Depression

I’m depressed, and that sucks.

At least I know it sucks, although right now I’m at something of a loss as to what to do with that information.

I’ve been depressed, on and off, for an awfully long time now. Depression when you’re getting older — and I’m only really partially coming to terms with the idea of thinking of myself as “older”, but it’s undeniably true — is in itself depressing, because I can look back and realise that I’ve been depressed, on and off, since I was a teenager.

Sure, that’s actually quite a “normal” thing, because most teenagers go through bouts of depression, whether that’s through raging hormones, that whole voyage of self discovery, sexuality or the simple realisation that unlike your perspective as a kid, the universe doesn’t revolve around you.

Actually, strike that last bit. Some people I know don’t seem to display that kind of knowledge even as adults, so maybe that’s not for everyone.

In any case, as what would now be called a “tween”, I went through my own depression battles, but on a rather larger scale. I say larger, but of course as with all depression, as Spike Milligan used to say, It’s all in the mind, you know.

Still, for me it was earth shattering, and it did genuinely change my world. The kid that I was went away, and he’s never come back. I can look back on my childhood, and while I didn’t have a terrible childhood, the reality for me is that I only have fragmented and dim memories of myself prior to age 13.

I can remember people, and some small incidents here and there, but most of it is a blur, and that’s because of depression. I quite literally rewrote myself at the age of 13, as well as shifting from one side of the planet to the other, a process which, in hindsight, made the rewriting possible. I’m sure there’s still some traits of me as a youth present in me, even today, but they’re few and far between.

Essentially speaking, my childhood is lost, locked away in the corners of my own brain. Sometimes it peeks out, in idle moments or in dreams, although I’m often left wondering if it’s my childhood, or something I’ve read or watched that I’m subconsciously attaching myself to.

I know most of the cold hard facts (although the dates are fuzzy), but the reality, the people, the emotion and the moments are gone. As I get older, they’re probably lost forever. I have little to no contact with the kids of my youth beyond my immediate family, and I’m pretty certain that most of them have no thought of me.

When I returned to the town of my birth as a proper teenager (I was sixteen), I did happen to run into a few people I’d known — or at least who’d known me, because as a child I didn’t have too many solid “friends” at all — and one of them commented that “I’d changed”.

At the time, I thought that was a positive thing. I’m not certain that was actually true, but it helped me in that moment, because seeing people who’d known the old, pre-depression me was, in itself, depressing. It brought back those same memories that had trapped me, memories I’d flushed away as I rewrote myself.

It occurs to me that I rewrote myself from a awkward, fairly plain looking geek into… an awkward, fairly plain looking geek. Go with what you know, I suppose, but the rewritten me actually had friends I could confide in, and could build friendships, some of which survive to this day.

It’s that black cycle of self-doubt, you see. I’m stuck in it right now, because so many parts of my current situation tend towards allowing the darker, more depressed sides of my psyche pull through and overwhelm everything else.

There are times, mind you, when depression is quite clearly the fuel for my personal fires.

There’s a weird thought in itself: Depression keeps me going, even if I don’t quite know where I’m going to.

Is this self indulgent twaddle?

Maybe.

But fuck it.

This is my space to write, and writing is one of the ways I’ve identified myself as an adult for an awfully long time now. It’s a big, wide Internet, and I’m sure there are pictures, of, I don’t know, cats or something you could amuse yourself with.

Here, I’ll look one up and link it.

Actually, that’s too cute. Vomit worthy. Cats are better than that.

Although it did achieve one goal. Doing the simple, stupid research for that image (AKA The World’s Laziest Google search) fired a tiny missile in the depressed centre of my brain. A little spark, if you will, of slight positivity.

The trick, I find, is hanging onto that spark rather than hanging myself on the rope of self-doubt.

Not always easy. But I try. I guess that’s what this is. Trying, both in the sense that I’m writing because writing is most definitely one of the things that keeps me sane, and trying because depression is both a fuel that fires me, sometimes in the wrong direction, and a draining force that, even when I’m in its grip, makes me less than what I could be.

Which further twists the knife; I’ve seen certain opportunities, ideas and paths turn away from me — or more often, I’ve turned away from them — because of depression and being less than my own potential.

So what do I do?

I’ve never really known that.

I’ve tried medication, but for me it didn’t work. I know people who would be utterly lost without medication, and they’re not weak, or wrong, or anything like that. But every time I’ve tried any kind of medical remedy, it’s left me an absolute blank slate, devoid of anything that’s even remotely “me”. That’s worse than the depression, and the few times I’ve tried it, what’s left of “me” has worked out that it would be a quick route to me stopping being “me” in a more permanent sense. No thankyou.

I’ve tried therapy, and that worked to an extent… but the brain is a clever little thing, a bag of thinking water as somebody put it. Douglas Adams, I think…*

No, I can’t seem to find it attributed to him. Sounds like something he would have written, though. In any case, therapy and talking it out with someone else worked for a limited time, but all too quickly my own brain raced ahead of me and started to try to think of what I should say, rather than what I should feel, and then the two became mixed up, and the therapy lost its useful status, replaced with just passing time.

Again, that’s just me. Go with what works for you. Please. I’m not writing this to make anyone else depressed. I reckon I’ve got enough for more than a few people.

I’ve tried religion, but that’s rather fallen apart on me, or at least the faith I used to hold did. I can’t see it right now, although at one time not that long ago, my faith was a rock I could rest on.

Gone now. Not trying to ignite debate with friends of mine on any particular side of the religious fence, or say that I’m sitting in any one “camp”. The spot that religion filled for me is a blank slate, and like any blank slate, it’s waiting to be written.

Huh. Back to writing. I guess I should add “who defines himself as a writer” to that list of things I made myself into as a teenager. There’s something about the process of creation, even though I’m often plagued with doubt as to the worthiness of my writing, that helps keep me going. It is, it strikes me, probably why I shouldn’t read the comments on a lot of the stuff I do write, because the compliments seem hollow to me, but the nasty stuff goes right to the core of me.

I started writing this because I wondered if putting it all down in some kind of format, given that’s what I do (one way or another) from day to day might help clarify my head and help me get out of this depression.

It hasn’t entirely done that, but as I’ve been writing, editing, deleting and re-writing (because I’m that kind of writer), I’ve realised that I probably do need to be more honest with myself. Not brutally honest, because that way lies so many scars I already carry around with me on a daily basis, but honest in a supportive sense.

I’m depressed, and that’s not good, but it’s OK. It’s who I am, at least for now.

That’s a start.

*My brain never lets anything rest, which is quite possibly part of the problem. It was Terry Pratchett.

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3 Responses to Depression

  1. Jonathan Maddox says:

    Alex, you’re not just a writer, you’re a dogged, committed, professional, passionate and *good* writer. Whether you read the comments or not 😉

  2. Zed says:

    Thankfully, meds did work for me. They reset my baseline and allowed me to review everything from that space where I could say ‘This is not normal, and (like you), have not been normal for a very long time.’ I can relate to everything you’ve said in your article. My meditation is not writing, but zoologic research. The kind of research which other folk may describe as mind numbing. I find it meticulous, methodical and relaxing. We need to chat more oft…

  3. Pilgrim says:

    Brilliant. Thank you. I cried. I don’t do that often, Alex. I’d hug you right now if I could.

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