved one about something very minor or be seen as selfish if you try to avoid attending events with friends or family. It's not that you WANT to behave this way but squirreling yourself away from everything just makes life bearable.
Holidays are especially exhausting because it is a time when everyone is festive and buzzing with energy are a slog to get through. And of course the depression makes it so you get on everyone's nerves because you can't get yourself to join in on the merriment. They can't understand why this season isn't overfilling your cup with the same joy and love that the rest of them feel.

Sometimes these cracks in your facade of normality can be repaired with spackle by forcing yourself into situations that make you uncomfortable, by keeping things to yourself. Just push yourself out from under the covers and safety of your bed and plow through each day.
Then of course there are times when the wall starts to crumble. Thats when you piss off those closest to you because you are short tempered, or have a melancholy, a listlessness that can last for weeks without reprieve. As those weeks wear on, so wears down your loved ones tolerance for you. That can just compound your feelings of worthlessness and make you want to shrink away into whatever tiny corner of life that helps you stave off the depressiveness even temporarily. You can see how things would spiral out of control from there.

There ARE resources available to help combat depression, I know and I've used them, some more than others. I've found the best way to help someone suffering with depression is to just be understanding no matter how frustrating it is the behavior of the depressed can be. Understanding goes a long long way. Depression comes in waves some ebbs make it seem like everything is fine and then some flows are like towering swells of water that crash into the beach and suck everything in its' vicinity back into the ocean with it.
There can be no predicting it, sometimes no controlling it which I'd guess may have been the case with Robin Williams, where it became too much.
It comes on when it wants and leaves when it wants. Therapy helps, medications help, exercise and diet can all help but the best help for someone struggling by understanding that what they are dealing with is real and it isn't simply being selfish when their depression manifests itself without warning.

“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather,

Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”." -Stephen Fry

I hope this gives you reader some grasp or knowledge that you may otherwise not have had. 
-The end ( now go enjoy something light hearted like a youtube video of kittens tackling babies or something)