A little chat about depression
This post is about personal, non-game stuff, so feel free to skip it if you’re not in the mood.
I mentioned very briefly last week in my Cart Life review that I have Depression, or Depressive Disorder, or whatever we call it now. I don’t know exactly when it started, but I suspect it was probably about a decade ago. I also don’t know why it started. Well.. I sort of do, but there’s no one thing, just a bunch of little things that seemed to grind me down over time.
Of course if you asked me I would have denied it. I have always believed that everyone is a little crazy in their own way, and life is just tough sometimes. And really I’m pretty privileged and have it pretty good in the general scheme of things, so what was there to be depressed about? Eventually those reasonable thoughts were joined by other ones, ones that said that if I felt hopeless all the time it was my own fault for not working harder, for not being prettier, or smarter, or kinder. Occasionally I would engage in dangerous behavior or call myself terrible names, but it was nothing more than I deserved.
A few years ago that I decided that perhaps I should see a therapist, because that seemed like a thing that miserable people do, and I found a nice woman who I met with a few times. After about our third appointment though she commented that I seemed like a “good person who was overwhelmed by things”, and I was so horrified that I skipped my next meeting and never went back. Not horrified at her, of course, but at myself for so selfishly misleading this professional into thinking that I was I was a good person.
I like that story, or at least I like how well it describes how after time Depression changes you so you literally cannot recognize help when it is in front of your face.
I feel chagrined now, typing that, because I am not the kind of person who likes admitting weakness. To be perfectly immodest, I consider myself to be pretty damn smart, and good at reading people. How can I be held hostage by my own brain? That’s stupid — I’m perfectly able to think my way out of things. Plus big pharma is pretty terrible, and Depression is kind of a First World Problem. Pills might work for other people, and good on them, but they weren’t going to help me.
So this is going to sound really weird, but what finally pushed me over the edge to getting more help was Wil Wheaton. While I respect his work and his dedication to not being a dick, I’ve never considered myself a Wheaton fan in particular, but his post about depression from back in September appeared in one of my social networks. He wrote of his life shortly after starting medication, “I felt [my wife's] hand in mine, and realized that I didn’t have any lingering tension or unhappiness just buzzing around in my skull. I was just enjoying a walk with my wife, and holding her hand.”
I thought to myself, “Shit, man. That sounds pretty damn nice.”
And so I started medication a couple of months ago. I went though almost four weeks of taking the pills and was just about at the point of chalking them up as yet another thing that I fail at, when.. somehow things started to change. Perhaps events in my life weren’t exactly the way I had perceived them? Maybe I was being my own worst enemy? Out of curiosity I tried to notice when I thought cruel things about myself. I felt guilty about it, a lot at first, but being kind to yourself is like a muscle. It’s not second nature yet, but it gets easier every day.
I feel so much lighter now. Somehow in the last month I started laughing more, and I’m better able to determine my own needs. I’m the same person I always was, but now the screaming banshee of failure in my head is turning into just a whisper.
I wrote this mostly because I was convinced to pursue medication because of blog posts just like this one telling me that it’s okay to want to be better. It’s only fair that I pay it forward, so to you, dear reader, I say: if you read any of the above and thought to yourself, “That sounds great, but it won’t help me because I’m (beyond help / hopeless / culpable),” I think you’re wrong.
Talk to someone close to you, talk to a doctor, talk to a therapist, just start talking. Tell them that you need help. It’s okay, and you’re worth it. Depression isn’t a punishment bestowed upon the weak and unworthy, it’s an illness. You deserve to know what it’s like when you’re on your own team.