Not all of you know this but I suffer with/struggle with/live with (depending on the day) depression. You don’t need to feel you should know this, it’s not the type of thing where I see you and say, “Hey, love those jeans! Where did you get them? I’m depressed.” I don’t try to avoid talking about it but it’s not something constantly on my mind either. I seldom go about thinking, “wow, I’m soooo depressed”. Mostly I just live each day and my life involves a certain amount of frequent and nearly unconscious assessment of where I am mentally and how my thought processes are going. Over time, with counseling, medication and self awareness I’ve ended up in a pretty good place most of the time. Of course it’s a bit tougher when life circumstances get challenging, in which case people who aren’t depressed would have some issues feeling OK, too.
A lot of people think depression means you go about feeling sad. That may be true for some people but for me it’s a problem of no feeling. When I’m having trouble with depression happy things happen and I try to act happy, but I don’t actually feel it. Inside I feel flat and rather dead and I’d prefer to be home alone in my bedroom reading a book, which takes up a lot less energy except when I have to turn the page. It takes a lot of energy out of you, always feeling flat and dead when the people around you appear to be energetic, enthusiastic and basically enjoying what they have going on, even if it’s something simple like watching TV. This is more particularly true when it’s holidays or something special – times you’re supposed to have a ‘feeling’ of ‘happiness’ and ‘enjoyment’ but mostly you feel vaguely tired and a bit brain dead and once again wish you were alone with a book and the pressure of turning the page.
The fortunate thing, as I mentioned, is that there are good medications now that help a lot, and if you can find a bit of counseling from someone whose approach is not letting you wallow in self-pity every hour you meet but allows you to say what’s on your mind and then promptly asks what you intend to do with it, you can get to a place in your life that’s fairly normal. This is especially effective once you realize no one is normal and nothing is normal, so as soon as you feel pretty normal you can relax and rest assured you are in the same boat as everyone else, which relieves a lot of pressure, mentally. Try also to surround yourself with friends who are basically crazy, or a least a brick shy of a load, and you’ll feel even better. Not that I do that. I’ve just heard it suggested.
This comes up for two reasons. First, someone I’ve known a long time once again mentioned the words ‘addictive’ and ‘controlled substance’ in a conversation about anti-depressants, in particular the one I take which is an SNRI (Seratonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor). This has come up in conversation before and this well-educated upper management individual has, for at least the past 10 years, continued to believe that anti-depressants are addictive, that drug companies put something in them that make people addicted so they’ll always have to take them (ensuring the drug companies a lifetime supply of ready cash, apparently) and which can have value on the Black Market for persons addicted to it. Perhaps this is true. Perhaps even now there are people roaming the streets desperately searching for their next hit of Pristiq, in which case I need to find them now and make some money. NO JUST KIDDING. In the past, and repeatedly, I have quit taking antidepressants because 1) I hate being labeled ‘dependent’ and seen as someone who simply needs to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and put on a happy face and 2) well, never mind, there isn’t actually a 2, just the first point. So anyway, I’ve quit taking them. I’ve never had a problem doing this and I’ve never done it with medical supervision, I simply left them in the drawer and went about my daily life. The only thing that happened is about 6-8 weeks later I felt exactly like Henri with Ennui and eventually I would go back on the medicine.
Secondly, my friend Lisa O posted a couple vids of poor Henri (who suffers with ennui) on FB; poor Henri whose thumbs are not opposable and yet he opposes everything, who is free to go yet he remains, whose 15 hours a day of sleep have no effect as he wakes to the same tedium. I think humor makes a good defense, if you can make something funny it loses some of its sting. So, for instance, if you can make up a story about your Hard Rock Classics-hating cat, and then you can write about it on a blog so all your friends can make jokes about it and laugh with you, it’s even better. And if you get to 1) watch a funny and well-made video 2) pretending your cat is depressed 3) AND it’s in French, plus 4) you experience depression so you totally identify with the cat and with the humor and 5) when you’re having fun you are not having Ennui and 6) you then get write about that on your blog, you end up with a sixfecta of awesomeness. Also you get to make up the word sixfecta.
Now all I have to do is get Cat addicted to anti-depressants so I can make some money.
And here’s poor Henri: