Let’s Talk About Depression
Depression is a topic that people don’t like talking about often. There are plenty of reasons why that might be. It could be because talking to someone who is depressed is hard, or that talking about depression makes some people feel weak. In addition, people react differently when the topic of depression is brought up. Some people will say that its all in a person’s head, or that a person who suffers from it is lazy and untrustworthy, or that they are just saying it to get attention. No matter what the case may be, depression is real, and very difficult to deal with, for all parties involved. I have never clinically determined if I have depression, but talking about my emotions, which fall close to what is considered depression, has been difficult for me.
Before we go any further, lets discuss what depression is, or can be. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression can come in multiple forms, but generally, include having difficulty working, sleeping, eating, and generally enjoying life. Other symptoms include being persistently sad or anxious, feeling hopeless or pessimistic, feeling guilt or worthlessness, having a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, and suffering from insomnia or excessive sleeping. Depression isn’t exactly something that has to go on for extended periods of time and come up irregularly, in which is called bipolar disorder, where one could be deliriously happy one day, and suffer from the aforementioned depressive symptoms the next. The causes of depression naturally vary by person, but can include genetics that run in your family, or just general environmental factors that occur with life events.
Thinking about finding out if I have depression has always scared and worried me. My first thoughts have always been to consider visiting a therapist, as that might be able to get my mind off of things while speaking with a professional. Unfortunately, I have been to therapy twice previously in my life, and neither experience has been that pleasant, which has made me worry about future attempts. My first visit was back when I was still in grade school when I began losing focus on my school work. My parents thought that there was just something wrong that could be solved by talking it out. Sadly, being an angsty teenager made that experience less than worthwhile, and of course, hindsight makes me berate myself for not taking it more seriously. My more recent attempt was at a free clinic a couple of years ago, due to a shortage of available funds, where I was told that I didn’t have depression, but rather, attention deficit disorder. While that may be true, I never really did get much further than that with them.
Recently, a friend of mine introduced me to a new web comic called Questionable Content. It has been around since 2003, but I never really got in to many web comics other than ones that were specifically video game related. I was convinced by my friend that this one was good, though, so I gave it a chance. I’m about halfway through catching up to where the current comic is since, shockingly enough, it is still updated to this day. Typically when I think about web comics, I think about one-off sequitur which usually ends in some amusing joke that may or may not have some underlying serious tone to it, but which is meant to convey humor and potential virality. While QC does have those moments, it also follows the almost-too-real lives of the far-from-perfect characters that have been created for it.
One such comic, one of my real-life fears is laid out quite simply. In the comic’s overarching storyline, Faye, the young lady on the left, has had a rough past and doesn’t know how to deal with many situations these days, which leads her to decide to drink often. While that does not apply to me, she voices her concerns over being medicated for her depression, which another character in the comic has had some side effects from in the past. I have always held the belief that medication, while helpful for extreme cases, scares me personally, because it may change who I am in a way that I am not comfortable with, and may not even notice. Luckily, there are other ways that depression can be treated, and those are what I look to the most. In a comic not long after this one, Faye is convinced by one of her friends to be more active, a first step in to making the necessary changes to combat depression. This is one of my biggest hurdles, however, as I don’t have many people in my personal life who can help get me going in this direction.
As many people know, I am a fan of video games, and I feel that video games can convey a multitude of different emotions to a player, if made correctly. In addition to video games, visual novels allow for an interactive experience which gives you a small amount of control over the story, while taking you down a specific path that the creator has intended for you. One such game is a 2013 game called Depression Quest, where you play as someone who is living with depression, and you are forced to make difficult decisions due to the fact that you are suffering from this illness. The basic objective of the game is to show people what is can be like to actually have depression, so that you can either identify with it, or understand what someone who has it is going through.
Throughout the game, you are given some story, followed by some options of how to react to the situation that is being presented to you. Your status is conveyed at the bottom of each page so that you understand how your decisions are affecting you and what you’ve decided to do about it. Previous decisions that you make affect what types of decisions you are able to make in the future, and as you progress, you find that you are unable to choose some of the options that someone who isn’t depressed would be able to easily do. This is done not to force you down a negative path, but to help the player understand that the obvious decisions on how to approach a situation are not necessarily the ones that people who are suffering from depression will make.
Lately, a collection of unfortunately events have brought me down this path harder than I have in the past, but this isn’t the first time that I have felt the general feelings of depression. I lost my job four months ago as of this posting and have been having an extremely difficult time finding a new source of income. This has brought on many financial hardships and in the end has forced me to look for part-time employment as well. I rely heavily on the people around me and the friends that I have made, as I have difficulties with being alone. However, I’ve lately been pushing certain people away, while snapping at others that mean a lot to me due to trivial reasons. I often feel hungry, but figure that it can wait until later, even though I have food available to eat. My sleep schedule has become a nightmare as a disable alarms when they go off and then am unable to get to sleep when the next night rolls around. My love for video games is great, but even with the free time of not having a job, I’ve played less video games than I have in a very long time. And most importantly, the lack of finding a job has worn heavily on my subconscious, because I feel like I am not knowledgeable enough or worthy enough to find myself something else that can help further my career.
I feel that it is important to say that by telling people this, I am not looking for sympathy or for people to feel bad for me for being this way. Often, people go through tough periods of their lives where things don’t necessarily go their way and they feel down for a period of time. In my case, this has been something that was growing for some time, as many of my friends would say, and came to a head when I became unemployed these months back. But most importantly, it has been difficult to talk about. Telling someone that you are depressed can lead to one of many different responses, from the “well just do something different” to the “oh I’m sorry?”. Mental health issues such as this, and many more, have become a stigma or disease that people don’t know how to deal with very well, but I feel if the discussion were a bit different, many people would be better off for it. In the past, I’ve been told by various different people not to talk about being depressed in a public venue. If a potential employer were to see it, they may consider me useless or an invalid and then not hire me out of the fear that I may not do the job properly. If a potential girlfriend were to see it, they may not want to deal with trying to make it work over the potential of me not being able to be a good significant other. Hiding the fact that I feel this way doesn’t make it go away, though, and being honest with people and working with them to better myself could help more than anything else.
Some of my friends have tried to get me to get out more, to change some things in my life, or a multitude of other different things. I want to make it clear that it isn’t that I don’t WANT to do many of these things, its just that its very difficult for me to actually accept and follow through with them. Sometimes its the fear of change, sometimes its an unwelcome laziness, or sometimes its just too hard to accept. Depression isn’t rational and many decisions that get made while being depressed don’t make much sense to others. I don’t have a ton of friends, but I am thankful for the few that I do have. I have been unpleasant to be around at times, I have been argumentative over a myriad of different topics, but the kindness of listening and gently pushing me to make the changes to get better are what keep me going, and I can’t thank my friends enough for whatever support they are willing to give me. As the people closest to me know, I am fully capable of being happy and sharing that with others, and I have a feeling that other people who suffer from depression are the same way. Depression can be a cruel and difficult, but it doesn’t have to define you as a person.
I apologize, this entire thing has been written between the hours of three and seven in the morning, so if anything is written a bit off, that would explain it. If you have any comments you would like to make about this article to me, please feel free to reach out to me on social media, or through my website here. Thank you for taking the time to read this and have a wonderful day!
Author’s Footnote: Following the writing of this, I experienced a seemingly positive interview with a potential retail position that would provide me with some form of income again. It is events such as this which can change one’s attitude entirely, or at least point them in a better direction. That isn’t to say that the depression is gone, but all it takes is something as small as an interview, or even just a friend reaching out to say hi, to help bring a person who is suffering to a bit of a better place. Much love.