Before we get into this, if a Google search brought you here and you're depressed or having dangerous thoughts, please speak to someone about it, right now. Your feelings aren't bad, wrong or shameful, and there is help available. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...
I don't talk about my depression much, because I feel it's minor when compared to other people's struggles and I don't want it to define me. I'm embarrassed by it too; I'm the happy guy, that's always running in the forest and tweeting puns, afterall. But somedays, it not only defines me, it completely engulfs me. When suffering from depression, I feel like a boulder is on my chest, pinning me to my bed. No amount of willpower or convincing is enough to get me up, and all I'm capable of is silent reflection. Being told to "cheer up" or "just think happy thoughts" in these moments is like being punched in the stomach, and only makes me feel more disconnected and alone. Tonight I was planning to run with friends. I came home from work at 5, ate some dinner and put on my run gear. I had 30 minutes to spare, and laid down on my bed, where I dozed off, and woke up a different person.
I've been beating depressed for 20 years at this point, which makes me feel extremely old. It started in middle school, after my dad left us and my mom started dating. My older brother was getting in trouble at school and with the law, and I was stuck in a shitty hick town. I didn't identify with the people around me, who were more interested in sports and dirt bikes than books or technology.
As I went into high school, I was diagnosed and put on Zoloft, which I promptly gave to my peers who thought it would get them high. I had a close group of friends, and long stretches of happiness. Skateboarding, partying, smoking weed. Once in a while I'd nosedive into a down period, and spend a few days locked in my basement bedroom, listening to punk rock, reading about political activism and Gandhi. After high school I lived in Taiwan, with my father for the first time since I was a child. I got to know him; a caring and loving man, talented guitarist, hard working teacher, and a lifelong depressed alcoholic. In my last year with him, I plunged back into insomnia and deep depression and needed a change, so I came back home.
Back in Canada, and in the adult working world, I've been through many phases, some happier than others. I've learnt tricks and built habits that help. I thrive on change, and enjoy new challenges. I need a social life, balanced with introverted days to recharge. In the last few years I've learned that exercise and a clean diet is the best thing I can do for myself to maintain my mental health. When I get off my routine and miss a few runs or eat too much processed and sugary food, it can tip me over the edge. That's what happened tonight, after skipping 2 runs due to a busy schedule, and eating junky food all week.
Depression or anxiety doesn't make you weird, bad or wrong. I've found the people in my life that understand and know how to help. They know who they are, and that I love them for it. Tomorrow I will focus on the things that keep me on track, and be back on top in no time. See you there. <3