For the better part of 15 years now, I’ve dealt with mild to severe depression. It comes and goes seemingly randomly. I haven’t been able to pin-point the triggers and haven’t made much progress in controlling it. I don’t deal well with medication and I’m not big on talking, so the counseling angle is never very appealing. Usually, the episodes are around 2 weeks long and then fade and everything goes back to normal (which is probably still depressed, but manageable). For the last 8 months or so, however, it’s been more of a constant weight with some time-spans dipping into the severe range for extended periods. I think it’s time for me to get some help, but taking that first step is the hardest part.
What the last 8 months has shown me, however, is that most people in my life don’t even notice, or at least don’t get what is going on. And that makes it worse. Am I really that much of an asshole on a regular basis, that when things get really bad in my head, outwardly I’m not all that different? Those that do notice, tend to say the worst possible things that they could to a depressed person. I’m sure it stems from misunderstanding and a feeling of being unable to know what to do, but these are a few things that, at least from my perspective, should never be said to, or around, a depressed person:
- “Cheer up!” – That is one phrase, above all others, that makes just want to punch someone in the throat.
- “He’s grumpy today” – Grumpy? Talk about trivializing. Ugh.
- “He’s just being a dick today” – Yeah, while I had headphones on at work (nothing play on them) and a coworker (who is also a close friend) said that to a bunch of folks (including my boss) who were in his cubicle (next to mine).
- “What’s your problem?” or “Why are you so miserable?” – I’m not going to answer with “I am depressed”. So, my non-answer will just lead to the statements above anyway by my avoiding the question.
- “Focus on the positive” – If I could do that, I wouldn’t be a depressive. My brain doesn’t allow that.
- “I’m praying for you” – Just…don’t.
Some suggestions of things that might be somewhat helpful, or at the least not hurtful:
- “Is there anything I can do to help?” – Probably not, but at least it’s a non-accusatory thing to say.
- “Sorry that you’re dealing with this.”
- “I’m here for you if you need anything”
- Say nothing at all
So, I guess I just wanted this to serve as a reason (not an excuse) for the way I respond (or don’t respond as it were) to the various things that life throws my way. Take it for what it’s worth, or don’t take it. Either is fine. When it’s bad, I internalize. I don’t talk. I don’t want to talk. And trying to make me talk makes it worse. But saying stuff like what is on the first list above should be the very LAST thing anyone should do. But…they still will.
My family is insane…and they are starting to make me insane too!
The below image is just a VERY tiny snippet of my mother’s Facebook page. Click on the image to see it in all it’s full-sized glory.
So tell me…what the fuck am I supposed to do with that? It’s every day. Very VERY rarely is something posted that isn’t of this nature. I can’t have any interaction with her. What am I supposed to say? Should I just continue to try to bite my tongue and ignore it? On several occasions I’ve been mere microseconds away from de-friending her. But, of course, that would cause all kinds of problems. I really have no kind of relationship with my parents anymore. Would it really be any loss? I can’t believe that I grew up in this world! No wonder there are days where I feel like I’m nuts.
Seriously…what do I do with this? My family is insane!
(actually…a lot of days have been UN-days lately)
Well, here we go again. I’ve been in a down-mode for quite a while now. It’s left me feeling completely unmotivated. I just don’t really get it this time. I don’t feel overly sad, actually, I FEEL kind of content overall. I just lack any kind of motivation to do the things I usually like to do. Exercise, take photos, write, etc. I dunno. I’m sure it’s some kind of seasonal affective disorder, but the random nature of it bothers me. It doesn’t seem to sync up to the same times every year. All I do is work, go home, sit on my ass, get up the next day and do it all again. I feel like this cycle is endless and there’s nothing I can really do about it.
This is a tough question.
At least, it’s a tough question for me personally. What I do know for sure is that I’m a TON more happy now than I ever was as believer. I can look at happiness as an average. Am I bouncing off the walls every day with joy? Of course not! I’d find myself in a padded cell wearing a nice new jacket with sleeves that tie in the back if I was. Am I completely miserable every day? Same answer as above. Over the last few years, however, I think that I’ve found that the average ‘level of happiness’ that I feel has increased steadily. There are lots of reasons that I can attribute this change too, but for the sake of keeping with the general topic of this blog, I’ll stick to the religious reasons.
I can remember with vivid detail the day that I finally admitted to myself that I was an atheist. (It was after a long period of teeter-tottering back and forth on the topic due to the fear of the stigma associated with that moniker.) I’ve told this to several people since then: the feeling was that of a thousand pounds of weight being lifted off of my shoulders. I felt like all the irrational guilt that I had been carrying around with me for years had finally rolled away. I was finally able to look at myself and the world objectively and determine that things are not nearly as dire as I was made to believe. I don’t have to fear infinite punishment for finite crimes. I don’t have to worry that my lifestyle (and the life I wanted to live) was in some way counter to the rules of some dictator in the sky. I don’t have to live according to a rule book that is so self-contradictory that my mind couldn’t make sense of it.
The result? A nearly immediate sense of happiness. Some of that initial ‘thrill’ so to speak, has of course subsided. But the over-all sense that life is much more worth living now continues to be tangible. I now find value in THIS life. I find value in the NOW! Not in aspirations of an eternal existence that not a single person in the world has a drop of evidence for. Why waste even a second of our time here worrying about a 2nd life? Every minute is valuable, because we don’t get that minute back. This outlook is not perfect, and it takes a conscious effort every single day for me to keep it in perspective. I fail OFTEN, but the trend, I believe is in the right direction.