I’ve been dealing with depression my entire adult life.
If you wanted to pinpoint when it began, you’d be an idiot not to circle the day my mother died. But I’m not sure if her death was the reason for my overall struggle, or simply the catalyst for something I’d be dealing with regardless of my circumstances. There’s a pretty good chance I’d be a totally normal, sort-of-depressed guy, regardless of what happened to me in high school.
But here’s the thing: it doesn’t fucking matter when it started, or why it started, or how it started, or if I went through puberty in high school (I did not). The important thing is that I think I’m finally fucking done with it.
Now, I know as well as anyone, that you can’t just wish depression away. I’m not trivializing the people who deal with it every single day. I’m not suggesting that I can cure myself and move on. I’m not sure everyone understands that I didn’t go through puberty until college (I seriously did not). What I’m saying is that I’m done with it. And that’s an incredibly important distinction.
The problem for most people with depression is this: they have depression. Thank you for coming to my blog, where I hit you with all of the hard truths and college-level facts about psychoanalysis!
But seriously, that is the biggest issue with depression. It exists. And even though depression’s existence is definitely the number one issue, I’m certain there are people out there who have a secondary problem. And I’m one of them. And it’s almost embarrassing to admit.
I like being depressed.
Okay, shit. That’s not totally right. That feels like a generalization more than the way that I actually feel.
I think I’m a better artist because I’m depressed.
Damn, that seems pretentious. And that’s not exactly it, either. Plus, again, pretentious. So no, no… no more of that.
I think that my depression is an inextricable part of my sense of self, and that it helps fuel my point of view.
Okay, that’s pretty close to what I’m going for. And I’ll explain a bit more.
I have always relied on my depression to fuel me, creatively. My depression is cyclical, and I’ve learned to stay one step ahead of it and use it to my advantage. Think of me as a guy who has a horrible golf slice, but rather than correcting it, he tees off 40 yards to the left and watches the ball bounce onto the fairway. Also, you can just think of me as that guy, because I literally do that. I’m not very good at golf.
Here is my usual pattern:
- Depression! – There you are! Time for me to take some baths, withdraw from my friends a little bit, and generally be less fun for my wife to live with. I don’t sleep well, I eat worse, and I buy video games. The new Mario games for WiiU were way underrated COME AT ME.
- Rock Bottom! – This usually coincides with a sleepless night. I’ll toss and turn, finding any reason to be anxious, and eventually sit on my couch until I can take some Tylenol P.M. and try to convince my wife that I slept great.
- Creative Flow! – Now, I know the first two steps sound like they suck. But that’s only because they do! Here’s where it gets interesting. After the rock bottom period, I tend to write better than I have in weeks! I return emails, I set meetings, I write blog posts, I jot in my journal, I write short films, I bring my wife lunch, and I’m generally pretty great. (Editor’s note: even at “great” I’m probably like a 7)
- Slight Hitch! – A small, sometimes not even real thing that completely derails me. Followed by…
- Depression! – Still the same as number 1. And can be anywhere from an afternoon, to a few days, to a couple of weeks.
Now, if you noticed, there is only one good step in my five step system. That means I’m batting about .200, which is not great, unless you’re Aubrey Huff.
But here’s the problem: this feels like me.
I like things that are dark, and sad, and weird, and *gulp* depressing. It makes my writing dark, and sad, and weird, and *gulp* funny; at least to me. And that’s because the most depressing parts of our existence are incredibly funny if you just think of the utter uselessness of it all. Because like, this life sometimes feels overwhelming, you know? (Oh god, please don’t let this paragraph be my Slight Hitch)
So if I’m depressed, and the thing I value most in life is being your authentic self, then I should lean into the depression and allow it to work its magic in my creative and professional life. And that’s exactly what I’ve done for the better part of ten years. But there’s a problem that comes with using your depression to fuel your creativity- mainly that all of your endeavors seem to be based on a 30-year-old man who is depressed. In the last three years, I’ve written short films about living in a bathtub, suicide, existential crises, depression, and depression. It’s becoming a little one-note, am I right?
So here’s what I’m taking a thousand words to say: I know that depression is likely not done with me, but I finally feel like I’m done with it. Rather than leaning into my cycles and trying to create raw, authentic art, I’m going to try and get better and write things about astronauts or dogs who can slam dunk or a guy whose butt is also an ancient talisman. I don’t know, it doesn’t fucking matter. Just as long as it isn’t about how sad the world is. Especially now, when the world is so fucking sad.
So that’s what this blog post about depression is supposed to do- act as a clear declaration that I’m done with harnessing my depression for my writing.
Even if I’m doing it in the most hypocritical way I can imagine.
(At least for a little while. I mean, you gotta write what you know. And depression is something I happen to know)
*but seriously, I have a project about depression that I love. So I’m still gonna work on that and hopefully you’ll see it soon*
artwork by Jen Hunt Gudernatch and Casey Hime