I was reading my previous poem, and I could feel it scratching at my soul, like there was something to be said that I didn’t say.
But then I realized it just needed to be read aloud. That’s all. That’s how poems stay alive.
Woohoo! One more day and I’ve survived 27! Good job I haven’t accomplished anything of significance.
I’ve been meaning to talk about getting better… and I guess now is as good of a time as any. I have to be honest here and admit that what I am going to say isn’t going to be all positive because you can’t talk about healing without talking about being ill. But what I can promise is that I will be honest.
Robin Williams was a true icon who inspired many generations from the 70’s on. He spoke out about his personal problems and fought against the stigmatization of mental disorders through owning up to his struggles and speaking out about them publicly. Like many of us I am sure, I have been reading article after article on his legacy, personal life, and overarching topics of depression in the comedian community, the psychology of suicide, survivor guilt, and questions about spirituality and healing. Also, as we found out two days ago, he was struggling with early stages of Parkinson’s. I think, somewhere between all those articles, I should have found something that I was looking for but it’s hard to find something when you don’t know what it is you’re trying to find.
Focusing on the depression aspect, some things to consider are… can you will yourself to be better? Is there a point of no return in depression? Or is there something that you can do to help you heal? A qualified psychologist could write a book about each of these questions but I am just someone who has struggled with depression through my adolescence and young adulthood, accompanied by suicidal thoughts.
The articles that I found really gripping dealt with the choice element – i.e. that suicide is someone’s choice and as such, the person who commits this act is in some way should be considered morally accountable for this action. Of course, the answer to this question can be found in the age-old debate of determinism vs. free will. I think we should acknowledge that. But without going into further detail into this philosophical clusterfuck, I will say that if someone commits a crime but is at the time suffering from a crippling mental disorder, it’s a circumstance that will dissolve them of some measure of moral accountability. Equally important is that if you reduce someone (or yourself) to their struggles conceptually, you take away the happy parts from their lives, the part that’s worth celebrating and worth keep going for. Put it differently, you deny the possibility that there’s hope, that people who suffer from depression can experience moments and days, weeks, month of pure bliss, of joy, of being loved …. And those are the best days. The blue sky days. They are out there.
So putting aside the free will vs. determinism debate, let’s establish that the only point of no return in depression is suicide. Before that, there’s always a chance, at least in theory, that better days will come. I might feel better due to something in my mind — functioning like it should for a change — or due to external circumstances.
I am going to switch to first person now because I am writing this for myself as much as for anyone else.
I know what it’s like to be your own worst enemy. And I had to learn how to protect me from my own thoughts, even when depression or suicide seems to make perfect sense and as the logical response to life’s events. Depression is not something that will go away at the snap of the finger or something I will grow out; this is something that I had to learn how to live with. It’s part of me. It’s part of my family history. But it’s not all that I am. I have a tendency for depression. It’s the black dog and the rabbit hole. Some days it’s better, other days it’s worse. And the sooner you catch yourself, the easier it is to keep it in check. Suicide is never a solution and even if the depression stays for longer, the suicidal thoughts will be the first one to go when you start feeling better.
I will have to say that depression can become very comfortable in a sad way if you are used to it. But there is nothing intrinsically valuable about being miserable or having a complete lack of interest in anything whatsoever.
So for those days, this is just a list of things that make me feel a bit happier so I hope someone else, if only one person, finds them helpful sometime - it was worth sharing then. That’s all that matters. So I will leave this up for forever.
The first step in defeating depression is to stop beating up yourself about it. That’s the biggest one. Depression is common among people of high intelligence because they can see more things that are wrong with the world (especially artists and other creative disciplines). The saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ is not a coincidence.’ We all feel down every one in a while, some of us just feel down for weeks at the time. You are not alone with that. As a matter of fact, 1 in 10 adults are experiencing depression in the USA, and 1 in 25 is experiencing clinical depression.
Secondly, speak to friends and family about your problems. It’s important to have a support network. If you don’t have anyone at the moment that you feel comfortable confiding in, call a professional. There are free 24hr suicide hotlines that you can get in touch with, day or night. I shared some of their phone numbers at the bottom.
Thirdly, get involved with your community. It’s a nice way to get out there and meet people and to pursue something that you enjoy. There’s nothing like a sense of belonging when you feel you are helping others. It also helps you to get outside of your own head and to focus externally.
Fourthly, change something in your life. From experience, most times that depression really set in for me is when I was encountering financial troubles or problems with relationships, workplace, societal, or self-imposed pressures and expectations. If you are prone to depression and you’re one of those people who are granted such little happiness, you should protect the little bit you’ve got. If you are unhappy somewhere, take a step out of your comfort zone. If you hate the city where you are, move! If you hate your job, find a new one! It can turn your life all around and just looking into your options can start making you feel better. Where you are can easily be responsible for your depression and the good news is, this too shall pass.
Fifth, you can try to sleep it off. You’d be surprised how much a good night’s sleep can help as well as yoga, exercising and eating well.
Gardening also helps. For example, 80% of gardeners report being happy which is a much higher percent than non-gardeners.
Last but never least, “treat yo self.” Something different can be helpful at different times, you just have to know yourself. Here are some of my favorite things that make me feel better and they could be helpful for you too:
I hope one of these things will help you on any particular occasions that you might be struggling. But just always remember, you are not alone and recovery will not happen overnight, but it will happen. And when you find your happiness, you hold on to that. But if you fall, stand back up.
Lastly, here’s a list of the some suicide hotlines around the world for good measure:
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (2433) – Can use in US, U.K., Canada and Singapore
Suicide Crisis Line: 1-800-999-9999
National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-800-273-TALK (8245)
National Adolescent Suicide Helpline: 1-800-621-4000
Postpartum Depression: 1-800-PPD-MOMS
NDMDA Depression Hotline – Support Group: 1-800-826-3632
Crisis Help Line – For Any Kind of Crisis: 1-800-233-4357
Suicide & Depression Crisis Line – Covenant House: 1-800-999-9999
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide: (UK only) 0844-561-6855
Beyondblue info line: (Australia only) 1300-22-4636
24/7 Crisis Line:(Canada only) 905-522-1477
Lifeline Australia: 13-11-14
Youth & Teen Hotlines:
National Youth Crisis Support: 1-800-448-4663
Youth America Hotline: 1-877-YOUTHLINE (1-877-968-8454)
Covenant House Nine-Line (Teens): 1-800-999-9999
Boys Town National: 1-800-448-3000
Teen Helpline: 1-800-400-0900
Youth Crisis Support: 1-800-448-4663 or 1-800-422-0009
Runaway Support (All Calls are Confidential): 800-231-694
National Runaway Hotline: (US only) 1800-231-6946
Child Helpline: (UK Only) 0800-111
Kids Helpline: (Australia) 1800-55-1800
Youth to Youth: (UK only) 020-8896-3675
Kids Help Phone Canada: 1800-688-6868
National Youth Crisis Hotline:(US only) 800-442-442-4673
- by glory.szabo
With happiness comes great anxiety.
I am sorry I have stopped writing. I guess I just got more humble about my writing abilities, working in the online publishing industry now… there are so many fantastic writers that I get to work alongside on a daily basis and it made me feel like I am not one of them. Like my thoughts were mundane and not witty enough in comparison. I feel like… why should I write if there’s so much good content out there? Should I really take up space and pages and pages and megabites of information when someone could read about politics and history and you won’t believe what happened after this guy got off the bus on his way to work?
On the other hand, when I read really shitty opinion pieces on Thought Catalog or VICE, which are the holy grail for me to be published on… I just think, holy fuck, what if I am one of these people who just won’t shut the fuck up and will continue talking no matter what. Who gives a shit about Solange and Jay Z, seriously? Is that entertainment or food for thought? I am never going to get involved in celebrity gossip or “guilty pleasures.”
Seems like I over-think everything. It has given me a major writer’s block but I am going to make an effort and start blogging every day again. I think that’s good advice for every writer who struggles with the same thing and I want to be constructive.
Anyway. I would love to hear your thoughts. And I want you to know that I appreciate you sticking with me as I fumble over my words. It always gets easier when you do what you’re afraid to do.
Give me a sign. Give me a comment.