The Plague of Depression

With each passing day, it becomes more obvious that depression surrounds us. It's a Silverback Gorilla riding a Woolly Mammoth, making a big, shitty mess that we're not sure how to clean up. A lot of people hide their feelings really well, but I guarantee we all know at least one person struggling with depression. Think about that for a moment, every single one of us knows someone who is depressed. We have friends, and family that feel like no ones cares, and we need to do something about that immediately. This is an epidemic you won't hear them talking about on the news in a state of exaggerated panic.

I feel like we all fight with ourselves from time to time, but for some of us, the fight seems too intense to win. Plenty of us realize we're not alone, but that doesn't really do much to ease the burden. “Great, we all feel worthless!” isn't exactly a comforting thought. You may know that you can reach out to people who can relate, but the problem is that when you're depressed, the last thing you want to do is talk about it. It's hard to get the words out because you feel like it doesn't matter, or that you're being a burden on the people you care about, and no one wants that. You just want those dark thoughts to go away forever, like boy bands, and Nancy Grace.

Some people work up the inner strength to reveal their vulnerabilities to others, and reach out for help. Others just try their best to power through it on their own. I tend to fall into the second category. Not saying I'm any good at it, or even that I'm a gifted amateur, but I'm actively working on it. They're not my best qualities, but my stubbornness, and anger usually won't let me stay down for too long. I'd thank everyone who contributed to the rage that sometimes helps me push through problems with all the grace of a steroid-ridden pro wrestler, but I'm too busy trying to forgive them, and move on.

The side effect to all the ridicule, and contempt I've received over the years is that I've grown a massive ball of hatred inside myself. A seething pit of hostility that thankfully very few people have ever witnessed. Sometimes it manifests as self hate, and sometimes it bursts out as anger towards a world that I know could be better for all of us. Anger is a common symptom of depression in males, but lashing out doesn't inspire empathy, it just pushes people away. Sometimes it's easier to just stay quiet, and withdraw from everyone. You know how much people like doing things the easy way.

I know people with brilliant minds, and kind hearts who don't view themselves as anyone worth being around. It's truly heartbreaking, especially when I think of my friend that decided he didn't want to be here anymore. I keep wondering how I'm supposed to get through this mess we call life when one of the most loving, supportive, and intelligent people I've ever met threw in the towel. Ever since then, I get real nervous when I find out a friend is having a hard time. There was nothing I could do then, and I'm not sure there's anything I can do now other than write about it. Talking about it might be all we can do, at least for now.

I don't have any answers, so maybe I'm just here to draw attention to the questions. All I know is that we have to stand up to our demons, and fight them with everything we have. We can get a helping hand from others in the battle, but only we can deal the killing blow to those big, ugly bastards. The difficulty lies in the fact that depression takes all the fight out of you, and makes you start to wonder if giving up really is your best option. It will lie to you, and convince you that no ones cares. It will make you forget every positive thing you've done, and shine a spotlight on all your mistakes, no matter how minor. It's kinda like that one kid in school who would remind the teacher to give out homework; an emphatic day-ruiner.

There is a mile-long list of complaints about therapists in regard to things like low self opinion, and depression. It's no wonder people are hesitant to open up to others. When you're depressed, you don't need to “try harder” because you're already doing the best you can manage. You can't “snap out of it” any more than you can convince me to purchase a Taylor Swift album. You certainly don't need some jaded academic scoffing at you while you pour your heart out. Thankfully, your closest friends are often far better at helping you sort through mental baggage than they realize. Plus, they don't charge by the hour.

As much as we like to complain about all the bitching we see on social media, that might be the only way we get a clue of what someone else is going through. It's a lot easier to type out your feelings than it is to talk about them with people. (I'll give you three guesses as to how I figured that one out.) There is no quick fix to this problem, but we can all benefit greatly by being easier on ourselves, and each other. We can't keep comparing our lives to those of others, and seeking acceptance from everyone. Accepting yourself is far more important, warts and all. Those are your warts, and they helped make you into the person you are today. Besides, some people like warts. There's probably even “adult videos” involving them, but don't tell me, I don't want to know about it.

Bad jokes, and broken metaphors aside, fighting depression is exhausting for everyone involved, but we can't ever back down. We have to keep talking about it so everyone will know there are people who care enough to fight by their side. If we can inspire just one person to speak up, and say they're having a hard time living, we should do that. We should never ridicule or downplay the pain someone else feels. Maybe they are just “having a bad day”, but enough of those can drive the strongest person to their breaking point. Compassion is our greatest characteristic as a species, but it's sorely under-utilized.

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