I got diagnosed with depression when I started college. When I first started getting the symptoms, I didn’t even know I had it. Firstly, there’s a stigma in my family that if you go to a counselor, you are trying to seek attention. Or you’re crazy. Or both. Secondly, I was going to classes and eating and functioning like a normal human being. But I knew something wasn’t right. I was constantly pushing people away and I hated myself all the time. I didn’t even really want to write anything anymore, and I had been doing it semi-regularly after high school. (Aside: One of the most important things someone in class said that stuck with me, “This is something I want to do, something I want to make a career out of. If that’s the case, then I have to treat it like so. I have to write every day, even if it’s crap.”)
So I went to counseling, got diagnosed, and started medicine, stopped medicine, got back on medicine, stopped counseling, and I’m finally back on track. Whew. So anyway, back on topic. Fellow writers know about the little voice in the back of their head, the one that says, “This sucks, you suck, this is the worst thing ever written.” Imagine that little voice magnified to, like, earthquake levels. When I worked on The Beast, I had that voice screaming at my constantly. But on top of the, “You suck, this sucks,” mantra, I had things like, “You are the worst person in the world. Why does anybody like you? You’re ugly, you’re stupid, you should die.” I think that’s why it took me seven years to get this thing the way I wanted it to. I was in full judgement mode all the time. I don’t think I need to tell you how exhausting that is.
Some of the things I’d like to share with you, reader, is how I pushed past it. Depression sucks, and it would be great if there was a cure for it. One of my passions is to educate families or just people in general to learn about the real facts of depression and not the stigma stuff, or the stuff they show on TV. Maybe if I shared some things that I did, it will help you. In the comments, let me know what techniques you yourself have tried. If there are enough, I might make a page dedicated strictly to techniques. WE CAN OVERCOME THIS!
Wot I Did:
– I would watch god-awful TV or movies while I wrote. It made me laugh harder than if I watched a well-put together comedy, and somehow, with nonsense in the background, it helped me concentrate. When I’d lose steam, I’d watch bits of what I put on. If you are like me and love unintentionally hilarious bad movies and games, may I recommend: Birdemic, The Room, Food Fight, Ride to Hell: Retribution, and if you want to write for more than an hour and a half, you can stream Beauty and the Beast (the new CW show, it’s delightfully awful). In the future, I may do posts on the best worst somethings.
– I would read inspirational quotes without looking at the names. Think about it, of course Martin Luther King would say something completely awesome! He’s already awesome. Without looking at the names, they could be anyone. Hell, they could even be you!
– Rant to my husband. Sometimes you just need a good listener. Depression doesn’t make any of your feelings rational, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valid. Find somebody who can pay attention for a few minutes while you do nothing but talk. Tell this person that you don’t want them to fix it, you don’t want them to give you advice (you probably wouldn’t take it to heart anyway, not because it’s not from a sincere place, but because you’re in a high emotional state), you just want them to listen. When I would rant and complain and whine and say things are not fair, it actually calmed me down enough to focus.
-Hold onto an ice cube for as long as you can. Depression can lead to dangerously dark thoughts. I don’t want you to hurt yourself; YOU ARE AWESOME. Seriously, do this if things start to get that far and there’s no one around to talk you down or you don’t feel like talking. The cold will start to hurt your hand to the point where you can’t focus on anything else. Another thing I did to keep myself safe was have my husband lock up all the medicine in a box where only he knew the code. Will it make you feel like a child? A little, I won’t lie. But you need to keep yourself safe in those dark times. If you don’t want to have someone do that, put the medicine/dangerous objects in a place far away, where it will have to take extra effort for you to get to it. I haven’t called one of the free hotlines, so I can’t tell you about the experience. I’m actually interested in learning about it, though. So if you yourself have made the call or have volunteered to take calls, what was your experience?
-Color in a coloring book. It’s not just for kids. They sell coloring books for adults (not dirty ones, though I’m sure if you look you will find). It will relax your mind and you can let loose creatively, because who on earth judges that kind of thing, really?
-Play video games, especially open world ones where you can release your anger. GTA IV helped me get through some of the worst times in my life. I could not only relate to the character, but I could also get a rocket launcher and blow up the world if I saw fit. Saints Row is also another good series because it doesn’t take anything seriously and encourages you to be as destructive as possible. You don’t even have to be good at them. Most of them have an easy or casual mode or cheat codes where it’s impossible for you to die.
-Write poems or just random words. Writing junk releases the junk. Then I ball it up, and throw it away or burn it if I’m feeling particular.
I hope these tips help at least a little. The important thing to remember is that you are beautiful and whole and awesome just the way you are. We all get down on ourselves and punish ourselves harsher than we should. You may feel alone, but you aren’t. You are in my thoughts, always, and I want nothing but the best for you.