Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Depression Redux

I read a report a while ago that stated the three professions with the highest incidence of clinical depression were actors, musicians, and writers (guess how many of those jobs I've held).  I think it's pretty easy to see why.  We're always craving approval, we all get rejected more than most people, and it's something we deal with every day.  For writers, depression has a one-two punch because writing is something we can (usually) only do alone.  It's a solitary activity, one that enables us to escape into our imaginary worlds.  But then we have to come back.  There are bills to pay, rejections to catalogue, etc.  Granted, for some people, depression is simply that, a feeling of being down. But for me, it's a little different.  I have a disease, a chemical imbalance, if you will.  My body is hardwired to make me feel like crap most of the time, and that's just something I have to learn to deal with.  It isn't something my parents did (hi mom!), or something anyone else caused, it's me.  And that doesn't make the feelings any less real or make me more of a whiny little emo-guy than the next person.  In fact, most people who meet me don't even know.  So what does it do?  For those who've never felt depression, I'll attempt to describe it. I'm a writer, so I should at least give it a try, right?

Imagine waking up every day in pain, secure in the knowledge that everyone around you only tolerates you, and that the world would be better off if you weren't around to take oxygen away from someone else who needed it.  Imagine the constant feeling that you are worth less than shit and that nothing you do is going to change it.  You've damned your children by being their father.  You've damned your spouse for being just charming enough to get her to marry you before she found out what a loser you really are.  You look at your insurance policy and try like hell to figure out a way to die that doesn't look like suicide because the policy doesn't cover it.  Anyone who tries to help, you're sure they being patronizing, so you snap at them.  You lock yourself away in your room and stare all day at the computer screen wishing for words that won't come because you're too embroiled in self-loathing and hatred and shame for anything worthwhile to come out of your fingertips.

Welcome to my world, or at least what used to be my world.   And I don't mean I had days that felt like that.  I meant I woke up in that state every day.

Don't worry...This isn't a "feel-sorry-for-Scott" pity party.  I'm not looking for pity because, frankly, I don't need it.  And, no, this isn't a "how I found Jesus" story either.

See, that used to be me.  You wouldn't believe how many times I sat in a chair trying to figure out a way to die because I knew, just knew, that I was worth more dead than alive, and my own death would cut my family free from the curse that was living with me.

Now look at your life.  Do you think you could go through your life like that?  Do you think you could keep all the hate and bile bottled up inside you because the people you love don't deserve to have it spilled on them?  Sure, we all have bad days, but every God-damned day?

I've told the story a few times, of how I came out from under depression, but for those who haven't heard it, there are two people in my circle who literally saved my life:  My wife and my oldest daughter (the youngest wasn't around yet, but I know she would've done the same thing).

I won't beat this dead horse into the ground by going into the grim and gruesome details, but my I can say this:  Anna saved my life with a hug and a kiss, and my wife made me more happy with who I was.

So what's the point?  Simply this:  Depression is a problem.  it's not something that can be solved by binge-eating, violence, overcompensating, a kick in the pants, sex, or any other thing that uninformed people think.  I love it when people say "he just needs a kick in the ass/to get laid/chocolate/beer" to pull someone out of the throws of actual depression.  What the person needs is love and understanding, and, most importantly, help.

If you, or someone you know, is having trouble, get help.  Contact someone who knows how to help, and get to them on hot feet.  Please believe me, no matter how bad it feels, no matter how worthless you think you are, and no matter how bad things are going, there's hope.  There's always hope.  There has to be.

Remember that to live is an awfully big adventure.

Leave your comments and keep your head up.

By the way, this article was inspired by this article over on Cracked.com.


  1. I could go into a lot of details here, but I will leave it at this: Thank you so much for this post.

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  3. One of the greatest things we can learn is that we are never alone. Thank you for posting.

  4. Scott,

    Thank you for sharing this. Funny that I didn't know the big 3 for clinical depression and I'm a NP/Forensic Nurse in addition to being a writer. Some of what you wrote really resonates and explains why I've felt like I do sometimes. It's rare that I go through it, but now and then the "swallowed up" feeling comes along and I battle it. I'm lucky that I too have a great husband and 2 wonderful kids and a spiritual background in Buddhism that helps me through. But sometimes even those supports are just not enough. Sometimes the animal comes inside and bares its teeth, grabs me and drags me down into the abyss. At those times, I feel a bit like Alice wielding the Vorpal sword in front of the Jabberwocky, all alone...my destiny up up to me. Only me. Usually it takes a lot of tears, a good 3 mile run or a wicked surf day expending a lot of energy... and if I'm lucky a GREAT idea to write about... to make the feeling go away. But my greatest fear is when it decides to come back, because I can never be ready when it does. The moments are inopportune and unannounced. Anyway, thank you for posting this and sharing a bit of your soul. It takes strength and courage to do that. You rock.