Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What Causes Your Depression?

I’ve fought depression off and on for a couple of years now. Despite the fact that when I look back on my life and realize there were moments when I was attracted to all things dark and sad, it seems as if some moments were more intense than others. I haven’t been able to pinpoint them but I’m not sure that I want to. I mean, why look that far back -- especially since I can’t remember -- when I can look at what’s caused me to surf the butthole of depression in the recent past?

So that’s one of the things I’m doing in therapy and I continue to journal and blog about them. Some I’ll talk about freely. Some are just way too personal and those stay with me. That’s how this blog was born, actually. Obviously, though, that’s not the only thing it’s for; why focus on the dark when you don’t want to or linger in depression when you don’t have to. It’s like an alcoholic going to A.A. meetings and drooling over another person’s experience and reliving that horror over and over again. Too many people use meetings as a cloak, or crutch. I don’t want to do that here. I just want to share so others know they are not alone in what they feel. And, regardless of whether or not those feelings are skewed, they are REAL.

Besides, I gotta pimp myself out somewhere and I don't think street corners are safe.

Since starting this suggested task of blogging and journaling on my experiences with depression, I’ve become aware there is really no one thing that sets me off. It can be anything from the state of the world, health insurance woes, lack of money (it seems the harder I work, the less money I manage to hold on to; and I don’t even spend it!) over-eating, which leads to being overweight, which diminishes the libido, and so on and so forth. The list is rather long and would make James Joyce's run-on sentence look like a cakewalk.

One very strong item that pushes me over is anger. I have, or so it seems, a lot of suppressed anger. The funny thing is that when I was 19 and took my required “Intro to Psych” in college, the professor said the belief among the psychological community was that depression was anger turned inwards. I laughed, naturally. I thought, how was that possible? But several decades later, I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps he didn’t have a point.

But there seems to be more and here’s where I’m now very fascinated with the subject. You see, since starting this blog journey, I’ve begun to notice very similar traits in other people; people I’ve never met; people I’ve only known through Facebook. These people are all creative. They’re writers and actors, living the grind and trying to make ends meet as they balance two separate worlds; one in which we must be practical and do what needs to be done in order to survive -- even if we don’t want to do it -- and doing that which we love most. Expressing ourselves.

And this made me wonder. Is depression a multitude of things? Years of incidents keeping us from doing what we love that only end in mounds of frustration? Years of anger, at not being able to tell someone to shut the fuck up or fuck off? Is it money worries and the fear that we’ll never be able to fully do what we love because we have to work? Perhaps we are with people who don’t support us or feel they don’t really care about what we do? Perhaps we lack that one person that REALLY listens when we need it most, even if there is nothing they can do about whatever we’re experiencing?

Is it part of the creative process? Are we being impatient with ourselves, our work? Is it the long moments of stillness in between projects, between successes, where nothing happens and we feel like we’re spinning our wheels? Perhaps it’s a really bad review or the fact that someone rates us a 1 or 2 out of 5 without bothering to explain why?

Are we unhappy with our lives, our partners, our children, our friends, ourselves?

I could probably go on but I won’t. Why go someplace when you don’t need to? Especially because sinking into depression, as I mentioned to a FB pal -- a fellow writer -- feels like you have Dementors hovering nearby. They’re not sucking out your soul but their mere presence diminishes us nonetheless. And dagnabit, wouldn’t you know it? That’s usually when our magic wands are in the shop and no amount of mind tricks can produce the Patronus necessary to get rid of them.

So, for those of us who suffer from the big D -- as opposed to wanting a big D of a different nature -- let’s see if we can’t take a look at recent events surrounding that first slip. Personally, I want to pinpoint what it is that sets me off because, frankly? I want to stab that bastard in the eye, kick it in the balls and tell it to get the fuck out of my head. There is just NO room in there; it’s already taken up by cobwebs, stray odd thoughts and very strange plots. Besides, I’ve got too many things to do, stories to write and things to enjoy before my time comes.


  1. I like your description of dementors hovering around. They suck away your happiness and creativity and your interest in life. My therapist encouraged me to notice the first moment I felt despair creeping in or anxiety intensifying (the two are closely linked for me) and recognize it for it what it was right then so I didn't let things snowball to the point where I couldn't recognize damaging thought patterns. Thanks for sharing more of your journey!

  2. Very well said. I wonder about the whole anger thing too and it's not the first time I've heard that. and yes - I am angry about things in my life. i don't want to be. I'm working with someone to diminish this fear and anger. I work on it daily. It's difficult when I don't have that one special person I can vent to, never really had and wonder if I'll ever find. not that I don't like myself. I do and i have many, many good things in my life. Just sometimes I'm so overwhelmed, I can't think straight. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and journey. It does help to share!

  3. Johnny,

    Thanks for your honesty and opening yourself up here. Depression is so very real. My mother was a manic depressive (extremely creative), and unfortunately, she eventually wasn't able to control it.

    Fortunately, I've seemed to have avoided it, but there are still those day-to-day pressures and moments of depression. For me, it's a feeling of being stressed and having too much to do, and not enough time. I know about how long something will take, and then with children it takes 4 times as long. And they don't seem to "count" or understand the two hours it takes to make dinner, or do laundry, or give them a bath ... as time spent with them.

    What makes me the most angry? When they're up until midnight or later. I know that sounds awful, but as an only child that has become "my" time ... and I think of myself going "off duty" when it gets so late.

    Again, thanks for sharing, and stay strong.

  4. @Silvia Violet: Thanks for taking the time to comment. It sounds like a common goal is to isolate that one thing(s) that push us down that slipper slope. Good deal in recognizing yours! I'm still trying to figure out some of my others.

  5. @Kellie: Having been there, I so wish I could wave a magic wand and remove what you're experiencing. Sadly, I can't. Just know that if you need to vent, there are so many of us that support you and will help pull you through it. As with you, there are so many wonderful people I've met on Facebook that I wish I could afford to jet everywhere, have a cup of coffee with them and help them through. The best I can is a very huge cyber hug and let you know I'm thinking of you.

  6. @Louisa: First, let me say how sorry I am for what you mother must have experienced, as well as what you undoubtedly went through after. However, I'm quite glad to hear you've avoided it!

    That stress will definitely do a number on you. It always manifests itself as something physical and the horrible thing about is that we have no idea what, or how, it will turn up.

    Keeping strong and grateful to you and everyone who continues to share. Hope you're well.