Welcome Back, Depression, My Old Friend

The-Black-Dog-is-upon-me.jpg

When you are a lifelong Depressive, as I am, you know that Depression is not a sickness that can ever conclusively cured, only treated. During periods of relative happiness and contentment, it lurks in the shadows, perpetually ready to pounce when the moment is right. 

I’ve suffered from Depression pretty much as long as I can remember. I was a fearful and terrified child, traumatized by my parent’s acrimonious and bitter divorce. I was deeply uncomfortable in my own skin, the kind of shy, painfully self-conscious, friendless child who would literally hide behind his older sister as a way of creating a buffer between myself and a scary and confusing world.

I know Depression. Oh, good Lord do I know Depression. Depression and I are all too well-acquainted. In a sad, strange way, Depression has been one of the few constants in my life. Friends come and go. We get and lose jobs. Our financial status fluctuates. But Depression is always there to drown you in ennui. It’s always there to smother your soul with a heavy, grey, scratchy blanket. 

dont.png

My Depression isn’t just emotional. It’s physical as well. It manifests itself in a familiar ache in my bones, in a fog around the brain, in a palpable decrease in energy and enthusiasm. It’s that awful, yet familiar feeling that everything is not going to be okay. Like many Depressives, I have a complicated relationship with the disease. I’ve tried to make peace with my Depression. I accepted long ago that Depression would be a perpetual companion, one that might disappear for months, or even years at a time, but inevitably reappears, often at the very worst time. 

At various points in my life and my career, I’ve managed to make Depression work for me. I’ve intermittently tamed the evil fucker by writing about it.  I’m barely forty and I’ve already written three memoirs (The Big Rewind, You Don’t Know Me But You Don’’t Like Me and 7 Days in Ohio) about my life-long battle with Depression and Mental Illness. Back when I owned a condo, I used to think of it as the house Depression built. 

So while I’ve discovered real upsides to writing about Depression, the disease is nevertheless an overwhelmingly malevolent presence in my life, constantly trying to drag me down and keep me from being my best, truest, most productive and happy self. 

One of the unsung upsides to being a longtime Depressive, however, is that eventually you find the tools and the strategies to help you deal with, and manage Depression. I owe it not just to myself, but to my family and you, the reader, to work as hard as possible to contain this Depression, to not let it defeat me.

That means going back into therapy, adjusting my medication and not doing the things that make me feel terrible,like spending too much time on Facebook and Twitter and despairing over both the past and the future. I need to get out into the world more and stop living inside my head, which can be a pretty dark, swampy place when you’re depressed. 

 I derive some comfort from knowing that both Teddy and Whoopi feel my pain

I derive some comfort from knowing that both Teddy and Whoopi feel my pain

Yes, Depression can feel like an old friend who visits from time to time, always with bad news. But it’s an old “friend” I’m very much intent on kicking out of my brain and my soul as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Support Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place and get bonuses like access to patron-exclusive content over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace