Anxiety+depression: the deplorable duo
I’m pretty open about myself on social media, as most of you know (some people think this is good, some think it’s not so good. It’s true that putting yourself out there sometimes results in judgment and criticism, and that’s one of the cons I’ve accepted. What’s more important and valuable to me is that being open often results in wonderful personal connections with others, which I suppose is why I continue to do it), especially about my own flaws and challenges I’ve faced and continue to face in life. It’s not that I think my stories and experiences and meditations are so unique it would be a crime not to share them — it’s more like a coping mechanism (and occasionally an affirmation that I’m not in fact just plain crazy [well, maybe just a little…]).
One thing I haven’t talked about as much on a public level is my lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression; I haven’t even really explored it in my creative writing until recently. I guess it’s because I feel so much shame over the fact that I struggle with these conditions, and I mange them without medication (not that there’s anything wrong at all with taking medication. I’ve just found that the few times I tried it, I had all of the side effects. You know, the ones they tell you about in one fast-forwarded mouthful in TV commercials. It’s especially fast when they get to the death risk, like it’s all one word: “maycausedeath!”).
You never know when the deplorable duo (that’s my nickname for anxiety+depression) are going to creep in and take over your life, and you live in constant fear that when they do, you won’t be your usual upbeat, optimistic self and people won’t understand why. You won’t be able to motivate yourself to do anything, not even get out of bed or answer phone calls or emails or knocks at the door, which makes you feel like the laziest fuck to ever breathe air. You won’t be able to sleep in spite of feeling exhausted. You’ll drink too much at times, which only amplifies the negative feelings. You’ll question why you feel angry or combative with people over things you normally wouldn’t be. You’ll be angry and combative with yourself because you have a lot to live for and a lot of people rooting for you and a lot of opportunities and yet it still feels like you’re flailing in a lake of despair where your feet will never touch the bottom. You’ll be afraid that no one will truly be able to love you or be with you long-term because of this dark spot in your nature that you can’t change — you can only manage, and try to improve at managing in healthy ways.
(On a side note, someone once said to me, “You’re too pretty to be depressed.” So ignorant. It doesn’t work that way. Also, being considered attractive is not and should not be the foundation of happiness and success in life.)
(On another side note: this is a silly detail, but whenever I go through these periods, I always think of the “Golden Girls” episode where Rose talks about the psych textbook from St. Olaf called “If I Have All The Cheese I Want, Why Am I Still So Unhappy?” An excellent query, indeed.
[Hey, you’ve got to joke about the troublesome shit sometimes, right?]).
I say all of this because I feel another depressive episode coming on — no specific trigger, because that’s now how the deplorable duo works — and I wonder if writing about it might be a helpful, productive way of dealing with it this time around. That’s one of the side effects I hate most — losing weeks, months, even years of time that could’ve been spent being productive (imagine all the books, short stories, scripts, papers, articles, etc. you could’ve written by now, I often say to myself even though I know that’s not fair). Writing about it here and posting this is my way of raging against not just depression and anxiety in and of themselves, but the shame they come with. Which is not to say I’m about to go total woe-is-me emo on you all — I’m just saying it’s nice to feel like I have a safe space to finally talk about it.