Say Hello to Depression
Until a few years ago, every couple of months, my life would kinda blow up and I would have a meltdown of sorts. I would always have periods of intense effort where I would get tons of stuff done – and then, nothing. I couldn’t even shower for a few days.
I was totally fucked up.
That kind of behaviour, any psychologist would tell you this is bipolar disorder or manic depression. My psychiatrist did. And then put me on meds.
But, thanks to all the Hollywood movies and the fear of addiction, I never took them. And I suffered. And I struggled.
And then, luckily, I managed to figure out how to deal with the complete and utter sense of despair.
Also known as depression.
Before I explain how I coped….
What is Depression?
People think depression is sadness. It’s not. It’s not tiredness or weakness either. It’s the complete and utter absence of any willpower. The absence of life and ‘spirit’. There is no vitality or life force left in you.
It’s a state where doing the simplest of things – getting out of bed, showering, going on a walk, speaking to anyone – whatever, is impossible. Everything you loved, everything you enjoyed, everything that ever mattered – everything just fades away and there’s nothing to hold you on to this planet.
I’ve been there. And that’s one step away from suicide.
How Does Depression Start?
No clue. For me, it was a gradual descent. I slowly started being less and less interested in things. I have heard some people became depressed after losing a family member. Others, when they quit smoking or drinking. Many of the depressed people I’ve met became so when their lives suddenly changed – kids, new city, loss etc.
Types of Depression
According to the Internet and the docs I’ve met, there are many different types of depression. I had what is called manic depression. I had massive mood swings and I would alternate between being extremely hyperproductive and becoming a bag of meat and bones.
Can You Will Yourself Out Of Depression?
Honestly, I don’t think so. There are chemical balances that are off in your body that make you depressed – and maybe you could offset them with happy thoughts. But, when you’re in the pits – when you’re depressed, there’s no fucking way you can just ‘snap out of it’ or ‘let it go’.
What Can You Do About Depression?
Well, honestly, there’s a lot of stuff you can do. It first starts with getting help. Nobody’s weak for asking for help. Fuck, in fact, you need balls of steel to accept that you need help. I know I did.
The idea is to go to someone whom you trust – somebody who will respect your feelings and not try to belittle you. Then, get some counselling and see a doctor.
Stigma in India
There are many people that shy away from getting professional help for mental problems – it could be medical or counselling. I was one of them. Trust me – it just delays the process of healing and fucks up a little bit more of your time.
Don’t worry about what other people think. It’s highly likely that if you speak about someone who doesn’t understand you or ‘depression’, they’re not going to take you seriously. Worse, they’ll brush it aside lightly and make it a joke.
That’s messed up. Don’t get shamed into silence – speak out.
Also, a tangential point: There’s a difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. One is a counsellor (psychologist) and the other’s a medical practitioner (psychiatrist).
* Special thanks to Kripa to helping me add these points!
Getting Out Of Depression
This is the toughest thing to do. For me, during one of the periods when I wasn’t completely down, I did what I do best – I made a list. This was no ordinary list. As I grew up with video games, I made the whole thing into a game. A bunch of things I could do to beat depression and gain points. Once I did them all, I would win.
Below is the list I made to help me get out of my depression – and to gain momentum to keep me going. I added one thing a day until I could do the whole list. And every day I missed something, I didn’t give up. I went back and did the whole thing again.
- Get out of bed and brush my teeth.
- Go to the balcony.
- Eat one fruit.
- Wear fresh clothes.
- Take a bath.
- Read the paper.
- Get a haircut, shave & head massage.
- Go for a walk.
- Call a friend.
- Read a book.
- Listen to music.
- Play the Hapi drum.
- Go to office.
- Make chai.
- Shave at home.
Keeping Depression At Bay
I don’t think I’m cured of depression. Nope. It’s still there – like a bubbling bucket of tar just waiting to swamp out everything that’s important to me.
But, I’m prepared this time. I am doing the following to keep myself protected:
- Listening to Audiobooks
- Changing my routine
- Gymming & exercise
- Writing weekly (on this blog)
- Coming up with side projects.
- A very tight daily routine
- Reading comics
- Experimenting with new things
- Playing with poi (physical movement)
- Flirting with my wife (dumb, but it’s effective)
- Playing chess
- Getting rid of social media and TV
- Being useful to anyone in a small regard (I believe that the secret to happiness is being useful.)
The Bottom Line
Depression is a serious issue. It needs attention. You need help. Speak to someone today and get help. The stuff I’ve shared above are the things that have worked for me. They could work for you too.
But, that’s not why I shared it.
I shared it so that you know one very important thing:
You are not alone.
If you need help, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Fancy Quote That Explains The Stuff Above
“E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going; you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”
–Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life