Friday, August 14, 2015
Dear Depression: You're An A**hole
I'm a writer. When I need to get out an emotion - happy, sad, up, down, confused, curious, whatever it may be - I write. And a couple of nights, as I was sitting there silently cursing my depression, an idea occurred to me. Perhaps, I can't ever fully describe my depression. I can't tell others exactly how it makes me feel. I have trouble expressing the all-encompassing effect of this condition. And despite how much more easily I'm able to describe things in writing, sometimes even writing about it doesn't do it justice. But, just because I wasn't going to write about depression, didn't mean I couldn't write to it.
Now before you go thinking: wow, she really is "crazy" (ugh that WORD!), let me explain. Sometimes, the person that we need to convince most is ourselves. We tend to judge ourselves more harshly than others. We'll cut others slack in the same places we berate ourselves. Often, the things we say internally, or to our reflection, or even sub-consciously internalize without realizing it, would get us walloped in the nose, or at best unfriended, if we constantly said these things to others. So when I say "write to depression", what I mean is, write to that part of me that believes depression, that allows the emotion I feel in those moments when it's doing its worst to carry over to the rest of my life, to affect my self-esteem, my confidence, my relationships. Because quite honestly, sometimes we need to give ourselves a good, honest, talking to. So I wrote that letter in my daily writing notebook. And it helped, as giving others a long-overdue and well-deserved piece of your mind often does. And in case my sharing it might help others, here it is, in all its glory.
First off, I think I have every right to say all that I'm about to. I've known you since birth. You've followed me around, the proverbial black dog, for nearly thirty six years. And guess what: you're an asshole. You're a goddamn liar. You tell me I'm no good, worthless. You magnify my faults and push away any inkling of my strengths. You tell me that the one instance that nobody is around to make plans means that I have no friends, that nobody wants to spend time with me. One mistake, even a tiny one, and you convince me I'm a failure. A broken relationship and I'll be alone forever. I'm hopeless. Because it's my fault. I am a mess. I'm the f*ck-up. I am the one to blame.
You believe every negative word that anyone's ever said about me, even when I try to stand up for myself. You repeat it over and over again until I believe it, or at least accept it. Until my true view of myself becomes impossible to decipher, hidden by all of the falsities you've spewed at me. And then, when I'm feeling down about it, you say to me, "see, this is why nobody wants to be around you, you're a downer, you're no fun, you are so negative. Nobody wants that. This is why you'll always be alone. You'll never be happy." And even though I know, when you don't have control - in those precious moments, days, week - that you are a liar and a phony, you eventually regain your power and I forget all of the truth I knew. Or almost forget. I know you're an asshole, but you're also part of me. You'll tag along dutifully for the rest of my life. So sometimes we merge and it's hard to know what to believe at all.
I'll give you one thing, you keep me humble. I could certainly never be called arrogant, with you, my ever-present shadow lurking out the corner to jump out at me just when everything seems to be going well. And you do help me reflect and write and create. In those moments, you throw me a bone. Because of you, I'm more sympathetic, empathetic, loving, understanding, especially of others with mental health conditions, chronic and invisible illness. And with you by my side, I've shared and met others who fight a similar battle. For that, I'm lucky. They're some of the most amazing people I know. I've somehow managed to turn some of your negative influence into a positive. Silver lining right? Too bad you hate those and try to fight back.
But depression, you S.O.B., there's one more battle you've not won. That battle where you whisper in my ear that life is not worth living, that there is no hope. Those moments in which you try the ultimate sabotage. But I fight you tooth and nail. I have screamed at you, and railed at you. And I have quietly outwitted you. Every one of those times. And when you try to convince me that eventually you'll win, I muster the strength to stay in that fight, to give it all I have, for five more minutes. And then five more, and five more after that. Until you finally know that I have beaten you, at least this time. I know you'll be back. So do you. But the relief and the strength and the pride, and the courage, that comes with having taken you on when you were most determined to defeat me helps me to come back around and continue to live, to grow, and to improve myself and my life. And so depression, you may be one hell of a determined a**hole. But I'm a 5'0, 110 pound Sicilian woman. Nobody messes with me and wins.