So, as you may know, if you’ve read my blog before, I struggle with depression, like hardcore.
Now to me, depression is an unwanted life companion, it’s not something I expect to get rid of easily (I mean it’s been more than 20 years now since I started experiencing it), but in dealing with it I’ve learned one or two things and I felt like sharing some of these thoughts today. So BIG disclaimer: I’m not a therapist nor do I claim to have therapist superpowers, if you suspect you have depression, suicidal thoughts, excessive anxiety, or any other symptoms of mental disease, please do what you would do if you suddenly find an anomaly in your body: consult a medical professional.
This is the first piece of advice I’m providing today, there are SEVERE misconceptions concerning mental health, to this very day and age, it’s taboo for many people to even mention this. I don’t blame those who are afraid of speaking publicly about it, ignorance is very mainstream my friends, I’ve seen people on social media speaking very cruel things against depressive people and getting a lot of support because a lot of people who haven’t experienced it, simply don’t get it, they think it’s cheer weakness or lack of character. So find a competent professional to talk to, don’t just throw it out to the wind, and don’t ask for the “audience’s” advice on social media.
Secondly, please, please don’t make it religious: this is a health issue and science has found anomalies in the production of neurotransmitters to be associated with depression and other mental afflictions. I’m telling you this out of my experience, I spent many years in the past suffering intensely without medication because I thought this struggle needed more faith and fewer pills. As it turns out, both things have been super instrumental in helping me feel better and live a good-quality, productive life, not just one of them.
Thirdly, the doctors will always tell you to aim for a healthier lifestyle, and that feels annoying: but they’re right. Physical exercise is highly therapeutic, it helps you burn a lot of anxiety, helps you sleep better and of course, it helps you look better! Nothing wrong with feeling good about your aspect! Addictions are often very linked to depression, both as cause and consequence, it’s not unusual that a depressive person is also a very heavy smoker, as I used to be until very recently (I’ve quit for 3 1/2 months now). Other more “subtle” addictions like food or pornography are also reinforcers of anxiety since they give you quick and easy relief, but then start increasing your anxiety to consume them again. It’s very hard to deal with addictions, it hasn’t been easy to quit addictive behaviors but its totally worth the effort, my mind feels clear and I’ve found out I actually have more time, energy, and motivation to do things I’m interested in and I thought I couldn’t.
Fourth, learn to defend yourself. This may sound weird so give me an opportunity to explain it. Depression is an enemy, it’s a liar, that distorts your perception and requires you to buy its bullshit in order to sink you deeper and deeper. Yes, I’ve said before that it’s a medical thing, it is, but visualizing it as an enemy has helped me quite a bit; humans are naturally fond of stories and stories are full of archetypes. The villain or the personification of danger is actually instrumental in providing meaning to the hero’s story, villains move events, and cause courage and abilities to appear and so if you visualize depression as an external agent, an enemy, it’s harder to assimilate the thoughts it generates as if they were your own. Make it your own epic story of overcoming a powerful monster and saving your kingdom, it really is like that.
Right now, as I write this article, I’m defending myself. I’ve been feeling really bad and my only impulse is to sink myself under bedsheets, take my half bottle of Jack Daniel’s, and numb my mind with booze, just stay there in the dark feeling sorry about myself. Depression causes paralysis, and when you’re overpowered and paralyzed, that reinforces in you the thought that you’re powerless, useless, and unable to achieve the meaningful things you desire. Before ending there, it’s much easier to be preemptive in defending yourself and do it fast, not thinking too much about it. I came to my office to write a blog entry because I know that’ll get me started thinking about words, how to present the message, and how to help others going through this, and now that I’m done, I’m already thinking about a YouTube series of lectures for authors that I’ve been using to teach myself writing and I’m excited to start writing more stories.
See, I’m defending myself, I’m not what depression makes me feel but exactly the opposite.
I hope this helps, much love.