Let’s talk about depression.

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.”

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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%.
  4. 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.

cant-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.

5 thoughts on “Let’s talk about depression.

  1. Jess,
    As a fellow Welbutrin taker and not a non-family “stalker”, I check in periodically since your Mom shared your blog with me. Makes me feel good to somehow connect to a part of my daughter as I desparately miss her. They say “It’s a process” as I attend my counseling sessions… This process sucks. Be well Jess and DO some things!

    Brian

    • Ah Brian, thanks so much for reading! I love my non-family stalkers. ;) I agree, they can tell you all about what a process it is, but it doesn’t make the process suck less.
      My best advice? Love and be loved.
      Thank you for your encouraging words, your reading, and for seeking help for yourself. I’m sure you rock and your daughter misses you too; but daughters are notorious for getting caught up in our lives and forgetting to love our families well.

  2. Thanks Jess. It is good to connect with someoneone who shares common grief.
    Honest to goodness, Later in her life, You knew her better than I did. Strange but it works that way when we become adults. Life friends know more about us but the reality is she knew what she was doing was wrong and was was ashamed and didn’t include even you in the fold. She/He shut us all out.
    In hindsight, I spent the better of my time trying to catch up and fix whatever I could for her. Not perfect but then again what is? Life happens sometimes faster than we’d like it to.
    I wish you well Jess.
    While this is a bitter pill to swallow, you’re experience through this will enlighten you and, while tough, give you perhaps a different outlook on life and the decisions we all make moving forward.
    All the Best,
    Brian

    • Shit I didn’t even realize it was you. I’m at a loss for words…
      Did my mother find you on Facebook?
      I completely agree though; sharing a common grief is somewhat healing. The worst part about missing her is that none of my current friends knew her, so it’s like I’m grieving this phantom. And yeah, she knew. She knew she was breaking our hearts. Its so complicated, because one moment I’m absolutely furious at her and the next I feel the way I did in school, that it didn’t matter what she did as long as she let me be around her.

      I can’t tell yet, honestly, how its all affecting me. I’m hoping the party we have for her next month will bring more closure, because right now I still feel this hole in my life where she was meant to be.

      I know you understand.

      Lovin’ you Brian.
      Jess

  3. Don’t be… and your Mom did find me on FB.
    Look, Leah made decisions. Decisions that you, I, her Mom, tried to move her away from with some pretty compelling advice. I can tell you first person that I busted my head in trying to reach her. I know you have had the same path.
    Hey, Phantoms are just that… phantoms. While I spent much of our existnence together trying to convince her otherwise, she chose the path that she did. I’m now, sadly convinced that she was just going to do what she wanted. Wasted breath.
    I guess it’s led me to believe that we’re all fallible. We all have our Chinks in the armor so to speak. What we do with it, we own.
    Please give my best to those that attend Leah’s memorial party. Thank you for organizing it and I hope it brings you, through friends, the closure you deserve.

    Be well Jess!

    Brian

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