Welcome to the Depression-Anxiety Club. Here we celebrate the cycle of self-defeating behavior exhibited by all of our members. I know Depression-Anxiety sounds like an oxymoron, but these two problems actually go hand-in-hand. It’s kind of like Professor Xavier and Magneto are having a chess match in your head, except it’s far less awesome. Here is how Depression-Anxiety works:
Step One: Be too depressed to get out of bed.
Step Two: Realize that during extended bed time, you didn’t do That Thing You Were Supposed To Do.
Step Three: Experience extreme stress and shame.
Step Four: Pathetically try to fulfill said duty in a belated, half-assed manner.
Step Five: Feel like an asshole.
Step Six: Go to bed.
Step Seven: Repeat steps one through seven, ad nauseum.
While I am in a much better place in life now, back in the day I was the Grand Poobah of the Depression-Anxiety Club. If we were more productive members of society, we would have designed special fezzes and a secret handshake, but instead, we all stayed in bed and wept. It’s kind of a crappy club in that respect, but at least we kick the freemasons’ asses in membership. Plus? We are open to all genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, and political leanings. The more I talk to people, the more I realize how many members have joined the club at one point or another.
How do we even get to that point? That is way too long for the short attention span of a blog posting. Often, you don’t even really know you’re heading down that road. Life starts to feel a little less enjoyable each day. A couple of bad things might happen – you might go through an ugly break up, you might have a health scare, and you might experience difficulty in an area you are used to breezing through. You might find that you’re disrespecting yourself because the few anchors you counted on are floating away when you need them the most. Sometimes, it’s a chemical imbalance that decides to sprout at the most inopportune of times.
Sometimes, the depression kind of “works” for you. As someone who is an emotionally-driven songwriter, there is this creative “sweet spot” where I’m slightly depressed but not completely depressed. I have extreme difficulty writing music when I’m happy. When I’m in this “sweet spot,” I write decent music and hands-down my best lyrics. I feel like I can make the world rhyme and tell you amazing stories in perfect meter. If I fall too far into the depression, I lose it all, and the keyboard looks like a stranger to me. That caused a 6 years-long writer’s block towards the end of school, and pretty much destroyed me on a music level. So in short, if I tell you, “hey guys, I just wrote a song! :D” It is perfectly acceptable if you respond with, “yay…I guess? : /”
Depression is a very seductive beast – when it starts to tug you down, it feels easier to succumb to it than to fight it. Once you give in, it is difficult to dig your way out. Then the anxiety starts. In a strange way, the anxiety almost saves you – between the constant pushing and pulling between these two forces, you get to a point where you can’t stand yourself. I know what you are wondering – how exactly is that a good thing? For me, the depression was a cozy little do-nothing blanket that made me dead to the world. By itself, it made me slip further and further away from caring about anything. Anxiety made me hate that feeling. Each time I dove into the Depression-Anxiety Club, it was the anxiety that drove me to seek help. I could deal with my heart flat-lining; I couldn’t deal with it racing – how screwed up is that?
I am in a better place now because the anxiety drove me to seek help. I spent years in therapy, although I refused to go on medication because I incorrectly felt like that was a cop out. Don’t make my mistake – if your therapist feels it would help you, consider giving it a shot. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be on pills all your life – in fact, many people are only on them for a short period of time until the worst of the illness has passed. The other piece of the puzzle is you. No one can pull you out of this except for you – you need to make a commitment to yourself and force yourself through it, no matter how hard it may seem. This means you need to recognize the seduction of depression and fight it with everything you have. How do you fight it? When you hear that little voice that says, “I don’t want to hang out with my friends tonight” – call a friend and go out. Yeah, you’ll feel like you’re going through the motions, but it beats isolating yourself, trust me. And you know what? There are people who love you. They really, really love you, and they would be honored if you picked up the phone and confided in them.
And don’t forget, you’ve got the Club. No matter where we are in life, this is a lifetime membership, and no matter who you are or where you are, we are all right here with you.