“True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.” -David Foster Wallace
Confronting depression is an exercise in will, isolation and forgiveness for oneself. It is a quiet, frustrating experience that creeps up slowly and quietly, no real timeframe to pinpoint why or how it happens. The thing with no name – it’s walking in circles testing the limits of ones own fragility and direction. “It” can be a number of things, whether brought on by stress, circumstance or the decline in one’s mental health.
What happens when you catch yourself in this place? When your state of mind is just there and soaking up all the creeping negativities, the self-hate, the paranoia, and the overwhelming fog that affects the simple everyday. When those depressions and anxieties creep up slowly from the back of your brain and slowly begin whispering into your ear the same old propaganda that you fight so hard against ““ how do you cope?
The one thing that becomes the most obvious about these issues is the language around it. I have struggled to talk about my own depression because I fear the reactions ““ “How could you feel this way? You have everything going for you! What do you have to be sad about? Don’t you think that’s selfish?”
Yes, I agree with all those statements, which makes me much less willing to talk about my state of being. The very act of opening up my refrigerator and seeing the food I have is concrete evidence of how lucky I really am ““ how privileged I am. But it also perpetuates the hate cycle that myself and others are already struggling with, as well as the willingness to talk about it.
No one wants to be pegged as ungrateful or unaware of the great privileges they have. But language like this is one of the further ways we downplay any sort of mental struggle. I think it has a lot to do with our still archaic but deeply cultural imbedded idea of, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” an opinion which has been applied to everything from poverty to racism and has proven relatively false in the larger scheme of things for most.
Taylor Mali – Depression Too Is A Type Of Fire
Putting a name on the problem ““ being able to acknowledge, is always the first step. Ruts are very different animals from depression, but in my experience, my rut will often lead me back into dealing with episodes of full-blown depression. Ruts can be solved often with time or change, but depression is its own different beast. My own quiet and secretive bouts have been marked by disordered eating, cutting ““ any lack of autonomy I’d often deny my own body. A lot of it had to do with how I coped with things when I was much younger, but a lot of it also had to do with the fact that it was easier to deal with whatever was going on in my head by these measures. Now that I am older and can see more of the forest for the trees, I can recognize what is self-destructive behavior, though my ability to effectively communicate the other, more constructive stuff is still in constant progress. Sometimes it can take me a while to recognize the red flag thoughts I have, the ones that can send me spiraling.
Treating yourself is the second- what do you need to deal with your depression? Where is the best source for you to go to learn to manage, to learn to be at peace with yourself? What environments impact you ? Does medication work? Can you do this on your own or do you need more support? What is the best way for you to help yourself ““ to keep “it” from taking over?
So we do what we can as people ““ we go to therapy, we talk to friends, we take our meds and we hope that each day can be a little bit more “okay” than the last. Because with depression, the thing that matters most is that we can engage in the things we know make us whole and not be defined by “it,” as if “it,” like any other stereotype thrown into the wind with causality, would forever damn us to some idea of “crazy.”
I chip away at it day by day and sometimes I have my days where it’s nothing but depression engulfing my every thought. The tiniest things can set me off and for the rest of my day I am struggling with normalcies that send me into a spiral of self doubt and hate. And other days I am okay and I can clearly see everything around me. I don’t look at it as, “And ta-dah! You’re better!” or a thing that is with me always on my shoulders. It’s a day-by-day thing, even a moment-to-moment thing. We don’t need to be saved. We need people to understand.
How do we better talk about this? How do we get others to engage in this conversation without it affecting our own progress, especially when those around us may not always understand it? Moreover, how do we erase the taboo of mental illness, whether diagnosed or not?