Mind Health

My story is not unique — how about you?

I was thinking about this over the past few days as my mind wandered into that funky place sometimes known as depression. It seems anything can trigger it and then again, absolutely nothing. There are times where I think about writing it all down but I get distracted and forget.

Personally, I think depression is important…what I mean is there are times in the murkiness that I have the most profound thoughts. Sure, it sucks. I really hate going there but the reality is, unless you’re in denial — depression is as important to life as any other emotion. It’s about balance. And what we do with that balance.

Nobody wants to be depressed. I hate when it comes on. Maybe it’s just age or knowing my own self but I can generally feel a bout of it coming and rarely is there an outside force that causes the slump. There are times where outside forces (interactions with certain people or events) can exacerbate the depression and I wonder if there are foods I’ve eaten that bring it on as well.

I get addiction. It’s easy to reach for something to numb that helplessness you feel when your mind goes to dark places. For me, it’s generally a spirit (those that know me well know my predilection for scotch)and the results can be fairly instantaneous. A generous pour at the end of the night and that gentle buzz warms over me and the brain quiets…and the distraction of some mindless program on Netflix keeps me in bay for another day.

Rinse. Repeat. And before you know, a cycle is in place. I can step outside myself and spectate, wondering why I succumb to these basic desires. It’s a band-aid on a gashing wound and the next day you awake and the bleeding hasn’t stopped.

Everyone has their own way of dealing. I immerse myself in music, work and hobbies. This can consume 16 hours of the day and keep my mind in check but the rest of it? Pure noise. I like conspiracies — there are many. Some would ask why waste my time with such pursuits. The distraction keeps me from darker thoughts and, prurient pastimes. I don’t crave or think about drinking (I’m thankful for this considering my upbringing) but without a good outlet to busy my mind, it’s always there. The urge to mask or run from feelings of emptiness and — dark.

On the surface, I seem to have it all in check. Almost like a duty. I’m a big guy, quirky with an intimidating look (only if you’re not a kid or an animal) and I tend to excel at many things. This is generally because I hate the word no and I’d rather fall down a 1000 times trying to master something than accept that I can’t do it.

It’s the perfect storm for someone with my personality. Never at ease, always wondering if I could be better, stronger, more likable. And with each passing year, fighting the urge to give the world the big middle finger or, to claw my way through to the middle of the pack and hide out for what remaining time is left.

Sure, there’s such a thing as balance but I’m not sure this is in my wheelhouse. At 53, as much as I like the idea of teaching old dogs new tricks, I have to accept that my mind is wired and coping with the reality that is life and how hard it is; to constantly be trying to prove yourself to others (in my case, always the wrong people) in the hope that life will magically get easier.

The journey is all ours. What we choose to do with it. How we choose to interact with others. Who we choose to share it with. (I think this is self talk)

The hardest thing to come to terms with is that few are selfless in the world. We’re all reaching for something better and even when we’re helping others, it’s with the hope that we’ll find answers, or something better in ourselves.

I’m sitting here trying to think about how to wrap this up and, if I’ve given those of you who have taken the time to read — an insight into anything. Yes, it’s always great therapy to write the thoughts out on the page. It’s also scary, hitting the publish button, knowing that I’ve given strangers a glimpse. But then again, we’re really all strangers here, and fear? It’s just wasted energy.

I think ultimately, my goal is to say — “hey, we may be strangers but we’re not alone.” Depression hits us all. Insecurity is something everyone deals with. We all fee lonely from time to time, no matter how many people are around us. And my personal belief is that the more time we spend trying to show people how fantastic our lives are on instagram or facebook, the more isolated we become.

That’s because it’s not a real conversation. It’s a declaration to yourself that life is amazing but it’s a single moment in a 24 hour day that is full of chaos with everything hurtling towards you at light speed. We will get caught up in your moment but will just as quickly move on, after an obligatory like, looking for that next moment.

Life is the moment. It sucks. It’s fantastic. It’s scary. It’s unknown and life is a series of contradictions seemingly put in place to mess with our sanity.

We’re all on this sinking ship together. In another 100 years, not one of us will be around to remember why we got depressed in the first place.

If you’re really having trouble coping — help just a text away. I’ve seen this show up in some of my feeds the past few weeks. I’m not sure if it works or if it would be better than picking up the phone and talking to someone close, that you can trust but here’s the number and it’s free: 741741

I’ve been told crisis counselors are on the other side, waiting to help.