|Ophelia from my new comic Blood Rites|
What is depression?
There are a thousand explanations. Clinical ones involving brain chemistry…ideas about it being hereditary, cultural, or even the product of the neighborhood you grew up in. I’ve heard and read many people’s perspectives on the situation and I get why people need to analyze it so intensely. The fear of how dangerous this affliction can be overwhelming.
It never matters what you’ve accomplished, how well you’ve done, or where you’re at. Depression can convince you all of it is shit. If I take a step back from my own life, perhaps it’s not exactly where I envisioned it twenty-five years ago but it’s pretty damn good. What I’ve created, shared, and the help I’ve imparted to others has left me with a lot to be proud of.
I can’t say I’ve ever TRULY entertained suicide. Yes, the concept has come up as a ‘solution’ but I’ve always been able to keep something in the back of my mind, something I came up with while talking to a friend (Robert Brown). If at any time suicide became seriously the forefront of the path forward, then I’d just cut bait and move. This, of course, was a much easier concept as a young person with no responsibilities—and arguably, it may have been more important then to have a plan to avoid death.
Now, there are other things to contemplate in the throes of such deep, dark depressions. For me, I envision what my wife would do without me, how my cats would get on, never seeing their faces again or to speak to the friends closest to me. I consider my family, then move on to what I’m doing at the moment. I remind myself I’ve got too many things left undone, too many stories left to tell, too much left to say.
I personally can’t envision a world where I’ve run out of words but my imagination is keen. Closing my eyes and putting myself in such a position fills me with dread. I get it. When I’m at my darkest, I turn to mindless pursuits to work through the pain and come out the other side. In my case, (and this happened recently), I threw myself into a video game. And after putting in 60+ hours over the course of 2 weeks, my ambition returned. I lived vicariously through their story and felt alive again.
The world itself continually conspires to beat us down and ensure we cannot move forward and it comes from every angle. An unforeseen bill, damage to your home or car, bad news from work, death in the family, the soul crushing news of things outside your control and purview…they will ALWAYS be there to make things feel hopeless.
It’s easy for people to be flippant and tell you how these obstacles are only here to build you up, to give your life meaning but for some, it’s far heavier a burden to bear. But what happens when everything’s going fine and depression hits? What if you’ve been having a great month and it STILL impacts you? I’ve had this happen more often than not. What makes those situations even worse is that now, you feel guilty because you know others have it worse than you.
You feel ungrateful for your lot in life.
For my part, I approach my depression with the respect it is due. I know it’s going to happen. I know when it does, like a cold or a flu, it will pass. I become defiant and refuse to let it win, even if it makes me more miserable for a time. I turn to any distraction to get me through it and try to find routine. Those who know me are aware I can get a LOT done in a short period of time. Once I find a project I can latch on to while depressed, I throw myself into with all my soul.
Ultimately, when you’re living with depression, you have to find what works for you to get through it. Hard as it may be, when the thought of suicide falls over you (and it very well might) you have to be ready for it. The biggest things not to do: find isolation, encourage it with poor habits, or detach from your social circle.
True friends are going to understand and they won’t shun you.
So my best advice is this: eat. Try something you never thought of before. Try something totally out of your comfort zone. Start a class. Watch a different type of movie. Go to a section of the bookstore you’ve never visited before. Engage your mind in passive activities that might inspire you to something active. Volunteer. Talk. Write. Play. Help at a cat rescue.
The hardest thing when I’m depressed is to try, to push myself out of the rut. KNOWING it is coming, knowing it will come helps and if you’re prepared, you’ll be better off. But depression is a shit show regardless of how you break it up. I won’t leave you with a ridiculous comment like ‘it will pass’ but please remember you have more value animated and contributing to the world in ANY small way than being gone.
I will always be available to anyone reading this to talk if they ever need it. Reach out through private message if you are in such a state that suicide becomes an option. There are many places which can help. Reach out. What exactly do we have to lose if we’re on the razor’s edge anyway? The last question you should ask (and MAKE AN ANSWER for) is ‘why not try X’.
It can save your life.