This is how I would like to look when I am feeling depressed (minus several inches of hair):
This is how I actually look when I am feeling depressed (sudocrem and all):
It is hard to ignore the difference in my eyes between the pictures, and I am (can you believe it) not referring to the godawful eye makeup.
Even if you feel and ostensibly seem ‘okay’, I am of the opinion that, in all of us, there is some core belief or fear that has the capability of making us miserable again, or of emerging in the form of some self-sabotaging behaviour. So, regardless of if you believe you are just fine, or if you are sobbing uncontrollably, or if you are very angry, or if you are just numb, I can assure you of two things that are objectively and statistically true right now:
- Someone else in the world is going through this exact feeling, right at this moment.
- This feeling will pass.
Notice how I say the feeling will pass, not the thing that is making you sad. I will elaborate on what I mean later.
I have suffered from issues with my mental health. I won’t say ‘bad’ mental health, as I believe that ‘bad’ as a word implies something inherently wicked or broken, as opposed to a fluctuating, subjective state. To me, it can also give the indication of something that is chosen (which is rather crude considering that our genetic makeup, childhood upbringing, neurochemistry and other factors out of our control affect our behaviour), as well as something that is fixed and unsalvageable. You are not choosing to feel like this any more than I chose to be born with brown hair. However, like I have chosen to dye my hair a strange orange hue (that might have been less of a choice and more of the result of some stubborn henna but for the sake of the self-help wisdom that can be garnered from it, I am deciding it was a choice), you can choose to help yourself out of this horrible feeling. I know you don’t think you can, and that is part of the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that makes depression, in particular, so awful and insurmountable. You genuinely feel as if you are not going to get any better, and that once you have known this darkness, you will be unreceptive to and uninterested in any light ever again. You want to shun everything good or beat it like a piñata until its rotten core drops out and you can defensively claim, ‘AHA! I KNEW IT ALL ALONG, I PREDICTED YOU WOULD BE LIKE THIS! I WILL NEVER BE HURT BY YOU, OR ANYONE, EVER AGAIN!’. You learn to treat happiness with scepticism or sheer dismissiveness, for the fact that it tends to disintegrate to reveal hopeless darkness just as you have started to believe in it.
Any existence with depression, regardless of whether that be a relatively productive or a relatively sedentary one, is not an existence I would condemn anyone to. Certainly not anyone I love, and I love you (I will also explain briefly later why I love you, you will just have to take it for now).
Do not get me wrong. We are supposed to be sad, just as much as we are supposed to be happy. Sadness is way more similar to the commonly used term ‘depressive realism’ than depression is, as it is a reasonable and realistic response to life’s pressures and challenges. But depression is not the same as sadness. They are different in many ways. I think the clearest of these differences is this one:
Sadness has an expiry date. Sadness also relies upon the recollection of happiness. Sadness and happiness co-exist because they are light and shade.
Depression eats up memories of your happiness. Happiness isn’t the partner of depression, it is its sworn enemy. Depression eats up your future, so you can’t see it anymore and, even worse than that, you don’t want to see it anymore, lest it contain anything as unpleasant as the way you feel now.
You don’t deserve this, and you cannot listen to your reasons for why you do. You are depressed, therefore your thinking is skewed. There is no objectivity to your judgements of yourself, or of the world. Nearly all of depression (apart from rare cases where it is purely an imbalance in neurochemistry alone) comes out of a skewed view of the world, and this is supported by hundreds upon hundreds of studies into depression by manifold experts on the condition.
Life has hardships and challenges. We must accept that we can never escape from the possibility of having to go through these, otherwise, we simply would not be living at all. This is me going back to what I said earlier about the feeling passing, as opposed to the event. Whereas you cannot change the things that have already happened to you and the things you are unaware of now that will happen to you in the future, YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR RESPONSE TO THESE THINGS. BY ALLOWING YOU TO GIVE INTO A BLACK HOLE OF DESPAIR EACH TIME SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS TO YOU, DEPRESSION STOPS YOU FROM ACCEPTING THE NATURE OF LIFE AND, THEREFORE, STOPS YOU FROM LIVING. BY GRINDING IN YOUR HEELS AND REFUSING TO ACCEPT THE DARK ELEMENTS OF LIFE, YOU ARE, INEVITABLY, REFUSING TO ACCEPT THE BEAUTIFUL ELEMENTS. I capitalised and emboldened this part because if there is any aspect of this post you are going to read and actually absorb, I want it to be this bit.
I love you. No matter how ‘fucked up’ you are. I can tell you a badly kept secret: we all are. I love you because I know this, and, therefore, I can relate to you in a way I can relate with no other living thing. I love you, still, because I know that, simply by being human, you have just as much capability to do good as you have to do bad, and I am dazzled by that capability.
Bubbye + see u next time