Let’s just do it.
Now, the first thing we have to get out of the way re; depression is that its not all black and white, and depression isn’t something that only friendless losers catch like a cold. You can’t pick the depressed out of a crowd of people because we look and act much the same way as everyone else. We’re just more bummed out.
Hey guys, I’m Jess, and I have chronic depression. I want to say I struggle with it, but what the hell does “struggling” with something even mean? Who came up with this metaphor? Ok yeah, I don’t want to be all depressed all the time, but if by struggling you mean I’m living my life as damage control and plugging my ears (“la la la la la”) to all those “triggers”, then no, I’m not fucking struggling with depression anymore.
I’m owning it.
I want to tell you that I’m depressed because A.) my bestie was butchered last fall or B.) because it was winter or C.) because I’m not making enough money/have pimples/my iTunes is really sad, but the truth is I’ve been depressed since I was like thirteen. And I have lived as damage control, trying not to see, hear, or speak any depression trigger.
At this point though, I’m tired of acting like my chemical imbalance is something I need to hide from you guys. What’s worse than being depressed? Getting even more depressed because you’ve isolated yourself, which you did so as to keep from showing them the initial depression. Because how dare you, Christian, (Christian white American female in the 21st century, no less) be bummed out?
There’s a weird kind’ve pride in being sad, too, which also makes it harder to get help. If you’re not depressed, that’s fine. We still like you, even if we don’t necessarily trust you. We wish we were like you, although we hold suspicions that you must be completely vapid not to see how sad this life actually is.
Anyway, I wanted to let you, dear Depressed, know a few strategies for coping with being what a friend of mine once called a “morose bastard.”
- Own it. Just accept it. You’re bummed out, and you need to stop feeling so guilty about it. Most of the chronically depressed people I know have no good reason for being that way. They just are. And you know what? You just are the way you are. Chew on that. Maybe this is weird advice, ‘cuz like, who wants to “own” their personality disorder, but dude, its going to be there anyway so you might as well treat it like family.
- Admit it. Yes, even to the ones who aren’t bummed. I know that’s difficult because you have this sinking fear that you’re going to evoke eyebrow furrows and a non-comprehending, “like, seriously? What have you got to be sad about?” But you’ve gotta just do it. If you’re me you’ll play it off really cool, with a smile and maybe a dance move. “I’m chronically bummed out! Haha! Watch me twerk it!” This is really hard, I know, and you’ll want to be sarcastic about it. But stop. The church, while traditionally being the absolute worst to admit being bummed, is getting better. “Depression” isn’t as dirty of a word as it used to be around here. It used to be all “Jesus Jesus Jesus”, but they’re getting better at being like “Jesus Wellbutrin Jesus” these days. When cornered, I used to admit my depression with an attitude of defiance and self-defense. Like, “Yeah, I’m bummed out. COME AT ME BRO.” But I’ve learned to be more gracious with people, because Lord knows I need the same grace exhibited for me. I know you’re still going to run into those assholes who can’t understand how you can possibly grasp an iota of what redemption means and still struggle to get out of bed some mornings, but trust me on this; there are gems in the church, and they love people like you. They do! They love honesty.
- Then. Go talk to a professional. I’m serious here. Go get shrinked. I think everyone needs to be in counseling, because (shocker) we were all raised by imperfect people and we were dropped into an imperfect world, and not only that but we were given imperfect bodies and imperfect desires. So go talk to someone who’s spent way too much money on a couple degrees in psychology and wants to make it their entire life’s work to hear people’s stories. Go tell your story. Tell the gritty parts, too. My brother’s mentor told him that most people go to counseling and delve into 85% of the pain and anger or their lives, but keep the 15% locked up inside. Fuck that. Tell the 15%.
- Start doing things. Do things like go swing dancing. Or film your own Harlem Shake video. Walk your dog for hours along the canal behind your house. Pray. Agree last minute to go on a road trip to Austin next week. Skype your Aussie friends. Read. Call your dad. Go watch the stupid bachelorette finale with friends. DON’T LISTEN TO JOE PURDY*.
I don’t know, man, because I’m in it too. But these things help. You can’t live doing damage control all the time. You can’t edit your soul.
And on that note, I’m back. Hai guyz
*Purdy’s my absolute favorite, and I’m chronically depressed, so I give him a hard time. Its all with the utmost affection. And tears.