I haven’t written about my depression in a long time now and that’s been largely with good reason. I’ve been feeling a lot better. I came off the Quetiapine and switched my other medication to Sertraline, started seeing an excellent local therapist (who somewhat specialises in ‘man stuff’) and all that combined seems to have had me at 95% normal. All in all, that means I haven’t had much to say on the topic recently, which has been a good thing.
I say 95% normal because, honestly, I don’t think there’s a way back to normal any more and looking back over my life with a fresh perspective makes me think that I was probably depressive from 14-15 or so and definitely depressive – in bouts – from 17 onwards. I’ve been dealing with it being particularly bad for… three years at least now and am resigned to the fact that I’m going to have to live with it.
Why write now?
I’m in a down-patch, a pretty bad one (in current context), and I’ve been reminded by a few people just how much they appreciate me stepping up and talking about this whole area, showing ‘weakness’, talking about it, airing it out and so on. So I felt it was time to stick my head up about all this again.
Why am I down at the moment?
Well, I don’t want to get into specifics this time but much as I stick my head out on this difficult topic (depression) so I often stick my head over the parapet on other difficult issues. I welcome the chances – that come along – to talk about tricky issues but that always exposes one to failure.
I’m not good with failure, failure to communicate especially (since that’s what I’m supposed to be good at). Also, having a depressive frame of mind, failure, problems and criticisms hit with a lot more impact than praise or appreciation does. This is a natural human tendency anyway, but when you’re depressed it seems to be much stronger, askew, much more powerful. It means it can be very easy to knock you back into that mental state of helplessness and self-loathing, even though it’s often a relief to have a cause for that which you can point at.
So yeah, I feel I’ve failed at several things lately and most of those are attempts to communicate with people on tricky topics and the viciousness received simply for trying to have a debate, make a point or counter a rumour.
Make no mistake, I used to be an utter dick in debates. It was down to passion and commitment, so I get where people are coming from when they do similar, but I try very hard not to be like that these days (everyone slips from time to time). Trolls don’t bother me, an insult is meaningless from a troll, they’re just trying to get a rise. It’s the ‘true believers’ that bother me.
If someone sends ‘LOL FAG!’ messages I see no reason to get upset. They’re just being dicks.
If someone who genuinely believes in what they’re doing or saying calls you something horrible, bigot, misogynist, racist, whatever, that cuts deep even when it’s not true. Even when you know it’s not true. They seem to believe it and they believe it passionately enough to throw it at you, tarnish your reputation and treat you like shit.
I’m constantly trying to find a line between what I know is right and what others feel is right, and will judge you for.
You would think two people who are passionate about something would at least have that point of commonality to draw on and a base respect for each other’s desire to make the world a better place (or keep it better than it could be) but that’s not the case. Depressive brain twists that around into my failure to communicate, rather than their failure to listen, understand or enter into discussion with good faith.
Yet I keep doing it. Keep getting involved. Keep speaking up. Despite the pretty high emotional cost of doing so and weathering the hate of, well, let’s be honest here, fanatics.
It would cost me more, emotionally, not to speak up for the things I believe are right. That would attack my sense of self more than any accusation. Both have a toll, but one has a toll higher than the other.
However depressed I get, it’s hard to be passive, to let things flow or pass by without comment or involvement. Part of that is a sense of duty and a desire to protect others (a collective, greater good) and part of it is to protect and defend my own decisions and being. Whatever the other costs, I think maintaining that core of self-identity has served me well in weathering the storms of depression and it continues to do so. It’s a bit like a panic room and so long as you keep it maintained, it can withstand almost anything.
I’m trying to shift my head so that I can see these things not as failures, but as learning experiences – but it’s hard.
It’d be nice to get away for a few days and do fuck all, just see some friends and be looked after but there’s too much work on, too much pressure, too little money and nowhere to go. Fortunately, keeping up on the duties reinforces the safe room.
So, then, anything helpful from all this?:
- Having something you can point a finger at and say “This is getting me down” is helpful, positive, even if it doesn’t sound like it. It’s – perhaps – something that will pass or you can do something about it.
- If I had some advice, it would be to be true to yourself and whatever you can do not to become passive, is useful. Even if it’s just little things. If you’ve got a stronger sense of who you are it makes standing up to daily downers a lot easier.
- Don’t forget to watch out for the black dog, even when you’re feeling good. He might ambush you.