Adventures in Depression

Some people have a legitimate reason to feel depressed, but not me. I just woke up one day feeling sad and helpless for absolutely no reason.


It's disappointing to feel sad for no reason. Sadness can be almost pleasantly indulgent when you have a way to justify it - you can listen to sad music and imagine yourself as the protagonist in a dramatic movie. You can gaze out the window while you're crying and think "This is so sad. I can't even believe how sad this whole situation is. I bet even a reenactment of my sadness could bring an entire theater audience to tears."

But my sadness didn't have a purpose.  Listening to sad music and imagining that my life was a movie just made me feel kind of weird because I couldn't really get behind the idea of a movie where the character is sad for no reason.


Essentially, I was being robbed of my right to feel self pity, which is the only redeeming part of sadness.

And for a little bit, that was a good enough reason to pity myself.


Standing around feeling sorry for myself was momentarily exhilarating, but I grew tired of it quickly. "That will do," I thought. "I've had my fun, let's move on to something else now." But the sadness didn't go away.

I tried to force myself to not be sad.


But trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back.  A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn't going to work. 


When I couldn't will myself to not be sad, I became frustrated and angry. In a final, desperate attempt to regain power over myself, I turned to shame as a sort of motivational tool.

 

But, since I was depressed, this tactic was less inspirational and more just a way to oppress myself with hatred.


Which made me more sad. 


Which then made me more frustrated and abusive.


And that made me even more sad, and so on and so forth until the only way to adequately express my sadness was to crawl very slowly across the floor.


The self-loathing and shame had ceased to be even slightly productive, but it was too late to go back at that point, so I just kept going. I followed myself around like a bully, narrating my thoughts and actions with a constant stream of abuse.


I spent months shut in my house, surfing the internet on top of a pile of my own dirty laundry which I set on the couch for "just a second" because I experienced a sudden moment of apathy on my way to the washer and couldn't continue. And then, two weeks later, I still hadn't completed that journey. But who cares - it wasn't like I had been showering regularly and sitting on a pile of clothes isn't necessarily uncomfortable. But even if it was, I couldn't feel anything through the self hatred anyway, so it didn't matter. JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE.


Slowly, my feelings started to shrivel up. The few that managed to survive the constant beatings staggered around like wounded baby deer, just biding their time until they could die and join all the other carcasses strewn across the wasteland of my soul.

I couldn't even muster up the enthusiasm to hate myself anymore.


I just drifted around, completely unsure of what I was feeling or whether I could actually feel anything at all.


If my life was a movie, the turning point of my depression would have been inspirational and meaningful. It would have involved wisdom-filled epiphanies about discovering my true self and I would conquer my demons and go on to live out the rest of my life in happiness.

Instead, my turning point mostly hinged upon the fact that I had rented some movies and then I didn't return them for too long.

The late fees had reached the point where the injustice of paying any more than I already owed outweighed my apathy. I considered just keeping the movies and never going to the video store again, but then I remembered that I still wanted to re-watch Jumanji.

I put on some clothes, put the movies in my backpack and biked to the video store. It was the slowest, most resentful bike ride ever.


And when I arrived, I found out that they didn't even have Jumanji in.

Just as I was debating whether I should settle on a movie that wasn't Jumanji or go home and stare in abject silence, I noticed a woman looking at me weirdly from a couple rows over.


She was probably looking at me that way because I looked really, really depressed and I was dressed like an eskimo vagrant.

Normally, I would have felt an instant, crushing sense of self-consciousness, but instead, I felt nothing.



I've always wanted to not give a fuck. While crying helplessly into my pillow for no good reason, I would often fantasize that maybe someday I could be one of those stoic badasses whose emotions are mostly comprised of rock music and not being afraid of things. And finally - finally - after a lifetime of feelings and anxiety and more feelings, I didn't have any feelings left. I had spent my last feeling being disappointed that I couldn't rent Jumanji.

I felt invincible.


And thus began a tiny rebellion.


Then I swooped out of there like the Batman and biked home in a blaze of defiant glory.


And that's how my depression got so horrible that it actually broke through to the other side and became a sort of fear-proof exoskeleton.

4,264 comments:

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Brittany said...

Dude, I do the SAME thing when I have days where I go through those random little spurts of sadness. Like, a lot of times when I cry, I end up asking myself why I'm crying and thinking I'm just being stupid. And then I yell at myself to stop being so depressed because it's pointless and I have nothing to be upset about.

Some of your blogs remind me so much of myself it's scary! lol XP

MankyCat said...

This is the best description of depression I've seen. I'm glad you worked your way out of it!

Anonymous said...

YOU ARE AWESOME.

Emerald Avalanche said...

I can totally relate...

cjane said...

You are awesome.

Thanks for writing.

cjane said...

You are awesome.

Thanks for writing.

Amanda said...

My new hero. No, seriously. You are. You are upfront and honest and spoke about something that's so REAL, but many people are afraid of admitting it because they think it makes them weak. NO!! Realizing what it is, and then slowly, but surely, doing something about it is what makes us STRONG!
I'm proud of you. I wish I could give you a huge high five, some Skittles, and a hug.

Amanda said...

Hi Allie, I've never commented before, but I've been a "lurker" on your blog and love your perspective on the world. This one made me comment, because I thought one more person saying "YOU'RE AWESOME!" might just help reinforce that exoskeleton (I'm picturing that it's made of Skittle shells). Anyway, I teach a writing course at a university, and today, after a particular spelling error reached epidemic proportions, I read your "Alot" entry to my class of 26 undergrads (while trying hopelessly to maintain my dignity though my laughter) and they all loved you, too. (Actually, I had to stop class about 5 minutes later to let a kid who was still weeping with laughter get a grip so we could continue.) So you may have 26 more readers on your blog. Keep smiling, keep writing, and keep being inspirational.

Lizzie said...

Man, this is incredibly accurate. I laughed so hard at the "won't go out because I hate myself too much" part.. but man.. the scary movies and Skittles. YOU NAILED IT. <3

Sunny said...

It took me this long to say anything because I was too apathetic to read my reader. I didn't want to do anything but stuff myself with dingdongs.

I hope that in the time since you have posted this you are doing better. You clearly have a lot of people who hope you are doing better, and I'm one of them. Even though I still want some dingdongs.

kenny said...

probably this is one more comment of your work but i got to say it, even if you dont read it xD: yei!!! your work is amazing!!!! i can not belive that actually there is a person arround the world that actually thinks a little bit like me xD, im proud to se this kind of self expression, amazing, keep moving forward!!!

OliviaWJ11 said...

Thanks for putting yourself out there- it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one who has ever been depressed (in the clinical sense, not like, for "a reason," as you say- because everyone is sad sometimes, but this is different, as you know. But I digress...) but I'm also sorry because I know how it feels I wouldn't wish it on anyone. My "recovery" was anticlimactic, too. It actually just got a microscopic bit better each day. I kept myself busy and one day it was gone. But it comes back sometimes, if even only for a day or two, and I know that, in a way, I'll be living with it my whole life. But I'm not living in fear of it. I'm okay, and you will be too!

Anonymous said...

I want to marry the little pink and yellow creature.

gandhi rules said...

I so appreciate stories of other peoples hideous periods of depression and how they accidentally get out of them. Mine usually last from Tuesday to Thursday every week. I try to keep them shallow as I can't do soul crushing every week. By Thursday, I've made plans with friends and have worn myself out worrying about money and this always helps me enjoy the next four days until I can start all over again. Good times..

Anonymous said...

this accurately describes my life, right down to the pile of dirty laundry...
thank you for making me feel less alone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting again Allie. We missed you. Except for the assholes. And fuck 'em.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE your blog. Your posts always speak to me, although Why I'll Never be an Adult will always hold a special place in my heart. I hope you tell the self-hating inner voice to go f itself and keep doing what you do, because you are definitely a genius. NO JOKE. I found that pile of laundry on your couch deeply relatable:)

Walker said...

much, love little bedraggled eskimo vagrant. take your time.

Anonymous said...

allie-

thanks for sharing; i've been there myself at different times in my life and as always, your poignant descriptions are both comforting and hilarious. i hope you come out on the other side soon, good luck friend!

Amoral Badass said...

You are the best!!

I thought I was the only one who ever dreamed about being a stoic badass! Mine inner stoic badass is an amoral mercenary who I only unleash in open world video games!

Aussie on the Road said...

I loved this even as I felt awful that you had to go through it.

I've been dealing with depression for the past ten years and it does seem to come and go without any rhyme or reason. As you say - I've got no reason to be sad, but it doesn't make it any easier to push through.

I always read your entries and laugh. Today I read your entry, had a chuckle, but really felt a lot. Thanks for sharing.

Out of Sync said...

This was amazingly cool! Not that you were depressed obviously, just the whole story, and the way it was told... it was just... awesome.

Anonymous said...

Allie, west of the sun and east of the mountains ...word of caution about tryptophan and serotonin reuptake inhibitors: people with ADHD metabolize these in wierd negative ways ... being a zombie on SSRIs is no better than being depressed.

Anonymous said...

Oh Allie - how to thank you? When you're in that big D space, no amount of assuring you of your awesomeness gets through, I know - but you are amazing and I am so grateful you've come back to us! Hang in.

Anonymous said...

I feel that way all the time. The issue is that if I don't get this shit done I won't graduate. And I'm really scared of that.

Anonymous said...

Hey, if there is really no reason for your sadness, then your brain may need a chemical boost: get yourself a pill. Zoloft worked for me, 10 years ago for a year and a half. Think of it as a tool to use to shoot yourself back out into the atmosphere.

Nate said...

ALLY I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE BACK AGAIN AND NOT A GHOST!

Comment deleted said...

This post has been removed by the author.

.... not really :)

New reader, love your stuff. Hope this last one was more hyperbole than not.

Sarah said...

So so sorry to hear what you've been through this year, but so so happy that you are getting through it. Just keep on trucking along and know that you have so many people supporting you. *bear hug*

Pet movers in chandigarh said...

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Anonymous said...

Allie, you are such an amazing individual, especially now more than ever. And us readers are so blessed and fortunate that you decided not to give up on us; thank you. You probably do not have time to go through all 4000 comments (shame it's not over 9000 yet), I hope you are doing well. May you never lose your sense of humour.

Anonymous said...

Allie, I know the chances of you finding this in thousands of comments is slim to none, but I just wanted to let you know anyway. I am in counseling for PTSD after I was sexually abused, and I have horrible trust issues. The only person I really trust is my boyfriend, and it took years to get there. We go to college together and he faces depression, too. For the second time, he was forced to take a leave of absence because he needed money but also because his depression was bad. We'd spent the whole previous year long distance, and I would still see him every other week, but for some reason his leaving tore me up and left me unable to feel anything. Before he left, I wasn't the happiest of people, experiencing flashbacks regularly and also terrifying nightmares and paranoia and anxiety, but I was capable of happiness. He made me capable of happiness. But then when he wasn't there, I just went into myself. I still try to go out and be with my friends, but I feel like a machine on autopilot. I watched a twelve hour marathon of Law and Order SVU (something I'd always had to avoid before because seeing people act out what you went through on television was a surefire trigger), and I didn't feel anything. Even when the episode where the doctor abused his patients came on. It was pretty much exactly what happened to me, and it didn't even matter. It was freeing, but also it made me angry. I want to feel again, and I don't really know how. I get angry at myself and do crazier and crazier things to bring back the feelings. "Maybe if I don't eat, the feelings will be back," I think. "Maybe I will just keep pedaling and then my muscles will be sore the next day, and that's feeling, isn't it?" Most of all, I no longer felt up to the challenge of dealing with what happened to me. Since I was so numb and free of flashbacks, I didn't see a point, and my counselor kept asking if I was sure I wanted to continue, which made me feel like I was failing as a patient, which made me feel even worse. It is a miserable existence. I can relate to what you are going through. And I am not entirely sure what is giving me the courage to type out this comment. Maybe everything is just easier as an anonymous internet user.

Rvamiria said...

I know how this feels....waking up not knowing where that feeling comes from. Except I realized it came from something that happened a year and a half ago, it really hurts and I hope you get through this, I'm here if anyone wants to talk.

Tiger-Cub684 said...

Hey. I just wanna say, I just found your blog and I've been reading through the archives, and I love it and you! It's amazing. I wanna be just like you, super pretty, super funny and super smart. It's the trifecter, dude.
Well done. You're now my new hero :D

Can't wait for your next blog post, whenever that is. Hope you're feeling better.

jay said...

I had stopped checking for updates for a while, figured you were busy with the book, and I finally decided to check today. My depression was never this bad, but it was still so hard to describe to other people.
It seems a funny way to describe something describing so painful, but this was beautiful.

Please see a doctor, please know that there are people that love you.
And thank you for sharing.

The Miz said...

I have spent about half of the last decade being on-and-off depressed in the same manner you describe. I mostly manage to hide it at work, except for a few comments about 'how I didn't seem into it'. Being a paramedic, that's fairly bad, but having it mistaken for burnout was preferable to letting them know I was depressed since that'd open the floodgates of remedies.

None of which really work, of course.

The path through self-loathing, anger at oneself and even self-hate which while unpleasant doesn't really manage to do anything but slightly deepen the depression is one I've walked a few times.

In short... your entire blogpost is pretty much something I go through on a somewhat regular basis, which has given me a small bit of solace. A little glimmer of light ahead. Even in the worst depths of my depressions, there's that knowledge, that little spark somewhere in your head that says "This will be over at some point. The depression will end.". Sure, most of the time you just think of it as a lie, but it still helps just a little. It makes the apathy, self-loathing and so on just a little more bearable.

Thank you for sharing this. For the fairly gargantuan number of us out there that struggle with this at times, it's not really a help or a cheering post... but it's an acknowledgment of us not being alone. Of knowing that there's others out there that feels and does the same.

Why is this a good thing? Well... I don't know. Maybe it's just schadenfreude. Maybe it's sadism poking it's head out. Perhaps just the nasty little 'If I'm this fucked, so should others.' troll whispering in your ear. Maybe it's empathy. Who knows? But it still is a good thing.

So again... thank you.

Unknown said...

So glad to see you back. Remember this strength, remember how it feels to know that nothing can really touch you. No matter who we are, and what we're doing with our lives, we're all heading to the same place in the end. You've got nothing to lose. Stay fierce, stay powerful. My friends and I have missed you terribly, and we'll be right here cheering you on. :]

Awkward Giant said...

Hilarious, as always. It's been way too long since you've posted. I can't wait to read your book!

Connie said...

I've been wanting to re-watch Jumanji for months now. No torrents =(

I'm sure you get this a lot, but just knowing there's someone else out there who has an awesome blog and is thus more successful than I'll ever be, but still goes through the same emotional shit I do...there's a comfort in that.

Keep doing what you do, Allie. You're awesome. I wish we could hang out =)

Nathan said...

Is it bad that I enjoyed reading this?

Anonymous said...

You're an inspiration for those of us with depression. It is okay to talk about it. Laugh about it. Cry about it. And then - in that magical moment - just don't give fuck about it. Kudos Allie :)

Daniel said...

Hi Allie,

I'm glad to see you swam through the blackness back to the surface. I prefer M&Ms to Skittles. Don't forget to like yourself. Me and 4240 commentators(at this count) support and like you so it's OK if you like yourself too. You have permission.

Nicole said...

Thank you. Just thank you.

thestashattacked said...

As someone who's been suffering from depression on and off for years, yeah. That's exactly what it feels like.

I'm glad you're back.

monarchmorris said...

You could not have described depression any better. It is a really hard thing to describe and you did it with grace and humor. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had an attack of the satan. Next time I suggest praying!

Jazzycupcakepanda said...

mmm...Skittles...I have found that chronic TV watching seems to be the ultimate sign of Depression. Also piles of dirty laundry...I'm staring at mine right now.

Anonymous said...

I missed you so.

KJ said...

Hey! Thanks for sharing your story b/c so many of us can relate. I know that reducing sugar/caffeine and learning to meditate have helped me! Sugar...eeevviiilll. I hope you find your unique path out of the darkness! :-)

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the above commenter that this was totally relate-able! It was really brave of you to share this! also, a true testament to your talent-this post, especially the drawings, made me laugh! i hope you feel better soon!

Anonymous said...

Also, the same thing happened to me the last time I ordered a pizza. REALLY? you think i'm having a party with a SMALL pizza?

Sampathcz said...

Great!! Keep it real
respect from me... Keep it up buddy

Everything In One

mcclegend said...

Might as well throw my pennies into the ever-deepening...whatever. Thanks for this one especially. Although I am far from "the other side", stories like this at least help me remember that it's still out there.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

YAY! Your back!! I am so inspired! I put my hair in a ponytail AND I actually put some socks in the washer... didn't turn it on cause I gave up at socks...still have pants a shirt and I think it's a towel that I'm staring at... ughhh! Now I am really craving skittles... I put one shoe on... *sigh*

<3

rensan99 said...

OMG! I've been in the same place lately, burn out at work I think (the "I feel like a computer" = bang on!). I came to the blog today thinking it might cheer me up enough to get just one or two tasks done - it couldn't have been a more perfect post at the most perfect time. Thanks :)

Oh,and I had already planned to watch Otis (horror/comedy) tonight :D

Jack Torrance said...

Freaking awesome. Congratulations, you express so many things so many people feel without noticing.

Simon said...

By far your best blog ever. I can totally relate to this so hard. Plus it had lots of funny pictures.

Anonymous said...

So great to see another comic, maybe u have SADS? no Im not being mean, its when your mood is affected by the seasons. Lately now that winter has arrived I've been doing quite a similar thing, spending far too much time hibernating in bed, sitting at the pc in a blanket then back to hibernating.

Anonymous said...

So great to see another comic, maybe u have SADS? no Im not being mean, its when your mood is affected by the seasons. Lately now that winter has arrived I've been doing quite a similar thing, spending far too much time hibernating in bed, sitting at the pc in a blanket then back to hibernating.

Anonymous said...

So great to see another comic, maybe u have SADS? no Im not being mean, its when your mood is affected by the seasons. Lately now that winter has arrived I've been doing quite a similar thing, spending far too much time hibernating in bed, sitting at the pc in a blanket then back to hibernating.

Anonymous said...

YES YES YES YES YES!!!

Fucking bang on, you rock!!

Mari said...

Pssst. You're not still sad, are you? I hope not. I kind of need you to write a little something, because I'm feeling a little sad. Maybe we can take turns? Perfect. Thanks.

Nancy said...

Just wanted to say I am really glad you are feeling better. I had a similar period in my life a while ago, and I know how hard it is to go anywhere from there. *hugs*

Lybi said...

Great post! I was thinking that I super hope you have been to the doctor. Lots of things can cause depression (besides emotional upsets/trauma), including hypothyroidism, hormone imbalances, vitamin B12 deficiency etc. At any rate, I hope you are well and happy now, because I like your guts. *pause for effect* You have awesome guts to make yourself super vulnerable like this, in addition to being clever and funny.

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