The following post is a realistic account of my experiences with depression. The post starts off with a rant and tapers off into an informative post about Depression. I’ve decided to leave the rant in case anyone wanted to see a more in-depth look into my current thoughts and feelings. If you choose to ignore this part of the post, please scroll down to the next break. This entire post has been brought to you by insomnia, experiences with Depression, and World Suicide Prevention Day.
After a few years of “knowing who I am” and “knowing what I want,” I’ve reached the end of the plateau. Perhaps returning to the desolate wasteland of gray, depressing New York has just put me in a “phase,” so to speak, but I’m not quite sure. I’ve spent a lot of time alone, pondering my accomplishments, my failures, and most of all, what the heck I really want.
Of course, I’d still like to have some kind of close relationship with someone who doesn’t live far away. That’s always been something I’ve desired and spending a summer in LA allowed me to be closer to many of the friends who I find dear to me. However, moving away again (that’s a surprise) helped me picture things on a larger scale, which of course, is that I am still, in fact, very alone.
Now, I don’t mean alone in the intimate relationship sense. I don’t truly believe I need a relationship like that to be happy and healthy. I guess I mean something similar to a best friend or a familial relationship. I have close friends all around the US and the rest of the world, but none anywhere near me. I have many friends here, too, but none I could truly call in the middle of the night if anything drastic arose. If it was a matter of physical danger, I’m sure I could count on my roommates, but I mean late night, hours-long conversations about the meaning of life and love and where we stand compared to the rest of the universe.
We’ve lost that form of communication. Actual, physical conversations are a thing of the past. Shit, if you’re reading this, you might not even know me in person, but you’re experiencing an artificial version of a rant highlighting many very real worries and human qualities that I, a stranger, possess. How bizarre is that? How bizarre is it that a complete stranger (or perhaps a near-stanger, someone I haven’t seen or spoken to in years, someone I met at a party once, aka today’s average facebook friend), in today’s day and age would probably spend more time reading something I poured my heart into than someone I know very well listening to something I’m very serious about?
I think we all possess very similar human qualities and in that way, we can relate to people on a very real basis. In our modern-day, technology-obsessed society, it may feel more comfortable to relate to a stranger with similar feelings than someone close to us for fear that they may not understand or they may stop being your friend. Perhaps it is a fear of actual closeness that brings so many of us to try to avoid face-to-face conversations.
Sometimes, I’m no longer interested in what I’ve had extreme passions for and sometimes that feeling fades. I become interested again. Sometimes, it leaves forever, and what then? If we as a society focus on time and years spent mastering a craft or particular set of skills/knowledge, what do we do when we no longer want to pursue that? Do we stick to it for money’s sake or do we rattle the ship and jump into an ocean completely different from what we’re used to? Perhaps we sit on the boat and wait for an opportunity for someone else or something else to choose the next step for us. I think I do that a lot.
See, I have a lot of feelings. It’s been diagnosed as Depression, but from what I can tell, it’s much more than a simple, debilitating “mental illness.” I use depression as a tool, sometimes, to get me back on track when I feel mad at the world, stressed, lonely, or straight up confused. It may be my specific body’s natural response (thanks, maternal genetics), the number two leading cause of death in the United States, and generally frowned upon as something to avoid in a friend, but I see it as a tool.
Depression, although absolutely horrible to go through and very difficult to control, happens in bursts. If you catch it fast enough, you may be able to stop it from becoming a full-blown bull, bucking its way through your entire brain and draining your body of its energy. The first few signs are disinterest in things/activities/people you normally love, sleeplessness (in the form of insomnia), oversleeping, laziness, feeling sad for no reason (ladies, that may be your period talking, too – just saying), and purposefully isolating yourself from others. It may be triggered into full-blown depression from too much stress, lots of bad things happening within a short period of time (the worsssstttt), or a hormonal change.
You can stop or slow down full-blown Depression by exercising, spending time in nature, having sex (for realz), doing activities you normally love doing or used to love doing until you find one you still enjoy – and do that A LOT until you feel better (mine is skiing), spending a lot of time talking with friends and/or family members you love and trust about your feelings, sleeping a normal amount of hours, eating healthy foods, meditating, and practicing good hygiene. Unfortunately, if you’ve tried all of those things, you may have to just ride this one out.
Depression is generally genetically pre-disposed although science hasn’t really proved that. It never truly goes away. You kind of… have it your whole entire life. Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t avoid feeling depressed. Depression can stay dormant in your system if you know how to control it, and this can be done by doing what I recommended in the paragraph above, including surrounding yourself with good people, a challenging environment where you feel included, and taking vitamins every day (especially Vitamin D if you live in a cloudy area). Depression can actually be triggered by vitamin and mineral deficiency.
Either way, if you have Depression, it’s really not the end of the world. Don’t pay attention to the negative stigma associated with it because Depression really can be used as a self-exploration and self-improvement tool. In fact, the times when I were depressed were some of the most important learning periods of my life so far. Depression has the ability to block out the rest of the world, giving you the ability to look at yourself from the inside and assess what you can improve to make your life better and to avoid Depression in the future. If you have Depression, you will constantly go through these periods, so it is best to accept it and see it almost as a way to gain advice from yourself and your own reflections.
In my life, Depression has definitely helped me to grow as a person, clear writer’s blocks, eliminate bad people from my life, and become a healthier, happier person. Many studies have concluded that people who suffer from Depression also tend to have higher IQs and be more creative. Those with higher IQs also tend to stay up late, which can be an effect and a cause of Depression. Insomnia and Depression go hand-in-hand, generally.
In fact, the first time I experienced severe Depression was after I stayed up for four days straight during a summer in middle school when I considered myself as a bad person from the constant torment of the church I was part of at the time. That, along with a myriad of nasty things going on in my life at the time, triggered a 3-year-long Depression phase that no one really tried to help me with. Depression can also make you feel completely alone such that a social stigma can cause people to avoid you on top of you trying to avoid them. Again, do not fear. Millions of people suffer from Depression. I don’t know the exact statistic, but if you cannot find help through counseling services, prescription drugs, or any of the natural remedies I mentioned earlier, there will always be strangers to talk to on the Internet, through support group threads and other websites, which leads us back to the idea that we are more comfortable with strangers than we are with people we know very well.
If you do not have Depression, let me explain what it’s like in a metaphorical situation. Imagine your entire world has been filled up with water (or your tears, if we want to be depressing/emo about it). If you now live underwater, a lot of what people say will be muffled and distorted by the water. The objects you used to see clearly are now either unclear, distorted, or magnified. You’re also tied to a string; an anchor, if you will. Imagine that anchor drags behind you as you try to go anywhere and anything anyone tells you is both loud and muffled. You’ll want to stay away from people and generally stay in one place, right?
That is what depression does to you. You no longer love looking at paintings, if you had before, because they’re soggy and unpleasant to look at. Everyone is annoying, loud, and difficult to understand. It’s hard to focus on anything except your own thoughts. You just kind of float and try to avoid it all until the world finally drains at its leisure.
Seems pretty simple, huh? Many of us, upon recent events, have seen the hazardous effects of Depression. Mind you, Depression is deadly because it can lead to suicide, one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Robin Williams, one of the seemingly happiest, most loving international celebrities of all time, suffered from Depression and as we all know, died from its effects. I, personally, have suffered from Depression and suicidal thoughts in the past, my maternal uncle died from suicide, and my mother suffers from a form of Depression as well. Perhaps your friends or family members have also suffered from Depression. Today is actually World Suicide Prevention Day and you can wear yellow to show your support for deceased loved ones, friends, celebrities, yourself, or a random human stranger. Thank you for reading and I hope you have a happy, meaning-filled life.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 in the United States. If they put you on hold (and they might), feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to talk to you.