(No, I am not in danger; yes, I am getting professional help. Either way, I still need friends.)
In one sense, I have every right to be depressed. It’s not all that long ago that I was assaulted, torn into by strangers, and misguidedly told how I could have, should have prevented it. It’s even more recent that Stephen and I got divorced. This week, I need to gather the paperwork for last year’s taxes. I could make a list a mile long of things that are stressing me out right now. But of course, none of that is the point. That’s not how it works.
Depression is not a logical thing. There’s no scale I can heap up with the good and the bad, and even if there were, the good would probably come out tops.
By any measure, my life is awesome. I live in a country that, while often infuriating, is stunningly beautiful. I have a job that’s the envy of friends and colleagues alike, and I have choices coming out my ears if I want a change. I’m solidly in the top 1% of rich people worldwide, and even on a more local scale, I have no debts or ongoing financial obligations–I could quite happily support myself for a year or more, even at Swiss prices. I successfully fed two lovely vegans yesterday, unexpectedly, using only the supplies I already had to hand (ok, they were pretty easygoing vegans, but still!).
I can list off a hundred people who are worse off than I am; a thousand reasons I have to be grateful. But does it change how I feel? Not one iota.
I spent today alternating between bawling crying, and curled up in bed wishing the whole world would wink out of existence. I completely failed to attend the BBQ I’d been looking forward to, because of a combination of paralysing apathy and hateful self-doubt. Promising myself fun, socialisation, probably good food, and beer, all failed to motivate me to do anything other than wish I lived in a remote Tibetan valley.
But I eventually managed to turn things around, to console myself, to climb out of that despair. And three things helped me do that.
One of them was realising that I am not the only person who feels this way; some of the most amazing people I know have arguments with the black dog on a regular basis. The next was reading someone else’s account of hitting rock bottom.
Two things stuck out from that: I’ve got to find a reason for someone to care and I call my wife and ask her to remind me why I’m worth keeping around
See, part of the problem is that when my brain wants to hurt me, it has all of the weapons. It knows where the soft spots are. It tells me no one has any reason to care about me, and because it’s in charge of the thinking, I believe it. Even when I know it’s being a lying toad, even when I can conclusively say it’s wrong and people do care, important people, people I love, it doesn’t shut up, and it’s very convincing. It tells me that all of the awesome things I do could be done just as well, and with less fuss, by someone else.
And the final thing that helped me turn today around was realising that there is help out there. There are people who care about me specifically and personally, and there are people who care about the things I’ve done, and there are people who care about me just as a plain ol’ human being.
The dog is gone home for today, but he’s not dead yet. And when he does come back, when he’s looming over me, sometimes it’s hard to remember that other people feel this way, that people care about me, and that there is help.
And so, I write this, as a reminder to myself, and as an offer, and as a request.
If you want to talk, let me know. If I can help you out, please, ask. I know it’s hard to do, but I care about you, and if I can, I’d like to help. If I can’t, phone or email the Samaritans (UK & Ireland), or phone the Samaritans (US).
And if you want to help me out, leave a comment, or send me an email. Share a cute animal picture, or a memory that makes you smile, or just tell me that you care. Chances are, I won’t want to talk about this much more, so if you’re open to talking about it, let me know, but don’t take it personally or hassle me if I don’t want to. (Mum, I love you, but I still don’t want to talk about this. Thanks.)
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Neurochemistry is a pain, but for now, mine is on my side