Well, folks, I am writing this in the final hours of World Mental Health Day. That is obviously something that affects me on a deeply personal level. Mental illness and depression have been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. The Black Dog has been a constant companion through the decades, and I’ve learned to live and intermittently thrive with mental illness partially because I have accepted that I will probably always be dealing with depression on some level.
For me, it’s not a matter of defeating depression so much as managing it. I feel like I owe it not only to myself but to my wife and son and dog and you guys to manage my depression the best I can so that I can be the strongest, sanest, most productive person possible.
Part of managing my depression involves realizing that I will probably always have to be in therapy and on medication for depression and anxiety and insomnia. I do not say that in a despairing way. I am not complaining. I don’t see being on medication as any kind of weakness. On the contrary, I think it’s healthy and sane to accept that your life might be improved through antidepressants and act on that.
That said, I have not been in therapy since I moved to Georgia a little over two years ago. Part of that is that I obviously can’t see the therapist I saw back in Chicago. And I haven’t really had the insurance or the money I would need to see a therapist regularly for most of these past two years.
I’ve also been much happier since I moved down south. I feel like a dark cloud lifted off of me the moment I left Chicago for good and while freelancing is stressful and uncertain, I find it suits my personality and disposition a whole lot more than working in an office with other people did. I’m willing to accept the trade-offs of security for creative freedom and the opportunity to be your own man and write exactly what you want to write, when you want to write it for your audience.
But I also suspect that one of the main reasons I haven’t felt the need to be in therapy as of late is because writing this website is so goddamn therapeutic. I worried that the pressure of having to write four substantive blog posts a week about politics and being a dad and getting older and money and everything else would be overwhelming but The Big Whoop has been more than just a challenging and rewarding outlet for my energies: in a very real way, I think it’s a form of therapy.
Writing has always been my way of figuring out my life and the world and my place in it, and that is especially true of the kind of deeply personal writing I do here. I don’t know if it’s unseemly or exhibitionistic to bear my soul on such a regular basis, but it has allowed me to survive a pretty crazy-making world.
Christ, it’s worth going back into therapy to complain about Donald Trump alone. I’ve joked that I’m wrestling with a “Trumpression”, that is a low-level depression brought upon by the fact that Donald Trump was elected President, but I’m really not joking. I kind of do think Trumpression is a real thing and the ostensible leader of the free world being an incompetent cross between a Bond villain and a three year old throwing a never-ending temper tantrum is a genuine, bona fide cause for serious concern.
That said, my wife got a new job and our insurance improved so I am going to start seeing a therapist again. I think it’s the healthy, preemptive thing to do, but I very much still intend to keep this as a form of therapy, albeit one where I get paid for venting instead of having to pay someone to listen to me complain.
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