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.