So last Wednesday, though I had assumed for years, it was confirmed from a therapist that I have severe depression. For some that might be troubling news, but for me it was quite comforting. Something I’ve known for years had been confirmed, and it just means that I have self awareness. Also I can shove this fact in the faces of people who said things like, Oh you don’t really know. or You’re just being dramatic, since they’re wrong, I’m more than just dramatic, I’m petty too, and severely depressed.
And though it seems like this post is going in a certain direction, let me say that the intention of this piece is not to make light of depression. I make fun of things before getting to the core of it. It’s what I do. And I don’t think I would’ve survived this long if I hadn’t done that.
I’ve written on depression several times now on this site, but have kind of failed convey a message each time. It was as if I took laps around an idea, but never walked to the center, you know? I have a feeling this will probably be the same, but I just felt willed to write about this given recent events. It’ll be more exploration than narrative, a pointless jaunt rather than a focused essay.
I should probably start this all by mentioning that we still have to get better at how we perceive and define depression. Of my relatives, I’ve only told my mom about my depression and her first reaction was to ask, Why? And while I understand that she’s trying her best to get it and figure out why her child is under this wave of ennui, the problem is that quite a few people have this belief that there’s one single cause for depression, that it can all stem from an event. My mom believed that my current job search was the cause, and while that may contribute to it (it doesn’t), that wouldn’t be the singular factor or the core cause. Depression can be a culmination of events, backgrounds, environments. Depression can be a chemical imbalance, but it isn’t as simple as being generally sad about something. Depression is a tricky issue to find a root to, but the point is that you if you have it, you have it. And if you’re aware you have it, you should get help. You should ask for help, and not be afraid to ask for it, which leads to another point.
When it comes to our perception of depression, we need to understand that while it’s a mental illness or something that can affect your daily life, it’s not comparable to insanity. Depression doesn’t make you insane. Depression doesn’t make you a quack or a nut. You might be throwing out wild Kingdom Hearts III theories, but that’s cause you’re a weeb, not because you’re depressed. We shouldn’t associate depression with craziness or insanity.
And even when you yourself know that depression doesn’t equal insanity, there’s still this baggage to the concept of being depressed that some people might experience. I’m currently experiencing it. That’s why I haven’t told other members of my family. I don’t want their idea of me to change. I don’t want them to think I’m weak even if depression doesn’t mean that I’m weak. And though I usually don’t particularly care for what my family thinks of me, I’d rather go through the normal social graces, so interactions with family can continue to go okay, rather than more awkward than usual. Even amongst my friends, ones who already knew, figured out, I was depressed, there was one in particular I didn’t want to tell just yet. That’s because when you develop and maintain a good dynamic with someone, no matter how long or short the friendship, you want things to flow the same. I didn’t want to risk our friendship changing or for that particular friend to pity me. Between getting confirmation and writing this piece, I’ve told that friend. Nothing has changed, but there’s still this fear that one day that friend will look at me and their eyes will change, you know? And I’ll find out that they only hang out with me because they pity me and not because they actually value my friendship. That would be particularly crushing.
I don’t know how to put this, well how to put it in a non-frank or non easily to make misguided interpretations way, but depression is more like sloth. Yes I mean the capital sin, but not in the way that we think of it now. Somewhere along the line, sloth became synonymous with laziness or the reluctance to work, but we never got to the core of this perceived laziness. And thanks to a professor, who I and a few former classmates from grad school jokingly believe to be a master of time travel, I’ve learned a lot about sloth–which as you read the word in your head from now on, let’s pronounce it slow-th. Sloth comes from the Latin term, acedia, which is essentially torpor, listlessness, boredom/ ennui usually from a deep sadness. Acedia is a common indicator of depression. If you find yourself no longer interested by your hobbies and formerly enjoyed hobbies or feel fatigued and unmotivated, you may have depression, a line which I’m paraphrasing, was common in depression pamphlets I’d look at in undergrad. So depression is like sloth. It’s a root for sloth, but as I’ve stated in this passage of writing we shouldn’t think of it as general laziness. It’s worse than that, but it’s something you can overcome.
Fun fact and something else I learned from Professor Time Master: There used to be an eighth capital sin, Tristitia, or sadness. Over time sadness was combined with sloth, and then sloth lost part of its meaning. It’s interesting.
Now I’ve said that depression is something you can overcome, but while I’m aware that I am depressed, the problem is that I don’t have the best coping abilities (per my therapist) to deal with the depression. And that’s the problem for a lot of people. Developing better coping mechanisms is a main point in therapy. And it’s more than just, take a deep breath when you’re feeling down. Now do I actually know anything other than that? No. As I said, I don’t have the best coping abilities. Some of it deals with how you grow up, since you usually learn your coping abilities from parents and families. And as I pirouette away from pushing blame on my family, let me just say that I grew up not really learning anything to do with coping. I usually bottle everything in until I go boom. It’s problematic. That’s why people should go to therapy. It helps so people won’t keep running to the same self-destructive methods. If you have some more tools in your tool box, you’ll be able to solve a variety of problems, you know?
Though for the longest time, my friends are what have kept my head above the water. Without them I’d probably be all types of screwed. Most days I feel alone, but with friends it feels less lonely. It feels like I have a good support system. I mean, if we go back to the previously mentioned friend, I don’t want to say that I need her, but I love being around her. I’ll never really tire of her. I always joke about being a sad boy with her, though, while that’s true to my nature, most days I’m not a sad boy around her. And it’s not that I try not to be one, so that I don’t worry her, it’s that I’m just not. For some reason, with exception to one very drunken case, I think I just genuinely like her enough that I don’t feel sad with her. And I don’t thank her enough for that. She’s neat and supportive. She Jim Halpert-s at my dumbest lines. She’s an elegant goofball. Like if a swan didn’t really try hard to be a swan and occasionally klutzed around and that occasional awkwardness made the swan cuter, you know? Then there’s another friend who’s just filled with too much love in her really short body. She accepts me at my worst, at my most dickish, at my most depressed. I usually text her the dumbest things and our convos turn into shit posts. There’s my roommate who share’s the same name as me. He’s like an older brother to me. He’s loud and goofy and wonderful. I know if I get into a fight, he’ll have my back. And though there’s a lot of times where he doesn’t understand me, it’s great to know that he accepts my dumb quirks. There’s my friend I usually watch Star Wars movies with. He’s a gentle giant who goes on artistic rants and always amuses me. I like seeking advice from him. I just want him to be happy. There’s my other roommate who’s clingy and needy (her words not mine). Freckled, she’s a shitty cookie who’s like a little sis to me. She’s usually around me at my most down. And at times, she’s a proxy for therapy. There’ve been too many patio convos where we just talk out issues. I really needed that. Then there are my countless (ten maybe?) other friends from grad school too that are just so fucking wonderful.
What I’m saying before this becomes a big bomb of love, is that friends are needed. If you’re depressed, don’t try to take it on by yourself. Talk with your friends or maybe even your family. They can help. Try to find other outlets too. For me it’s writing, video games, music (listening not playing). I’ve been listening to a lot of Tyler, The Creator’s Flower Boy and I think I need that album in my life. Side note: If you’re listening to Flower Boy too, please don’t be one of those dudes who talks about how Flower Boy is the greatest thing to ever happen to them since finding out there’s a non-toxic means to express masculinity. It’s…just don’t. Childish Gambino songs have always been helpful. When I’m super down I listen to the song, “But I Sink” by my friend’s now broken up band, Cherry Mellow–well that or “Superman & Diane.” I’m waiting for the official release of his and his partner’s band’s single “Ancient Tattoos,” so I can add that to my sad boy bops.
And now I don’t know where I’m going with this anymore, but I already told you that this is a pointless jaunt, there’ll never be a point. There isn’t a message to this. It’s a picture of me thinking about depression. And depression isn’t structured. Never really has been. This is just a boy talking, and maybe that makes this the most blog appropriate piece for a blog site. If I were to close this out, while we’re here, I guess…um… Understand that depression doesn’t define you. It doesn’t. I know what the title of this piece is, I wrote it that way because it sounds better in my head, but remember if you have depression you’re not a depressed person, your depression shouldn’t label you. You’re a person who just so happens to have depression. If you’re reading this and you have depression: thanks for reading this. I’m proud of you for making it this far, not just in this article and trudging through my directionless blathering, but also for making it to this point in your life. For the people who are reading this who don’t have depression: thanks. Help out your friends when you can. For my family: thanks, but also sorry that you’re finding stuff out through a blog post. And for my friends: thanks. I love you all. You guys are pretty cool. Just not cooler than Kingdom Hearts III.
I guess I’ll leave you with Tyler, The Creator’s NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert. Later days.