A lamentation: I’ve been depressed pretty well all summer. And then I blinked and it was September.
I can’t even really remember a bunch of it. I know I went outside a few times, attended some events, and evidently accomplished a few tasks, but it’s mostly a blur. A lot of beautiful days passed outside my window as I struggled to get out of bed, waffled about leaving the house, or some other variety of executive dysfunction. Instead I stared at my computers; task-switched; scrolled; checked; skimmed; watched; played video games.
All my classic coping strategies are in full form. I lose myself in some virtual system – management/strategy games mostly – to preoccupy my fretting mechanisms. What I can’t block, I blunt with drink. I ignore the stuff I can’t handle, and shirk everything I can. Messages go unanswered, still unread in my inbox. (Sorry if you’re waiting for a response…)
But you’d never know it. With years of practice, I ooze counterfeit cheeriness – the worse I feel, the more glib the persona. I can grin and nod and laugh at all the right times, but I’m always scanning the exits for escape routes. Smiling suppresses the gag reflex
My relationships have suffered as a result. Nobody’s getting “me” – just some barely-hanging-on facsimile. I’ve got positivity cranked to 11 to drown out the ick, but I’m damn near psychically deaf as a result. Everything’s flat, without definition. I can’t see people properly; just their instrumental value. People reach out and I can’t grab hold.
And if I start thinking about it, this has been going on a while. The last school year was a struggle – not due to difficulty or lack of interest, but a sheer inability to focus on my work. Everything I handed in was late, and hardly a product of best effort. Nearly nothing I intended to do this summer got done, so my thesis project has become a giant ball of terror. I’ve got some uncomfortable e-mails to write, and am hoping for some mercy…
I’ve got all the tools at my disposal to solve this, and know full-well what works to shake it and ward it off. Exercise, eat better, get outside, take some of *these* pills and more of *those* pills, structure the time, self-care, etc.. If I went on a decent psychedelic trip, I’d quite likely be able to get a grip, and then dig my way back out of the hole.
But I haven’t done any of that. I’ve moped and napped, and lumbered around sighing a bunch. Truth is, it’s just easier being depressed. When you’re numb, the world is a little less horrifying.
I don’t cry often, but if I think for too long about the rainforest, or our local paved paradises, I start sobbing. I can’t watch nature documentaries anymore, and everywhere I look I can see the tinge of death. And its tendrils reach into every facet of our society, from poverty, to widespread addiction, to neofascism, to endless war.
Sure, I’ve got a pretty good life here and now. But always in the back of my mind I know it’ll all slowly fall apart in the not-too-distant future. We’re now past the point where ecological catastrophe can be averted. All that’s possible now is to mitigate damage, but there doesn’t seem to be much underway. Most don’t realize just how dire the situation is, or downplay it so they can sleep at night. (I don’t sleep well)
Nihilistic profiteers even appear inclined to hasten our destruction, squeezing every drop of life for their own benefit. Entire sectors of the economy explicitly produce only waste, and the market would collapse if it stopped growing exponentially as a whole. The calculus of capital has no concern for our survival – just continued acceleration borne on externalities.
And there’s not a goddamn thing I can do about it. When I need self-reassurance, I often chant that “everything’s going to be fine”, but I’m having a hard time believing it lately. I’m unspeakably angry, and inconsolably sad, and dreadfully afraid, and if I let myself feel too much it becomes an overwhelming mess. So I play video games alone in my apartment.
I obviously need a new way to cope with all of this – one that’d let me get up in the morning, do the damn dishes, and get on with my work. I want to help make things better with my writing, but I need to be able to actually do it. More than anything, I’m lonely. I miss wanting to be around people and not feeling painfully uncomfortable all the time.
This isn’t a call for help, or a plea for pity – I just need to share how I feel to get it off my chest. And don’t worry about my safety; I’ve never had any thoughts of self-harm, and would only ever punch Nazis.
Thanks for reading this extended whine. I expect I’m not alone in feeling this way. If this is you, my heart goes out to you. If you’ve got a better handle on things…how?!?
-By Eric Shepperd
Depressed Depressed Depressed