As a writer, I try to write about everything.
It’s basically all that I know how to do.
But the thing about writing humor is that it sometimes makes me feel like I’m hiding behind a mask and pretending I’m something I’m not. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a person who loves to laugh—who loves to make other people laugh even more—but yet most of the time that’s not me, or at least that’s not how I feel.
But it’s hard to ignore what goes on in my head and even harder to write about depression. For one, there’s the fear that writing about it makes you look weak and turns people off because it’s not funny or light. Most people have their own problems, so why would they read about mine?
The other trouble is that it is often incredibly difficult to articulate just how I feel.
Deep depression is hard to understand, especially if you’ve never been there. It has manageable days that for me usually include writing something I don’t hate or spending time outside. In other words, I function and appear to be fine.
But then there are days—sometimes even that same day— when like a virus it flares up and all I can do is remind myself not to swerve my car over the center line or walk a little too close to the edge.
These are the times that I should reach out, but the thing about depression is that it comes with the sense that you shouldn’t have it to begin with, that it’s a bunch of self-indulgent navel gazing and not an actual illness like those that everyone can see looking in.
And so I swallow it down and isolate more, feeling that talking about it at all with people will only make me sound whiny. It’s hard to explain that depression isn’t like being sad and OCD isn’t just “needing to clean,” but rather that they are entirely crippling.
Unfortunately for me, it has crippled me both physically and mentally.
My concentration is barely existent, and more times than not I alternate between staring at my computer and feeling trapped behind a curtain too heavy to lift/inadequate in comparison to everyone else and doing unhealthy amounts of exercise in an attempt to distract myself and feel something, anything other than flat.
At least the exercise—the slow self-destruction in part because of my OCD —gives me some false sense that I’m coping or in control…until my body can no longer take the brunt of my mind. But no matter what I do, it’s never enough, and the addiction can only temporarily serve as distraction before my body literally breaks.
The effects devastate me not because of what they’re doing to my body, but because they take away the only coping mechanism that I feel like I have when everything feels like too much and yet not enough. The immediate consequences don’t matter because at that point, nothing really matters.
But that’s what depression does.
It twists things around in your mind. Any activity takes many times more effort, like trying to run through quicksand. Work is boring and intolerable. What felt joyful feels dull and what felt sad feels unbearable. Everything seems meaningless, including previous accomplishments and anything you used to like.
Depression is truly the absence of hope.
So why am I writing rambling this post?
Because May is Mental Health Month and ignoring that fact is ignoring what I deal with each day. But more importantly, maybe it’s because what you deal with, too, and hearing that others are in the same boat can be something you didn’t even know you needed to hear.
After all, words have power. But this isn’t a motivational speech with a happy ending or solution, as I have neither of those things. It’s simply a reminder that you’re not alone. You’re not defective or broken or dealing with what you “deserve.”
No, you’re simply human.
You’re doing the best that you can with the strength that you have. You’re choosing to hold on to hope and to fight, and as much as I feel like I can’t on some days, I choose to keep fighting as well.
It’s basically all that I know how to do, but we don’t have to do it alone.
And hopefully at the end of the day—and most certainly in my next post—we can find something that makes us smile. Sometimes that’s all—and everything—that we might need.
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