Updated: Dec 12, 2018
“I once read that succumbing to depression doesn’t mean you are weak, but that you have been trying to be strong for too long, which is maybe a form of denial. So much of life happens somewhere in between being okay and complete breakdown—that’s where many of us live, and doing so requires strength.” ~ Matthew Quick
There's been something on my mind that I don't know how to say appropriately (thanks brain fog) but feel the need to share anyway. So here it goes:
Stop assuming my silence means I'm busy when in reality it means I'm depressed.
I've talked about it openly on Instagram and Facebook, but for some reason, people aren't hearing me. My depression may not be completely disabling, but it’s real. And I know that the world doesn't need to know that, but they also kind of do because the message is WAY bigger than me.
When someone goes silent on social media, why don't we check in compassionately, instead of assuming they're just 'too busy' to post?
When someone fails to attend a meeting, why don't we check in and make sure they're okay, instead of assuming they were 'too busy' to make it?
When someone is ignoring our calls, why don't we follow up with a text or a visit instead of assuming they're too busy?
When someone doesn't make time for us, why don't we make the first move instead of assuming they're too busy?
I've experienced all of these situations in the last three months just because someone thought I was busy. And although I don't expect you to know what's going on in my life, why can't we all be more considerate?
But depression has many different faces and manifestations. I've learned that I have #WalkingDepression, which means we have many of the symptoms of clinical depression, but are still functioning. On the surface, people might not know anything is wrong. We keep working, keep going to school, keep looking after our families.
But I've made a point to address that something is wrong. Here I am talking openly and consistently about living with depression, and am still met with the assumption that I've been 'really busy' when that's not the reality at all. I know that what other people think of me is not important, but what we think of depression is, and that's why I want to talk about it.
I'm not asking you to reach out to me or feel bad for me or to apologize to me, I'm asking you to stop assuming things about people, period. After all, the Third Agreement is rightfully so, "Don't Make Assumptions."
This is the reality of Walking Depression:
Nothing is fun. You root around for something to look forward to and come up empty.
You can’t find flow. Working on your creative projects feels like a grind, but you keep plodding away. There is research that shows that neuroticism (the tendency toward negative moods) is associated with lower rates of flow.
Your energy is low. Maybe you’re not getting enough rest because you’re too anxious to sleep, or you’re trying to cram too many tasks into a day, or you’re punishing yourself by staying up. Whatever the reason, you're tired.
You feel worse in the morning and better at night. I remember explaining this to a friend, who found it mystifying. In the morning I felt the crushing weight of all the things I had to do that day. In the evening I was temporarily free from expectations and could enjoy a moment’s respite.
You have simmering resentment toward others. Sure, you’re still doing what everybody asks of you, but you stew in anger the whole time. You are jealous of and bitter toward people who look happier than you feel.
Your self-talk gets caustic. You say nasty things in an effort to shock yourself into action. You use shame as a motivator.
You feel distanced from people around you. It’s hard to have genuine, intimate conversations because you have to keep up this front that you are alright.
You deprive yourself of creative work time (the artist as sadomasochist). This helps you exert some control and stirs up feelings of suffering that are perversely pleasurable. Also, taking on new projects that prevent you from writing or making art lets you prove to yourself that you’re still strong and capable.
You notice a significant mood change when you have caffeine or alcohol. A cup of coffee might make you feel a lot more revved-up and optimistic. A glass of wine might make you feel really mellow and even happy.
You feel like you’re wasting your life. Some people have a high sensitivity to the inherent meaning in what we do. Creativity coach Eric Maisel calls this our “existential intelligence.” If our daily activities don’t carry enough significance ~ if they don’t feel like a worthwhile use of our talents and passions ~ then soon we are asking ourselves, “What’s the point? Why should I keep going?”
Do the above statements resonate with you? Do you have a hard time admitting you might be depressed? I did too, because it's not clinical. I didn't want to disrespect those who suffer from clinical depression by grouping my walking depression in with theirs. This article changed that for me, and I highly recommend reading.
I've been turning away clients and collaborations and creativity because the combination of symptoms above have left me to feel like a) I don't know what I want, b) I don't trust anybody and c) I'm not a very nice version of myself. Some days I don't even want to kiss my sweet boyfriend's face and that's probably the worst part of it all. I didn't realize I needed a way out of my business (aka my head) until a job offer landed in my inbox. I accepted this position back in September because it took the pressure off running #ClosettCandyy as a business, but also because it was the right move for my present and my future. This isn't the end, I'm just pressing pause. There's a lot of work to be done before I can start again.
I'm not busy. I'm depressed. There's a difference. Please don't make assumptions.