Survival is so hardwired into the earliest synapses of life that it is very normal, even healthy, to find suicide disturbing. The problem with disturbing things is that, by their very nature, we prefer not to examine them. This gives disturbing things an extraordinary power to persist in the shadows, surviving through generations, affecting vast swathes of the population in silence.
Most of the people who knew me when I was depressed did not detect a major difference in external behavior. This was partially due to the massive amount of time and planning I took to minimize depressed behavior while in public, but it is also due to the uncomfortable truth that the psychological distance between a healthy and a depressed mind is much shorter than most realize or admit.
The most insidious aspect of depression is this:
depression feels more like a solution than a problem.
If you break your legs, you are unlikely to see broken-leg-you as your “true” self, and will likely do everything in your power to expedite your recovery.
When you break your mind, their is an overwhelming sense that you are “seeing the truth.” That it is reality, not you, that is fundamentally broken, and those who seem happy exist only in some pathetic delusion.
There is also a cultural tendency to mythologize the depressed, with no end of historical artists and geniuses to reinforce this idea.
If I had to hypothesis why this correlation exists between depression and artistry, it would be similar to the blind-improved hearing hypothesis. That is, a blind person will often have improved hearing, not because the lose of vision improves the ability to hear, but because the person will naturally focus and be more in tune with the sense they can rely on. So then, when the cognitive, social, and emotional management section of this mind is impaired, the artistic and instinctual sections are forced to take a front seat.
The problem with viewing depression as something artistic, or normal, or honest, is that many people will allow themselves to remain depressed, keeping it a part of them like some sort of character trait.
At least, that’s what I did.
(finale next Tuesday)
part 4 next Tuesday
This is me.
If it helps you relate, it can also be you.
A few years ago, I was very depressed.
Have you ever been depressed?
For maybe two years, I was in a state of depression. Within that span there were moments of darkness and clarity, but the overall state was always present.
I think it is difficult to deal with people in this state because a depressed person is often indistinguishable from an uncaring person.
I often assumed a blank persona, not because I didn’t care about what the other person thought or felt, but because I was unable to access the proper emotion.
When faced with this situation, I often felt obligated to mimic logically the societaly-accepted emotional response.
The performance worked if the other person was too narcissistic to notice other’s reactions, but if they were hoping to form a genuine connection, even my best acting came across as condescending.
Social situations turned into situations with only negative consequences, and so I succumbed to the neutral settlement of no interaction at all. It felt logical to forgo society all together, leaving what relationships I had at a distant but undamaged state.
I’ve lost some friends, but I’m doing okay.
This year I found myself envying birds, for obvious reasons.
Although technology has allowed the human to fly farther and faster than any dumb bird, they still remain my symbol of stupid freedom.
Birds are seen as free because their wings allow them to escape from the present the moment their tiny bird heart craves it.
Unlike the bird I made up, I spent most of last year unable to escape my environment.
Somehow, midway through the summer, I did escape, and I escaped to Canada.
Escaping to Canada is a sort of joke in America, something you threaten to do when taxes are raised or a non-white man is elected president. No one really means it, but, as idiots are prone to do, I took satirical language at face value and moved to The Great, White North.
I started school at a new college, moved into a closet, and got a job at a local sandwich shoppe with all the other immigrants.
I learned more about international relations in six months at that sandwich shoppe than I did in eighteen years of government-funded education.
I genuinely feel workmanly-affection for a solid 90% of my coworkers, and truly care and admire several of them, but minimum wage work is rarely rewarding, and I spent most of my days wishing I was anywhere but the present.
It was sobering to realize that escaping did nothing to increase my sense of freedom. Realizing my mental state could deteriorate regardless of my environment, I lost the last of my hope, and descended into a very dark place.
This state, whose name I feel comfortable saying only now that I have exited it, is depression.
It is a mental state I think is impossible to fully understand when you’re outside of it. Even now, having only spent a week out of this brainspace, I can recall it only in muted memory.
I spent a year trying to exit this state naturally. I read a dozen books promoting meditation, zen, diet, and exercise as cures. All these things had some temporary effect, but as the days melted into one another it soon became very clear that this was something I could not escape through effort alone.
I don’t know why it was so hard for me to accept that.
I swallowed my pride in the form of a pill.
UPDATE: Keep commenting. Rather than responding one at a time, I’ll compile the drawings into a post next Thursday. Also, thank you for all the very kind, very thoughtful comments.
Hello everyone. First off, let me tell you that you’re beauty is outweighed only by your sparkling intellect and management skills.
Let me tell you, life is really wearing me down. I’m dealing with some medical shit, which leads to emotional shit and also monetary shit (money is the emotion of America).
I’m going to take a break from blogging until May, just so I can finish up school and try to get my life back on track. I’ve been humbled by all the amazing feedback and encouragement I’ve received here. After years of believing comment sections to be evil places of dangerous vitriol, I’ve been amazed by the intelligence, insight, and general good will of those who comment here. This blog has received almost 500 comments, and I haven’t had to block a single one. That’s kind of amazing.
To prove I’m not vanishing (and to prove I love you), anyone who comments here will get an original, ms paint, digital art picture. Ask me to draw anything, and I swear to Vishnu-Jesus I’ll do it.