For me, the biggest part is to stop over-thinking and over-analyzing. Just write it.
A couple of weeks ago my psychologist told me what I’d suspected for years – I have depression.
I’ve always been the kind of person who keeps his personal business to himself; and I have realised that this has led to misunderstandings when people take my shyness or nervousness as stand-offishness or arrogance. Trust me, I do not believe I’m too good to talk to you. Regularly, the opposite thought is going through my head.
Depression is an unusual thing. A friend of mine asked me to help her understand it when I talked to her about it last week. This post is an attempt (one that will probably become a bit erratic at times – apologies in advance) to expand on the confused mess of words I spat out on that occasion. I wasn’t prepared for someone to show patience as I exposed a person who is very different to the personality that is usually seen by most people I know.
Having always glossed over myself in conversation, it was difficult to start explaining myself. Even now I’m going to do more generalising than I should. As anyone who suffers or has suffered depression will be able to tell you, it’s hard to pinpoint a cause. Our mental development is as varied as our physical development, and part of what frustrates me so much about having depression is that I cannot identify a distinct cause. I’m working on it though, there are a few things that need work and I’ve got some good places to start.
One thing that all depressed people will be able to tell you though is that some days you just do not see any reason to exist. Life becomes just something that has no point; there is nothing worth doing and nowhere worth going. You may say that that’s a bit extreme, but it’s true. And I KNOW I have plenty to live for. I have blessings that I can list and I have goals that I want to achieve. I have things that I am striving for. My family, friends. Love, passion, travel, silliness and intimacy. Adventure, discovery, memorable experiences, costume parties and karaoke. Sometimes though, none of it matters. It just doesn’t.
My logical mind runs through a list of things at these times: people, places, things to be grateful for, the knowledge that I CAN reach out to any one of a number of people who will listen to me … say stuff … if I want. And that’s where depression lives. Because for me, when I go through that list I still find myself with nothing to say. Because nothing matters. For no reason I can pin. And I don’t want to waste anyone’s time for no reason.
I can’t justify making someone else sit around with me while I sit around doing nothing. I don’t want to sit around doing nothing because sitting around doing nothing isn’t helping me stop being depressed. But then, I can’t find the drive to get up and do anything. So I go to work, or go out, because I should be doing that – maybe it will help shake this off and get me back on my feet. I show up to wherever I’m going and instantly people know I’m not totally ok. I do my best to be outgoing, to mingle and smile and be sociable but it’s hard. People see that and maybe they think I’m mad or something. A spiral of over-thinking begins and the only place it goes is down.
Sometimes I can get on top of it before it starts. At times, there are recognizable signs. These are good times, because I can shut it down before it makes things weird. Other times, it’s just beyond me.
So causes and contributors. As I said earlier, there are many. For me these include chemical imbalance, poor sleep patterns, low self-esteem, numerous long-established negative thought patterns and a hyperactive processing/imagination unit in my brain. I have made bad decisions and self harmed because of it. These are things I’ve never wanted to admit to people because I’ve always felt the need to be perceived as having everything under control. My masculinity doesn’t even come into it; I’m sure that any depressed person you ask, regardless of their gender, will give you this as a reason for their silence.
I have a lot of work to do to understand and manage (if not get rid of) my depression. I am so deeply and eternally grateful for the many people who love me for who I am and accept my quirks. I do not expect this to change anything about the way people interact with me but I do accept that it may. Part of me is afraid that posting this will distance some people from me but the reality of it must be expected.
I will do my best to make sure that my good days outnumber my bad ones by as large a margin as possible. Most of the time it’s pretty easy to do; I’m lucky because I’m sure that my depression isn’t very serious. If you run into me on a bad day though, please don’t be concerned. Just bear with me, and maybe sit down with me for a little while. You don’t have to do anything; sometimes it’s just nice to know that I’m not on my own.