Naming Depression

Dear World 

Please Kill Me, 

It probably comes as no surprise that I suffer from a fair amount of depression. No, you don’t have to refer me to various hotlines, help-centers, or whatever the hell Pete Davidson does. My depression isn’t the type that makes me think of crazy things or do crazy things or even lash out. It’s more benign than that. In some ways, it’s a little more sinister. Whereas the whole “woe is me,” factor is still in play, my depression likes to pop its creepy little head out when things are actually pretty okay. Almost like an anti-joy ray that snakes away any and all capacity for a warm-fuzzy feeling. 

That isn’t to make light of the situation. I understand that there are millions (billions?) of people out there with much more severe versions of this affliction (not to downplay my own). I believe that what sets me, and other functionally-depressed people apart from the more serious iterations is my complete conscious acknowledgment of it—something I’ve long been forced to confront. Rather than a monkey on my back, my depression is like that bully in school that never hit you but always threatened to.  

Ex: 

Me: Ah…Tomorrow’s gonna’ be a good…. 

Depression: NO, IT’S NOT! NOTHING’S GOOD! EVERYTHING’S AWFUL AND LIFE IS POINTLESS. 

Me: Okay then. I guess I’ll think about that instead of sleeping tonight. 

And it goes on like that. For days, weeks, and months at a time until I inevitably relent—not from sadness but from sheer exhaustion. If you didn’t know, sometimes sadness isn’t the thing that “gets ya’.” A lot of the time, it’s just the slow and painful whittling down of self-will. Just to put a little sugar in your medicine, I want you to know that I’m fine. I have been fine. I will be fine. I just think it’s important to face what’s happening—if only to sap away whatever power it has. 

So, the question: How do we deal with being depressed enough to notice but maybe not depressed enough to get much more help than the standard “eat right,” “sleep right,” “exercise,” and “think positive”? I’m no doctor, but I can tell you that I tend to (*attempt to) isolate the feeling and examine it as best I can. Fortunately, I have a few friends in the medical field, so if I do the hard work, they’re usually more than willing to help me dissect the underlying issue. 

As of late, I’ve been cycling in and out of varying degrees of anxiety and depression. Though, I suppose it’s possibly just the same situation piling up on itself. Like usual, I saw it coming. Ignored it. Waited for it to literally manifest in my routine (bad way to handle it but I’m stubborn #TaurusLife). Once it got in the way of my writing, it was high time to sit the little f*cker down and investigate. 

As creatives (particularly writers), we tend to spend a lot of time toiling in the depths of our own minds. Weirdly enough, the same place that depression likes to linger is usually right next door to the creative thoughts. In this way, we’re constantly doing this odd mental tightrope—drinking from the rivers of inspiration while turning our noses up to the negative thoughts. But they’re there. I know they’re there. You know they’re there. It’s just a part of the job—like sanitation workers who smell…uh… not amazing during their shifts or dog-walkers who get the occasional flea or turd-shoe. Not much can be done there. 

So, it helps to investigate, interrogate, and essentially lance this psychological boil (…letting the sad juices drip from the bulbous mass as we giggle maniacally). 

In this particular instance, the root of my malaise boiled down (no pun intended) to a handful of things, thoughts, and tribulations that I simply haven’t given their just due. In turn, they festered in my subconscious until one day I couldn’t do much but attempt to drink them away (also, don’t do that). To me, dealing with emotions can be pretty tedious and I’ve got way too much to do to take random mental health/sad days. Point in motion, these lights don’t keep themselves on. However, as is always the case, the boil grew and grew and grew until I couldn’t ignore it. Enter: Involuntary mental health day. 

So, what was this problem that plagued me? I’ll spare you the unseemly details and cut to the chase: The source was the cause and the cause was the source—I’d lost ownership of my life. Rather, I’d unwittingly (stupidly, really) relinquished my freedom to a litany of things I told myself were (and some actually are) essential. Top-dog. Most important. I was doing the right things for the wrong reasons. Forgetting what truly gets me out of bed in the morning and living like some work-release zombie. Letting my life directive default to the wills and whims of the daily grind. 

But that’s just it, I didn’t get into this because or for the day-to-day hustle. I got into it to tell stories and to achieve a (semblance of) mastery of the craft. I’m a writer. Period. I made the horrible mistake of forgetting to be a writer for myself FIRST. I was too busy trying to be everything for everyone else (who aren’t really to blame). My priorities were wrong. Due to that, I let the important things slip through my boney-little writer fingers. BAM—Not a problem solved. But averted. For now. Sometimes the best way to fight a demon is to name it. This demon’s name was Moncor-Blaque (a.k.a. self-neglect). 

Obviously, there were some fairly sophisticated layers of justification, rationalization, and just flat-out tom-f*ckery to sift through before I got to that little mental nugget. But my point is this: If you’re feeling depressed or down, it may help to allow yourself permission to take a step back and dive deep into the ol’ cerebellum. If you don’t trust yourself with that, find someone to talk to, that’s willing to listen, and more than happy to let you spew your word vomit all over their shoes. More often than not, it just helps to get it out. To name it. 

Anyway, that’s my little screed for the day. I hope you all are doing well and *cough* “Buy my book.” *cough*. (So chilly in here) 

Enjoy your weekend sons and daughters (and mutants?) of the internet. I’m going to binge-watch Altered Carbon and then be totally bummed that I finished it so quickly. (FYI: Altered Carbon is AWESOME).

 

Until Next Time,

Antwan Crump


Also available on Google Books.

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