The following is something I’ve debated about saying for a long time now, and I haven’t it said previously because a) it’s embarrassing and b) why would you care? I finally decided to put it out here because for the past…cripes, I guess 8 years? Even though MySpace wants to be a shitty record company now and deleted my oldest blog? So yeah, for the past 8 years or so, I’ve put everything here. Or out there. Wherever. The point is, I write things because it’s an act of telling, and in telling I’m able to understand and deal with the story. Even if the story is about people who shit at work. Even if the story is something more important. Which isn’t often, but it happens.
Like I said, the thing I’m about to say is embarrassing, and really, I have no expectation that anyone reading this would or should care. Some might and that’s fine (it’s great, actually, although getting them to care wasn’t my intention) and I could not have asked for a better reaction from Graham (the only person who knows so far), but ultimately, I’ve decided to tell this story to a wider audience because it’ll make me feel better. And it’s my goddamn blog.
The thing is this:
I am depressed. I’m not temporarily depressed, nor am I depressed about one or two things. I am just depressed, and I’ve been depressed for a long time. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I know it’s been years since I understood that what I was dealing with was different from the occasional, situation-specific bouts of melancholia that are part of being a fucking adult. While I knew that it went beyond just being bummed every now and then, I guess I didn’t take it seriously because it came and went. I’d know things were going to get shitty, they’d get shitty, and then I’d feel them getting less shitty and I could forget about it for awhile. And I figured this is what it meant to be grown up. Sometimes everything is shitty. Sometimes it’s not. But hey, we can drink and vote and I can eat Cap’n Crunch for dinner. And what I was feeling couldn’t be depression because I was able to handle it.
But that was before, and although I wouldn’t say the feeling has gotten more severe, I do know that it’s been just a little over a year since it became something that just wouldn’t fucking go away.
I’ve mentioned before that my background as a once-Catholic, forever-lower incomed Midwesterner instilled a sense of duty in me, and that duty was to understand that something was always going to go wrong and it was my responsibility to suck it up and deserve it. It’s difficult to explain to those who don’t share that background, but trust me, it’s a real thing. And, I mean, I’m not the happiest person, anyway. It’s not my nature. I’m sullen and solitary and I live in my own head most of the time. That’s not defective, it’s just who I am. So all of these things combined with my unwillingness to put a label on myself (which still really annoys me) stopped me from admitting that something might be truly wrong with me.
Very recently, I Googled “depression.” I knew it was a broad term and cringed at the thought of what kind of whiny Tumblr bullshit I’d find, but I figured I could at least find a list of symptoms published by an official resource that wasn’t webMD because everything to them is cancer, anyway. So I found the NIH’s site and their list of symptoms, and as I went down the line, I checked them off.
“Yep…yep…yep…dude, seriously?…yep…jesus christ, this one too?”
And on down the line until I got to hallucinations and thoughts of suicide, because I promise, neither of those things have ever been in the picture. But this sort of jogged my brain into realizing that something was actually wrong instead of just temporarily amiss, and I started to take total stock of what was going on in my head.
What’s going on is that I’m sad. Which is a pretty vague term and I’m sure I could be more poetic about it if I tried, but that’s really the best description. It’s sadness, a sort of constant, low grade, thrumming sense of disappointment that mutes and flattens everything until it’s like one of those dreams where you have to make an urgent call but the screen on your phone is too dim for you to see straight. I can’t focus. I can’t write. I’m lonely but can’t bring myself to do anything about it. I know that I should be excited or elated about some things but I can’t muster more than a “hey, that’s neat.” I’m worried that I can’t have regular conversations because I’ve forgotten how to react, and when I try, it feels like I’m screaming in overcompensation. Getting something out of my car feels as insurmountable a task as drinking with my friends until 2am on a weeknight. I can still function and am not/don’t want to be treated like an invalid, but this version of functioning feels weird and false, and making excuses to people for why I can’t or won’t participate in something is getting exhausting. Most of the time, I don’t even know the reason.
So, like other things I want fixed or disappeared, I’m willing to pay this one away. Well, mostly. For starters, I do not want nor do I think that I need to be medicated. This leaves me with talk therapy, but since psychological help is expensive as fuuuuuuuck, I’m trying to work with my company to see what kind of coverage they offer (ahem, not much) and I’m comparing psychologists in my area based mostly on their fee structure, but also their areas of expertise and – sorry! – their appearance, because if your profile photo makes it evident that my $150 per session is paying for your highlights, tanning membership, and tacky Swarovski necklace habit, then I doubt you’re offering the kind of help that I need. By the same token, I’m not interested in the hippie idiots who advertise an holistic approach and will probably tell me that gluten is the root of my problems. I don’t need someone to tell me to eat right, take a walk, or do things I enjoy. I am doing those things. They’re not working. That’s why I’m looking for help.
I also spent $4.99 to download the SuperBetter app after watching its creator’s TED Talk about how games can heal our brains and plan on taking that for a spin for a couple of weeks (meaning: until I can get my insurance coverage bs worked out). While I’m not sure that it’ll fix me, it might be a start.
You can believe me or not, you can doubt my intentions in admitting this or not, but I’m not interested in wallowing in my own despair. I’ve realized that my brain is no longer able to reason its way out of this, and while it’s certainly a very minor step, saying it here is a part of the fixing process. I promise I won’t make every post hereafter about this topic, nor will I anthropomorphize it (“my depression wants cake,” oh my god shut up) – I’m just sick of feeling shitty all the time.